History  - "Kanalhose" from "Reich Defense"

As early as 1940/41, the so-called "Kanalhose" were introduced at various Luftwaffe squadrons. In particular, the JG26 stationed on the English Channel was equipped with the new "Fliegersonderbekleidung". This is where the term "Kanalhose" was born. The "Kanalhose"  is characterized by large patch knee pockets. Initially made of cotton, the large trousers and matching jackets were constantly being further developed and finally issued to the pilots as two-piece "aircraft protection suits". The materials used, varied from cotton and linen fabric for use in summer to sheepskin for use in winter. There were also combinations of both materials. 

Kanalhose LederSW JG28 001 kl

pilots from JG26 (collection Glaser)


Finally, from 1944 onwards they were also made from leather. The so-called "Reich Defense Combination" consisting of leather pants and leather jacket. This should primarily offer protection against burns, since pilots were often seriously injured by flames during air combat, but  also offered protection against the freezing cold at altitudes of up to 8,000 meters and thus even a certain level of comfort.

Kanalhose LederSW JG54 002 1 von 1

pilots from JG54 (collection Glaser)

The leather version of the "Kanalhose" from the "Reich Defense Combination" was available in two variants. One with built-in heating, which was connected to the aircraft's electrical system, and one without heating. The trousers were very innovative for the time. Equipped with snaps and zippers (not a matter of course at that time), they were far ahead of their time. The trousers were always the same cut, with small variations in the materials, which was due to the shortage of wartime production.

The "Kanalhose" have two large patch pockets for signal ammo, maps and all sorts of  private items and are closed with ceramic buttons and snap buttons. On the right side there is a pocket for the signal pistol and one pocket on for additional documents. A total of 13 large ceramic and/or glass buttons were used on the "Kanalhose" as well as 6 zippers of different lengths made of plastic and/or metal. Here, too, there were variations in the materials due to availability. The high-waisted pants were worn with special suspenders.

Overall, the "Kanalhose" from the "Reich Defense" count to be one of the most complex and expensive items of clothing produced for the Luftwaffe and is now a very rare item of clothing sought after by collectors, for which up to €5,000 can be paid in mint condition.


Mitchell Mfg Logo PMS4685 Tan