red-blue line


There is a number of interesting markings on the Feld-Hell machine and its carrying case. First of all, there are up to seven "Typenschilder" (data plates, labels, plaques, asset tags) on the various units that make up the Feld-Hell system: the electronics box, the motor-generator, the keyboard-character-drum unit, and the base-unit. The latter unit is the "Unterteil" that comprises the gearbox and the paper trays. These plates typically indicate the serial number, year of manufacture, and a drawing number. It is unusual to find this many plates on a single piece of equipment. On the one hand, it may reflect the modular design, on the other that various modules were built or assembled by several companies.


Fig. 1: location of the many markings on a Feld-Hell set

As the Feld-Hell was manufactured for the Wehrmacht, the machine and its carrying case normally have one or more Waffenamt acceptance stamps. Stamps have often been removed post-war by the new owners of the equipment. This may have been done in compliance with laws against the (public) display of Nazi symbols, or to avoid any suggestion of support of the associated ideology. The removal often leaves - still visible - rub marks where the stamps used to be.

An other characteristics of interest is the color of the various units of the Feld-Hell set. The standard military colors are shades and hues of drab (e.g., "feldgrün", "olivgrün"), and light and dark blue-gray ("dunkelgrau"). Original colors are compliant with the official color palette ("Farbtabelle") of the Reichs-Ausschuss für Lieferbedingungen (RAL) - the German State Commission for Specifications. The RAL was founded in 1925 as an initiative of the German private industry and the German government. The purpose was to standardize specifications of, e.g., colors, and hence promote industrial rationalization. In 1927, the RAL defined a table of 40 colors. It was successively revised and expanded to the current list of 210 colors. After several years, the name was expanded to "Reichsausschuß für Lieferbedingungen und Gütesicherung", to address quality control aspects. Since 1980, the RAL activities are managed by the "RAL Deutsches Institut für Gütesicherung und Kennzeichnung e.V." Note that the some of the original color numbers have been retained, though the associated colors have changed. So, today's RAL color numbers do not correspond to those from WWII with the same number! Some post-war owners have felt it necessary to repaint their Feld-Hell machine - few have managed (or bothered) to accurately recreate the original color. One also comes across Feld-Hells that have been repainted in completely different colors. As a result, the set may have a mix - not only of serial numbers, but also of colors. Due to maintenance and repair, many Feld-Hell sets have had one or more units replaced. The discussion below is based on photos and other information that I have collected so far on surviving Feld-Hell sets.

The diagram below shows the drawing tree of the Feld-Hell set. The drawing numbers appear on labels of the main modules. No such labels have been found on the keyboard-drum module or the printer-module.


Fig. 2: drawing tree of the Feld-Hell set


The electronics of the Feld-Hell set are housed in the electronics box ("Verstärker- und Anschlußsatz" = "Amplifier & Interconnect Unit"). It has the following markings:

  • Data plate ("Typenschild") on the front face, to the left of the main switch
  • Data plate on the rear cover
  • Legends around the switches, the volume control, and on the rectangular connector block for phone line, radio receiver, and electrical power.
  • Waffenamt acceptance stamp, usually placed right below the equipment plate to the left of the main switch. In very few cases, the stamp is placed just above that plate.


Fig. 3: location of the "Typenschild" data plate on the front of the Feld-Hell electronics box

On machines from 1935 and 1936, these plates show the following information:

  • equipment designator
  • Nr. - the serial number
  • the 2-digit year of manufacture.


Fig. 4: data plate format in 1935/36

Here, the equipment designator is one of the following:

  • T Bs, which is short for "Typen-Bildschreiber", i.e., a Hellschreiber. This is followed by the drawing number 24a-32.
  • S-H-Feldschreiber where "S-H" stands for Siemens-Halske.

In 1938, the plate is expanded to the following fields:

  • Fabr. Nr. = Fabrikationsnummer = serial number
  • Bez. = Bezeichnung = equipment designator,
  • Zchg. Nr. = Zeichnung(s)nummer) = drawing number,
  • Spanng. = Spannung = operating voltage, "12 V", "12V-", or "12 V=" (i.e., 12 volt DC)
  • Baujahr: the 2- or 4-digit year of manufacture.


Fig. 5: data plate format from 1938 onward

The "Bez." equipment designator is one of the following:

  • Feldfernschreiber - this is by far the most common
  • Feldschreiber
  • S-H-Feldschreiber, where S-H = Siemens-Halske
  • Typen-Bildschreiber
  • Typenbildschreiber
  • Telescrittore SH, on machines made for the Italian army. In my database, there are only two Italian machines, both from 1941.


Fig. 6: data plate with only the equipment designator in Italian

The standard drawing number is 24a-32. On some data plates, a suffix was added, to indicate a design variant:

  • 24a-32a1 (in my database (last updated: February 2017), on several machines from 1940/41)
  • 24a-32a2 (in my database, on several machines from 1944). There appears to be a correlation between "a2", and absence of the 12-pin round connector on the front of the amplifier box.

