The German Helmet
Due to the high number of head wounds experience in 1914-15, the German High Command authorized the development of a steel helmet. In December 1915, military physician Friedrick Schwerd and professor August Bier of the Technical Institute of Hanover developed a prototype for field trials. The helmet was fabricated with high quality chromium-nickel steel and featured a visor and sloping skirt which protected the wearer’s neck and ears. The design offered far more protection than designs chosen by the opposing British and French forces. One notable feature of the design are two raised “horns” or Stirmpanzer lugs set on each side of the helmet. These lugs were deigned with the due purpose of ventilation and to accommodate a removable sentries’ steel brow plate or Stirmpanzer. The brow plate proved to be impractical and was rarely used in combat. The newly designed steel helmet was issued to the 1st Assault battalion that same month. The field trial proved so successful that Chief of Staff, General Von Falkenhayn authorized the issue of steel helmets. The first delivery was made in January of 1916. 30,000 of these helmets were sent to the Verdun front. Distribution to the rest of the Imperial forces continued slowly through the rest of 1916 though April of 1917. Early production M16 helmets are known to collectors as “square dips”; due to the way the flare in the skirt dips in a square shape from the bill to the skirt. Engineers at the Eisenhüttenwerk plant (where these early helmets were produced) ended up modifying the design slightly due to the fact that during the manufacturing process the helmet’s skirt would often crack. A good many “square dip” helmets did pass inspection however and photos show them worn though-out the war. Each German helmet is marked on the flange with a manufacture mark and size stamp. Helmets were produced in sizes 60-70. There are at least 14 known manufactures. The inside dome of the helmet is also marked with a code known as a “heating lot number” This number was to aid in quality control at the factory level. In some cases it may indicate where the helmet’s steel was rolled. It is believed that more then 7 million helmets were produced during the period of 1916-1918. The largest share of these helmets was produced by Eisenhüttenwerk, Thale, AG, F.C. Bellinger, Fulda, and Eisenhuette Silesia, Paruschowitz Oberschlesien. These factories are known today by collectors as “the big three”.
The German military went to great lengths to insure quality control of their helmets. Contemporary records dating to June of 1916, show one helmet out of a lot of 101 was tested for steel integrity on the rifle range during ballistic testing – multiple shots at a distance of 40 meters using an antiquated black powder 1871 11mm Mauser. If the inward dent exceeded 2mm or other failure occurred, a further 5 helmets from the lot were to be tested. If these failed, the lot was scrapped and the steel mill which supplied the ingot was required to overtake the costs for scrapping them.During the final acceptance, each helmet was inspected in-plant by a quality control team made up of an Officer, NCO and a few Enlisted Men known as Abnahmekommando. Prior to the installation of the liner, attention was given to weight, dimensions and paint adherence in addition to structural soundness of the shell. Each helmet that passed inspection was marked with an ink stamp made from a conjoined AK (for Abnahmekommando) on the inside rear flange by the acceptance officer. Helmets that didn’t pass were scrapped. Great care was taken to make sure no flawed helmet left the factory.Helmets were painted at the factory with smooth low-gloss linseed oil based enamel paint. The color was designated as “field-gray”. The term field gray can be somewhat confusing as original helmets vary greatly in color. The official war department authorized formula was, 30% white pigment in an oil base, 15% ochre pigment (dry), 5% blue pigment (dry), 5% black pigment (dry) 20% turpentine, 10% siccative and 15% water. Yet original helmet paint can range from dark green to olive. Although some shades appear to be factory specific, it is not uncommon to find helmets produced at the same factory which exhibit variations in field gray. Color matching was not an exact science at the time which may explain the variation in shades of field gray. Despite the variation in color it should not be assumed that any shade of gray-green is correct. WWI produced German helmets differ greatly in color from their Reichswehr and Wehrmacht counterparts. To the writer knowledge there is no modern commercial available paint which comes close to colors found on original WWI produced German helmets.
There is often some confusion between the designation M16 and M17. The designation actually does not refer to the helmet at all, but to the liner. German helmets produced between January of 1916 and May of 1917 are fit with an all leather liner. The M16 liner consists of three individual 2-finger pads sewn to a leather band. Each pad has a cloth pocket with ties sewn onto the back. The pocket is designed to accommodate horse hair or gauze “pillow” which would allow for a more snug fit to the wearer’s head. The pillows could also be removed to allow for a larger head size. In May of 1917 due to a leather shortage the liner was redesigned. The new liner continued with the earlier “three pad” system but changed from a leather band to a steel band made from sheet metal. The pads were now crimped into place on a steel band. Another changed was made to the liner as well. The pads were now to be made from white chromed leather (Russian leather) instead of brown vegetable tanned leather. This change was made in hopes that the chromed leather would hold up better under the constant moister of the trenches. That being said large numbers of brown vegetable tanned pads had been produced and it is not uncommon to find these pads on both M17 and M18 liners. M17 liner pads are sometimes found made from non-standard leather and backed with non-standard cloth. As the cost of war continued to plague the Germans ersatz materials were often substituted. M17 pads are found made from rabbit, goat, and sheep and on rare occasions pig skins. Corse burlap was often substituted for the pad backing when cotton and linen where not available. There is some debate among collectors as to when and if production of the older M16 liners ceased. Original helmets are occasionally found with M16 liners bearing 1917 dated manufacture and or depot stamps. Whether these helmets are the result of being produced before May of 1917 or possibly were refit at the depot level with recycled M16 liner is almost impossible to know with any degree of certainty. It maybe possible that a few manufactures continued to fabricate M16 liners after the design was modified.
