Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Luftwaffe Ace Ernst-Wilhelm Reinert Wearing Life-Vest

Hauptmann Ernst-Wilhelm "Erwi" Reinert (2 February 1919 – 5 September 2007) won his fame in the Mediterranean theaters with Jagdgeschwader 27 "Afrika" and Jagdgeschwader 77 "Herz As", which explains his suntarn in this photograph, taken in October 1943. He claimed more than 50 kills over Africa and Italy, but on 13 August 1943, after claiming three victories, almost drowned when he was forced to ditch in the sea close to the Italian coast. Reinert flew 715 combat missions and was officially credited with shooting down 174 enemy aircraft plus 16 ground victories. 103 claims were made on the Eastern Front, 20 on the Western Front, and 51 in the Mediterranean theatre. He also destroyed 16 armoured vehicles plus 6 locomotives. This picture was first published as a cover of "Die Wehrmacht" magazine, Nr.22 (27 October 1943) edition when he was a Leutnant and Flugzeugführer in 4.Staffel / Jagdgeschwader 77, and shows Reinert wearing a Luftwaffe pilot's life vest (Luftschwimmweste). This rubberized, yellow canvas construction, pneumatic flotation life vest have a central front vertical opening with two corresponding canvas reinforced securing rings positioned on the right breast panel. The upper left breast bladder has a vertical, black rubber, manual, inflation tube. The manual inflation tube is held in place by a horizontal canvas loop, which places the mouthpiece near the wearer’s mouth for ease of inflation. The bottom edge of the left breast bladder has a metal alloy and brass connecting port housing designed for the cylindrical pressurized air canister which would automatically inflate the bladders. The bottom edge of the life vest has a tapering, vertical canvas strap stitched to the reverse center with corresponding canvas reinforced securing rings positioned on the bottom edge of the front center which was intended to slip between the wearers legs so that the vest didn’t slip upwards

Book "Luftwaffe at War; Luftwaffe Aces of the Western Front" by Robert Michulec

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