Doursoux Hartmann

Rory Schultz

Active Member
Here is a question I would like all of you French cyclist fans to ask yourselves and solve this question.
Who was the first Luftwaffe pilot to be wearing the French Cyclist jacket? It was not Hartmann though he is given credit by most but it was not him. The only photos I have seen of him wearing one is in 1944. So who was first of the Luftwaffe?
 

Enigma1938

Well-Known Member
Seriously I think it's impossible to tell. There were several thousands of luftwaffe pilots and several thousand of these jackets from the 30s up to 40s and even 50s. These jackets were very popular in France before and during the wartime, and I'm sure the germans knew this model even before ww2, and as the germans occupied France it was pretty easy for Luftwaffe pilots to purchase these jackets everywhere. They liked this jacket for the fact that they are trim and short - perfect for the narrow cockpits of their fighters and of course a 'cool' look.
But again: who was the first one is impossible to tell. Btw, this kind of jacket was not only popular with pilots, I've seen german U-boat crew with it also.
 

Bremspropeller

Active Member
Who was the first Luftwaffe pilot to be wearing the French Cyclist jacket? It was not Hartmann though he is given credit by most but it was not him. The only photos I have seen of him wearing one is in 1944. So who was first of the Luftwaffe?
I think that question cannot be answered reliably. But if it helps: It seems like Luftwaffe pilots started wearing them in 1940, so it seems reasonable that they were exposed to that kind of stylish jacket during the invasion of France. The earliest definate picture of a cyclist jacket on a LW pilot is dated on May 10 1940 (referece is Eric Mombeek's work on Jagdgeschwader 2) and there is a picture of two pilots wearing cyclist-jacket lookalikes possibly earlier (but no definate ID, since it shows both pilots in profile view).

Just a hypothesis, but it might as well be true:
Helmut Wick was - at the time - one of the ascending aces of the Luftwaffe and he wore a cyclist jacket. There is a chance him wearing this type of jacket (including PR shots) made this style of jackets known to a wider number of pilots and thus setting the trend.

You'll find that although there were individual leather jackets (some even pretty stylish) before entering France, but there seems to be no pilot wearing a cyclist.
 

Rory Schultz

Active Member
I know Gerhard Barkhorn wore a motorcycle jacket while in flight school. Between 1937 and 1939. His was wearing a four flap pocket button up the front. Some where in all my stuff I have a photo of him wearing it. I know that a lot of Luftwaffe pilots who were wearing motorcycle jackets were already familiar with them because having been into motorcycles before being in the Luftwaffe or Kriegsmarine. NSKK members were heavily into motorcycles before and during the War. I tend look at early NSKK photos to see the first styles worn. A few old photos of the racers wore the button up ones that had small zippered pockets. When more and more American and UK versions came into Europe in the mid 1930's the other racing teams among Germany saw them and desired them. Some of the jackets German racers are wearing are American. Then in 1938-39 NSKK racers are wearing German made ones that are all zippered. That one Helmut Wick is wearing the French style that came out in 1938. Have any of you seen the French racing jacket that was 1936-1938? It is exactly the same but is button up the front instead of zippered front. I came across 2 but they were too small for me. Plus there is the summer cloth version of it also. These are extremely rare to find.
 

Rory Schultz

Active Member
If you think about it, the jacket was not an unknown but someone in the Luftwaffe wore it and then others wanted that model also. There were dozens of styles of cafe racing leather jackets before WW2 started and it made me curious as to why this one model called the Hartmann was the one they all wanted. Someone wore it first then everyone else wanted that one style. Erich Hartmann did not have one until 1944 so it was already popular. That is what is nagging me, who wore it first that led the way for other pilots wanting it too. These modern day writers are saying it was because it was popular because of the cramp confines of the ME-109. I do not accept that explanation because there were many other leather jackets just as tight and could easily fit in the cockpit. The Luftwaffe had many versions that were not bulky. They also had a style similar to the A-2. There is also the ones worn in the Spanish Civil War. My favorite is the the actual ME-109 jacket of which is so rare to find. I may have the name wrong concerning it, I am going by what I was told years ago that it was called the ME-109 jacket. Here is a photo of it.


s-l1000 rare jacket.jpg
 

Rory Schultz

Active Member
Would love to have a picture of one of those
I had come across some photos of those ones some 2 or 3 weeks ago. I will try to find them again. I knew I should have downloaded and saved them. I know one guy in France who has a cloth one but he only uses it for referencing, he will not sell it.
 