The liners were designed to be secured into the helmet with three separate pronged pins, known as split pins. The head of each pin was welded onto two prongs. When the liner was installed the prongs were bent in opposite directions thus securing the liner into place. The front two pins are the same in design and size. The head of the rear pin is slightly thicker. The thicker head pin was designed to keep the Stirmpanzer (sentry brow plate) strap when worn from slipping off the helmet. With the introduction of the M17 liner the split pins were redesigned as well. The newer M17 pins had slightly shorter, but wider prongs then the here to fore mentioned M16 version. This design functioned more effectively and allowed a tighter or secure fit on the steel liner band then the M16 version. However M17 liner are often found secured with the early pattern split pins.
During the M16 helmet design phase one critical aspect was over looked, the need for a chinstrap. It was initially felt by the designers that due to the overall weight of the helmet a chinstrap was unnecessary. However in the finally design phase it was realized a chinstrap would be needed. The solution was to rivet M91 Pickelhaube posts to each side of the helmet’s skirt. The design would accommodate the chinstrap already being worn on the Pickelhaube, thus eliminating the need to design and fabricate a new chinstrap. The helmets were issued without a chinstrap and it was up to the individual soldier to remove the chinstrap from his Pickelhaube to his newly issued steel helmet. This design proved to be problematic. The soldiers found the design to be uncomfortable due to the fact the strap was worn fairly far back on the chin and often hit the wearers wind pipe. The M91 posts also proved to be poor fits for the chinstrap hooks, with chinstrap often falling off at all the wrong times. Soldiers found ingenious ways of keeping the hooks secured in place. Original helmets are sometimes found with bits of wire twisted round the post to keep the hook secured into place. Some frustrated soldiers even went as far to ping the M91 post, thus mushrooming the steel enough to keep the chinstrap hook secured. The M91 chinstrap itself when though a number of changes though the course of the war. Pre-war/ early war chinstraps feature brass hardware with brown or blackened leather. By 1915 due to the strategic nature of brass the high command ordered a switch from brass hardware to nickel and enameled steel then finally to bare steel. The strap itself changed as the war progressed as well. Earlier model straps have the hardware sewn into place; by 1917 hardware was often riveted. Like the liners there are also a number of ersatz chinstrap versions. In 1915 a field gray leather chinstrap was produced in limited numbers for use on the field gray felt Pickelhaube. Some of these field gray straps found there way onto steel helmets. Sometimes original M16/17 helmets as well as Pickelhaube are found with a strap made from cloth webbing. Not much is known about these unusual straps and it is provable that they were produced at the depot level from recycled hardware when leather was unavailable. Originals are typically found void of maker or issue stamps giving some credence to this theory. In some cases the webbing appear to be British, making it possible that these straps were made from captured material. Regardless the number of surviving examples found on combat worn helmets does show they were used.The chinstrap issued finally proved to be problematic enough that the high command finally authorized a new design. On July 15 of 1918 a newly deigned helmet was put into production. Although almost identical in appearance the new M18 did away with the ineffective the M91 chinstrap posts utilized a new chinstrap delivery system. The new design called for the M17 liner band to be modified by riveting swivel ring bails onto each side. A new chinstrap was also designed to be worn with this new system. The new chinstrap design incorporated a sprung hook or carbine clip attached to one end the other end being preeminently secured to the other bail. Original M18 chinstrap are found riveted or sewn into place. Only six factories are known to have produced the M18 helmet. Its unknown if the remaining factories continued to produce M17 helmets after the high command authorized the design change.Due to complaints from soldiers that the low skirt of the helmet inhibited hearing another design change was proposed. A new prototype was sent for field trials in August of 1918. This new design modified the skirt at the lower edge of the helmet in an upward dip below the Stirmpanzer lugs. Today this model is known as the M18 cut-out, telephone talker’s or Cavalry helmet. The later terms have no validity as the design was meant for all troops, and not just to those who used the telephone or served in Calvary units. A change was also made in the type of paint which would be used on these helmets. A new paint known as Wollstaub had crushed wool felt mixed into it to produce a rough textured lusterless finish. The hope was this finish would reduce the glare on the helmet’s surface. All told 100,000 M18 cut-out