Waffenfarbe (German: “corps [or troop-function] colour”) is a means the armed forces uses to distinguish between different corps or troop functions in its armed services. The waffenfarbe might be the colour of the collar patch, of the piping (coloured edging) around the shoulder boards or shoulder marks and — for enlisted ranks — of the piping around the collar and the garrison cap (Schiffchen). (In the latter places, NCO’s wear cords of dark gold, officers silver, and generals gold.)
The Bundeswehr uses a waffenfarben scheme of colours to indicate troop types. The colours appear on the collar patch and as piping around the shoulder boards or straps showing a soldier’s rank.
Although soldiers’ berets are also coloured, the colours are slightly less differentiated than the waffenfarben, and corps or troop function is indicated by a beret badge rather than beret colour.
Waffenfarben of the Heer
The German Air Force (Bundeswehr) only uses a small spectrum of colours for the purpose. While the normal colour for the air force is a golden yellow, officers in the general staff service (today there is no general staff as such) wear wine-red and generals, bright red. Generals’ and general staff service officers’ collar patches (Kragenspiegel) also differ from the normal air force design, being the same the army wears.
1935-45, the air force used a larger number of colours, including bi-coloured.
The German Navy does not use function-specific colours to distinguish between corps. This is done instead by various emblems above the rank stripes on the sleeves.