Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

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    Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:14 am

    This is a repost of entries I made on Wehrmacht Awards' Bundesrepublic section:

    A subject near and dear to my heart

    Although BW Splittertarn was produced for roughly 2 years only, there were many variations. Unfortunately not much is known about them because there are few pictures of anything other than the standard infantry type in use. Even the most recent books on BW uniforms do not appear to have much new information either. Which means that most of what I'm going to present here is pieced together by me and definitely not authoritative information.

    First, let us be clear about the variations in the patterns themselves, because there is not just one but 6. I have categorized them using some common collector language and some language of my own to keep things easy to compare side to side:

    1. Standard Splittertarn, Wehrmacht Variant (Standard WH)
    2. Standard Splittertarn, Blue Variant (Standard Blue)
    3. Standard Splittertarn, Green Varient (Standard Green)
    4. Broad Splittertarn, Brown Dominant (Broad Brown)
    5. Broad Splittertarn, Green Dominant (Broad Green)
    6. Palm Splintertarn (Palm)

    The splinter shapes for all 6 patterns are the same. The differences are in color variations, which colors are used for which shapes, and the size/style of the "rain strokes". These differences are:

    Standard WH = colors similar to typical Third Reich colors
    Standard Blue = overall blue tint to the background color
    Standard Green = overall green tint and slightly larger rain strokes
    Broad Brown = large shapes brown, as above, but with large rain strokes
    Broad Green = large shapes are green, large rain strokes
    Palm = no rain strokes, small shapes brown, large shapes olive, background green

    These patterns were all printed on a thin cotton canvas material. However, Standard Blue was also printed on a medium weight soft cotton material. I think Palm might be on soft cotton as well, but I am not positive about that.
    For Standard Splinter the rain strokes are solid, for Broad Splinter the rain strokes are printed with two rollers. One roller printed the strokes in solid black, the other at about 50% black. The Palm leaves are printed the same way. This technique was used on Amöebatarn and the older Liebermuster.

    As for the different uniform designs there are at least 6, perhaps more. They are:

    1. Infantry (Standard WH, Standard Blue, Standard Green, Broad Green)
    2. Fallschirmjäger 1st Model with small metal zippers (Standard Blue)
    3. Fallschirmjäger 1st Model with large plastic zippers (Standard Green)
    4. Fallschirmjäger 2nd Model with large plastic zippers (Broad Brown)
    5. Luftflande (Standard Blue)
    6. Gebirgsjäger (Standard Blue)

    I know of nothing made in Palm, other than an experimental snow camouflage (which I'm not going to cover here) which used the palm leafs only.

    There is a minor variation of the Infantry trousers. There are two sets of straps around the center of each thigh. One at the top of the pocket, one at the bottom of the poacket. They are adjusted externally to the rear of the leg pockets.

    Each uniform has a snap on hood in the same pattern. Gloves were made in Standard Blue and Standard Green. I have not seen any made in the other patterns.

    I am not sure if Gebirgsjäger had it's own jacket or used Infantry or Luftlande. I suspect they used standard Infantry or Luftlande, not a type unique to GJ. That is pure speculation on my part, unfortunately.

    As for dating these items, I can only make an educated rough guess:

    Standard WH - 1955
    Standard Blue and Green - 1956 and 1957
    Broad Brown and Green - 1957
    Palm - 1957 or later

    The FJ 1st Model, GJ, and LL uniforms were made in 1956. The soft cotton Standard Blue was made January 1956, not sure if later. Standard Blue and Green dates I've seen are February 1956 through February 1957. As far as I know I haven't seen anything outside of these dates in those patterns. Broad Green was made November 1957, Broad Green in December 1957. No idea when Plam was made, but the snow camo was made in 1960.

    That's pretty much all I can think of. I will post pictures of my items in the posts that follow.

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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:20 am

    Misc. notes I made in response to my pictures and others' questions:

    I have pictures of nearly everything on the list above. Here's what I don't have in hand:

    1. Standard WH. I have pictures of this, side by side with Standard Blue and Standard Green. Unfortunately I do not have the right to post these pictures and I'm no longer on speaking terms with the collector who has it. But I am convinced it exists. And given the January 1956 date on my Standard Blue on soft cloth set, I think it's fairly good bet the Standard WH type is from 1955 and was rejected because it was not different enough from wartime look.