helmets all in size 64 were by the Eisenhüttenwerk factory during the final months of the war. The design proved to be extremely popular with the men at the front and had the war continued it is possible that the new design would have become the standard helmet of the Imperial forces.No discussion on German helmets can be complete without touching on camouflage. The smooth factory finish on the helmets reflected the sun’s glare making a tempting target for the enemy. To make matters worse individual soldiers took to the practice of polishing their helmets with motor oil to a high gloss for inspection. Early techniques to camouflage were to smear the helmet with mud which effectively hid all traces of a glossy finish. In January of 1917 the war ministry authorized the testing of white colored canvas helmet covers which were to be issued to troops in snowy regions of the front. On February 14th of 1917 the war ministry also authorized the production of earth and field gray colored canvas helmet covers. Some discussion was made between High Command and the General Supply Offices as to whether these covers were to be worn strictly by sentries and patrols or were all soldiers to be issued with such a cover. It appears no decision was ever made, but contemporary records indicate 800,000 covers were issued. As is often the case soldiers found their own ingenious ways to camouflage their helmets. Some men cut up old sand bags and shaped the burlap over the dome of the helmet, then with section of bailing wire secured the cloth to the helmet. Original photos as well as surviving helmets attest to a variety of methods used.The practice of painting camouflage patterns on helmets has been a source of some debate. The scarcity of surviving original photos taken at the front of men wearing these helmet had lead some to erroneously believe that the practice was by in large a post-war aberration or was allowed limitedly in certain units such as Storm troopers or Machinegun battalions. While it is true that many enterprising Allied soldiers and French peasants painted camouflage patterns on discarded German helmets in order to sell them as war souvenirs, the German high command did in fact authorizes and encourage the painting of camouflage patterns onto combat helmet. In July of 1918 a directive came down from Chief of General Staff Ludendorff which called for helmets to be painted with a camouflage pattern. The directive reads as follows:Chief of the General Staff of the Field Army
II. No. 91 3667 July 1918Through a purposeful, variegated surface paint on cannons, mortars, machine guns, steel helmets, etc., these devices may be much more easily hidden from view than before.
The authorized trials have produced the following results:1. Steel helmets:
A painted surface with one color (e.g. green or light brown) or with small splotches of a variety of colors is superior to a standard single color helmet, although it still allows the recognition of the characteristic form and silhouette.
In this regard, a three-colored surface which has had the borders blended, simulating a shadow effect is not recognizable beyond a distance of 60 meters.
Particulars regarding a useful surface: Dull colors – the helmet must not shine. Sprinkling the still-damp oil paint with fine sand stops the surface from glistening in the sun.
The choice of colors is to be purposely changed according to the time of year. One of the three colors must match the basic color found in the region of fighting.
Suitable at this time: green, yellow ochre, rust brown
Separation of the surface of the helmet into equal-sized portions, consisting of large, sharp-cornered patches.
Support – On the front side of the helmet, no more than four colored fields must be visible. Light and dark colors are to be placed next to each other. The colored segments are to be sharply separated from each other by a finger-wide black stripe.
Necessary coloring materials for 1000 helmets: 5 kilograms each of ochre, green and brown; 2 kilograms of black.
After ongoing scientific testing, I have requested the War Ministry to regulate the appropriate seasonal color scheme. Until that point, I request that painting be carried out in the above-mentioned manner.(signed) Ludendorff
all Army Groups (5 each)
all Army High Commands (20 each)
Inspector General of Artillery Schools
General of Pioneers attached to General Headquarters
Commanding General of the Air Forces
Army Mortar School
Commander of the Gas Troops
M.SS Command Rozoy
General Staff Course Sedan
Field Artillery and Foot Artillery Practice Grounds
Chief of Field Transportation
Offices la, Ic, B, Munitions. Z, P, F, Illb (3 each)The earliest account of helmets painted in camo colors only dates back to June 13 1918, referring to trials that had been carried out by 6th Bavarian Landwehr Division, who painted their helmets a dot pattern camo. After the trial proved successful and the directive was issued the practice spread to the rest of the army. It should not be assumed however that the every unit took part in the directive, as there are plenty of original photos taken in November of 1918 showing German soldiers wearing plain field gray helmets.
Today collectors have identified several variations of camouflage patterns found on original helmets. They are known as tortoise shell, stained glass, window pain, blotch or splotch and lozenge camo. It is probably that depots and individual soldier painted their helmets with patterns that matched their particular skill set, which may explain the numerous patterns. Although the Ludendorf directive was clear on which colors were to be used variations exists on original helmets. This maybe the result of the availability of certain colors at the front to the need to choose colors which blended into the setting where the individual found himself. Original helmets found having document service on the Italian front have been known to feature hues of blue, stone gray and white, colors which would have blended in well in the alpine stetting.