Enigma1938

Well-Known Member
You mean the cloth jackets that are similar in construction and hardware to the leather cyclist jackets? They show up here and there on vintage clothing sites/ stores but they are not that popular and of high value as their leather brothers.
 

Rory Schultz

Active Member
Here are a few examples of tight cafe racing jackets that were just as comfy to wear in the small confines of a cockpit. This first pilot is wearing the zippered front, 4 zippered pockets, no waist buckle. The other pilots are wearing the summer Luftwaffe jacket. You can see the pilot wearing the leather cafe racer that it is just as tight as the French Hartmann one. I have 4 variations of this model jacket.

oesau-walter-group.jpg
JG51acesVechtel.jpg Another variant with overlap double snap at waist. Similar to this jackets waist snap. icm_fullxfull.257397512_j5igly9rdugcoc84o0ss ME-109 SUEDE JACKET.jpg


Then you have the many other cafe racing jackets
DB Button up 4 zipper pockets with collar or without

2822f75eb78af6bcd037e28786bb13b9.jpg s-l1600 (7)   UNKNOWN DRIVER CLOSE UP.jpg

I could show a ton more. But you get the idea
 

Rory Schultz

Active Member
You mean the cloth jackets that are similar in construction and hardware to the leather cyclist jackets? They show up here and there on vintage clothing sites/ stores but they are not that popular and of high value as their leather brothers.
Yes, most of those are reproductions that I have seen coming up. The original period ones are extremely rare because (from what I was told by a collector friend in Japan) back at that time period most cyclist did not like them because they were not much in the way of protection should you fall from your motorcycle. But field and construction workers loved them. Most of the waist buckles were removed. Eventually those cloth version became geared towards working wear not cyclist wear. So they did not survive. What you find now are some discontinued work wear brands being altered and some adding the waist buckle to give the appearance of being the WW2 model.
Just like those jokers on flee bay who dazzle the leather ones up, some are finding discontinued work wear jackets that look exactly the Hartmann leather ones but they are adding the waist buckle to make it appear to be the original cloth cyclist jackets from 1938-1940.
I have been trying to find the original period French catalogues to research it but I am finding it very hard to locate advertisements of it. Some of the French textile firms continued making the workwear cloth jackets up until the 1960's of the exact style of the leather counterpart minus the waist buckle. The color is one clue in telling you that they are not WW2 period as well as the Prophete/ Eclair zipper sliders.

Sorry if this sounds redundant, my brain is not working on an even keel today. I am having difficulty clearing the fog today.
 
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Rory Schultz

Active Member
I was going bonkers trying to remember the name of the pilot in the first photo with the 4 zippered pockets. Ace Erich Leie

c555759a635f35cbbc0237635777a03c ACE ERICH LEIE.jpg
 

Kermit3D

Well-Known Member
These modern day writers are saying it was because it was popular because of the cramp confines of the ME-109. I do not accept that explanation because there were many other leather jackets just as tight and could easily fit in the cockpit.
I totally agree with that.
I own a cycling jacket made by Pilot, which seems to have a cut very close (maybe even identical) to the jackets that many Luftwaffe pilots wore.
I'm really in love with this fabulous jacket, but I can attest that it's really not practical. It's difficult to raise your arms, movement are limited,...
I guess it must have been complicated to do some things : like raising your arms to close the canopy of the Bf 109 for example.

