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ROBERT C. STERN, illustrated by DON GREER and RON VOLSTAD
Allied air superiority played havoc with German transport in the West. On this page are three examples of the extensive use of natural camouflage on vehicles both at rest and in transit. There can be no definite unit identification of the vehicles, though the one to left has been associated with Hohenstaufen around Arnhem, and the other two with HJ during the Normandy campaign. The vehicles are:
an SdKfz 11 three ton halftrack, draped in net which holds considerable foliage,
a late-model PzKpfw IV cover with branches and parked in some bushes and
a column of heavily camouflaged StuG III ausf Gs, being passed by a civilian-style passenger car, under the protection of tall trees. [Bundesarchiv]
A rare opportunity to see four views of the same vehicle and its crew, in this case a Panther ausf G of LAH in Paris, immediately prior to the invasion. The shots above and below show the vehicle passing the Arc de Triomphe and parked in front of a lottery sign. Of interest is the camouflage, which is patches of Red Brown surrounded by Green on a Sand Yellow base, and the total lack of markings except for national cross. The views to the right show three of the crew, one in the Black Panzer uniform, one with the standard camouflage panzer coveralls over Black shirt and pants and one in a new looking two piece tanker's suit made from Italian camouflage cloth. Note that all wear the low shoes without gaiters. [Bundesarchiv]
June brought the quiet late Spring of 1944 to an end. The battles were beginning that would lead inevitably to Germany's collapse. 6 June saw the Allied Landings at Normandy, 22 June the launching of the long-awaited Russian attack on Armee-Gruppe Mitte. From then until the end, the units of the Waffen-SS would be nearly continuously engaged. Refits would henceforth be infrequent, and inadequate. Inevitably the ability of even the SS to halt, much less drive back, the enemies crowding ever closer, began to dwindle. Toward the end, in spite of new divisions being authorized wholesale (up to a total of 38 or 45, depending on the reckoning used), the total power of the Waffen-SS continued to wane. There simply was not enough manpower or equipment to bring the "original" divisions up to strength, much less any of the newer ones. Despite continuing the struggle up to the final days, the divisions of the SS were powerless to do more than watch the final collapse of their world.