In conclusion attesting the superior protection offered by the M16 and both M18 model helmets, these helmets continued to be worn long after the end of WWI. Both models would see future service with slight modifications in the Reichwehr as well as in Hitler’s armed forces during WWII. Many were even purchased by foreign nations after the war and were worn well it the 1970s. The design also served as the basis for future German steel helmets, and its influence can even be seen today on the Kevlar helmets worn by U.S. and NATO troops.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the German WWI and WW II army helmet. For the German paramilitary organization after the First World War, see Stahlhelm, Bund der Frontsoldaten. For the 1951 war film, see The Steel Helmet.

German Stahlhelme from the Second World War

Stahlhelm (plural, Stahlhelme) is German for “steel helmet”. The Imperial German Army began to replace the traditional boiled-leather Pickelhaube (spiked combat helmet) with the Stahlhelm during World War I in 1916. The term Stahlhelm refers both to a generic steel helmet, and more specifically to the distinctive (and iconic) German design.

The Stahlhelm, with its distinctive “coal scuttle” shape, was an instantly recognizable icon for military imagery and became a common element of military propaganda on both sides, just like the Pickelhaube before it.

Its name was also used by the Stahlhelm, a paramilitary nationalist organization established at the end of 1918.



[edit] Background

At the beginning of World War I, none of the combatants were issued with any form of protection for the head other than cloth and leather caps, designed at most to protect against saber cuts and the like. When trench warfare began, the number of casualties on all sides suffering from severe head wounds (more often caused by shrapnel than by gunfire) increased dramatically. The French were the first to see a need for more protection—in late 1915 they began to issue Adrian helmets to their troops.[1][2] The British and Commonwealth troops followed with the Brodie helmet, which was also later worn by US forces, and the Germans with the Stahlhelm.

[edit] Origin

The design of the Stahlhelm was carried out by Dr. Friedrich Schwerd of the Technical Institute of Hanover. In early 1915, Schwerd had carried out a study of head wounds suffered during trench warfare and submitted a recommendation for steel helmets, shortly after which he was ordered to Berlin. Schwerd then undertook the task of designing and producing a suitable helmet[3] broadly based on the 15th century sallet, which provided good protection for the head and neck.[4]

After lengthy development work, which included testing a selection of German and Allied headgear, the first Stahlhelms were tested in November 1915 at the Kummersdorf Proving Ground and then field tested by the 1st Assault Battalion. Thirty thousand examples were ordered, but it was not approved for general issue until New Year 1916, hence it is most usually referred to as the “Model 1916″. In February 1916 it was distributed to troops at Verdun, following which the incidence of serious head injuries fell dramatically.

In contrast to the Hadfield steel used in the British Brodie helmet, the Germans used a harder martensitic silicon/nickel steel. As a result, and also due to the helmet’s form, the Stahlhelm had to be formed in heated dies at a greater unit cost than the British helmet, which could be formed in one piece.[5]

[edit] Models

The different Stahlhelm designs are named for their year of introduction. For example, the Modell 1942 which was introduced in 1942 is commonly known as M1942 or simply M42. Here, they are referred to by their M19XX names.

[edit] M1916 and M1917

1916 Stahlhelm with 1918 camouflage pattern applied in the field.

The Stahlhelm was introduced into regular service during the Verdun campaign in early 1916.

The M1916 design had side-mounted horn-like ventilator lugs which were intended to be support for an additional steel brow plate or Stirnpanzer, which only ever saw limited use by snipers and trench raiding parties, as it was too heavy for general use.[6]

The shell came in different sizes, from 60 to 68, with some size 70s reported. The suspension, or liner, consisted of a headband with three segmented leather pouches, each holding padding materials, and leather or fabric cords could be adjusted to provide a comfortable fit. The one-piece leather chin strap was attached to the shell by M1891 chinstrap lugs, the same kind used in the Pickelhaube helmet.

The M1916 design provided excellent protection: Reserve Lieutenant Walter Schulze of 8th Company Reserve Infantry Regiment 76 described his combat introduction to the helmet on the Somme, 29 July 1916:

“… suddenly, with a great clanging thud, I was hit on the forehead and knocked flying onto the floor of the trench… a shrapnel bullet had hit my helmet with great violence, without piercing it, but sufficiently hard to dent it. If I had, as had been usual up until a few days previously, been wearing a cap, then the Regiment would have had one more man killed.”[7]

But the helmet was not without its flaws. The ventilator horns often let cold air in during the winter, requiring the wearer to block the vents with mud or fabric. The large, flared skirt tended to make it difficult for soldiers to hear, distorting surrounding sounds and creating an echo when the wearer spoke.

Originally painted Feldgrau (field grey), the Stahlhelm was often camouflaged by troops in the field using mud, foliage, cloth covers, and paint. Official issue cloth covers in white and grey appeared in late 1916 and early 1917. Camouflage paint was not formally introduced until July 1918, when German Army Order II, No 91 366, signed by General Erich Ludendorff on 7 July 1918, outlined official standards for helmet camouflage. The order stipulated that helmets should be painted in several colors, separated by a finger-wide black line. The colors should be relevant to the season, such as using green, brown and ochre in summer.[6]

After the effectiveness of the M1916 design was validated during the 1916 campaigns, incremental improvements were subsequently made. The M1917 version saw improvements to the liner, but was otherwise identical to the original design.

[edit] M1918

WWI Stahlhelm and anti-shrapnel body armour.

Extensive redesigns were made for the M1918 model. A new two-piece chin strap was introduced, and was attached directly to the helmet liner rather than the shell. Certain examples of the M1918 had cutouts in the rim along the sides of the helmet. It has incorrectly been said that these cutouts were to accommodate using headphones while wearing the helmet. These cutouts were actually done to improve hearing and to reduce echo created by the large, flared skirt.

The M1918 Stahlhelm can be distinguished from the M1916, as the M1918 shell lacks the chinstrap rivet on the lower side of the helmet skirt found on earlier models.

[edit] Central Power variants

Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire used, or had commissioned, variations of the Stahlhelm design. The Austrians‘ M1917 helmet was similar to the German M1916, but had a cloth webbing chinstrap and had the chinstrap rivet located higher up on the steel shell. The Hungarians produced their own M1917 version that was similar to the Austrian design, but the chinstrap rivet was smaller in size and located even higher up than the Austrian version. The Austro-Hungarian helmets were manufactured by Krupp Berndorfer Metallwarenfabriken, and were brown in color.

Germany delivered 5,400 visorless versions of the M1918 helmet for Turkey. The missing front visor was thought by the Germans to be for religious reasons,[8] and it was claimed that it was to allow Turkish soldiers to touch their foreheads to the ground during prayer, without removing their helmets. However, this story has been disputed. The Turks rejected any more than the 5,400 delivered and an unknown number from the overrun were issued to German armed forces and were used by German Freikorps units after the war.