    2. Luftlande (possibly also Gebirgsjäger) jacket. For sure this jacket exists and I'll post a photo shown in another thread. It shares similarities with my Luftlande trousers.

    3. Broad Green trousers. The only Broad Green piece I've ever seen, at all, is the jacket and hood in my collection. But I think it is highly doubtful that they didn't make trousers to match.

    4. Anything in Palm. I have pictures of a bolt of fabric, that's it. It's documented in Schuster's book, but again only a swatch of the fabric and not a specific article.

    --------

    As you can see from the labels of these pieces it appears that they were all made at the same time. The pieces are dated either October of November of 1956, which seems to indicate that they were all part of a broad trials to replace the Infantry uniform for at least specialized troops. It's possible that the Luftlande uniform was intended to replace the Infantry type as well. It is quite usual for the "elite" units to trial the new stuff and then have it adopted by everybody else. We know there were cost concerns as well as complaints from soldiers. So this seems likely.

    -----


    As far as I know all units in the BW were issued the Infantry type to start with. That includes Marine and anybody else authorized to wear camouflage combat uniforms. I use the term "Infantry" because, in English at least, it can be applied to just about any combat unit. Like German, it can also be a specific branch. But I use it generically for this discussion.

    In late 1956 the BW experimented with the three types I outlined in my first post. I do not know if the Luftlande type was intended for everybody, not just LL troops. I suspect this to be the case. Sometimes collectors name a uniform after the units that tested it, even though if it was accepted everybody would wear it. The FJ uniforms, though, I am sure were intended only for FJ.

    -------


    The uniform was in official use until 1959, but it was not produced after 1957. I am convinced of that for two reasons:

    1. I have seen probably 100+ labels and I've never seen one newer than 1957.

    2. The Broad Splinter items are the latest I've ever seen.

    From what I can tell there was pressure to come up with a new uniform almost as quickly as it was put into service. Cost, comfort, and "Nazi appearance" problems pressured the BW to very quickly experiment with alternatives. The late 1956 variations I've shown were most likely an attempt to address costs and comfort.

    The Broad Splinter was most likely an attempt to address the "Nazi appearance" problem. Clearly slightly different shapes, colors, and the white offset print of Standard Splinter weren't sufficient. So they changed the colors and rain strokes in the Broad patterns to hopefully strike a better balance between military tradition and not looking like Wehrmacht soldiers. But these experiments didn't satisfy the BW.

    I think they came up with Palm as yet another alternative to try out. All the time they kept the old uniforms in service because they did not have a replacement. But in 1958 they gave up and made the decision to get rid of the uniform completely. They then designed a new winter parka and trousers to replace Splittertarn's winter use. The existing Arbeitsanzug, which soldiers liked, was made the new field uniform.

    This is mostly speculation on my part, but as far as I know nobody has a clear official explanation. Andy my theories do fit the facts we know. I wish we had better information to go on, but unfortunately several fantastic books have come out and not significantly changed our understanding of what happened.

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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:25 am

    I guess a good place to start is the Gebirgsjäger and Luftlande stuff. These are definitely purpose made and not a modification of standard trousers. They are both in Standard Blue pattern.

    Compared to the Infantry type, LL and GJ trousers have two rear pockets instead of one, the pockets have single snap closures instead of buttons, and have buckles for the lower leg. The main differences is the LL trousers have a small pocket between the right hand pocket and the fly, as was common on German trousers of the day. GJ trousers do not have this extra pocket. Further, the GJ trousers are cut to just below the knees and have a different buckle system than LL trousers.

    Another interesting point to note is the belt that is on the GJ trousers mimics the field belt. The LL trousers might have had the same belt or not. I don't know as mine came without the belt so I just put on a Standard Blue Infantry type.

    Unfortunately the label from my LL trousers was removed, however I'm guessing they were made by the same company and the same date as the GJ type. The label for the GJ type is shown below.

    Standard Blue GJ Trousers













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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:26 am

    Unfortunately my LL trousers were not treated as kindly as my GJ trousers. But I'm still quite happy to have it!











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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:28 am

    A picture (and the back of it) as posted by TJ in this thread (posts #70 and 71):

    http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/foru...d.php?t=631360

    The trousers are almost for sure the Luftlande type. So if the caption is correct, and these are Gebirgsjäger troops, then either a GJ member got a hold of LL trousers or the trousers were trialed by both GJ and LL, or they have nothing to do with LL as suspected.

