Armoured Car Crew - Poland 1939
This Leutnant of the Aufklärungs-Abteilung wears the distinctive black uniform of all Panzer and Armoured Car crews during the campaigns in Czechoslovakia, Poland and France.
Black was used so that oil and other stains associated with working with armoured vehicles would not show up. Black was also the traditional colour of Frederic the Great's Prussian Hussars, meaning this uniform was following a Cavalry tradition dating back to the mid 18th Century.
On his head he wears the Panzer beret or 'Schutzmütze'. Introduced in 1934 and phased out by 1941, the beret's interior was made from hard rubber, to protect crew members heads whilst moving about in the cramped environment of an armoured vehicle. It was covered on the outside by a black wool spun beret.
The double breasted, high waisted tunic is piped with golden yellow Waffenfarbe to show his branch of service, and the collar patches bear the familair death's head or 'Totenkopf' which was another throwback to the cavalry units of the Prussian Army. He also wears his recently awarded iron Cross Second class and a ribbon bar indicating his participation in the Anschluss and Czechoslovakian campaigns and 4 years military service.
On his waist is the P-08 Luger pistol and the cross strap which would ultimately be phased out after the Polish campaign. The loose fitting trousers featured an internal belt to eradicate the need for braces and are bloused over the top of his marching boots which were cut with a shorter shaft than the boots worn by Infantry soldiers.
Armoured Car Commander - Ostfront 1942
Most German Panzer Divisions employed reconnaissance units in one form or another and the Grossdeutschland Division was no exception. Typically the vehicles used for this role included the light 4-wheeled Sd.Kfz.222 and the 8-wheeled heavy Sd.Kfz.231, 232 and 233 series cars. Lightly Armoured in comparison to their Panzer counterparts, instead gaining the advantage of speed and manoeuvrability since engaging the enemy is not a prerequisite of the reconnaissance unit’s role.
Like all Armoured Car Crewmembers this Unterwachtmeister of the 1st Schwadron Kradschutzen Battalion GD (1./Kradsch.Btl.GD) is authorized to wear a second pattern Heer Black Panzer Wrap uniform or Sonderbekleidung with his reconnaissance status being denoted by his golden yellow Waffenfarbe (piping) that symbolizes his historical links to the old Hussar Cavalry traditions. His headgear is the M34 Feldmütze enlisted man’s overseas side cap with the Soutache piping again in golden yellow.
No webbing is required or practical for that matter in the tight confines of his Armoured Car; however a Walther P38 sidearm is carried for personnel protection seen here in a leather holster. Around his neck is hung a dfh.b headset & kmf.b throat mike that would connect this commander to the radio network between vehicles via a fusprech.f transceiver. Underneath can be seen a set of Schutzbrille dust goggles and the ubiqitous Doppelfernrohr Dienstglas 6 x 30 Service Glasses.
Aufklärungtruppen image from the late 1930's