[edit] M1933

In 1932 the Army High Command ordered the testing of a new prototype helmet intended to replace the older models. It was made entirely from a composite plastic material called “Vulkanfiber“. The Model 1933 Vulkanfiber helmet kept the basic form of previous helmets but was much lighter. It was put into limited production following favourable field tests in early 1933 and small numbers were issued to Reichswehr infantry, artillery and communications units. It was removed from service following the introduction of the M1935 helmet and most of the remaining stock were reissued to civil organizations such as fire brigades and police forces.[9] Some examples were also retained for parade use by senior officers, who were not generally issued with the Stahlhelm.

[edit] M1935

Chinese National Revolutionary Army Central officer Training Division wearing the M1935.

German Reichswehr soldiers wearing the Stahlhelm.

In 1934 tests began on an improved Stahlhelm, whose design was a development of World War I models. The Eisenhüttenwerke company of Thale carried out prototype design and testing, with Dr. Friedrich Schwerd once again taking a hand.

The new helmet was pressed from sheets of molybdenum steel in several stages. The size of the flared visor and skirt was reduced, and the large projecting lugs for the obsolete armour shield were eliminated. The ventilator holes were retained, but were set in smaller hollow rivets mounted to the helmet’s shell. The edges of the shell were rolled over, creating a smooth edge along the helmet. Finally, a completely new leather suspension, or liner, was incorporated that greatly improved the helmet’s safety, adjustability, and comfort for each wearer. These improvements made the new M1935 helmet lighter, more compact, and more comfortable to wear than the previous designs.

The Army’s Supreme Command officially accepted the new helmet on June 25, 1935 and it was intended to replace all other helmets in service.[9]

Over 1 million M1935 helmets were manufactured in the first two years after its introduction, and millions more were produced until 1940 when the basic design and production methods were changed.

[edit] M1940

The M1935 design was slightly modified in 1940 to simplify its construction, the manufacturing process now incorporating more automated stamping methods. The principal change was to stamp the ventilator hole mounts directly onto the shell, rather than utilizing separate fittings. In other respects, the M1940 helmet was identical to the M1935.

[edit] Fallschirmjäger version

Fallschirmjäger in 1943/1944

A variant of the M1935 helmet with a shell lacking the projecting visor and deep, flared rim was issued to Fallschirmjäger (German paratrooper) units. It was so designed in order to lessen the risk of head injury on landing after a parachute jump; also to reduce the significant wind resistance and resulting neck trauma. Early Fallschirmjäger helmets were manufactured from existing M1935 helmets by removing the undesirable projections, which were omitted when the new design entered full production.[10] The modified shell also incorporated a completely different and more substantial liner and chinstrap design that provided far more protection for German airborne troops.

[edit] M1942

The M1942 design was a result of wartime demands. The rolled edge on the shell was eliminated, creating an unfinished edge along the rim. This edge slightly flared out, along the base of the skirt. The elimination of the rolled edge expedited the manufacturing process and reduced the amount of metal used in each helmet. Shell paint colors towards the end of the war typically ran to matte gray-green, and the decals were gradually eliminated to speed up production and reduce the helmet’s combat visibility. Greater manufacturing flaws were also observed in M42 helmets made late in the war.[11]

[edit] M1944

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A simpler variant, designed in 1944 by the Army Ordnance Office, was also stamped out of one piece of metal but with sloped sides. Similar in appearance to the British 1944 Type Mk III helmet. Allegedly personally rejected by Hitler as being too foreign.

[edit] M1945

There have been reports of a variant manufactured in the last months of the war. The M1945 was reported to have been similar to the M1942 design, but did away completely with the ventilator. These helmets are reported to be extremely rare. Many collectors and historians are of the opinion that the M1945 helmet is either just a regular M1942 helmet that lacked the vents simply because of machine malfunctions in the factory, or unfinished M1942 that were completed in the post-war era.[12]

[edit] M1954

A variant of the M1944 with a modified suspension system, developed further into the M1956.

[edit] M1956

M1956 East German Stahlhelm

The East German M-56 helmet was originally designed in 1942 as a replacement for the M1935/M1940 model Stahlhelms. The design was never progressed and was unused until the requirement for a new German helmet for the Volkspolizei and the National People’s Army arose, it being realized that the reintroduction of the Stahlhelm would not have been tolerated by the Soviet Union.[13] It came in three basic versions, Mod 1 or I/56, Mod 2 or I/57 and Mod 3 or I/71, and was widely sold (or given) to Third World armies.

[edit] Decals & insignia

Third Reich helmet decals of the army.

After Stahlhelm shells were painted, the colours of which varied by organization, small identification or insignia decals usually were affixed to one or both sides of the helmet. Almost every military, naval, and political organization had its own distinctive insignia, which was applied as decals to the sides of helmets.[14] The right side of early M35 helmets bore the tricolored shield of black, white, and red stripes, the traditional national colors of Imperial Germany (cf. the black, red, and gold of today’s Germany, harking back to the 1848 Revolt). The left side of the shell often received decal insignia denoting the branch of the armed forces, or Wehrmacht, or an organization within the Nazi Party.

