Hat Of Glass

Below a Krote featuring the insignia of the 367th Assault Recce Company - a 'Zylinder Hut' or 'Top Hat' on a white disk.

"One of the devices employed by the 367th Assault Reconnaissance Company, which despite being the company to have been issued with the fewest, had the most combat success with the Krote. Each of the 4 Krotes in the company could easily defeat any of the three enemy units in service at the time, the AFS MKI, MKII or J-40."

While this particular Top hat motif was the staffel insignia of 2./JG 77, zylinder hut emblems had been popular with the luftwaffe since the Spanish Civil War originating with the Condor Legion fighter wing J/88. Possibly chosen as a symbol of the elite officer class, the top hat was ironically to become associated with the enemy.

This He 51 is one of the batch received by the Condor Legion in October 1936 and wears the first badge of 4.J/88, the Zylinder Hut (Top Hat), that would later be adopted by 2.J/88.

"The emblem that was painted on the first Messerschmitt was the one that had already been used by 2.J/88 on the very old Heinkel, that is to say, the 'Zylinder Hut'. The first major military action of 2.J/88 'Zylinder Hut' (Hat of Glass), with the emblem painted on the backs of its new mount, the Messerschmitt Bf-109B- 1, took place during the course of the Battle of Brunete in July 1937. The base chosen to welcome in 2.J/88 of the Condor legion was Avila, its mission to escort and to protect the Junkers Ju-52/3m bombers, but the inevitable cruelty and ferocity shown by both sides during 'hunting' became immediately apparent. However, from the 8th of July the National Side had dominion of the skies due to the action of the Legion Condor and in particular to the Messerschmitt of the 'Zylinder Hut'."

The Zylinderhut was adopted as a personal insignia by a number of pilots who had seen service with the Condor Legion in Spain. Major Handrick who had been Kommandeur of Jagdgruppe 88 continued to use the top hat emblem when he took command of JG 26. Another JG 26 pilot to display this emblem was Hptm Herwig Knüppel.

"The Legion Condor 'Zylinder Hut' given to its popularity between the German pilots was present on a multitude of fuselages of the Germanic airplanes during World War II. Lt. Hubert Kroeck of the Jagdgeswader 53 'Pik Ace' used the 'Zylinder Hut' of 2.J/88 as a personal emblem. Curiously the 'Hat of Glass' that was painted on the fuselage of his Messerschmitt was white and not black as was typical in 2.J/88 of the Legion Condor. Like Kroeck, another member of 2.J/88 'Zylinder Hut', Oblt. Herbert Ihlefeld also used the 'Hat of Glass' as a personal emblem, at least during the course of Battle of England in which he was Gruppenkomandeur of I. (j) LG 2. Oblt. Herbert Ihlefeld survived World War II and reached a total of 132 victories. Oblt. Reinhard Seiler, “Ace” in Spain and member of 2.J/88 'Zylinder Hut', also used the 'Hat of Glass' as his personal insignia during World War II. Oblt. Seiler served with Jagdgeswader 54 'Grünherz' fighting on the Russian Front and survived the end of war with 109 victories. Finally, another veteran of the Legion Condor in Spain, the Fw. Alfred Held, who flew with 4.J/88 'Pik Ace', also used the 'Hat of Glass' like a personal emblem, adorned by a legend that said “Kolle alaaf”. By the 4th of September 1940 Alfred Held had the singular honor of being the first Luftwaffe commander to have destroyed an airplane of the R.A.F."

The Worm That Turned

"Even after other companies were equipped with the Neuspotter, the 402nd Armored Hunting Soldier Regiment continued to utilize the Krote. The 402nd's Krote were used for a long period after other company's reserves of Neuspotters were completely depleted. During that time, the Krote were fitted with stationery weapons and defeated many enemy AFS's."

Under The Thumb

Below, a Krote of the 501st Independent Heavy Battle Car Battalion. The battalion insignia depicts a 'Zylinderhut' or 'Top Hat' being crushed under thumb.

