German Luftstreitkräfte private purchase soft leather helmet
Early in the war, German military aviators were in most cases expected to provide their own flying kit purchased from commercial sources. Motoring equipment was the choice of the day as specialized flying kit or any kind of military standard was virtually non-existent. Later in the war, a kind of standardized issue pattern was followed, but there were as many variations as there were manufacturers. Even after the introduction of standardized hard shell protective helmets towards the end of WW1, many pilots preferred these soft helmets. They were less clumsy and more “streamlined” than the crash helmets, thus the pilots often swapped protection for comfort. This enabled them to turn their heads more freely and with less effort during air combat – looking for the enemy coming out of the sun.
This soft black leather helmet is a representative specimen for a variety of German WW1 flying helmets. Featuring fleece lining, snap down earflaps, neck flap and the characteristic leather strip on top, this pattern was produced well into the 1920’s and 1930’s.
The fur padded foldable goggles featured here are very similar to the French "L'Express" type, but are of much more recent manufacture.