The Wehrmacht consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy), and the Luftwaffe (air force). While not technically part of the Wehrmacht, the Waffen-SS (“Armed-SS“) tactically operated as such and was considered part of Germany’s armed forces during the war. The same was true of some Sturmabteilung (SA) units, along with other subsidiary organizations, which functioned as part of the armed forces particularly towards the end of the war. Wehrmacht branches typically displayed distinctive emblems in the form of decals on their helmets. The Heer, or army, displayed a black shield bearing the frontal view of a silver-colored German eagle holding a swastika in its talons (known as the Reichsadler), while the navy used the same eagle emblem in gold. Luftwaffe decals displayed the side view of an eagle in flight, also holding a swastika. The SS was both a paramilitary and a political organization, and its black runic initials on a silver-colored shield (normally applied to the right side of the shell) looked like twin lightning bolts. Other military, political, and civil or defense organizations used similar decal insignia to distinguish their helmets. Such visible identification devices were gradually abandoned as the war progressed, however, so that by war’s end most Wehrmacht helmet insignia had been eliminated to reduce the wearer’s visibility in combat.

[edit] Stahlhelm use in other countries

Polish resistance fighters of the Polish Home Army during the Warsaw Uprising, shown wearing the Stahlhelm captured from German enemy combatants.

The grave of an unknown Polish Soldier during the time of the Warsaw Uprising. The iconic Stahlhelm seen as a symbol of Polish resistance again the Nazi occupation.

Germany exported versions of the M1935 helmet to various countries. Versions of the M1935 Stahlhelm were sent to Nationalist China in 1935 and 1936. Spain also received shipments of the helmet. During the inter-war years several military missions were sent to South America under the command of Hans Kundt and the Bolivian army used to wear the helmet up until recently. The exported M1935 helmets were similar to the German issue, except for a different liner. Hungary produced its own 35M helmet; it was a modified German M1935 helmet. Hungary used a variation of the M1942 helmet that had a metal belt loop on the back of the shell. Some countries manufactured their own helmets using the M1935 design, and this basic design was in use in various nations as late as the 1970s.

After the end of World War I Poland seized large quantities of M1918 helmets. Most of those were later sold to various countries, including Spain. However, at the end of the 1930s it was discovered that the standard Polish wz. 31 helmet was unsuitable for tank troops and motorized units; while offering decent protection, it was too large and heavy. As a stop-gap measure before a new helmet was developed, the General Staff decided to issue M1918 helmets to the 10th Motorized Cavalry Brigade, which used them during the Polish Defensive War. During the time of the Warsaw Uprising the helmet was also worn by the members of the Polish Home Army and it was during this time that the helmet became the symbol of the resistance, as every Stahlhelm worn by the soldier of the underground army signified a dead German occupier it was taken from.

During the inter-war years, the Irish Defence Forces equipped its troops with a copy of the M1918 helmet manufactured by Vickers. At the outbreak of World War II, Ireland remained neutral, but in 1940 replaced it with the German-style uniforms with British-style helmets.

[edit] Other countries that used Stahlhelm-type helmets included

Switzerland used a helmet that was roughly similar to the M1916, but had a shallower, more rounded crown and skirt. This was to protect against the harsh winter winds of the alpine regions.

[edit] Postwar

A Chilean honor guard for U.S. Admiral Michael G. Mullen in March 2009

After World War II, West Germany abandoned the distinctive Stahlhelm, which had become a symbol of German military aggression, for a variant of the more “harmless-looking” United States Army “GI pot” helmet. The Bundesgrenzschutz border guards and some West German police units kept the Stahlhelm in their inventories, though it was seldom worn (although police units can be seen wearing them during footage of the Black September hostage crisis in 1972), and the Fallschirmjäger variant was used for some time by the GSG 9. Some German firefighter units today still use Stahlhelm-shaped helmets in a fluorescent color. After the U.S. Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops helmet had politically rehabilitated the German World War II helmet shape, the German Army adopted a Kevlar helmet (Gefechtshelm) in the 1990s, which sported the distinct form once more.

East Germany‘s M-56 helmet was modelled on an unused 1942 German design with a more conical shape.[13] The Chilean Army still uses the Stahlhelm design for ceremonial purposes. There are also some Japanese bicycle helmets (with accompanying goggles) that resemble the Stahlhelm.

The U.S. Army’s 1980s and 90s era kevlar Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops Helmet was sometimes called the “Fritz helmet” for its resemblance to the Stahlhelm. The U.S. Army and Marines have continued to use a design akin to the PASGT helmet with the MICH TC-2000 Combat Helmet and Lightweight Helmet, respectively.

[edit] See also

  • Combat helmet, includes list of helmets worn by various countries.