The Wehrmacht maintained a long list of "Zeichnung Nummer" for equipment that was not "commercial off-the-shelf", as we call it today. The list ("Gerätliste (Heer)", ref. 32), includes prototypes for which design drawings were available - independent of whether the equipment ever entered service! Each Zeichnung Nummer has two parts. First the identifier for the "Stoffgliederungsgruppe." This is the category of equipment: weapons, munition, technical items, vehicles, etc. The category "24" refers to "Nachrichtengerät": communications equipment. The suffix "a" refers to the sub-category ("Untergruppe") for "Drahtnachrichtengerät": equipment for wired-communication, such as teleprinters (Fernschreiber) and telephones (Fernsprecher). The category number is followed by the "Gerät-Nummer". Here: "32". This is a consecutive numbering of the items within the sub-category. This "Gerät-Nummer" is not to be confused with the "Gerätenummer" (serial number) on the label. All Gerätnummer were compiled in several extensive "Gerät-Listen" binders, that were updated every year. The binders with the individual "Gerät" sheets were supposed to be kept up to date by discarding (destroying, as the lists were secret) superseded sheets and replacing them with the updates sheets. Ref. 32, 33. Note that the lists do not include the actual design and assembly drawings.


Fig. 7: decomposition of the drawing number "24a-32"

Another example of a drawing number is 124-1425 A. Contrary to 24a-32, this is a Luftwaffe drawing number. It refers to a "Spezial-Hellschreiber" that was part of the "Bernhardine" on-board radio-navigation system.

A number of boxes built by Siemens-Halske during the period 1940-43 have T. typ. 58 d in the drawing number field of the data plate (see Fig. 6 above). This is actually not a drawing number but Siemens-Halske's own designator for the Feld-Hell.

Most data plates carry a marking that identifies the manufacturer:

  • Siemens-Halske logo (entwined S-H), in the top right-hand corner of the plate
  • Siemens-Halske logo + "SIEMENS", in the top left-hand corner of the plate,
  • Mende logo (triangular), in the top right-hand corner of the plate. The logo is either embossed and black, or stencil-painted (black or white)
  • Mende manufacturer's code "bl", in the top right-hand corner of the plate


Fig. 8: manufacturer identifiers on the front plate (2x Siemens-Halske, 4x Mende)

In my database, there are no data plates with a Siemens-Halske logo prior to 1940. About 25% of the boxes in my database have no manufacturer's marking on this plate at all. Some of these boxes have a cover on the rear, with data plate marked "Siemens & Halske". This might suggest that the particular box was made by Siemens & Halske, but this rear cover is easily swapped between boxes...


Fig. 9: the number of electronics boxes with manufacturer marking in my database for each year


Fig. 10: the total number of electronics boxes in my database for each year

Not surprisingly, the Fig. 10 above suggests that the production volume surged towards 1940. That may correspond to equipage of an increasing number of Wehrmacht Signal Corps units for the invasion of France and the Low Countries. After those invasions, the production effort the German arms industry was clearly scaled back, even though planning for the invasion of the Soviet Union ("Unternehmen Barbarossa", Operation Barbarossa), was already in progress. That invasion started mid-1941. The hard-fought German defeat at Stalingrad in January of 1943 was a turning point, and the German retreat started after the Battle of Kursk during the summer of 1943. In parallel, the Tunisia Campaign ended with German surrender in May of 1943. This meant that during 1943, Wehrmacht Signal Corps units had to be re-formed and equipped. This may explain the production surge in that year.

The photo below shows a data plate with two small areas where a marking has been carefully removed with a tooling bit, and then painted over with the original color. There are several such plates in my data base (in the diagram above, they are included in the green line). These are not post-war modifications. The area to the right of the serial number may have had a manufacturer's identification marking. However, it is not at the spot where the Siemens-Halske and Mende markings are normally found. The area after the "24a-32" drawing number may have had an additional suffix. Removal of these markings (esp. manufacturer's identification) is not unusual on equipment built during and after 1943, in particular on airborne equipment of the Luftwaffe - deemed most likely to fall in the hands of the enemy. In 1943 it was decreed that equipment (incl. the plates) should no longer bear the written name or logo of the manufacturer. Rather than throw away already manufactured plates, the markings were simply removed and painted over. Note that on this particular plate (and several others in my database) the type-suffix "a2" is handwritten after the type designator "Feldfernschreiber".


Fig. 11:

Siemens-Halske outsourced the manufacturing of some Feld-Hell parts and subassemblies. As shown in Figure 9 above, many of the Feld-Hell electronics boxes were made by Radio H. Mende & Co. GmbH in Dresden (ref. 15, 21). This is indicated by the triangular Mende logo to the right of the serial number. During the years 1941-1943, Mende produced around 1400 Feld-Hell machines a year (see the table on p. 47 in ref. 15; 4382 in total).

In my database, the earliest Feld-Hell with a Mende-built electronics box, has serial number 0053 and dates back to 1936. Later Feld-Hell units made by Mende no longer have the company logo, but have the Fertigungskennzeichen ("secret" manufacturer's code) "bl". These two- and three-digit codes ("Herstellerkürzel", manufacturer abbreviations) were introduced by the Waffenamt starting around 1939/40. The list eventually comprised codes for over 9000 manufacturers (ref. 19). Some products from Mende Co. have the code "cw". The Rudolf Hell company had the code "cmw" (ref. 20). Note that none of the plates of Siemens-Halske-built Feld-Hell boxes have a Siemens code.

