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Waffen SS "44 Dot" Uniforms
In early 1944, the Waffen-SS SS introduced a new uniform, meant to replace the pullover camouflage smocks as well as extend the service life of the wool uniform. It consisted of a tunic and trouser, very similar in pattern to the M43 wool uniform. The camouflage pattern was dubbed "Erbsenmuster" (Peas pattern) and was meant to be used in all seasons, dispensing with the need for the reversible uniforms. (Collectors most commonly refer to this as "44 Dot" so that's the term we chose.)
The new uniform was produced on a variety of linen, cotton, and rayon fabrics. Numerous shade variations exist, though this was a factor of erratic printing quality rather than any intentional alterations to the pattern.

Uniforms produced: The only garments produced and issued on a large scale were Feldblusen (tunics), Panzer Jackets, M43 style trousers (Keilhosen) and Panzer pattern trousers. In many original photos, one can see camouflage tunics with pleated pockets, bottle-green collars and even a few short, "M44" style jackets. However, these are either modified 44 dot tunics or tailor-made from zeltbahn cloth (and are not actually 44 dot pattern camouflage). There were also a few uniforms made from Oak A camo HBT cloth (Fall side out) in the same styles as the 44 dot uniforms. Small quantities of paratrooper smocks and padded winter uniforms were also made, but actual issue and use was very limited. Those garments were made on heavy cotton twill and rayon respectively.

Wear: The 44 Dot uniforms were issued to all Waffen SS units and were worn concurrently or in conjunction with the earlier smocks and helmet covers. They were worn both on their own, or over the wool uniform.

Dot myths and sundry nonsense...
There are several misconceptions and flat out fallacies commonly encountered regarding these uniforms. Here are the most prevalent.


Jackboots:
In recent years, the idea has developed that this uniform was only permitted to be worn with low boots and Gamaschen. That's ridiculous and easily dispelled- numerous original photos exist of soldiers wearing jackboots with this uniform. More re-enactor-I -was-there-in-my-former-life-nonsense.

Helmet Covers & Caps: Despite the apparent logic, neither helmet covers nor field caps were made in this pattern during the War. It's quite possible that it was intended to use up the remaining stocks of reversible poplin fabric for this purpose. No authentic wartime helmet covers or caps in 44 dot pattern camouflage have surfaced. There is one known photo of a POW returning from Russia in 1955 wearing a 44 dot cap- but it is not possible to determine if it was field/ tailor or factory made. The conventional wisdom is no caps or helmet covers.

Dot sizes: Much ado has been made over the years about "the size of the dots" on different original examples. The reason is quite simple: the screens used to print the camouflage were hand made with drawing fluid- essentially hand painted from a tracing of a master copy. Some workers painted outisde the lines, others inside. That easily accounts for this variation.

Number of Colors: There are 5. Light brown, dark brown, dark green, medium green and olive. No ifs, ands, or buts. The olive green is often rather faint and can be hard to see on some printings, and sometimes the two lighter greens look almost identical.

Uniforms in Depth


Waffen SS Pattern
Heer Reed Green Pattern

Pattern: The Erbsentarn combat uniform closely followed the pattern of the SS M43 Feldbluse and trousers. Despite apparent similarity, there are numerous differences between the SS uniforms and their Heer "reed green" counterparts. On the SS tunics the skirt is shorter, the breast pockets rectangular rather than angled, there is no chest dart, there are fewer button and belthook holes, the collar is wider and the skirt is shorter. SS trousers have tapered ankles and more steeply angled hip pockets than the Heer models. Also typical of Waffen SS uniforms, there exist a wide variety of shades and pattern oddities and the manufacturers had no qualms about mixing them together on individual garments.

Tunics in the most common fabrics

Trousers in mixed fabrics

Fabrics: Erbsentarn is printed a wider variety of cloths than any other SS uniform. The combat and Panzer uniforms were made from at least six different cloths. Linen HBT, cotton HBT, cotton sateen, linen twill, linen shirting, and cotton twill. It is very common to find a mix of these fabrics on garments. This can be simply a pocket flap or a facing, or an entire leg or sleeve being a different cloth. I have also encountered examples which used the rayon normally associated with winter parkas on some of their small components. Lining materials run the entire gamut of the German fabric inventory. Most commonly encountered are gray or tan shirting cloth, and "Italian" rayon HBT. But white twill, various tropical uniform fabrics and even olive field gear canvas have been found. The printing quality of the camouflage was often terrible. It appears that, frequently, the fabric was improperly scoured (cleaned) which prevented the inks from adhering properly.

