Item:
ONSV22NAS5

Original German WWII Normandy / Mediterranean Camouflage Gas Mask Canister

Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-kind. Incredible wartime applied Normandy Camouflage color painted German gas mask can. This example is the Long Model 1938 Wehrmacht type, which was introduced to house the stiffer M38 gas masks. The spare lens compartment is present and without spare lenses. The closing clasp is still functional. The exterior of the can is painted in a Normandy or Mediterranean style Camo and it is a fantastic looking example.

This example has much of the original paint present, but it has darkened from time. It would also appear that someone has coated the inside and outside with some sort of oil or cleaner in hopes to preserve the paint better. Whatever the method was, well it worked but when the can is opened it gives off a strong odor. This is just the canister, there is no gas mask or accessories present.

Some of the most unique German helmets of WWII were worn during the Battle for Normandy. The terrain of thick green hedgerows, rolling green meadows, golden fields and orchards created diverse but deadly battlefields; one that necessitated good helmet camouflage for survival. To help their helmets blend into this environment, German soldiers at Normandy used a wide range of paint, wire, cloth covers and other devices to this end. These men were often hardened, experienced combat veterans with experience in campaigns in Poland, France, Africa and the USSR. They knew from experience what worked and what didn’t, and the helmet they wore during the Normandy campaign reflected that.

One effective, although more permanent method of concealing the helmet was the use of camouflage paint. It is up to some debate exactly when this method began among German soldiers but by the time of the Normandy campaign it was widespread.

In mid 1943 the German high command ordered that a three color camouflaged scheme of tan, green and brown be used in the painting of vehicles and other equipment. These same paints were used to camouflage helmets as well. While the high command did order specific color codes be used for consistency, the hues of tan, green, and brown can vary on original examples significantly. The mix of these tan, green, and brown colors were used by German troops at Normandy with such frequency that today collectors call almost any German helmet with a mix of these three colors “Normandy Camo”. It should be clear that while the use of these three colors for camouflaging helmets was common, there was never a directive from the German military high command to paint helmets in this manor. No officially sanctioned “Normandy camo” existed. The collector term, Normandy camo can still be justified to a large degree. Photos from the battle as well as surviving original example with Normandy providence would indicate this particular camo pattern was a favorite of Germans during the campaign. The mix of the three colors was certainly a good choice for Normandy as the countryside does exhibit those same colors. That being said with much of Western Europe’s terrain looking so similar this same pattern would see action in other battles as well. The camouflage paints used at Normandy do not confine themselves to distinct hues of tan, brown and green. Some helmets were painted with two colors or just one and sometimes with non-standard military paints that were probably locally sourced. Further complicating the matter, captured British, Soviet, French and Italian paints were all used to camouflage helmets at Normandy. The hue of these colors often deviate from the standard German military colors. The German soldiers who camouflaged their helmets were well aware of their surroundings and certainly were aware of what colors and patterns would blend into the terrain they would soon be fighting in. It is logical they would have chosen colored paint based the local area which would account for the variation.

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