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.

Standard Waffen-SS enlisted overseas cap. This cap was based on the Luftwaffe overseas cap design. The insignia is machine-woven.
Standard Waffen-SS enlisted overseas cap. This cap was based on the Luftwaffe overseas cap design. The insignia is machine-woven.
Example of a Waffen-SS officer overseas cap. This cap has the aluminum wire piping denoting an officer cap but has the distinctive enlisted machine-woven insignia. This was a common practice during the war.
Example of a Waffen-SS officer overseas cap. This cap has the aluminum wire piping denoting an officer cap but has the distinctive enlisted machine-woven insignia. This was a common practice during the war.
SS-Untersturmführer Hargesheimer, panzer commander wearing the Waffen-SS Officer Service Cap with the silver bullion chin cords. Notice the wire inside the crown has been removed so the cap does not maintain its rigid form and that the wings on the national emblem have been bent back.
SS-Untersturmführer Hargesheimer, panzer commander wearing the Waffen-SS Officer Service Cap with the silver bullion chin cords. Notice the wire inside the crown has been removed so the cap does not maintain its rigid form and that the wings on the national emblem have been bent back.
These two Waffen-SS volunteers from the Westland Regiment demonstrate the SS black leather chin strap (left) and the Army black leather chin strap (right).
These two Waffen-SS volunteers from the Westland Regiment demonstrate the SS black leather chin strap (left) and the Army black leather chin strap (right).
This is an example of the Waffen-SS NCO/Other Ranks Service Cap with the black leather chin strap in the SS style with the break in the center and two adjustments – one on each side.
This is an example of the Waffen-SS NCO/Other Ranks Service Cap with the black leather chin strap in the SS style with the break in the center and two adjustments – one on each side.
Waffen-SS Officer Black Panzer M1943 Field Cap with 2-piece enlisted insignia and aluminum wire piping.
Waffen-SS Officer Black Panzer M1943 Field Cap with 2-piece enlisted insignia and aluminum wire piping.
Waffen-SS Enlisted Black Panzer M1943 Field Cap with two black-painted buttons and machine-woven trapezoid insignia.
Waffen-SS Enlisted Black Panzer M1943 Field Cap with two black-painted buttons and machine-woven trapezoid insignia.
Waffen-SS Knight's Cross Recipient and Panzer Commander Korner wearing the black panzer M1943 field cap.
Waffen-SS Knight's Cross Recipient and Panzer Commander Korner wearing the black panzer M1943 field cap.
Waffen-SS panzer crew member wearing the enlisted black panzer overseas cap.
Waffen-SS panzer crew member wearing the enlisted black panzer overseas cap.