Original German WWII Unissued DAK Afrikakorps EM-NCO M38 Overseas Cap with RBNr. - Size 55
Original Item: Only One Available. The second most predominant item of Heer tropical soft headgear was based on the M-34 / 38 overseas cap, nicknamed in German army slang as Schiffchen, or literally "little ship" as it resembled an up-turned row-boat. It lacked a peak or visor, and was made in the same cotton as the M-40 'Afrikamütze' cap. The production of these also started in 1940. The schiffchen utilized the same brown enameled stock for the vent holes as the M-40.
As with the continental wool version, the tropical overseas cap had turn-down sides, but these could not be folded down to cover the ears for cold weather protection because they were stitched in the front and back. Later war versions retained the seam, but were entirely sewn down, now just a separate part of the exterior.
The cap was also lined with red cotton, the sides being the last to be sewn in place. The insignia was sewn to the shell before the lining was added, and used exactly the same eagle, roundel and soutache as the M-40 'Afrikamütze'. From 1943 onwards, as with the M-40 billed cap, the eagle can be seen to be sewn on some examples on a triangular backing. This was a simple measure to speed up production, although it tended to lend the cap with a less attractive appearance.
The overseas cap was popular with armored vehicle crews due to the lack of a visor, which would get in the way of using optical equipment and continual banging against the sides, equipment, hatches and other obstructions in closely confined work spaces like tanks and armored vehicles. Due to their very utilitarian and somewhat unflattering appearance, the overseas cap never gained the affection that the M-40 evoked from those who wore them. These M-34 / 38 Pattern Tropical caps also have an important place in any tropical uniform collection.
This is an excellent condition Heer tropical pattern overseas cap, as worn by NCO and enlisted ranks in the DAK and southern Europe. Styled after the 1940 pattern, it is produced in olive-green cotton twill with decorative "faux" flaps and tan enameled alloy vent grommets. The front has a very nice BeVO style machine embroidered Light blue on Tan tropical pattern Heer eagle with the correct tri-color Kokarde (cockade) underneath. There is no Waffenfarbe (Unit Color) Soutache, so this was most likely for a standard infantry soldier.
The interior has a liner of lightweight red cotton cloth that is well marked with manufacturer code and size information:
R.Btr.-Nr. 0/ 0265/5044
German RBN Numbers, or Reichsbetriebsnummer, also known as the National Business Number, were an alternative to the 3 letter codes in use late in the war. The first number 0 is the prefix for "industry", while 0265 is the location code, and manufacturer 5044 in is a specific maker. The records of these are very incomplete, so we have not been able to locate this specific manufacturer.
We believe that the "543" in the markings indicates manufacturer in May of 1943, which was right at the end of the North Africa Campaign, which may explain why it looks to have never been used in service.
There is very little wear of any kind of the cap, and all of it looks to be from storage. There is no staining on the interior to speak of. There are no structural fabric issues, and both grommets are secure, though they have oxidized and lost their enamel coating. Ready to display!
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