    The jacket is quite different than the standard type. You can see that it has vertical hand pockets with single snap closed flaps, just like the rear pockets on the LL and GJ trousers. The wrists have buckled strap closures, just like the LL and GJ trousers. Beyond that it's hard to say what other differences there might be. It appears there are chest pockets, but it's difficult to say for sure. It would be odd for a military field jacket to not have chest pockets, so I think it's more an issue of how they were constructed.

    http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=2630759&stc=1&d=1376757762

    http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=2630767&stc=1&d=1376758500

    Thanks TJ for making the post!

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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:30 am

    Compare the specialized (no doubt trials) examples above with a Standard Blue Infantry uniform:















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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:32 am

    And a Standard Green Infantry set:















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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:34 am

    A Standard Blue Infantry set in soft cotton:

















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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:37 am

    Standard Blue FJ 1st Model uniform:

















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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:38 am

    Standard Green FJ 1st Model Jacket. Unfortunately I lack the trousers:







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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:40 am

    Broad Brown FJ 2nd Model:

















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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Oct 04, 2013 12:41 am

    Broad Green Infantry model:







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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by ripcord on Fri Oct 04, 2013 1:36 am

    Thank you for an  informative and exhaustive post, Steve.

    This is info I love.   This  German pattern has intrigued me for a long time. 

    I will be visiting this post some....
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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by drmatz on Thu Dec 26, 2013 8:09 pm

    wow i've missed this for way to long! outstanding job steve, some very rare and beautiful uniforms...
    congrats!


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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by M198 on Wed May 06, 2015 7:37 am

    This makes me wonder, with all the talk lately about black being useless in camo patterns, were the germans ahead of their time by using blue instead of black, or was it just a manufacturing anomaly?
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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Wed May 06, 2015 1:17 pm

    In the old days the black color was infused with carbon to help with defeating infrared. Using black as a camouflage color allowed for a very strong contrast in infrared. I think modern inks have improved so black isn't as necessary as it once was.

    Some argue that in high contrast areas, such as forests, things appear to be black to the eye even though they are technically a very dark shade of green, brown, gray, etc. I personally believe this to be true, but on the flip side that means any very dark color works as effectively as black.

    The blue in the Bundeswehr uniforms was very deliberate. It appears to be an attempt to "de-Nazify" the original Splittertarn pattern. The white offset was also designed to help with that and the later "Broad Splinter" exchanged the traditional rain strokes for much larger ones. And as seen above, there was at least one experiment with reversing the main colors.

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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by metal73 on Fri Sep 11, 2015 10:07 am

    Thank you for this outstanding and informative post Steve. Very nice Splittertarn Collection. The Broad Green Jacket is a beauty Very Happy
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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Sep 11, 2015 12:17 pm

    Thanks, but I think when someone has rare stuff like this (especially under documented) there is an obligation to document it for everybody to see. Plus, I enjoy it Wink

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    Splittertarn Jacket

    Post by edstorey on Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:42 pm

    Is the British soldier who is being searched by the Canadian, wearing a Splittertarn Jacket in this 1968 photograph?

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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:17 pm

    Yup, he sure is!! Looks like an OPFOR type situation. The jacket was out of service for almost 10 years by 1968 and had largely been out of actual use for a few years (early 1960s it was still in common use). The Canadian soldier also has a nice Mitchell pattern helmet cover too Smile

    Nice pic!

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    Mitchell Pattern Helmet Covers

    Post by edstorey on Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:12 am

    Those Mitchell Pattern helmet Covers were issued well into the late 1980s and used until the CG634 was adapted in the late 1990s.
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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Thu Sep 17, 2015 1:21 pm

    Sounds like Uncle Sam made you guys a nice deal on overstock covers Very Happy

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    Uncle Sam's Deal

    Post by edstorey on Thu Sep 17, 2015 2:21 pm

    The best deal was the WWII vintage M1s that were still in use until the late 1990s. Back then the CF never threw anything out, so the large WWII purchases from the US just kept on giving. Unfortunately those days are long gone now.
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    Re: Documentation of Splittertarn Uniform Variants

    Post by CollectinSteve on Fri Sep 18, 2015 12:36 am

    Please do not describe the 1990s as "long gone". It makes me sad Sad

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