The Mende company was founded late 1923 by Otto Hermann Mende and Rudolf Müller as the general partnership "Offene Handelsgesellschaft H. Mende & Co." Early 1938, the company structure changed to a limited partnership ("Kommanditgesellschaft", KG). By then, they had sold a million "household" broadcast radio receivers, some under license from Philips N.V. Some broadcast receivers were used by the military, e.g., installed in submarines such as the U432. In 1935, Mende started production of teleprinters, transmitters, receivers for the army (Heer) and bomb fuses for the Luftwaffe. This included the Feldfernschreiber, Feldfernsprecher (field telephone), and Feldverstärker (field phone line amplifiers). By the end of the war, it had also produced some 25000 Tornister -Empfänger "b" (Torn.E.b.) receivers. Ref. 21.


Fig. 12: the 1930s letterhead of Radio H. Mende & Co. G.m.b.H.


Fig. 13: various Mende logos

Mende's in-house capabilities covered everything required - other than radio tubes - for the manufacture of wired and wireless telecom equipment: tool & die making, machine building, coil winding (inductors, relay solenoids, transformers, motors), compression molding (e.g., Bakelite parts, and mipolam (a trade name for PVC, which was invented at Chemische Fabrik Griesheim (CFG) in the early 1900s) cases for type 2B38 lead-acid batteries), etc. Ref. 9. Mende hardly engaged in product development.

The Russian occupational forces dismantled the factory during 1945-46 (ref. 26), and moved it to Russia. In 1947, the founder's son, Martin Mende, created North German Mende Broadcast GmbH in Bremen, later renamed to NordMende. It manufactured household electronics. See ref. 11, 23, 24, and 25 (pp. 50/51/58).


Fig. 14: a "NordMende" label

Outsourcing may have been to optimize production capacity utilization at both small and large companies, or geographical distribution to reduce vulnerability during a potential war situation. Note that the Heereswaffenamt (and the Technisches Amt of the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM, the German Air Ministry) fully controlled contract awards to prime suppliers ("Leifirmen", "Lieferer") and their sub-contractor companies ("Unterlieferanten"). This covered development and production, system assembly, subassembly, spares parts production, and manufacturing under license. Cf. top of p. 19 and bottom of p. 49 in ref. 1. Licensee companies received all required design documentation, and paid license fees.

In 1938 and beyond, it appears that all Siemens-Halske data plates have a 4-digit year of manufacture. Mende appears to have changed from 4 digits to 2 digits, around the same time that they replaced their triangular logo with their 2-digit manufacturer's code.

The rear of the electronics box has a removable cover. It provides access to a large circuit board. This cover also has a data plate. Unfortunately, I only have information about the rear cover for about 10% of the machines in my database. In all of these cases, the company name "Siemens & Halske" is at the top of the plate. Below it, the plate has three fields - two of which are labeled:

  • Type - the equipment designator
  • Nr. - serial number

The third field is not labeled. It is primarily used to mark the year of manufacture or the number of a design drawing.


Fig. 15: the three data plate variations on the rear cover of the Feld-Hell electronics box

With one exception, the designator is always the Siemens-Halske designator for the Feld-Hell, followed by a sub-assembly drawing number (Teilzeichnung). That is: T. typ. 58, Tz 170. On some plates, there is no comma between the Feld-Hell root and the drawing number (i.e., T .typ.58 Tz.170), or there are no punctuation marks at all  (i.e., T typ 58 Tz 170).

One of the plates in my database has Tz. 30 instead of Tz 170, and outline drawing number T.Sk.4250/1 (Teil(e)-Skizze) in the third field. Note that the latter drawing number is also found on the data plate on the rear of some motor-generators.

In none of the cases in my database does the serial number on this rear data plate match the serial number on the front plate of the same electronics box.

Language. The switches, volume control and the bakelite connector block of are normally labeled in German. The legends for the switches and the volume control are small plates that are attached with screws.


Fig. 16: standard legends in German

On machines that were used by the Italian army, the legend plates and the inscriptions on the connector block are in Italian:

  • "Aus - Bereit - Ein" of the main switch is "escl - pronto - inc." ( = escluso - pronto - incluso)
  • "Verstärkung" is "amplif" ( = amplificazione)
  • "Tonsieb 900" is "filtro 900"
  • "Ohne / Mit" is "escl / incl" (= escluso / incluso)
  • "Empfänger" is "ricev" ( = ricevitore)
  • "Mithören" is "ascolto"


Fig. 17: legends in Italian

There are also machines with legends in other languages, notably Czech and Finnish, see photos below. However, I have not been able to determine if these modifications where made during the war. The detachable legend plates sometimes have the original German version on the back side.


Fig. 18: legends in Czech


Fig. 19: legends in Finnish

Note: he Finnish army overhauled their Feld-Hell machines in the 1950s and re-painted a number of them bright green.


All Feld-Hell motor-generators ("dynamotors") have a data plate on the front. Some also have one on the back.


Fig. 20: label on the front and back of the Motor-Generator of my Feld-Hell machine

(for some unknown reason, the front and rear plate of this particular Motor-Generator have a different serial number)

All front plates provide the same parameters:

  • G | Mot-EU. In this designator, "G" stands for "Generator" and "Mot" for Motor. "EU" stands for "Einankerumformer". That is, a "single-rotor converter": the windings of the motor and of the generator of this DC-DC converter are wound on the same rotor.
  • Nr. = the serial number / 2-digit year of manufacture
  • V = motor voltage / generator output voltage rating: 12/180 V
  • A = motor input current / generator output current rating: 4,5 / 0,025 A.
  • W = mechanical dissipation/power. Presumably this is the power available to drive the gearbox: mech. 5 watt.
  • U/min = the nominal rpm (revs/minute): 3600

Of all the motor-generators that I have been able to document, only one has a manufacturer's marking on the front: a colored (!!) Mende logo.


