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An Oberscharführer of the 501 Schwerpanzer Abt., during the Invasion battle

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An Oberscharführer of the 501 Schwerpanzer Abt., during the Invasion battle. Although they were not authorised, standard rank epaulettes were still occassionally worn with the getarnte Drillichanzug. {Image: Key Publications.]

SS-Erbsenmuster
Greater German Reich

An order issued 1 March 1944 introduced a two-piece camouflaged drill uniform — getarnter Drillichanzug — as a replacement for the green and off-white work fatigues, as well as the pull-over camouflage smock. The earliest examples of this new uniform were made using surplus stocks of reversible SS-Eichenlaubmuster ('oak-leat pattern') fabric. However, the order — possibly to reduce production time and costs — included no specification for the getarnter Drillichanzug to be reversible. In order that the new uniform should be suitable for all seasons, therefore, a new, 'universal' camouflage pattern — SS-Erbsenmuster ('pea pattern') — was eventually created.

Known variously as 'Dot 44', 'dot pattern' or 'Peas 44', SS-Erbsenmuster is a five-colour camouflage pattern of black, grass green, light tan and medium olive clumps and flecks on a chocolate brown field. (The medium olive elements are frequently missing from post-war reproductions.) Both the colours and the general appearance of the pattern are reminiscent of post-war Austrian Fleckerlteppich, which was probably based on SS-Erbsenmuster and is sometimes used to make unconvincing fakes.

Apart from its use in production of the getarnter Drillichanzug, SS-Erbsenmuster was also used in the manufacture of two-piece drill Panzer uniforms and the Wintertarnanzug (two-piece winter camouflage suit), although it seldom appears in wartime photographs. Therefore it seems likely that the Erbsenmuster winter suits were produced late in the war, and that few of them were issued.

Officially, Erbsenmuster caps and helmet covers were not produced, although there are some surviving examples of both, which were made in the field. There is still some doubt, however, as to whether or not Erbsenmuster was used in the manufacture of SS-Fallschirmjäger jump-smocks.

In his book Waffen SS Camouflage Uniforms & Post-War Derivatives, Daniel Peterson makes reference to a persistent — albeit unsubstantiated — story that U.S. soldiers seized a store of Erbsenmuster jump-smocks, which were later sold to duck hunters in the United States. Peterson also mentions that he has heard of a wartime photograph that shows such a garment in use.

However, Verne Jenkinson, of SS Fallschirmjäger 500/600 — a re-enacting group based in central Florida, United States of America — believes that he can put the debate to rest. In October 1988, Jenkinson actually met former SS-Hauptsturmführer Siegfried Milius, who had commanded SS-Fallschirmjäger Bataillon 500/600 from July 1944 until the end of World War II. When asked whether or not jump-smocks patterned in SS-Erbsenmuster camouflage ever had been issued, Milius stated that they had not.

Since SS-Fallschirmjäger Bataillon 500/600 was the only operational Waffen-SS paratroop unit, Milius' word may be considered as definitive: jump-smocks patterned in SS-Erbsenmuster camouflage were never issued. This, however, is not to say that they weren't manufactured. According to Milius, his batallion was scheduled to receive Erbsenmuster jump-smocks when it was stationed in Budapest. They were never delivered, though, because the train carrying them had been bombed, by the Allies, and the shipment was destroyed.

kamouflage.net is grateful to Verne Jenkinson and Timur Azbukin, for their invaluable contributions to this article.

camouflage data

1cm grid

SS-Erbsenmuster
1944–1945

Specimen of SS-Erbsenmuster

Specimen kindly supplied by WikipediA

Actual size: not known

also known as:
  • Erbsenmuster ('pea pattern')
  • SS-Erbsenmuster ('SS pea pattern')
  • dot 44
  • dot pattern
  • pea pattern
  • peas 44
country of origin:

Großdeutsches Reich

National flag: Greater German Reich

Greater German Reich

used by:
  • Waffen-SS

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