Joined: 11 Jun 2013
|Posted: Wed 12 Jun - 10:33 (2013) Post subject: Afrika Korps Uniform Reference
| Afrika Korps Uniform Reference :
Hauptmann in the DAK (Afrika Korps) wearing M40 field cap & scarf
Many Afrika Korps soldiers wore the M40 field cap whenever possible, as an alternative to the heavy steel helmet which became a "cooking pot" in the desert heat. Locally-purchased scarves were also more practical for everyday wear than the regulation shirt and tie.
Soldiers who participated in the joint Italian & German effort were entitled to wear the Italo-German Campaign award either as a ribbon or, as seen here, a full-sized medal. Above his 3 service ribbons this officer wears the Close Combat Clasp in gold, and below them the Iron Cross First Class and the Infantry Assault badge in bronze as well as the Iron Cross 2nd class ribbon.
Hauptmann in the DAK (Afrika Korps)
This officer is wearing a tropical cotton twill 5-button tunic, with specially reinforced additional seams for tough desert duty.
His "stahlhelm" (steel helmet) is the M40 design, virtually identical to the M35 except that its ventilation ports are integral to the shell instead of attached.
He bears an MG42 light machine gun, known to many Allied solders as the "burp" gun because of the characteristic sound of its 1,200 to 1,500 round-per-minute bursts. (The MG42 was the fore-runner to the now famous American GPMG M60 machine gun of the Vietnam war).
The Afrika Korps wore two distinctive cuff titles.
It is said that the second one, seen here, was designed by Hitler himself with the simple legend "AFRIKA" flanked by twin palm trees on brown. As well they wore 2 different decals on their helmets. (See below for his decorations & awards).
The desert campaigns of the Second World War have captured the popular imagination like few others in modern history. This is due in large part to the almost-mythic fame of its commander, the "Desert Fox", Irwin Rommel. But few understand the reasons for his success. The Afrika Corps is a textbook example of why the German Army was able to achieve the success it did, despite its handicaps.
Often outnumbered, usually undersupplied, the Deutsches Afrikakorps succeeded because of the technical superiority of its weaponry, the skill of its leadership, and the élan of its men. And its achievements are truly remarkable: with only three German divisions (the 5th Light – later christened the 15th – the 20th, and 90th Light Divisions), plus six Italian divisions of varying degrees of quality, the Afrika Corps was able to push back a superior Commonwealth force from Tripoli to within a few hundred miles of the Suez Canal, almost ejecting the British from North Africa and its rich oil reserves in the process .
And, despite its defeat, the Afrika Corps tied down the equivalent of more than twenty Commonwealth divisions for a period of two years – nearly half of Britain's operational strength.
The tropical uniform worn by the Afrika Corps varied widely in colour, depending on length of use, different manufacturers' batches, etc.; and the latitude tolerated in the desert armies of other nations was also observed in the German forces. Colours described below are regulation shades.
Upon arrival in North Africa, members of the Afrika Corps seem to have been dressed in the following: an olive green M1940 Tropical tunic; flared olive green breeches that laced at the calf and resembled British jodhpurs; high-laced tropical boots with brown leather feet and reinforcement strips, and olive canvas insteps and legs; and cork helmet.
(The colour resembled British "khaki" or American "olive drab".
Early versions ranged in colour from greenish-brown to dark brown.
Later versions were more standardized.) Unlike forces on the continent during this period, both officers and other ranks wore virtually identical uniforms.
In North Africa, 1941-43, Panzer troops wore the same basic uniforms as all other German Army personnel.
The only part of the black uniform sometimes retained in the desert was the side cap, seen in one or two photos of crews otherwise dressed in tropical uniform.
Members of the Panzer units wore the wore the olive shoulder straps with pink piping. Officers wore the pink-backed silver shoulder straps from their European uniforms, and other ranks . All arms, Panzer included, wore the conventional Litzen of the German Army on the collar, in blue-grey on tan brown.
Officers wore their European service dress collar Litzen – silver, with pink "lights", on a dark green backing.
All ranks identified their arm of service by pinning the white metal death's-head from their black European collar patches directly to the cloth of the lower jacket lapel.
These death's-heads, and the pink piping on their shoulder straps., were all that distinguished Panzer troopers' tunics from other branches. The chevron of pink was Waffenfarbe sometimes, but not invariably, worn on the front of the tropical field cap and sidecap. The insignia on these caps were conventional – eagles and cockades – but the former was in blue-grey. Officers had silver woven cap eagles on brown backing, silver crown piping, and the embroidered cockade.
Gallantry and wound decorations were worn on the tropical jacket in the usual way. In fact, the jacket itself was very frequently discarded; in the desert the Panzer crewman's normal dress, except in the cold of night or deep winter, was a field cap, shorts and the short canvas-and-leather boot. Oliver green shirts were worn, sometimes with uniform shoulder straps attached but without other insignia. The jacket sometimes displayed the AFRIKA and AFRIKAKORPS titles. The khaki-brown greatcoat was also worn by Panzer crews.
For all branches, the shade of "olive green" displayed by all items of headgear and uniform varied very widely, from a true green, through every shade of khaki, to a bleached sand yellow: Field caps were often deliberately bleached. As well, all branches made use of captured British tropical clothing: it is not uncommon to see Afrika Corps clothing mixed with British shirts, shorts, socks or boots.
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