Fig. 21: colored Mende logo above the front plate of a 1941 Feld-Hell motor-generator

(note: there is no serial number or year of manufacturing on this plate!)

The rear data plate, if present, has three fields - two of which are labeled:

  • Type - the equipment designator. In all cases, this field has "T typ 58" (the Siemens-Halske designator for the complete Feld-Hell set), followed by a detail-drawing ("Teilzeichnung") number "Tz.187" or "Tz.31"
  • Nr. - serial number

When the detail-drawing number in the first field is "Tz.187", then the third field is either blank, or shows the a year of manufacture. When the detail-drawing number in the first field is "Tz.31", then the third field has the additional-drawing number "T.Sk.4205/2" (Teil(e)-Skizze). In some of these cases, both the type designator and the additional drawing number are preceded by the number 11. I have no idea what the significance of this prefix is...


Fig. 22: the four variations of the rear data plate on the Feld-Hell motor-generator

The year of manufacture indicated on the rear plate typically does not match the year on the front plate of the same motor-generator! For instance: 1940 vs. 1936. Also, the serial numbers on the rear plate do not match the numbers on the front plate. For instance: 16931 vs. 3386, 17208 vs. 3962, 17378 vs. 3704, 4268 vs. 11063. I have no explanation for this.

Very few Feld-Hell machines have an electronic box and a motor-generator with the same serial number. Even if they left the factory with identical serial numbers, units may have been swapped out for maintenance reasons, or incomplete machines may have been combined after the war. Interestingly, electronics boxes and motor-generators that do have the same serial number, typically do not have the same year of manufacture - sometimes as much as four years apart (e.g., S/N 4618)!


The base-unit ("Unterteil") is the part of the machine that contains the gearbox and the paper cassettes. It is the base for the motor-generator, printer module, and the keyboard/character-drum unit. There are up to two data plates on the base unit: one on spring-loaded cover of the paper cassettes, the other one rear of the unit. Most Feld-Hell sets have neither of these plates, some have one, a few have both.


Fig. 23: the two variations of the data plate on the front of the Feld-Hell base-unit

The data plate on the front of the unit has the type designator; Below it are two fields, one of which is labeled "Nr." (serial number). Next to the serial number is the 2-digit year of manufacture. The type designator is either "S-H-Feldschreiber" (Siemens & Halske), or "T.Bs." = "Typen-Bildschreiber" (i.e., Hellschreiber), followed by the drawing number 24a-32.

The plate on the back of the unit carries the name of the manufacturer, Siemens & Halske, and has three fields - two of which are labeled:

  • Type - the equipment designator
  • Nr. - serial number

Fig. 24: the four variations of the data plate on the back of the Feld-Hell base-unit

The type designator field always contains the Siemens-Halske type designator for the Feld-Hell: T. typ. 58. This is always followed by a sub-assembly drawing number ("Tz." = "Teil(e)zeichnung"):

  • T. typ. 58 Tz. 28
  • 11 T. typ. 58 Tz. 28
  • T. typ.58 Tz. 206

If the first field contains the drawing number "Tz. 206", then the third field is either empty, or contains the 4-digit year of manufacture. If the first field contains the drawing number "Tz. 28", then the third field always contains "T.Sk.4205/2" (Teil(e)-Skizze). Sometimes both are preceded by "11" (significance unknown). Interestingly, both "T.Sk.4205/2" and the prefix "11" also appear on the data plate on the rear of some motor-generators.


Fig. 25: "T typ 58" appears several times on the inside of the casting of the base unit


On the hood of the character drum (above the keyboard), there normally is a white rectangular label for the station identifier ("Fernschreibrufname"). The identifier typically has 4 or 5 characters. The "L" implies "Luftwaffe", e.g., LFRF and LYKJ (Funkberatungstelle in Rechlin (a Luftwaffe test center) and Oslo-Kjeller, respectively; p. 27 in ref. 34). On the Original telegrams page, there are several Feldhell-telegrams from or to stations such as HMIX, HLCXC, HZDX, HFDX, HDAXD, HORXD, HKEX, HWEX, and HFADX. I presume that the "H" stands for "Heer" (army). The Reichsschule-SS for female auxiliaries in Oberenheim/Alsace started using the call-sign "HSOM" in November of 1943 (ref. 28). There also appear to have been call-signs starting with "R". I do not know if station identifiers starting with "M" (e.g., MSTF) were used by the Kriegsmarine. See ref. 29 for reference to a directory listing of station identifiers.

The identifier on my first Feld-Hell machine is barely readable - L7AN:


Fig. 26: white station-identifier label on the hood of the character drum of my first Feld-Hell machine


Fig. 27: station-identifier "HFAXD" on the hood of a character drum


The Feld-Hell machine is normally kept in a backpack carrying case ("Tornister"). The front of the case has a cover that is attached to the case with four buckles. A standard marking on the cover is the equipment designator:

  • "Feldfernschreiber"
  • "Feldfernschreiber für Drahtbetrieb" (Hellschreiber for wired operation), followed by the abbreviation "TBs" ( = "Typen-Bildschreiber") and the standard Feld-Hell drawing number "24a-32".
  • "Typenbildschreiber für Drahtbetrieb", also followed by "TBs / 24a-32"
  • "Si-Hellschreiber", where "Si" = Siemens

The Italian army also used Feld-Hell machines (see this telegram). The cover of the carrying cases are marked with "Telescrittore SH". This is short for "Telescrittore Siemens-Hell per uso campale", i.e., Siemens-Hell field-teleprinter.

