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Vsevolod Kryukov
Vsevolod Kryukov

German Army Uniforms Of World War II: In Color ...



Feldgrau (English: field-grey) is a grayish green color. It was the official basic color of military uniforms of the German armed forces from the early 20th century until 1945 (West Germany) or 1989 (East Germany). Armed forces of other countries also used various shades of that color. Feldgrau was used to refer to the color of uniforms of the armies of Germany, first the Imperial German Army and later the Heer (ground forces) of the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht.




German Army Uniforms of World War II: In Color ...



In World War I the color feldgrau was a light grey-green, though there were variations of the shade ranging from greys to browns. It was one of the first standardized uniforms suitable to the age of smokeless gunpowder.


Feldgrau is commonly used to refer to the color of German army uniforms during World War II. It was also used by the East German National People's Army, under the description steingrau (stone-grey). Feldgrau was introduced to the Austrian Bundesheer in line to the German pattern as well.[citation needed]


In 1907, the so-called field-grey peace uniform (feldgraue Friedensuniform), with colored cuffs, facings, shoulder straps and gorgets began to be issued by decree in Prussia, followed by the non-Prussian contingents of the other German states and lastly by the Bavarian Army in April 1916. Formerly most infantry regiments in the German Imperial Army wore "Prussian blue" tunics, although Bavarian units had light blue and jägers dark green. Cavalry uniforms were of a wide range of colors. Until the outbreak of war in August 1914, the traditional brightly colored uniforms of the Deutsches Heer continued to be worn as parade and off-duty wear. Barracks dress was normally an off-white loose fitting fatigue dress[1] and the field-grey uniform fully introduced by 1910 was generally reserved for manoeuvres and field training. Upon the outbreak of war field-grey became the normal uniform of all German soldiers. Active service experience led to the adoption of a darker grey-green shade of color in 1915, now described as "stone-grey".[2]


Following the German example, other countries selected feldgrau in either light grey or grey-green shades as the basic color for their service uniforms. Examples were Portugal (1910), and Sweden (1923). After testing, Italy adopted a similar colored uniform with a greenish tinge on 4 December 1908, known as Grigio Verde.[3]


At the formation of the First Austrian Republic's armed forces in 1929, there were strong similarities to German uniforms, including the feldgrau uniform and the corps colors and rank insignia adopted.


The current dress uniform of the Finnish Army (M/83) is a grey uniform patterned after the German 1944 uniform. The Finnish Army has used grey uniforms since its founding in 1918. M/83 and its equally grey predecessors were used as the common service uniform up to the 1980s, with camouflage (M/62) used only in the field uniform. Today, the common service uniform is a camouflage uniform (M/62, M/91 or M/05). The grey colour is called kenttäharmaa (literally "field grey") in Finnish, sometimes also known as armeijan harmaat (army greys). "Going into army greys" remains a popular saying for entering military service.


The Swedish Armed Forces used a very similar color for infantry uniforms; for example the grey m/39 and later on grey-green, as the German ones. The last uniform in the latter color was the woollen m/58 winter uniform.


When the Nazis came to power in early 1933 the Reichswehr, the armed forces of the Weimar Republic, were near the end of a two-year project to redesign the Army Feldbluse (field-blouse). Beginning in that year the new tunic was issued to the Reichsheer and then the rapidly growing Wehrmacht Heer, although minor design changes continued to be made until the appearance of the standardized Heeres Dienstanzug Modell 1936. The M36 tunic still retained the traditional Imperial and Reichswehr uniform color of grey-green "field gray" (feldgrau)[a] wool, but incorporated four front patch pockets with scalloped flaps and pleats (on Reichswehr tunics the lower pockets were internal and angled). The front was closed with five buttons rather than the previous eight, and the collar and shoulder straps were of a dark bottle-green instead of the Reichswehr grey.[1] Compared to the Weimar-era uniforms the skirt of the feldbluse was shorter and the tailoring was more form-fitting due to Germany's adoption of mechanized warfare: soldiers now spent much time in the confined space of a vehicle and a shorter jacket was less likely to pick up dirt from the seats.[2] It also included an internal suspension system, whereby a soldier could hang an equipment belt on a series of hooks outside of the tunic. These hooks were connected to two straps inside the lining, which spread the weight of equipment without having to use external equipment suspenders. The M36 was produced and issued until the very end of the war, though successive patterns became predominant.


