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Officer's and Specialist Equipment 1939-45

A wide range of specialized equipment was issued to selected individuals because of their duty requirements, the environment they operated in, or their transportation.

Belt & buckles
koppel und Zweidornschnalle

Troop leaders – both NCOs and officers – required several items designed to accommodate their duties. Officers were required to purchase many of these items, for which a small allowance was given. At the start of the war, officers were required to wear the M1934 belt with shoulder strap with all classes of uniform. It was composed of a 50mm wide waist belt (55mm versions were also seen) and a "Sam Browne" -type shoulder strap. The buckle was an open-faced frame and prong style made of matt aluminum. The two-piece adjustable shoulder strap was 25mm wide and fitted with a carbine hook on both ends; these attached to two stud-secured belt loops with "D" rings positioned on the belt at the left front and the right rear, with the strap running over the right shoulder. Though principally ornamental, it did serve to support any equipment, usually a sidearm. The belt and shoulder strap were a light reddish brown, with a thin line or groove pressed round the edge of the belt and shoulder strap on most versions. Armored officers were ordered to wear a black version with the black Panzer uniform, but most retained the brown version.

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Heer officer belt belt & buckle Luftwaffe officer belt & buckle Heer General belt & buckle

In September 1939 it was forbidden for regimental field commanders and below (usually from the rank of Oberst down) to wear the shoulder strap, in an effort to prevent them from being identified at a distance; in November 1939 it was forbidden for any officer to wear it. Furthermore, it was directed that officers from the rank of Hauptmann and above were to wear the standard enlisted men's black belt and buckle, usually with either the support straps for cartridge pouches, or cavalry supports (see below). The "cavalry" support straps were straight, while the "support straps for cartridges" were wider at the shoulders and tapered to the same width as the cavalry straps. Infantry Leutnants were authorised to wear the standard enlisted man's belt and support straps. This arrangement was seldom worn, however, because of the status German officers placed on the traditional brown belt as a sign of authority.

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Heer Afrika Korps officer belt & buckle Heer parade belt & buckle SS-officer belt & buckle

In May 1943 the width of the officers' belt was reduced to 45mm, and in July 1943, it was ordered that all brown belts be dyed black, and all new ones be manufactured in black. The brown belt, however, continued to be seen throughout the war.

A tropical version of the officers' belt saw limited issue in North Africa. It consisted of a reed green or tan waist belt fitted with an olive-green-painted circular officer's parade belt buckle. However, most officers in North Africa continued to wear their brown belts.

Report and map cases

The M1935 report/map case (Meldekartentasche 35, usually called a map or dispatch case by collectors) was widely issued to officers and senior NCOs, artillery observers, selected signalmen, military police, messengers and others. Made of smooth or pebbled black or brown leather, there were a number of variants (including those made in the officer's reddish brown color). They were occasionally painted field grey or green (or sand color in the desert), and late war versions were made of artificial leather.

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The case commonly consisted of a flat case closed by a flap; under the flap were seven pencil pockets alongside one or two ruler pockets. The case was divided inside into two compartments by a leather divider. Most has a flap covering the upper third to half of the case, though there were some that covered the entire case. The flap was secured either by a strap and buckle, or a strap and inverted "U" and slotted metal plate fastener. On the upper back were two leather belt loops, and most had a detachable or fixed adjustable shoulder strap; they could either be attached directly to the belt, or slung over the shoulder. In both cases, the case was worn on the left side or front. A map protection cover, composed of two clear celluloid panels joined by a leather frame, was included in which to place a folded map. Besided issue cases, similar commercially-made cases were purchased privately by officers. Captured map cases were also used, and considered something of a status symbol.

A report pouch (Meldetasche) was carried by the reporting NCO (colloquially, Der Spiess, equivalent to a Regimental Sergeant-Major or US First Sergeant). It was a small black leather case secured by a snap-closed flap. In it were stored blank unit daily strength reports, unit rosters, and a pen or pencil. It had no belt attachments, and was traditionally tucked in between the front of the tunic between the secont and third buttons.

Map/dispatch case march compass
Meldekartentasche Feldmarsch Umfang und Kurvenmesser

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Hitler Jugend/ Heer compass Heer compass

Map/dispatch cases were issued on a limited basis to specifically designated personnel such as unit commanders, messengers, and observers. When issued the map/dispatch cases came complete with an assortment of map reading and plotting tools and instruments including a march compass and a map distance measuring meter.


Service binoculars (Doppelfernrohr-also called Dienstglas or Doppelglas) were issued to officers, some NCOs, artillery observers, aircraft spotters, etc. The standard issue binoculars were 6x30 (6 power, 30 degree field of vision), and made by a number of different well-known optics manufacturers and in a number of variations. Early versions had the metal parts lacquered black, the bodies being covered with thin black artificial leather or synthetic rubber. From 1943 they were also painted dark yellow without any form of body covering. A thin black real or artificial leather carrying strap was also attached. To protect the eyepieces, an oval protector of black leather, synthetic rubber or Bakelite was provided; this attached to the carrying strap by small loops. A black leather button hanger was also provided; this fastned around the rear of the connecting arm of the binoculars and fastened to an upper tunic button. The eyepiece protector and button flap were used when the binoculars were carried around the neck.

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Service binoculars Tropical or late war binoculars with bakelite container

The binocular container (Doppelfernrohr Behalter) was of the ususal kidney-shaped cross-section and made of either real or artificial leather, black or light tan Press-Stoff or black Bakelite. An adjustable, detachable black leather carrying strap was attached to "D" rings on the container's sides, one narrow or two wide belt loops were fixed to the back surface.