The cover of some Feld-Hells used in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) had the label "Teleinscritor" ( = "Fernschreiber" = teleprinter) on the lid. They were probably used by the Spanish military. The motorized Luftnachrichten batallion Ln/88 of the German Legion Condor (UK: Condor Legion) was also in Spain during that war, but obviously would not have needed Spanish labeling...


Fig. 28: equipment designators on the lid of various Feld-Hell carrying cases


Fig. 29: designator "Hellschreibempfänger" ( = Hell-printer) on the top of one of my Feld-Hell carrying cases

Some lids have a serial number and a Siemens-Halske logo (though S-H was not necessarily the manufacturer of the machine, nor of the lid or the case).


Fig. 30: manufacturer markings on the inside of the lid of the Feld-Hell carrying case


Fig. 31: asset-number tag


Fig. 32: serial-number and year on the handle of carying case

(in this particular case, the handle has the same number and year as the machine itself)

On the bottom of the inside of the case, there is a cast-metal locking mechanism for the base unit of the Feld-Hell machine. In some cases, this cast plate has the identifier "Ttyp58d g" or "11Ttyp58d g", where "T typ 58" is the generic Siemens-Halske designator of the entire Feld-Hell set. On the left and right hand side of the bottom of the case, there is a U-shaped metal channel. It is the track for the slides on the bottom of the machine. One of these channels often has the entwined S-H logo of Siemens-Halske, and a serial number.


Fig. 33: location of markings on the inside of the carrying case


Fig. 34: "Ttyp58 g" on the casting of the locking mechanism and Siemens-Halske logo with "Nr 17484"


Fig. 35: no marking on the casting for the locking mechanism but S-H logo, and serial number without letters "Nr"


The term "Deutsche Wehrmacht" (or "Wehrmacht" for short) refers to the combined armed forces of Germany during the period 1935-1946. To be more precise (ref. 12):

  • The "Law of the Creation of the Provisional Reichswehr" of 6 March 1919 ("Gesetz über die Bildung einer vorläufigen Reichswehr") dissolves the "Heer", and forms a Provisional "Reichswehr", to protect the national borders, and to maintain law and order.
  • Per §1 of the "Wehrgesetz" (defence law) of 23 March 1921, the "Reichswehr" consists of the "Reichsheer" (Army) and the "Reichsmarine" (Navy). It also abolishes conscription (compulsory military service).
  • Per §2 of the "Wehrgesetz" of 12 May 1935, the Wehrmacht consists of the "Heer", "Kriegsmarine", and "Luftwaffe"; §1 of that same law reintroduces conscription.
  • The Wehrmacht surrendered unconditionally on 8 May 1945. However, some units (e.g., in Norway, and forces used for police activities under Allied command) remained active until the end of August 1945. The last unit to surrender was a dozen soldiers of the Navy Weather Service, that were "forgotten" on an isolated island (Nordaustlandet) of the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic Ocean (ref. 31). The Wehrmacht was officially abolished a year later, 20 August 1946, by "Kontrollratsgesetz No. 34" of the Allied Control Council.

The Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht had a special agency, the Heereswaffenamt: the Army Ordnance Office (ref. 1, 2, 3, 15). Its main responsibilities included the research & development, specification, testing, industrialization (procurement, logistics), and acceptance of weaponry, ammunition, and equipment ("Waffen", "Munition", "Gerät"), as well as the assessment of enemy weaponry. Ref. 1, 2. The office was dissolved at the end of April 1945. Heereswaffenamt is normally abbreviated to He.Wa.A, HWA, or Wa.A. (WaA and Wa. A may be found in some literature and acceptance stamps). The predecessor of the Heeerswaffenamt was the Waffen- und Munitionsbeschaffungsamt (WuMBA, Weapons and Ammunition Procurement Office), established in 1916 as an expansion of the Feldzeugmeisterei (Ordnance Dept.)


Fig. 36: the Heereswaffenamt building, Jebenstraße 1, Berlin-Charlottenburg

(the building complex survived the war intact, and continued to be used in modern times)

All weaponry, ammunition, and equipment delivered to Wehrmacht was subject to pre-delivery testing, inspection and acceptance. For communications equipment, this went down to the level modules and subassemblies ("Baugruppen") that were field-replaceable. These activities were the responsibility of the Heeresabnahmewesen, the Army Acceptance Organization. Acceptance inspections were performed according to "Abnahmebedingungen" (acceptance conditions), prepared by the respective "Waffenprüfämter" (e.g., WaPrüf 7 for telecommuniations equipment), the weapons test departments, or by the combined "Acceptance", "Chief Engineer", and "Development & Test" sections (see p. 20 in ref 1). Inspections were either performed on each individual item, or on samples.

