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The "M43" Cap (Einheitsfeldmütze)

by Ed Walton

Question: Could you tell me if the M43 officer's field cap is the same shape/ cut as the enlisted M43 but with braid and different buttons? The private's cap looks taller with straighter vertical cap 'walls' and a longer peak.Also I wondered from war photos whether the peaks should have a straighter side edge?

Answer: Firstly, the M43 is derived from the uncommon M42 field cap. The wartime "M43" cap was simply the "M42" cap with the addition of a visor that was sized appoximately midway between the large visor of the "M40" tropical cap and the small visor of the Mountain cap (Bergmütze; which was used by Jäger, Gebirgsjäger, and Skijäger troops exclusively). But getting back to the original question, it's just photography. The officer's cap is the same as the enlisted cap pattern, but with the officer changes in insignia, piping, etc. as per regulations. Here are some wartime photos showing how they're made.

Notice in this photo how the crown pieces are smaller than the soldier's heads which is what causes the crown to taper upward.

In the next photo, you can see the top seams better because we've traced over them in red.

The way the crown seams come together on top of the soldiers head give the WARTIME cap it's characteristic tapered crown. Note also how the front of crowns on these caps in this photo have a "prow" pinched into them on either side of the stiffener.Here's another photo, showing the tapered crown of the wartime "M43" cap. Note the cap in the foreground and the cap in the left background. See how both caps taper upward and are pinched on either side of the stiffener to heighten the effect. This was called the "Jäger Pinch." The same photo again on the right, with the red trace lines showing the angles better.

Here below is another famous photo showing how the crown seams cause the top taper. Notice how the seams show above the tops of the heads. Note also the universal prow-like front caused by pinching either side of the stiffener.

Below are a pair of officer "M43" caps showing the wartime top taper.

When the West German border guard force was set up after the war, they received a new pattern "M43" cap that was a cross between the WWII "M43" and the WWII mountain cap. Look at this photo of the top of the wartime mountain cap.

While it has a teardrop crown like the "M43," the wartime mountain cap is quite a bit wider and is almost as wide as the soldier's head giving it straighter sides. The West German field cap is the same.

When it comes to the shape of the top and crown, the postwar "M43" cap is much more like the wartime mountain cap than the wartime "M43". The postwar "M43" cap is actually a mountain cap with the larger M43 visor substituted for the small mountain visor, while the wartime "M43" cap is the "M42" cap with a visor added. Post war caps kept the mountain crown shape, but made the top piece an oval instead of the wide tear drop. The postwar caps, and all non-Lost Battalion reproductions, also lack the stiffener in front, which makes it very difficult for the cap to hold the traditional pinch.

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