Waffen-SS Panzer Crew Headgear
By Willi Schumacher
After discarding the ungainly black panzer beret in January 1941, the black panzer overseas cap was issued to panzer crews as the replacement. This cap was compact, light-weight and easy to store. It was essentially the same overseas cap as worn by the rest of the Waffen-SS with exception of the color. Insignia was two-piece with national emblem being worn over the Totenkopf. The latter piece of insignia was sewn onto the front of the turn up. Officers wore aluminum wire piping around the top of the turn up. Most officers also wore the standard enlisted woven insignia, however, some chose to have aluminum woven insignia placed on their caps. In the beginning, many Waffen-SS panzer crews wore Army styled black panzer overseas caps which had a scalloped front on the turn up. Often the crews continued to wear the Army national emblem instead of replacing it with that of the SS. Officers piping was on top of the cap and along the scalloped portion of the turn up. Also, the pink soutache, an inverted "V", over the Totenkopf, as it had done to the roundel on the Army's caps. Soutaches were later regulated out but many crews continued to wear them.
Finally with the introduction of the M1943 field cap, many panzer crews elected to wear this popular styled cap although one major drawback was the bill, which frequently got in the way when trying to sight the guns. Once again the crews wore the standard gray-green wool cap but in black. Insignia varied with early crews wearing the Totenkopf on the front above the two-buttoned front and the national emblem on the left side. As one-buttoned models of the M1943 began to appear, there was sufficient room for both pieces of insignia on the front. Later there was the woven trapezoid insignia made of white thread. Once again most officers wore the enlisted insignia. Officers were authorized to wear the aluminum wire piping around the crown of the cap. Early M1943 field caps had small metal pebbled buttons on the front, which were replaced with black Bakelite or glass buttons later in the war.