The organizational structure of the Heereswaffenamt was adapted over time (see section "B. Gliederung" in ref. 1, ref. 15), evolving with pre-war rearmament, sustenance of the war, and Wehrmacht politics. Through the early phases of the war, the procurement, testing, and acceptance organizations where hierarchically below the Chef-Ingenieur (WaChefIng, Chief Engineer, responsible for state-of-the-art designs and manufacturing). Later on, the latter was placed at the same level as those organizations. Army telecommunications equipment ("Nachrichtenmittel") were handled by the "Waffen und Gerät" (W.u.G.) office. A final reorganization attempt was made in February of 1945, when the Amt was already being dispersed from Berlin to northern and southern Germany. The Heereswaffenamt was supposed to be changed into Wehrmacht-Waffenamt. This only took effect on paper, though the Amt now actually did report to the Chef der Heeresrüstung, rather than the Oberbefehlshabers des Ersatzheeres. The dissolution of the Wehrmacht-Waffenamt took place over the period April 27 - May 2, 1945, on orders of the Chef der Wehrmachtrüstung. Ref. 18.


Fig. 37: position of the Heeresabnahmewesen within the structure of the Heereswaffenamt

(note: the structure of the above organization changed over time)

The Abnahmewesen comprised several hundred Heeresabnahmestellen (army acceptance / inspection stations, ordnance detachments) throughout the Reich. They were organized into:

  • Inspizienten: supervisory offices in Breslau, Berlin, Dresden, Hannover, Erfurt, Nürnberg (Nuremberg), Münster, Stuttgart, Berlin-Spandau, Wien (Vienna/Austria), Königsberg (now Kaliningrad), Radom (100 km south of Warsaw/Poland), Prague/Czechoslovakia, and Brussels/Belgium.
  • Bezirke: regional offices.
  • Kommandos: units in Italy, Norway, Ukraine, and the Balkan.

The Abnahmestellen were typically inspection stations that each covered multiple equipment suppliers and factories. They were often co-located with the factory of a major manufacturer, but not staffed by employees of that manufacturer. Note that the acceptance identification number does not represent an individual inspector, nor a specific inspection station. It belongs to a particular chief inspector, and all of his subordinate inspectors used the same number. If he moved to a different location, then the number moved with him. Ref. 17.

Over the years, the Abnahmewesen of the army had mushroomed to an estimated staff of over 25000 individuals. Ca. 1942/1943 it was decided to change the acceptance process, and release a significant part of the acceptance/inspection staff for frontline duty. This reorganization was based on transferring the authority and responsibility for the acceptance of Wehrmacht goods to qualified personnel ("lizensierte Firmenprüfer") at the supplier companies. This is referred to as Betriebsabnahme (BA, ref. 8). With this process, it was the individual inspector who had an identification number, rather than the Abnahmestelle. Hence, a BA acceptance stamp (typically placed in an octagon) could have an inspector number with as many as five digits. Telefunken/Berlin appears to have used a variation on the BA scheme, by using the marking "W.ab" or "W. Ab." - but without an inspector number. W.ab presumably stands for Werksabnahme, which basically means the same as Betriebsabnahme.

The Reichskommissariat für die Luftfahrt (the Reich's Aviation Commissariat) was created in February of 1933. Two months later, it was changed into the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM, ref. 15, 30), the German Air Ministry. The official (and short-lived) purpose of the RLM was planning and development of civil aviation. The following month, the RLM was expanded with the Luftschutzamt (the Air Defence Dept.), and grew in importance and influence. In 1935, the Abteilung Flugtechnik (the Aeronautical Dept.) of the Heereswaffenamt was transferred to the RLM. Hence, the RLM had its own acceptance organization, the "BAL", subordinate to the Technisches Amt of the RLM. According to Luftwaffe service regulations, this stands for Bauaufsichten des Reichsluftfahrtministeriums (the Administration of the RLM for the Supervision of Construction, ref. 8, 13), in short "Bauaufsicht Luft". Some literature states that B.A.L. stands for Bauaufsichten der Luftwaffe, Bauaufsichts-Leitung, Beschaffungs-Amt für die Luftwaffe (air force procurement agency), or Bauleitung der Luftwaffe. The latter was actually a civil organization for the construction of Luftwaffe infrastructure such as airfields, and radar installations.

The Kriegsmarine had its own Waffenamt: the Marinewaffenamt (MWa, see sheet 10 of ref. 30). It was established in October of 1934, and reported directly to the Oberbefehlshaber der Kriegsmarine (OB.d.M, Naval Supreme Commander). In November of 1939 it became the Marinewaffenhauptamt. For acceptance activities, it had a number of Abnahme-Inspizienten (Inspectors), mid-July 1943 combined into a single organization: the Marineabnahmeinspektion (M.Abn.I). This included the "Gruppe Nachrichtenwesen" (Signals Group). Note that the Kriegsmarine procured some equipment via the Heereswaffenamt (and vice versa), and this equipment may carry acceptance stamps of both organizations.

In principle, all items (Waffen, Munition, Gerät - weapons, ammunition, equipment) accepted by the Wehrmacht received an Abnahmestempel (acceptance stamp) or a Prüfstempel (inspection/test stamp). Hence, this also applied to communications equipment, such as radios, modules and sub-assemblies (Baugruppen), vacuum tubes and other components, and accessories. The Abnahmestempel is either a Wa.A, BAL, or BA stamp - in each case with the number of the Abnahmestelle. Hence, the Hell Feldfernschreiber also bears such acceptance stamps. In principle, an acceptance stamp is placed on each of its field-replaceable units: the Motor-Generator, the Amplifier & Interconnect Unit (the electronics box), the printer box, the base unit (gear box and paper trays), the Keyboard/Character Drum unit, and the vacuum tubes (valves). Usually the carrying case ("Tornister") and the spare-parts box also have an acceptance stamp.

