The M43 field cap
or "Einheitsmütze" was a cap used by the German Wehrmacht
, during World War II
. 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.
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 Bergmutzen had a small Edelweiss
or a grouping of Jager 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
, or the Luftwaffe
Gebirgsjager's Ski Cap
The sides of the bergmutze 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 reguklar cap, with the exception of having bare aluminum buttons instead of painted ones.
The M41 Camouflaged Field Cap
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 Bergmutz, 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 contured look. These were produced with two small eyelets on either side of the cap for ventalation. 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 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 Field cap
The M43 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 Heer model of the M43 was made of field gray wool with a 1 piece trapezoid insignia consisting of an Eagle and Cockade. Some models show a T-Shaped insignia on the cap, and some with 2 separate insignia pieces. The tropical model of the M 43 was identical, but made of tan twill or poplin with a lime green liner to pull heat away from the body. These had a fake fold and a longer bill.
The SS Model was identical to the Heer model except with SS Insignia applied. the insignia originally was 2 separate pieces, an eagle and a Totenkopf. But near the end of the war, these were replaced with a 1-piece trapezoid insignia. Many models show a cloth skull on the front and an eagle on the side, while some show a cloth eagle on the front along woth a metal skull. The tropical version of this cap was identical 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 being made in field blue wool. The insignia consisted of a Luftaffe eagle and cockade on a single piece trapezoid, though some 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 field cap was identical to the other branches field caps, in the exception of them being made in black wool. Insignia differed upon branch of service. Lining was generally black or brown twill or satin.
Mountain units (Gebirgsjäger) of the Bundeswehr
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.