Wide array of fabrics inside
and out
One tunic, three fabrics
and three colors of thread
Marking style and
location vary


Manufacture: The 44 Dot uniforms were made by every type of factory. SS Clothing Works, concentration camp shops, and regular civilian contractors. The quality ranges from decent to dreadful. Sloppy sewing and pattern errors are common. Many uniforms are sewn with a wide range of thread sizes and colors- tan, black, olive, gray, fieldgray, and brown are all used.

https://www.atthefront.com/HR/g/44_dot/buttonholes_s.jpg https://www.atthefront.com/HR/g/44_dot/pants_comp_2_s.jpg https://www.atthefront.com/HR/g/44_dot/pants_stitch_s.jpg https://www.atthefront.com/HR/g/44_dot/two_needle_s.jpg
Buttonhole variations
Trouser hardware
Chain stitching on trousers
Two needle felling

Construction: These uniforms are manufactured using the same methods and machines common to other SS clothing. Buttonholes can be hand sewn, eyelet, or bartack type. Somewhat less typically than uniforms of the other branches of the Wehrmacht, the SS uniforms frequently use two-needle machines on felled (interlocked) seams of all garments. SS trousers are one of the few German WWII garments on which I have observed the use of chain stitch machines. Although common on US uniforms, they are a rarity on German.
Buttons and hardware vary widely, with just about anything in the SS inventory appearing at some time or another. Trousers use a mix of dished metal, glass, and plastic buttons. The pebbled tunic buttons can be hollow or solid back and can be fieldgray, panzer gray or mustard tan in color.

https://www.atthefront.com/HR/g/44_dot/dot_shades_s.jpghttps://www.atthefront.com/HR/g/44_dot/fabric_back_s.jpg
https://www.atthefront.com/HR/g/44_dot/dot_scraps_s.jpg
Q: Which shade is the "right" one?
A: All of them.

Back of various types of
cotton and linen HBT

Parts for Panzer Trousers...


Color:
Besides the size of the "dots" varying, this camouflage exists in a fairly wide array of shades. There are two primary reasons for this- neither being intentional. First, the color of the fabric will affect the final color of the camouflage. The same ink printed on tan cloth will be darker than when printed on white cloth. The SS printed on a wide range of colors of fabric and this skewed the end product. Secondly, the supply situation led to many shortcuts in the printing. It appears that the fabrics were often not entirely clean when printed, which affects how well the ink adheres. It's also obvious that the printing process was hurried and what normally would have been rejected as "seconds" (misprints and misses) was used.

The original fabric scraps were found in Germany in the 1960's. It was a shop that had been making Panzer trousers when the War ended. The dealer had the partially finished trousers completed (we won't go into that), but there were about 10 pounds of scraps and pre-cut parts left over. I bought them from him in 2006. These come in very handy when making reproductions. Nonetheless, one can easily observe the wide range of weaving and color variations in the cloth. It's almost infinite.

https://www.atthefront.com/HR/g/44_dot/dot_eagles_s.jpg https://www.atthefront.com/HR/g/44_dot/eagles_reverse_s.jpg

Insignia:
The Erbsentarn uniforms had sleeve eagles sewn on at the factory. These can be zig-zag or straight stitched, and both "Bevo" and embroidered eagles are used. Tan "tropical" eagles are not uncommon. As for additional insignia, in typical SS fashion, anything goes. Period photos exist showing troops wearing nothing other than the eagle while others added shoulderboards, collar tabs, cuff titles and awards. If there were regulations regarding insignia, they were ignored.

The Fabrics
The varied appearance of Erbsentarn uniforms is due not only to the printing anomalies of the camouflage, but also the wide variety of fabrics it was printed on. By 1944, every possible method of maximizing resources was in being utilized and quality and uniformity were sacrificed accordingly.

Unissued Tunic in linen HBT

Rear details


Linen HBT: This is the most common fabric seen today on original samples. It's a course, scratchy cloth characterized by numerous tufts in the yarn- a result of improper combing and carding of the yarn during the weaving process. The Germans had a shortage of cotton and were forced to substitute linen and rayon fibers. This cloth does not wear very well, and with moderate use, the buttonholes quickly unravel. The weave of the herringbone varies widely due to different looms beinf used. It's easy to identify by its straw colored backside.
Many enthusiasts consider this the "classic" 44 dot (whatever that means) and some aren't even aware that other fabrics were used at all.

Unissued tunic in mostly
cotton HBT.
Right sleeve and collar are
linen HBT
Comparison of linen
and cotton HBT


Cotton HBT: This is very similar in appearance to the linen HBT, but the reverse side is off-white rather than straw colored. It is also much softer and smoother to the touch. The colors thend to lean slightly grayer due to the lighter color of the underlying cloth.

Sateen "polished cotton"
Tunic
Colors appear darker
due to tan fabric
Sateen: This is mistakenly called "polished cotton" in most reference guides. It is actually a heavy sateen cotton, normally used to make "tropical" uniforms. (This is why it's tan.) The Germans simply printed camouflage on it. This is actually the best quality of the fabrics used.

Tiny tunic, probably made
for an SS man's son.
Same as an adult tunic
down to the last detail.
Cotton twill fabric.
Yes, this is original.
The size stamps are correct.
Comparison to the
cotton sateen
material


Cotton Twill: This has diagonal ribs in the weave, like denim or DAK uniforms. The base color of the cloth tends to be a "salt and pepper" gray/ white.

Linen Shirting: This cloth is rarely encountered but was used on some 44 dot uniforms. This is simply a plain woven linen- it looks like the cloth on a linen shirt one finds at Banana Republic or J. Crew. The lining on the linen HBT trousers in the photos above are made from this cloth. Colors are the same as linen HBT.

Linen Twill: Like the shirting, this is unusual to find, but I have seen half a dozen such uniforms. I have not seen this cloth on any other German WWII uniform- it's a twill with diagonal weave, but made from coarse linen rather than cotton.