Note that unscrupulous traders sometimes add bogus acceptance stamps to equipment, in an attempt to increase their market value.

The Waffenamt ink stamps consist of the national socialist version (1935-45) of the Imperial Eagle ("Reichsadler"), the proper abbreviation "Wa.A." (sometimes "WaA" or "Wa. A."), and the identification number of the chief-inspector. On Hellschreiber machines, the stamps are either red or black. The electronics box of one of the ca. 150 Feld-Hell machines in my database has a yellow stamp (see Fig. 41 below).


Fig. 38: the five "Wa. A. 577" stamps on my first Feld-Hell machine


Fig. 39: example of black and red "Wa.A. 548" stamp on Feld-Hell motor-generators


Fig. 40: example of black and red "Wa.A. 548" stamp on Feld-Hell printer modules


Fig. 41: example of "Wa.A. 38" stamp on Feld-Hell electronics box (2x), Bakelite vacuum tube socket, and inside of case

(note: a yellow WaA stamp is unusual)


Fig. 42:  example of "Wa.A. 38" stamp on Feld-Hell spare-parts box and on the inside of the carrying-case lid


Fig. 43: examples of "Wa. A. 130" stamp on the inside of the lid of Feld-hell carrying-cases


Fig. 44: example of "Wa. A. 548" stamp on the Feld-Hell paper trays cover, inside & top of carrying-case

The BAL stamp comprises the abbreviation "BAL" and a number. Both are usually placed inside an octagon, but sometimes inside a circle or square. Appendix of ref. 8 (pp. 31-35) provides the specifications for BAL steel marking punches (for weapons), rubber stamps, lead seal-presses, branding irons, documents stamps (rubber, and embossing), and accredited inspectors.


Fig. 45: specification for BAL and BA rubber stamps

(source: p. 32-33 of ref. 8)


Fig. 46: example of "BAL 391" stamp on Feld-Hell printer module and electronics box


Fig. 47: example of "BAL 391" stamp on Feld-Hell motor-generator and top of carrying-case


Fig. 48: "BAL 767", "BAL 1072" and "BAL 475" stamps on the 12-pin connector of the electronics box

The round connector at the lower right-hand corner of the amplifier box mates with a plug that has 11 signal pins and a keyed center pin. The connector and plug are actually borrowed from the Luftwaffe. They carry an Fl-number (Fl. 32620-1 for the "11 polige Steckerdose Bm.77.stp.16a" (or 16b, c) socket and 32620-2 for the matching "11-pol. Stecker Bm.77.stp.16a" (plug). So it is not surprising to find a BAL acceptance stamp on the connector. This implies that the connectors were accepted prior to installation in the amplifier box. The BAL stamps on the connector insert are typically accompanied by a date code stamp.

As stated above, information about WaA and BAL numbers is not exactly plentiful. Here is the information that I have gathered over the years, concerning the Wa.A. and BAL stamps that appear on Feld-Hell equipment:

  • WaA 38 belongs to the Heeresabnahmestelle in the city of Dresden. It was used on goods from a large variety of companies such as:
  • Radio H. Mende & Co. G.m.b.H. (ref. 15), Sachsenwerk in Niedersedlitz and in Radeberg (electronic components, radar and radio equipment such as 10 W.S.c. and UkwE.e, e.g., for AEG/Berlin)
  • Metall- und Holzwarenfabrikation Vereinigte Eschebach'sche Werke AG (furniture, enclosures for "Tornister" (backpack) radio equipment), Alfred Luscher Accumulatoren Fabrik (ref. 9), Stahn & Co. (Feldfernsprecher = field telephones)
  • Max G. Müller, Fabrik für Lederwaren und Heeresbedarf, in Nürnberg (Max M. Müller, Leather Goods and Army Necessities Factory, Nuremberg).
  • Note: WaA 38 also appears on radio equipment such as Torn.E.b receivers and 5W.S.c transmitters ("5 Watt Sender"), ref. 17, as well as the small portable transceiver Kleinfunksprecher Kl.Fu.Spr. "Dorette" (depending on the actual manufacturer).
  • WaA 130. Per ref. 2, this number is associated with products from Wilep IBB Industriebürsten GmbH in Berlin-Pankow. That company also made pioneer tools.
  • WaA 239. I do not have a photo of this stamp on a Hellschreiber carrying case. The same number also appears on other carrying cases, such as that of Torn.E.b receivers made by Mende & Co. It is unclear who manufactured the cases.
  • BAL 391. This number is associated with Siemens-Halske in Berlin, in particular for Hell Feldfernschreiber.
  • WaA 448. I have not yet been able to identify this number. It also appears on leather holsters made by leather goods manufacturer Albin Scholle Lederwarenfabrik in Zeitz (35 km southeast of Leipzig).
  • WaA 475. I have not yet been able to identify this number.
  • WaA 548: this number also appears on other items from Siemens-Halske, such as microphone elements (e.g., in the F.mph.25c).
  • WaA 577. This number is associated with Siemens-Halske, probably in Erlangen. It also appears on TornFu.d2, TornFz.d2a, and Fprüf.c. (ref. 17), Dämpfungsmesser 39, and inside the Telefunken receiver KwEa.
  • WaA 584. This number is associated with several companies in Berlin (ref. 17), including:
  • Dr. Seibt AG - Spezialfabrik für Rundfunkgeräte; e.g., transmitters such as 5.W.S., 5.W.S.b., and 10.W.S.c.; 1910-1931: "Dr. Georg Seibt, Fabrik für elektrische und mechanische Apparate")
  • Baco-Apparatebau in Berlin-Pankow: "Wechselgleichrichter" (DC-DC chopper converters, "Zerhacker", "Zerhackerpatronen", e.g., WGl12a), rotary power converters (EUa2/a4, EWc/c1/e, SEUa/a1, U30, TM15a)
  • Paul Linke in Berlin-Tempelhof: similar products.
  • Varta and Pfalzgraf; batteries such as the 2B38
  • AEG (e.g., connectors of heavy field cable "schweres Feldkabel").
  • Aktiengesellschaft Mix & Genest Telephon-, Telegraphen- und Blitzableiter-Fabrik of Berlin-Schöneberg (field telephones of type FF33; M&G (Emgefunk) became part of Standard Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft AG / ITT in 1930.
  • Siemens-Halske; e.g., field telephone parts and equipment such as "Amtzusatz", patch-boards
  • Valvo: vacuum tubes (valves)
  • Apparatebau-Gesellschaft Neumann & Borm of Berlin-Schöneberg. For the Wehrmacht, they made items such as time delay switches and acoustic proximity fuses for guided missiles, microphones, switching and cable distribution boxes.
  • It also appears on items on Morse telegraphy keys ("Morsetaste").
  • BAL 776. This number appears on equipment made by Siemens-Apparate- und Maschinenbau (SAM), such as a cable reel ("Leitungsaufroller") for Luftwaffe hand lamps.
  • BAL 1072. This number also appears on the 12-pin plug made by Siemens-Apparate- und Maschinenbau (SAM), that mates with the Feld-Hell''s connector (and several aircraft equipment, incl. in the Messerschmhitt Me-262 jet fighter).