"One of the 16 Krote's for the 501st Independent Heavy Tank Battalion that was able to handle the work until the critical modifications for the Neuspotter were completed in September 2885. The paint was very basic with green two-toned Splinter camouflage that was never repainted so it was damaged and faded."

The emblem was the staffel insignia of 7./JG 2.

"at its peak in popularity a reaction developed against the top hat, with the middle classes adopting bowler hats and soft felt hats such as fedoras, which were more convenient for city life, as well as being suitable for mass production. In comparison, a top hat needed to be handmade by a skilled hatter, with few young people willing to take up what was obviously a dying trade. The top hat became associated with the upper class, becoming a target for satirists and social critics. It was particularly used as a symbol of capitalism in cartoons in socialist and communist media, long after the headgear had been abandoned by those satirised.It was a part of the dress of Uncle Sam and used as a symbol of US monopoly power. By the end of World War I it had become a rarity in everyday life, though it continued to be worn daily for formal wear, such as in London various positions in the Bank of England and City stockbroking, or boys at public schools."

While the Zylinderhut motif may have been an attack on the U.S. personified as 'Uncle Sam' who's top hat had come to represent capitalism and a new enemy to the Luftwaffe, it may also have been a defiant stance against the British aristocracy, and in particular the Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

Caricature of Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister at the outbreak of the Second World War wearing a top hat. Chamberlain was gravely concerned about the disastrous effects of leading Britain into another major European conflagration. He became the architect of the ‘appeasement' policy, attempting to avoid war.
Discredited by the failure of his policies and by his belief that Herr Hitler was a man of honour and integrity, Chamberlain was forced to resign in May 1940. He died in the November of the same year.

Kileak the Blood (The DNA Imperative)

"Deep beneath the South Pole permafrost, a crazed scientist has unearthed an ancient DNA code, dormant for 2,000,000,000 years. Is this discovery of the "ultimate evolution"? Or does he now hold the damnation of mankind in his grasp? ... Only you can stop him!"

The year is 2038 and the International Peace Keeping Force has been ordered to investigate an invasion of an underground scientific research base. As the I.P.K.F. strike team arrives at the base in their 'Ligra' helicopter, heat-seeking missiles are fired and the aircraft is shot down smashing into a mountain. As Captain Matt Coda of the elite 'White Lightning' polar operations team you are the sole survivor of the crash. Armed with only your SJ107 protective armor, a 'wales gun' and a portable computer, you head towards the base to investigate. Fight your way through 15 foe filled levels and end the threat of the evil Dr. Kim.

'KILEAK The Blood' (released as 'KILEAK The DNA Imperative' outside of Japan) was the first ever 'first person shooter' released for the Playstation back in 1995. In this somewhat forgotten game developed by Genki you must battle against level after level of mechanical robots, solve puzzles and defeat an evil scientist before he wipes out humanity. The monotony of the gameplay seems to have been universally reviled by gamers and reviewers alike resulting in Kileak regularly being described as "one of the worst games ever made for the Playstation"...

"Here’s a genre I’ll never understand. Kileak is part of a practically dead breed of animal known as a corridor FPS (first person shooter). LikeDoom and Duke Nukem, you’re your own eyes running around shooting stuff. However, what keeps Kileak from ever being any fun is the one thing its niche template is based around; tediously mind numbing exploration in vast, boring levels. Everything looks the same, and its even worse when there’s literally only three textures to a level (if this place really had that many lights the heat generated would have melted the frozen prison it was stuck in)."

Despite these shortcomings as a game the project did feature Kow Yokoyama's mecha designs for both the lead character's 'Protect Armor' and the enemy robot 'Bosses'. These designs were published in a promotional book for the game ...

You can watch some of the story sequences from the game on youtube which look pretty good considering when the game was made ... but then contrast that with the actual game play.