Heer Black Panzer Uniform
By Willi Schumacher
Black Panzer Field Jacket (Jacke)
Manufactured from black wool, the jacket was styled with a double-breast and short waist. The double breast gave additional protection from the wind from the front and additional warmth. The double breast front pulled all the way across the front and the vertical edge sloped slightly back towards the center. The collar was large with pointed ends. The top three buttons were usually left undone so the tunic could be opened at the top. This presented large lapels with three buttonholes showing. Designed to be as comfortable and streamlined while in the close confines of a tank, the main buttons on the front were hidden so they could not snag obstructions in the vehicle. There were four large black bone buttons, which were secured to buttonholes on an inner flap just under the vertical edge of the double breast. The three top buttons, smaller in diameter than the main four, were out in the open and positioned in a place less prone to snagging. Each sleeve cuff had a opening slit closed by two buttons. Early models of the black panzer field jacket had the collars piped in the branch color with pink being the most common. Other colors used were golden-yellow for panzer reconnaissance, lemon-yellow for panzer signals, and alternating black and white (black and silver for officers) for Panzer Pioniere. Collar piping and cap soutache were eliminated in 1942. NCOs did not wear their tress around the collars although senior NCOs did wear the double tress, or Spiess, around each sleeve near the bottom of the cuff. The back had a center seam. Interior had limited lining, primarily on the two front panels. This was made with either a gray sack cloth or a silver-gray artificial silk. One or two interior pockets were provided. Some black panzer jackets had provisions for belt hooks along the vertical side seams. There were straps provided inside to attach the metal belt hooks and insert the hooked section through the jacket. Sizes and manufacturer's codes and lots were stenciled into the interior.
The Totenkopf collar tabs were also piped in the same color as the collars (early days up to 1942) and the shoulder board or shoulder strap branch piping. The Totenkopf collar tabs were an elongated rectangle worn vertically on each collar. There was a slight parallelogram shape to the tabs, which meant there was a proper left and right collar tab. Made of black rhombic backing and measuring 3.5 x 7 to 7.5cm and piped in the appropriate color, they were sewn onto the collar with the front edge parallel and about 1cm from the collar edge. Affixed to the center of each collar tab by means of metal prongs was a silver metallic stamped Totenkopf device measuring 2.3 x 2.2cm. These devices were exactly the same so there were no pairs. Some staff officers attached to panzer divisions and units sometimes wore the normal double Litzen collar tabs. Generals sometimes wore their traditional collar insignia with the gold device on the red backing. Shoulder boards and shoulder straps were usually of the slip on variety. NCO and other ranks shoulder straps had a black top instead of the dark-green as worn on the gray-green field tunic. The national emblem was manufactured with white thread (later changed to silver-gray) on black backing and machine-sewn onto the breast. Officers sometimes wore national emblems woven with silver aluminum wire or silver bullion on black backing while generals wore this insignia produced in gilt aluminum wire or gold bullion.
Black Panzer Field Trousers
Manufactured with black wool, these trousers were the predecessor to the M1942 Kielhose trousers. They had tapered legs, which gave the effect of being bloused. The cuffs had a small slit, which allowed for easier foot access and could be buttoned closed. It had a cloth strap, or stirrup, which was positioned in the arch of the foot to keep the pants from riding up the leg. Drawstrings were provided for additional closing and tightening. There were three pockets, the two on the front being slashed at an angle and having forward folding flaps with a single button. The back pocket was straight up and had a single buttoned flap. Also on the front was a small fob pocket for a watch. The trousers were lined in a white cotton cloth around the waist and included the three interior pockets. Most trousers had a built-in belt with a two-prong metal buckle. Others had exterior waistline loops for a leather belt. Some officers and men purchased these trousers with straight legs for wearing as a walk-out dress. Piping down the exterior of each leg, including generals, was not worn.
With the introduction of the black panzer uniform was also a dark-gray tricot shirt without pockets, a four-button front and buttons and loops for the attachment of shoulder boards or shoulder straps. A black tie was worn with this shirt. In 1943 an order (HM 43, No. 559, dated 23 June 1943) introduced a new shirt, which had two pleated patch pockets on the breast, and was identical to the gray-green field shirt. In 1944 another order (HM 44, No. 37, dated 10 January 1944, replaced the previous dark-gray shirt with the standard gray-green shirt of the same style.