The RV 12 P 4000 vacuum tubes used in the Feld-Hell also have Waffenamt stamps, e.g.: WaA 89, 338, 617, 745, and 836. A discussion of these stamps (and other markings on those tubes) is on this page.These same WaA numbers appear on other items as well, e.g.:

  • WaA 89, on radio equipment and tubes from Telefunken-Geräte- und Röhrenwerk in Erfurt, e.g., the "Tornister" (backpack) receiver model Torn.E.b., 10W.S.c., TornFu.d2, MWE.c., and FuHE.c/d
  • WaA 745:
  • vacuum tubes tested at (and made by) Valvo in Hamburg;
  • also on the power-source switching unit ("Steckanschluß Fu.b") of the 5W.S. transmitter, made by Hoppmann & Mulsow, Elektrotechnische Spezialfabrik in Hamburg
  • WaA 836:
  • on headsets (e.g., model Dfh.a.) made by Lumophon-Werke Bruckner & Stark, Fernsprecher; Radio und Kühlschrank Fabrik in Nürnberg
  • vacuum tubes made by TeKaDe in Nürnberg.
  • parts and equipment made by Nürnberger Schraubenfabrik und Façondreherei Carl Göbel G.m.b.H (NSF)

The full listings of the WaA numbers and their identifiers were lost during bombing raids in 1944 and 1945 (as was the majority of other Wa records). Listings available today, are typically incomplete, often inconsistent, and only covers weaponry and ammunition. However, ref. 17 contains a reconstructed listing for communications equipment.

The table below lists the acceptance stamps that I have observed on Hell Feldfernschreiber sets, the carrying case, and the box for spare-parts:


Fig. 49: location of various acceptance stamps on Feld-Hell sets


One unusual, nonstandard marking is the "Eschebach 1941" stamp on the inside of the lid of a Feld-Hell carrying case (see Fig. 50). That same lid has a WaA 38 stamp. WaA 38 is linked to numerous companies, including Metall- und Holzwarenfabrikation Vereinigte Eschebach'sche Werke AG (VEWAG) in Dresden and Radeberg. VEWAG was started in 1867 by Carl Eschebach, as a plumbing company. The factory in Dresden was sold off in 1931. The Eschebach factory in Radeberg made all sorts of wooden and metal office furniture, kitchen and bathroom furniture and appliances, enameled and galvanized household items, as well as enclosures for radio equipment. The latter included carrying cases and lids (Tornistergehäuse (ref. 19), including for the Torn.E.b receiver (p. 62 in ref. 25, p. 24 in ref. 19). They also made gas mask canisters.


Fig. 50: "Eschebach" and "WaA 38" stamp on the inside of the lid of a Feld-Hell case and inside a "Torn.E.b" receiver case


Fig. 51: letterhead of the "Eschebach" company - 1930

Another unusual markings are magenta "MT 3" stamp on the base of some motor-generators; the stamp also appears on the inside (bottom, rear) of the electronics box of the some machines. Similar is an "A 60" stamp. Possibly, they are stamps of the manufacturer's internal quality assurance department.


Fig. 52: "MT 3" stamp on the inside and side of Feld-Hell electronics box


Fig. 53: "MT 3" stamp on Feld-Hell motor-generator and "A 60" on left side of electronics box


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