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German WWII Vehicle Field and Vehicle Identification Flag
In German known as a 'Feld und Fahrzeug Erkennungsflagge' these were first introduced 1st September 1939 to identify German tanks, vehicles and trains to prevent 'friendly fire' incidents. Initially white Balkan Crosses were used against a red background but it was found these provided good aiming points so in October 1939 the white cross was changed to black with a white outline. However with the invasion of the low countries the OKH, Oberkommando des Heeres, (the High Command of the Army)changed the speciation again on March 8th 1940 by replacing the Balkan Cross with a swastika. This specification only lasted until April 1941 when the swastika was abandoned and the flag reverted to the Balkan Cross. Whilst the Luftwaffe retained air superiority, these type of flags were widely used by forward troops but later in the war they were seen less and less frequently as they simply represented a 'calling card' for the allied air forces! Our flag came from a defunct museum and we have no provenance with it but with the swastika design it would appear to date from between April 1940 to April 1941 so a scarce surviving example. It is a good display size at 74" x 37" (188 cm x 94 cm). The red background is still very fresh with a central white disc of 28" diameter (71 cm) featuring a black swastika machine stitched to the centre. As always with these ID flags it is single sided. To each corner is a plated sheet metal grommet to enable the flag to be tied down securely ;these show some age corrosion. The fabric is generally very sound with a small hole beside one eyelet and a further what could be a period stitched repair but generally it is in very good display condition and of a specification that was only current for 13 months.