The M43 field cap
or "Einheitsmütze" was a cap used by the German
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...
and SS, during World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
. The design of the fieldcap was based on the German Gebirgsjäger's ski cap, the only differences being the bill was slightly extended and the top panel of the hat had a smaller circumference, giving it slightly sloped in sides. This design and its successors that are still in use today are the German counterparts to the American patrol cap
A patrol cap, also known as a field cap is a soft cap with a stiff, rounded visor, and flat top, worn by the military personnel of some countries in the field when a combat helmet is not required.-M1951 Field Cap and Ridgeway Cap:...
or utility cover
The utility cover, also known as the utility cap and eight-pointed cover, is the United States Marine Corps cap, worn with their utility uniform. It is an eight-pointed hat, with a visor similar to a baseball cap. It is worn "blocked", that is, creased and peaked, for a sharper appearance. It is...
There are several variants of the M 43 field cap, starting with the Gebirgsjäger's ski cap. This was the first in the family of hats, and was recognized by a high peak, a tear-drop shaped top, a short bill, and a small skirt that folds down to protect the ears in cold. All Bergmützen had a small Edelweiss
Edelweiss , Leontopodium alpinum, is a well-known European mountain flower, belonging to the sunflower family.-Names:The common name comes from German edel, meaning "noble", and weiß "white", thus signifying "noble whiteness".The scientific name Leontopodium is a Latin adaptation of Greek...
or a grouping of Jäger leaves, depending on the unit. The ski cap was generally made of Field Grey or Field Blue wool, depending on whether it was used by the Heer, SS, or the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....
Gebirgsjäger's Ski Cap
The sides of the bergmütze stand almost straight up, due to the wide top sewn onto the cap. The skirt that surrounds the cap is made in the same wool as the cap, and is double layered in the rear 3/4ths of the skirt, enabling it to be folded down over the ears. The skirt has a small dip in the front 1/4 with a divide secured by two small buttons in order to get the skirt around the bill. The small section in the front quarter was built shorter to show the insignia, and cover the wearer's chin or mouth, without disturbing breathing by covering the nose.
Summer Ski Cap
A summer version of the cap was issued to all gebirgs that was almost identical to the standard version with some exceptions. It was made of field grey poplin, and the skirt was sewn in place, creating a "fake fold."
Winter Ski Cap
A winter version of this cap was produced in either white poplin or white wool, depending on wearer's choice or unit. The white poplin version was deliberately oversized to fit over the standard issue cap. It generally did not have anyfold or skirt at all. The White wool version was to be worn in lieu of the standard version, thus it was identical to the regular cap, with the exception of having bare aluminum buttons instead of painted ones.
In 1940, development began on a field cap to be worn in place of the normal overseas cap worn by the regular infantry. Within a year, a simple alternative was developed. It was very similar to the Bergmütze, but made in different materials and with a slightly different cut. The result was the M41 camouflaged field cap.
There are a few different variants of the M41, depending on the branch of the Wehrmacht that used it.
The Waffen SS Variant
The SS had reversible M41s made of the same reversible poplin found in their smocks and zeltbahns. Many were very simple, with no insignia, no fold, and a small sweatband on the fall side of the cap. The Hat had a smaller top panel than the bergmutze, giving it a contoured look. These were produced with two small eyelets on either side of the cap for ventilation. The visor on the cap was extended from the bergmutze.
Insignia was to be placed on the SS M41, consisting of a Green or brown BeVo eagle and skull on the Spring and Fall sides of the cap, respectively. Although, like many things in the SS, this was easier said than done. Many soldaten had the required insignia, but due to supply problems, many had either normal cap insignia or none at all.
The SS model was produced from all the camouflaged patterns, and after the siege of Italy in 1944, they were produced in Italian camouflage. The Italian camouflaged model was almost exclusive to the 12th SS HitlerJugend division.
Some samples of these caps show a fake fold or officer piping or both, and most of these were private purchase.
The Heer Variant
The Heer Pattern M41 was identical to the SS Model, except that it was produced from splinter pattern
Splinter pattern camouflage is a military camouflage pattern consisting of polygons.Splittermuster was developed by Germany in the late 1920s. Splittermuster was issued to practically all Wehrmacht units. The pattern consists of a disruptive pattern of hard-edged polygons, with sharp corners...
and Sfumpmuster camouflage material instead of the SS Patterns. Insignia on the caps was rarely used, but some have been shown to use a Heer Eagle and cockade on a single piece trapezoid. These did not have any folds or skirts at all.
The Luftwaffe Variant
The Luftwaffe used caps identical to the Heer's, but including the Splinter B camouflage pattern. The insignia was also made on a trapezoid (though some officer's versions show 2 separate pieces) but with Luftwaffe Insignia.