Signal Whistle

While the whistle cord or lanyard presented a splash of colour to the uniform, the whistle itself was used in combat conditions to give signals that otherwise were not as useful. Shouted commands could often go unheard amidst the sound of gunfire, and soldiers standing up and waving their arms during a firefight were an obvious target for enemy soldiers, especially snipers who were trained to look for such distinctive behaviour as a means of singling out enemy NCOs and officers.

The signal whistle (signalpfeiffer) was a very simple design; made of black bakelite, it was about 5 cm long with a single chamber pipe containing a wooden ball. A round end cap had a ring molded onto it to accept the whistle cord (signalpfeifferschnur). The cord was approximately 35 cm long, braided in a chain herringbone pattern with a 2cm loop at each end. One loop was threaded through the ring on the whistle, with the lanyard passing through the loop also and knotted in place. The other loop was secured to a button on the uniform

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The whistle was usually tucked into the right breast pocket, with the free end of the whistle cord being attached to the second tunic button. The whistle cord was thus visible between the right breast pocket and the tunic front. The whistle gave a distinctive blast, loud enough to be heard several hundred metres away, and not easily confused with Allied whistle. British "Bobby" whistles were dual pitched and the US whistle gave a high trill. The German Signal Whistle was harsh and grating, sometimes being described as matching the sound 'of a robin being castrated.'



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The field flashlight was a standard issue item for all ranks and German army personnel utilized a wide variety of field flashlights including both private purchase and issued models. Generally the field flashlights were equipped with assorted colored lenses for signaling and dark, "black-out", lenses for camouflage purposes. Flashlamp2.jpg (24751 bytes)

Panzer head and microphone

Introduced with the deployment of the Pz.Kpfw.II and IV together with their successors, bought with it the introduction of intra and inter-vehicle communications which was made possible by the excellent FuG 5 radio. The radio was installed on all tanks and many other categories of tracked and wheeled fighting vehicles.

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This set consists of a the typical modified headset of Doppelfernhoerer (Dfh b) marked for armored troops' use by the addition of rubber ear cups, which filtered out the external noise, and by a leather pad which covers the metal connecting section over the wearers head. The throat microphone, invented by the Germans has a leather padded metal connecting section which ends up in two bakelite mikes and was fitted around the larynx. The bakelite mikes has a Waffenamt proof stamping in white paint. Attached to the mikes is a on/off switch, marked (Fu)b. Both headset as well as throat mike have complete cords and plugs attached.

Pilot/Flight personnels’s AK 39 wrist compass
Armkompa▀ 39

The AK 39, wrist compass was developed for wear by pilots and aircrew for calculating their position if forced to abandon their aircraft or in crash landing situations. Black and clear bakelite construction compass with a blackened leather wrist strap is roughly 2 3/8" diameter and 7/8" thick. Compass has a clear top plate and black bakelite body. Clear top plate rotates for aligning directional headings and has small repeating vertical grooves to sides for ease of handling. Interior of compass has an alcohol filling with floating, clear bakelite plate with black, 360 degree directional markings in increments of 30. Interior directional plate has a luminous arrow at the North heading and luminous dots at each of the 30 degree increment markings.

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Fighter pilot's model 10-30 B-2 life vest

Schwimveste10-30.jpg (46100 bytes) Orders regulated that all personnel flying over water were required to wear a life vest or jacket. The vests came in a variety of designs for specific personnel. The back-less styles were designed for fighter pilots and were normally worn over the back flap of the parachute. All models of the life vests were constructed in bright yellow material for ease of visibility. Later pattern, rubberized, ribbed, yellow canvas construction, back-less, pneumatic flotation life vest. The vest features a semi-circular, rear, neck bladder and two vertically oval front chest bladders with yellow cotton tape seam trimming. The left chest bladder has a vertical, black rubber, manual, inflation tube with a black bakelite connecting port housing and mouthpiece. The manual inflation tube is held in place by a horizontal web loop, which places the mouthpiece near the wearers mouth for ease of inflation. The bottom edge of the left chest bladder has a black bakelite and brass connecting port housing designed for the cylindrical pressurized air canister which would automatically inflate the bladders.

Luftwaffe double barrel flare pistol

The German armed forces utilized two basic models of flare pistols, with one having a short barrel and the other a long barrel, that were introduced in 1928 and saw service right up until the end of the WWII. Both of the basic flare pistols were issued with a specific holster and were capable of firing over forty assorted flares with different functions and purposes. During the war additional expedient models of flare pistols were produced and captured enemy stocks and WWI pistols were also utilized. Besides the two basic models of flare pistols the Luftwaffe also developed a double-barrel model flare pistol.
Tooled aluminum alloy construction double barreled flare pistol and steel and bakelite fittings. The pistol feature dual, roughly, 6 1/2" long, 1" diameter, tooled aluminum alloy barrels with a hinged receiver end. The bottom edge of the receiver has dual, pull back triggers with an integral trigger guard. The triggers may be activated individually or in unison as so desired. The forward edge of the trigger guard has an additional push, finger lever which activates an internal barrel locking mechanism and also enables the barrel hinge to be folded forward to load the pistol. The top reverse edge of the receiver has a three position, movable switch which enabled the operator to select either the left or right barrel respectively or the central position which would activate both of the barrels simultaneously. The left side of the receiver has a two position movable safety/fire switch. The pistol is well marked with Luftwaffe requisition number, "Fl.24483", and manufacturers code and date, "fzs 1943" indicating manufacture by Heinrich Krieghoff Waffenfabrik Suhl in 1943.

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