Original German WWII Model 43 Afrika Korps Tropical Field Cap dated 1943 - Tropeneinheitsfeldmütze M43
Original Item: Only One Available. In late 1940, with the impending German entrance into the North African campaign, tropical uniforms headgear and equipment were quickly developed and issued in time for DAK, Deutsches Afrika Korps, (German Africa Corps), personnel's arrival in Tripoli in February 1941.
The M41 tropical field cap was introduced in early 1941 and design of the cap was loosely based on the Mountain Troopers, Bergmütze with minor variations. Officer ranks caps were distinguished from EM/NCO's with silver piping for the ranks of Lieutenant to Oberst and gilt piping for the ranks of Generalmajor to Generalfeldmarschall while EM/NCO's ranks caps were not piped. The different branches of service within the army were allocated a particular identifying waffenfarbe, (Branch of Service Color), and originally the M41 tropical field caps had a branch of service soutache applied to the front consisting of an inverted "V" encompassing the national tri-color cockade but regulations of July 10TH 1942 abolished the use of the soutache and instructed it to be removed from the caps, although the directive was not strictly adhered to.
This wonderful example of the M43 Tropeneinheitsfeldmütze (Tropical Unit Field Cap) is correct in all respects, and these are rare in any condition. It features ribbed olive/khaki cotton twill construction, dual-ply, stitched down side and back panels with a gently scalloped downward slope to the front center. The cap has ventilation grommets to each side positioned just below the outer edge of the crown seam. The top center seam is correctly stitched right through the interior liner for added strength. The front center of the cap has a machine woven national eagle in light blue/grey threads on a cut-out, woven tan base.
The front center of the dual-ply, downward sloping scalloped panel has a machine woven national tri-color cockade on a woven tan/olive diamond shaped base. Both the eagle and the cockade are hand-stitched to the cap. The cap has a cotton twill covered, forward visor with an internal cardboard stiffener. The visor has dual rows of reinforcement stitching to the bottom of the forward edge. The interior of the cap is fully lined in light weight red cotton with a reinforced cotton sweatband.
The inside of the red lining is nicely marked with the makers Reichsbetriebsnummer (National Business Number), as well as the size and date:
1943  57
There are unfortunately no solid records of the German RBNr designations, however this number has been seen on other hats and DAK militaria. The condition of the cap is very good, with the expected wear from service. There is some fraying of the fabric, as well as field repairs and light staining. The brim stiffener has some creases and deformation, and the oil cloth sweatband base layer has some damage. However none of this is out of line with service wear. This is a cap that was really there, used during the war.
An extremely rare example of an Afrikakorps M43 Tropical cap, still in very good condition, ready to display!
The Afrika Korps or German Africa Corps (German: Deutsches Afrikakorps, DAK was the German expeditionary force in Africa during the North African Campaign of World War II. First sent as a holding force to shore up the Italian defense of their African colonies, the formation fought on in Africa, under various appellations, from March 1941 until its surrender in May 1943. The term "Afrika Korps" is pseudo-German (so-called "cod-German"), deriving from an incomplete German title. The German term referred solely to the initial formation, the Deutsches Afrikakorps (DAK), which formed part of the Axis command of the German and Italian forces in North Africa. The name stuck, with both news media and Allied soldiers, as the name for all subsequent German units in North Africa. The unit is known for having been commanded by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel.
More on the RBNr. System:
Reichsbetriebsnummer or RB number (also represented as RB Nr or Rbnr). Before the war, the Germans set up a system for registering and recording the factory information, the Reichsbetriebskartei. This was to help enable machine tabulation of facts and figures. It was from this that the Reichsbetriebsnummer came into being. The Reichsministerium für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion (Ministry for Armaments and War Production) files survive today in the Bundesarchiv, however, these are only fragmentary. There is a holding file from the working group created by the Office of Machine Reporting in the Armament Office of the Reich Ministry for Armaments and War Production - their main focus was the operations of the industry group for which an economic interest was Armour production. This index provides information on the most important data of the companies covered by it, production profile, operating area, number of employees and the responsible operator.
As a prerequisite for the intended use of the punch-card method in the armaments industry, it was this system which gave rise to the Rbnr. The operating numbers were assigned by the competent local district offices of Machine reporting. (Bezirksstellen des Maschinellen Berichtswesens.) The index is in the form of index cards that are accessible numerically (approximately 14 meters of index cards!). Access to this register is only possible through the naming of this company, stating the place of production. The Reichsministerium für Rüstung und Kriegsproduktion files have multiple entries on the introduction of the factory and also the lot no.
The Rbnr code was used from 1943 onwards and replaced the makers name and address (or company logo) on government contract uniforms, caps and field equipment and knives. It is either rubber ink stamped on cloth or die stamped onto leather & metal items. It has been written countless times that this numeric code system was introduced as a security measure to help mask production locations. This was not the case but it was perhaps, a helpful by- product of the system. It is not unknown to find the Rbnr together with the maker’s info. Had it been a security measure, clearly this practise would have been banned.
So what was the Rbnr? It was a nine digit number and was normally represented thus: RB Nr: 0/000/0000.
The first prefix number could range from 0 through to 9. This number determined the membership of the various groups in the realm of Trade and Industry (Reichsgruppenleitzahl)
• 0 Industry
• 1 Crafts
• 2 Commercial wholesale trading companies
• 3 Banking
• 4 Insurance Companies
• 5 Energy (Electrical companies and such)
• 6 Tourism (Including Hotels, Wine and Mineral Water companies)
• 7 Traffic
• 8 Food Industry
• 9 Not otherwise mentioned groups
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