Some of the most iconic WW2 uniforms were those issued to the German Panzer crews.
The 1930s German Army wrap-over tunic was created to assist tank and vehicle crews to get in and out of their vehicles with the least obstruction. The conventional German combat tunic at that time had buttons running down the front and they would inevitably catch on things. The wrap-around front design of the new tunics allowed buttons to be hidden. The colour also served a practical function by hiding the dirt and oil that the uniforms would come into contact with on a daily basis.
The irony of the whole design was that the combat awards so often issued to tank crews – such as Iron Crosses, tank awards and wound badges were designed to be mounted onto the front of those same tunics. Meaning that those awards would continually catch on vehicle parts and hatches, completely contradicting the purpose of the wrap-over tunic.
This propaganda photograph of Panzer ace Michael Wittmann shows his awards being worn on the front of his Panzer wrap-over tunic.
Very few combat awards were produced in flat cloth so it was perhaps a case of style over function at the time, or perhaps the designers completely missed what would happen to a panzer crewman’s uniform as he won awards during his career.
Not withstanding the practical issues of Panzer tunic being worn, there are hundreds of period photographs of Panzer crews relaxing in European cities. Outside cafes, or standing up in the turret of their Tiger tank in combat situations. One thing is for sure – they had some of the best clothing designs of that era.
A stunning Panzer tunic, trousers and M43 field cap grouping
It is rare to have the opportunity to buy a complete Panzer uniform set. This wrap-over tunic is a very early one which is 1935 dated. It has the Panzer pink piping throughout on the collar boards, the collar edge and on the shoulder boards which show the rank of 2nd lieutenant. The collar boards are machine sewn to the collar with correct alloy skulls fastened through via two rear prongs. The breast eagle is a machine sewn BeVo weave example in white thread on a black background, which has been hand sewn onto the tunic.
The trousers are the regulation pattern with two slash button pockets and a smaller watch pocket on the front right. The interior lining around the waist and pockets is white cotton and there is a 2 button waist with 4 button fly. They are straight legged with ties at the ankles. This pair is dated 1941. With an approximate 32 inch waist and a 46 inch length, they the ideal size for a display.
This great set is available for sale from The Ruptured Duck and is priced at $24,500.
A rare field grey Panzer Pioneer Officer’s wrapover tunic
This style of late war tunic was produced in rough field grey material to the same pattern as the standard black one shown above. They are very difficult to find today in any condition and this example has very little service wear.
An interesting addition are the collar tabs which have black with silver dashes around them, as well as the standard alloy skull in the centre. The epaulettes are also trimmed with a black edge, denoting pioneers and there are medal ribbons for the German-Italian Africa Campaign medal and the Iron Cross Second Class.
The tunic interior is finished in a light tan colour and there are the usual manufacturer’s size markings which are clearly visible. The back is quite plain. There are two vertical pleats which are very often found on late war tunics. These were an ideal way for a tailor to take the jacket in if the wearer lost weight.
This tunic went up for auction via C&T Auctions in their USA November sale. Their estimate was $6,000 – $8,000 but it did not sell this time so worth keeping an eye out or contacting the auctioneers if you’re interested.
Reed Green Denim Assault Tunic
Another branch of service that needed their own clothing was the self-propelled artillery, which accompanied infantry into close contact with the enemy. As the majority of these men were fighting in open topped vehicles, it was obvious that the black wrap-over tunic would not fit the bill. They were not particularly well camouflaged and they stood out in the top of a camouflaged vehicle or scouting for enemy vehicles. The answer was to create a multi-purpose wrap-over tunic in dark denim, which would provide a degree of camouflage and also act as a summer weight combat tunic.
Normally the jackets would have coloured branch of service collar badges and epaulettes, but this example does not have either. The wrapover was available to officers and it could be privately purchased by them, and the general design stayed the same for all ranks with the large front pocket being used for maps and small items. If needed, the jacket could also be worn over another tunic for added warmth.
This example is size marked on the inside and it has a single draw cord to allow a small amount of waistband adjustment. It is in very good condition and available from The Collector’s Guild priced at $5,995.
Staying with Panzer troops and combat jackets…
Next up is a Panzer officer’s Afrika Korps tropical tunic. Tropical tunics had a standard design with an open top collar, 4 pleated pockets and removable buttons. The tunic has an enlisted man’s tropical eagle, which was manufactured on a tan backed material and matching Panzer pink collar badges and epaulettes.
Again, the tunic was designed with no real lining for warmth as it was thought unnecessary, although it does have adjustable button cuffs. The underneath of the button flap has a maker’s name stamped into it. The buttons are also removable and they are accessed behind a flap which runs from top to bottom of the tunic front. They could be removed whilst cleaning the jacket and then put back later on, as they are fixed in place by small steel loops.
It is interesting to see how the tunic has faded almost to white on the exterior, but more of the original colour can be seen inside the jacket and under the pocket flaps and collar where the sunshine has not reached.
This particular jacket has been featured in a book written by Daniel Fisher on the Afrika Korps. It is priced at £6,995 and is available from Regimentals.
Moving away from combat tunics
All the best dressed Panzer officer’s had a Waffenrock or ceremonial parade jacket, which they would wear when attending official functions. These jackets conformed to a specific design. They were often privately purchased and made from only the best materials. As with all Panzer jackets, they would be trimmed in the pink Panzer colours on the collar, epaulettes and also along the front edge of the buttons all the way down and around the cuffs.
Invariably officers would leave a spare Waffenrock at home and because so many did not return home after the war, they can often be found in almost untouched condition. That said, of all the colours of service available, the Panzer pink piped ones have always been at a premium for collectors.
This non-commissioned officer example has the correct breast eagle and it has a number 3 on each of the epaulettes along with a single rank pip. The buttons are also decorated with a letter “I”.
This tunic is for sale via IMCS Militaria in Holland and it is priced at €950.
Thank you for reading this post. For more US Army combat jackets for sale CLICK HERE.
Do you have items to sell? Dealer or collector; it is completely free!
We love to show items for sale from all around the world, so grab the chance to put your item in front of thousands of potential buyers worldwide.
For dealers with your own website: it could not be easier, so get in touch via [email protected] to express interest. We will select items from your website to include in our daily posts, and advertise them for free! No work on your part required at all. If you have a social media and/or eBay account, feel free to include these in your e-mail as well. We will tag your social media account whenever your item is included in one of our posts so you can gain even more exposure. Click here to see the list of our current partner sites.
Collectors / sellers with just one or two items to sell: Send us an email to [email protected] with 3-5 clear photos of the item, item description (be as descriptive as possible), location, price and shipping options, and we will shortlist it to be included in our upcoming articles. Again, totally free! Subject to approval, your item will be seen by tens of thousands of people per week.