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Military Trader
  2. ^ Military headgears
  3. ^ Tubbs, Floyd R.; Robert W. Clawson (2000). Stahlhelm: Evolution of the German Steel Helmet. Kent State University Press. pp. 10. ISBN 0873386779.
  4. ^ [1][dead link]
  5. ^ Dunstan, Simon; Ron Volstad (1984). Flak Jackets: 20th Century Military Body Armour. Osprey Publishing. pp. 5. ISBN 0850455693.
  6. ^ a b Bull, Stephen; Adam Hook (2002). World War I Trench Warfare: 1914–16. Osprey Publishing. pp. 10–11. ISBN 1841761982.
  7. ^ Quoted in Sheldon, German Army on the Somme, page 219. Sheldon quotes and translates from Gropp, History of IR 76, p 159.
  8. ^ Tubbs, p. 24
  9. ^ a b Bell, Brian C.; Kevin Lyles (2004). Wehrmacht Combat Helmets 1933-45. Osprey Publishing. pp. 12. ISBN 1841767255.
  10. ^ Weapons and Equipment of the Fallschirmjäger
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ [3]
  13. ^ a b Tubbs, p. 80-81
  14. ^ Collector Topics: Helmet Decals

[edit] References

[edit] External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Stahlhelm


Le Decal



Tutte le indicazioni (ad es. destra – sinistra) formulate nelle didascalie sottostanti hanno come riferimento il punto di vista di chi guarda la decal.

L’aquila del produttore ET si può considerare come la classica aquila della Heer, in ragione di diversi fattori, quali la circostanza che sino al 1937 questa ditta era l’unico produttore di M35 (insieme alla SE), ed il suo diffuso utilizzo anche su elmetti ricondizionati. Su questo ultimo punto alcuni autori hanno affermato che, con il protrarsi della guerra, si sia passati dalle lacquer-decal alle water-slide decal, certamente più economiche e di più veloce apposizione. La ET era la maggior produttrice di water-slides decal.
Questa insegna è facilmente riconoscibile per alcune caratteristiche univoche nel disegno che lo differenziano da quegli degli altri produttori.
1) Forma delle ali: osservando il disegno dell’aquila e confrontando gli archi interni che formano le ali nel punto in cui si congiungono al corpo, si può notare come l’arco di destra sia perfettamente curvilineo e regolare, mentre quello di sinistra si chiuda ad angolo nella parte sommitale;
2) La zampa destra ha un puntino, poco prima dell’inizio dell’artiglio che è sempre presente sulle aquile ET;
3) L’unghia centrale della zampa destra ha un arco che piega verso sinistra;
Il disegno dell’aquila poteva avere un tratto nero o grigio.



L’aquila della ditta NS è caratterizzata dai seguenti dettagli:

1) Gli angoli che formano le ali sono regolari, simmetrici ed hanno entrambi una chiusura dell’angolo sulla sommità con una evidente bordatura finale (a differenza della ET);

2) L’unghia centrale della zampa destra è dritta e punta verso la verticale (a volte solo leggermente incurvata, ma di quel tanto che basta a differenziarla dalla ET);

Generalmente conosciuta come la decal “BIG FOOT”, l’aquila della ditta Quist di Esslingen ha delle caratteristiche di facile individuazione:
1) Testa molto appiattita;
2) Zampe sovradimensionate;
3) Penna esterna destra più spessa di quella esterna sinistra;
4) Tutti gli artigli dell’aquila puntano verso la destra di chi guarda.
5) In alcuni casi l’occhio è tutto nero e non vi è definizione della pupilla.

N.b.: Non è infrequente trovare alcuni elmetti della Quist con decal ET.


L’aquila della ditta SE è identica a quella ET (valgono pertanto le indicazioni espresse per questo produttore). Alcuni autori hanno supposto che entrambe le ditte avessero lo stesso fornitore di decal.


Giova premettere che fra tutte le ditte produttrici di elmi, la ditta EF fu l’ultima a definire un proprio standard di decal, forse perché non ebbe da subito un suo fornitore ufficiale o preferito. Quindi non è improbabile trovare un elmo EF con una decal riferibile ad un altro produttore.

Alcune aquile della EF sono riconoscibili per un dettaglio nella conformazione delle ali:

Osservando le ali, difatti, si potrà osservare che, mentre la linea interna dell’ala sinistra sale arcuata verso l’alto con andamento lineare, quella destra finisce con una bordatura corrispondente con lo “sperone” dell’ala.


(Aquila EF – Variante)

Variante di Aquila EF, denominata “Thin wing” a causa della evidente sottigliezza delle penne delle ali.

N.B: anche se definita comunemente una variante, questa tipologia di decal è da considerarsi uno standard per la ditta EF, in special modo sugli M42.

Particolare attenzione merita la decal prodotta dalla ditta Ed Strache, perché a volte scambiata per una riproduzione post-bellica. In realtà si tratta di una decal originale che fu distribuita in grandi quantità alle industrie di produzione ed ai depositi nella metà del periodo bellico. Considerata la direttiva che dopo il 1943 vietava l’apposizione delle decal, il numero di Strache apposto rimane ignoto e comunque riguarderebbe esclusivamente il modello M42.

Le caratteristiche di questa decal sono lo scarso dettaglio delle zampe e del becco dell’aquila, inoltre quando non sono protette dal lacquer hanno un aspetto di polverizzazione.

Giova evidenziare che grandi quantitativi di queste decal sono state trovate alla fine della guerra, nei depositi tedeschi e che, collezionisti, veterani ed altri…hanno indiscriminatamente applicato la decal sui più svariati modelli di elmetto tedesco.

L’applicazione post-bellica, quando non fatta a regola d’arte è facilmente riconoscibile, in quanto la decal risulta danneggiata, sfribrata a causa della non perfetta aderenza alla superficie dell’elmetto.