Enigma1938 may be able to validate my opinion because he has the same cyclist jacket as me.

I'm convinced that the pilots wore this kind of jacket only for style. They were concerned about their appearance, and it's a jacket that enhances the silhouette.
In my opinion it is only a "fashion effect" and not a choice dictated by the practicality of the jacket.
 
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Enigma1938

Well-Known Member
I totally agree with that.
I own a cycling jacket made by Pilot, which seems to have a cut very close (maybe even identical) to the jackets that many Luftwaffe pilots wore.
I'm really in love with this fabulous jacket, but I can attest that it's really not practical. It's difficult to raise your arms, movement are limited,...
I guess it must have been complicated to do some things : like raising your arms to close the canopy of the Bf 109 for example.

Enigma1938 may be able to validate my opinion because he has the same cyclist jacket as me.

I'm convinced that the pilots wore this kind of jacket only for style. They were concerned about their appearance, and it's a jacket that enhances the silhouette.
In my opinion it is only a "fashion effect" and not a choice dictated by the practicality of the jacket.
I totally agree on this. Fact is the jacket itself looks pretty cool and makes a flattering appearance, but as Kermit pointed out it is not practical at all.

What makes me wonder is why this type of jacket was obviously so popular as a working jacket back then in the 30s 40s. Just like Kermit I really love my cyclist jacket but it would be impossible for me to do hard work in it.
 

Rory Schultz

Active Member
I also do not believe they wore them along with their decorations every time they went into combat. I tested the theory and those decorations flew off or broke off from the slightest buffet of wind. 30 mph on my Indian and off they went! And I had them bound pretty tight to the jacket! Sewn on badges work not regular decorations. So unless those pilots had time to take all of it off before a scramble then its BS. They wore those jackets with all their fancy decorations only on the ground and rarely ever in a combat scenario just for show. I can't see some pilot wearing an RK oak leaf swords and diamonds scrambling to make sure his is on straight, or covered well enough to not be ripped off once he has to bail out! Can you imagine an Heer Officer in a muddy, shit filled foxhole make a dive in the line of gunfire because he dropped his fancy RK on the way?
There is a ton more I can say but it will just make ppl pissed off
 

Rory Schultz

Active Member
I totally agree on this. Fact is the jacket itself looks pretty cool and makes a flattering appearance, but as Kermit pointed out it is not practical at all.

What makes me wonder is why this type of jacket was obviously so popular as a working jacket back then in the 30s 40s. Just like Kermit I really love my cyclist jacket but it would be impossible for me to do hard work in it.
As a working jacket, you did not have to zip it up and it left raising the arms uninhibited in the same way levi jackets did. Also, there was not the concern of the wrist being bound because of draft of cold air. Pilots had every part closed off, snapped and belted to keep the -30 degrees from freezing your nuts off. BTW I have some of those Levi jackets too from the 1950's
When I did construction work back in my teens, we wore the Levi jackets and had very little difficulty working. Here is the difference....working plowing a field is not a rushed life or death situation like in a ME 109 at 30,000 feet. Up there you do not have the luxury to take your time to scratch your balls.
 

Enigma1938

Well-Known Member
What also speaks against the theory that german fighter pilots preferred the cyclist jacket for its trim cut because of the tight cockpits is that the german airforce produced their own jacket not in a similar way. The german channel jackets whether the summer version or the winter one were cut way more roomy / comfy. If there was a need to wear trim jackets so the germans would have produced them this way instead.
 

Rory Schultz

Active Member
What also speaks against the theory that german fighter pilots preferred the cyclist jacket for its trim cut because of the tight cockpits is that the german airforce produced their own jacket not in a similar way. The german channel jackets whether the summer version or the winter one were cut way more roomy / comfy. If there was a need to wear trim jackets so the germans would have produced them this way instead.
Exactly! Plus they did not have to spend money outside of their clothing allowance by stay within regulation uniforms. Their families needed money sent home not wasted on vanity.
 
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