Painting German figures in WW2
Rank Insignia

by Rob Haelterman

The design of the rank insignia of regular German troops in WW2 can easily be found on the internet; a good example can be found here, for instance. I will only discuss certain details here.

First of all, there were two completely different types of rank insignia (don't ask me why). One that was worn throughout the war on the regular tunic and regular Panzer tunic (and which I will call "regular insignia") and a different system used from the end of August 1942 (which I will call "1942 insignia"). The latter was gold on black (possibly with white pips) for generals, and green on black for other ranks. The system was initially to be used on winter tunics, but was later extended to the following:

  • mountain troop wind jacket and anorak
  • snow shirt
  • winter smock
  • reversible and camo winter tunics
  • KK tropical shirt
  • gray panzer shirt
  • reed green fatigue jacket, shirt and field tunic
  • AFV coveralls
  • panzer denim jacket
  • sheepskin overcoat

The 1942 insignia were rather unpopular and many troops added regular insignia to garments that should have had the 1942 insignia.

With the regular rank insignia

  • The braids for the general’s rank insignia were originally interwoven aluminum and gold braid with silver pips on a red background. In April 1941 this changed to golden only.
    Generals (and field marshals) also showed their rank on the collar patches which were red with a golden "Alt Larisch" design.
  • For higher ranking officers (majors and colonels) the design was like that of the generals, but the braids being only in aluminum on a Waffenfarbe background. Pips were either gold or aluminum.
    Later the aluminum braid was replaced by gray braid.
  • Subalterns (lieutenants and captains) had aluminum (non woven) shoulderboards (later in gray) with aluminum pips.
  • Senior and junior NCO had DBG (later FG) shoulder straps with a 9mm aluminum edge (later gray) and piped in Waffenfarbe with aluminum pips. A 9mm braid was also found on the collar (but not on the Panzer uniform or reed green summer uniform).
    The Hauptfeldwebel or Spiess had 2 bands around the cuffs.
  • Other ranks had no aluminum edging, only a DBG strap with Waffenfarbe piping. Aluminum (gray) chevrons and pips on a DBG (later FG) background could be worn on the left sleeve.
  • Shoulder straps with the regular rank insignia were made of DBG cloth until May 1940 and of FG cloth afterwards, atlhough the DBG version remained common for quite a while. Both were edged in Waffenfarbe.
  • All parts of the rank insignia that were initially aluminum were whanged to gray in June 1940.


I am sure this article can be vastly improved upon, so I would invite anyone with superior knowledge to contact me.


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Article Last Updated: 29 June 2014