The M43 Standard Field cap
The M43 Einheitsfeldmütze
field cap"*) was similar to the M41 camouflaged field cap, but made of wool and the skirt was applied to the cap once again. The M43 had many small changes depending on the branch of the Wehrmacht, but are nearly identical to the untrained eye.
- the "Feldmütze" was the German garrison (side) cap, which the much more popular M43 was intended to (and essentially did) replace.
The Heer (Army)
Heer is German for "army". Generally, its use as "army" is not restricted to any particular country, so "das britische Heer" would mean "the British army".However, more specifically it can refer to:*An army of Germany:...
* model of the M43 was made of field gray wool lined with gray cotton (there were some color variations), with varied insignia styles, including 2 separate insignia pieces mounted one above the other (eagle on top, cockade below), a 1-piece trapezoid insignia with the national eagle and cockade within the trapezoid, and a T-shaped insignia (again, with the eagle above the cockade). Army M-43s nearly always have a 2-button flap. Officer versions (and enlisted men's caps, if privately purchased) were generally made of better quality wool, and might include a partial, or full sweatband. Officer caps included silver cord piping around the upper seam (around the top panel), as well as around the upper edge of the front portion of the side panels. The Afrikakorps' soft cover was the M40 visored (peaked) cap, similar in shape to the M41 field cap. This extremely popular cap was made of olive-drab cotton twill lined with loosely woven red cotton fabric for protection from the sun and effective heat transfer from the head. It had a long visor, one-piece "false fold" (rather than functional earflaps), and two metal ventilation eyelets on each side.
- "Heer" is the German word for Army--but only the German Army; the term used for foreign armies is "Armee." Heer is related to the Old English (Anglo-Saxon) word "Here" (which meant "army").
The SS Model was nearly identical to the Heer model--though there were some flap button variations (1-button, 2-button)--except with SS Insignia applied. The insignia originally was 2 separate pieces: an eagle and a Totenkopf (Death's Head); variations in positioning included caps with the Totenkopf located on the upper front of the cap with the eagle positioned on the left side skirt. Insignia was either embroidered, or machine-woven (BeVo). Near the end of the war, the 2-piece insignia was replaced with a 1-piece trapezoid insignia. Variations: Some caps show a cloth eagle with a metal Totenkopf, although the use of metal insignia on the SS M43 was never authorized. Nonetheless, in combat areas, regulations were sometimes overlooked. An embroidered cap version of the SS Gebirgsjäger sleeve patch was sewn to the left side skirt of the M43, whereas Heer caps always used a sew-on metal Gebirgsjäger insignia. The tropical version of this cap was similar with the exception of no liner and brown on black insignia instead of bone-gray on black.
The Luftwaffe's model was identical to the SS and the Heer's with the exception of beinüg made in field blue wool. The insignia consisted of a machine-embroidered Luftwaffe eagle and cockade on a single piece trapezoid, though some caps show two separate pieces. The tropical version was similar in look, but with a longer bill, lined in red, and 4-6 buttons on the back to attach a neck shade, basically a piece of cloth to protect the neck from sunburn.
The Panzerkorp's M43 field cap was identical to the other branch field caps, with the exception of them being made in black wool. Insignia differed according to the branch of service. Lining was generally black or brown twill or satin. Army Panzer M43s used the Army eagle and cockade either embroidered or machine-woven; SS Panzer M43s used 2-piece (embroidered) or trapezoid machine-woven insignia; Luftwaffe Panzer M43s (Herman Göring division tank personnel, for example, wore black backed Luftwaffe insignia, which could be machine-woven, or machine-embroidered. Silver officer piping on Army caps followed the usual Army pattern. Silver cord piping for SS-officer company and field grade officer caps was replaced by white piping (Himmler's order), and was worn only around the top panel (though some officers opted to ignore regulations and followed the Army pattern (piping along the front flaps and turn ups, as well).
Mountain units (Gebirgsjäger) of the Bundeswehr
The Bundeswehr consists of the unified armed forces of Germany and their civil administration and procurement authorities...
still wear M43-style field caps, and are still referred to as "Bergmütze". The caps have the "fake fold" mentioned above, and are issued in medium grey for enlisted personnel and a lighter grey with silver piping around the brim for officers. The Edelweiss is still on the left side of the cap above the ear, and the cockade and crossed-swords insignia are present on the front above the bill. Most modern "m43" field caps are of a slightly different cut than the original M43, with a wider top, but still very similar to the Gebirgsjäger Bergmütze of WWII. Many modern German police units also use a variant of the M43. Additionally, all other army units wear a simplified version of the M43 cap, without the fold-down ear flaps, in standard Flecktarn camouflage with a BeVo cockade on the front. This is generally worn in the field instead of the Beret. There is also a version of lighter cloth in the desert variant of Flecktarn for use in tropical climates.