SS field uniforms were of similar appearance externally but to fit their larger patches had a wider, feldgrau collar, and the lower pockets were of an angled slash type similar to the black or grey SS service-dress. The second button of an SS Feldbluse was positioned somewhat lower, so that it could be worn open-collar with a necktie. Due to supply problems the SS were often issued army uniforms.


The M40 Tropical tunics of the Afrikakorps, later authorized for summer field wear in Southern Europe, were basically the same cut as the standard army uniform but with open collar and lapels, and made of a medium-weight olive-drab cotton twill which in service faded to khaki. Also olive were the shirt and the seldom-worn necktie. Insignia were embroidered in dull blue-grey on tan backing cloth. This tunic was issued to all Army personnel in North Africa, including officers and Panzer crews. Officers as usual often purchased uniforms privately, and olive, khaki or mustard-yellow cotton versions of the M35 officers' tunic were worn alongside the standard issue, sometimes with green collars. The M40 Tropical breeches were of jodhpur type, to be worn with knee-boots or puttees: these were very unpopular and most were soon cut off to make shorts (captured British/Commonwealth shorts were frequently worn as well). By mid-1941 conventional trousers in olive cotton were being issued, followed soon thereafter by regulation Heer shorts; these had a built-in cloth belt. A chocolate brown overcoat in the same pattern as the continental version was issued as protection from the cold desert nights.


The Luftwaffe tropical uniform differed significantly from the Army version. Air force uniforms were made of a yellowish-khaki cotton twill that proved to be a more effective camouflage color in the North African desert than Army olive, although the latter did fade to a sage-tan color with use and sun exposure. Its cut was also considered more practical and suited to the local climate than that of the early Army tropical uniform, with loosely cut trousers, a closed-collar tunic, and tan shirt. Unlike the Army, no special tropical overcoat was issued. Headgear, also in tan, initially consisted of a sidecap, pith helmet, or a unique tropical peaked cap design with detachable neckshade, although the latter was eventually replaced with a version of the Army M40 tropical cap in Luftwaffe tan.


From 1938, Jews in the camps were identified by a yellow star sewn onto their prison uniforms, a perversion of the Jewish Star of David symbol. After 1939 and with some variation from camp to camp, the categories of prisoners were easily identified by a marking system combining a colored inverted triangle with lettering. The badges sewn onto prisoner uniforms enabled SS guards to identify the alleged grounds for incarceration.


Khaki was adopted by other British-Indian regiments during the Indian Mutiny of 1857, but was discontinued until 1868. What prompted the British to briefly abandon the color is not fully understood, but one theory holds that the color was not consistent. In fact, over the years numerous attempts were made to formulate a dye that would provide a khaki color that was consistent and would not fade or run. These attempts failed, with the uniforms varying greatly in color after only a few weeks or months of exposure to the weather. And while khaki uniforms made a return in India, British soldiers serving in the Zulu War (1879), the First Anglo-Boer War (1882), and the First Sudan Campaign (1882) retained their scarlet uniforms. However, by the end of the 19th century, the red coat was replaced everywhere by khaki.


The use of khaki was not limited to the British Army. By the end of the 19th century, most of the nations of Europe with colonies overseas had begun to utilize similarly colored tropical uniforms. In many cases, officers and NCOs were outfitted in European-style uniforms, while colonial troops wore khaki-colored ones. Many of these colors were never officially deemed khaki, but the colors were extremely close in actual practice.


Halfway around the world, the Empire of Japan was outfitted in a similar shade of khaki uniform, one whose origins went back to the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). The Japanese had replaced their white cotton summer uniform in 1904 with the new M1904 khaki uniform, which likely was inspired by the colors used by its then close ally Great Britain. The uniform was used throughout World War I, then modified and modernized in 1930, but retained the same color as the tropical, or summer, uniform throughout World War II.


Color poster showing the insignia, patches, hats and uniforms of the German army. The poster features two figures: one is a German soldier wearing the blue field uniform and the other is a German soldier wearing the brown Afrika Korps uniform. Also depicted are the national emblems worn on headgear. 041b061a72


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