The German army during World War Two, was one of the most feared organizations of the time. An element of that fear was its impressive Panzer Tanks, treaded and armored vehicles that rolled over the armies of Europe in 1939-40. The men who commanded these menacing vehicles were highly respected within the German military. Part of their mystique as Panzer commanders and crews, were their all black wool uniforms. These uniforms were highly respected and had a deathly “Totenkopf” or skull insignia, both of which perpetuated the fear surrounding these uniforms.
These were designed to be worn in the tight quarters of a Panzer and also hide any grease marks when working on the vehicles. They were all wool, as many of the uniforms of this time were due to the European climate. The skull insignia and the general design of the uniform, was influenced by the Imperial German Death’s Head Hussar uniforms, another elite unit that fought in World War One. The German military would use these black uniforms until the end of the war. There was a grey version for assault guns, but the majority of the Panzer Crews wore the black version of the uniform.
Here are some examples of the German Panzer Uniforms during WWII.
The infamous Michael Wittmann, one of Germany’s top Panzer Commanders with 138 confirmed tank kills.
It should be noted that there was a slight difference between the German Army Panzer Wraps and the Waffen SS Panzer Wraps, the difference are clear in the photos below. These are examples of the jacket by some reproduction houses.
At The Front’s German Army “Heer” Panzer Wraps above, grey was for Assault Gunners. Assault Guns were not considered Panzers and thus were not authorized the covited black Panzer wraps.
The Wraps above are the Waffen SS versions.
The short tunic style of these jackets with the mixture of a front flap/wrap and button features made them prime pieces for designers to use as inspiration.
All Saints Dresden Jumper
(right) June Black Leather Wide Collar Jacket $565.00
As you can see, there are quiet a few of Panzer Wrap influenced fashion pieces. The middle pieces are designed for men. Designers were not the first to look at German Panzer uniforms for inspiration. A young director in the 1970s by name of George Lucas that brought these designs to Hollywood as the uniforms of the quintessential bad guys and Darth Vader’s cohorts, the Empire’s Imperial Officers.
Once again German design prevails, it is incredible how much everyday fashion is influenced by military uniforms. I truly believe that in this day and age, where practicality and style walk hand and hand, that military uniforms fulfill this specific need. Military uniforms by their very nature, are designed to be practical and at the same time be aethestically pleasing for the sake of tradition and moral.
Below I have listed some links to some reproduction houses where the reproductions of the originals can be found.
The German Panzer crews and commanders during World War Two considered themselves as an elite and privileged unit and this had a lot to do with their special uniforms. Through modern designers, a bit of this prestige and chic is ultimately transfered to your everyday fashionista. From commanding a Panzer from high atop a tank turret, to walking down 5th Avenue to your local bar, these jackets ensure that any conquest has a little style to it.