Conosciuta dai collezionisti anche come “MAD FACE DECAL”, la decal Gustav Peiniger è una delle decal più controverse. Secondo la maggioranza dei collezionisti anziani La decal è certamente originale, ed è possibile che alcuni stock di questa decal fossero conservati dai diversi produttori di elmetti in caso di scarsità delle decal provenienti dai produttori ufficiali.
Sono conosciuti diversi esemplari di elmetti transizionali con questa decal ed alcuni M35, tutti già presenti in collezione negli anni ’60, una decal che allora era considerata rara. Purtroppo sembra che negli ultimi anni vi sia stata una grossa diffusione di tale tipo di decal, forse grazie ad un ritrovamento di uno stock intero di decal non applicate, oltre che a copie ben riuscite. La causa di questa diffusione è da attribuirsi ad alcuni venditori senza scrupoli che, con le necessarie conoscenze tecniche, hanno iniziato ad applicare la decal su elmetti di tutti i tipi. Si ritiene pertanto che la maggioranza degli elmetti con decal di questo tipo siano tutte applicazioni recenti.


Le Decal

Per quanto riguarda le decal della Luftwaffe, è bene precisare che le differenze tra i produttori dei gusci sono minime e difficilmente rilevabili se non con una comparazione, in tempo reale, tra le varie tipologie; differenziazione resa ancora più ardua a causa delle comuni alterazioni dovute alla errata applicazione della decal.

Si ritiene, quindi, più utile fare una breve rassegna delle decal e puntare l’attenzione sui falsi in circolazione per facilitarne l’individuazione.


La decal Quist (sotto). Il colore dorato è dato dall’invecchiamento del lacquer protettivo.

La decal SE (sotto)

La decal ET (sotto)

La decal NS (sotto). Molte volte le decal Ns, oltre che per la grafica, si differenziano da quelle degli altri produttori in quanto sono applicate molto vicino all’aeratore.

Sotto. Una decal Luftwaffe (originale), non appllicata, del produttore Huber Jordan di Norimberga.

Sotto, una Adler falsa:
notare la sottile linea formata dalla zampa piegata, negli esemplari originali tale linea è molto più spessa. Inoltre, si notano alcune differenze nel dettaglio del piumaggio di entrambe le ali, così come nella testa.


Le Decal

La caratteristica più evidente della decal della Kriegsmarine è il colore dorato dell’aquila, che è di un oro acceso e dal forte contenuto metallico. Non poche volte il collezionista si trova in difficoltà nell’attribuire ad una decal l’appartenenza alla Marina del Reich, in quanto molte volte a causa del forte ingiallimento del lacquer di protezione, la decal sembra dorata. Per risolvere questi dubbi bisogna quindi affidarsi ad ulteriori elementi tipici ed esclusivi di questo tipo di decal, che sono propri della modalità di produzione o della sua stessa forma.

E’ necessario aggiungere che la teoria utilizzata per le decal della Heer non può essere pienamente applicata per gli elmetti in dotazione alla Kriegsmarine. Dallo studio dei diversi esemplari in mano ai collezionisti si è giunti alla conclusione che solo tre fossero i tipi di decal applicati agli elmetti della Marina del Reich nel corso del periodo bellico. Vengono così distinte la decal in ET ed EF, oltre ad una altro tipo la cui appartenenza alla Kriegsmarine non appare però certa.

Di seguto una rassegna delle tre tipologie:

La decal cosiddetta ET, in quanto ha le caratteristiche grafiche proprie di quella ET (notare i diversi angoli delle parti interne delle ali, le unghie, ed il puntino sulla zampa destra) si trova maggiormente sui gusci ET, ma è anche presente sugli SE e Q. Questa decal è caratterizzata da un particolare procedimento di produzione a strati. Difatti la sagoma dell’aquila contornata con un bordo nero, veniva sovrapposta allo stesso sfondo nero della decal, così da formare una sorta di rilievo agevolmente individuabile dal vivo.

Osservando la foto alla sinistra, si potrà notare la presenza di questo rilievo, indicata dal bordo nero che contorna la figura dell’aquila e che appare in rilievo, le altre caratteristiche grafiche sono uguali alla aquila ET della Heer, tranne naturalmente il colore.

(Photo courtesy of Jim McCauley)

Altra aquila ET, anche in questo caso il bordino, anche detto “ridge”, è chiaramente individuabile.

(Photo courtesy of Jim McCauley)

Aquila EF. Le caratterische della aquila Kriegsmarine della EF (cosiddetta perché riscontrabile sui gusci di questo produttore), sono il colore dorato intenso, tipico delle KM, ed un particolare esclusivo di questo produttore, le penne delle ali più sottili della norma. Per questo viene definita decal “thin wing”.

Di questo tipo (thin wing) esistono anche esemplari della Heer, e sono sempre una variante EF.

(Photo courtesy of Jim McCauley)

Questo tipo di decal è quello controverso. Non ha bordatura, nè ali sottili, ma il colore dell’aquila è di un oro molto acceso ed intenso, incompatibile con un semplice ingiallimento del lacquer protettivo.

Updated list, as they appear on the tinnie…

Assmann & Sohne
A. Rettenmaier
AD. Schwerdt
Adolf Besson
Aug. Enders. AG
B. Haarmann
B. Mitlehner
Berg & Nolte A.G.
Bruno Klett
Biedermann & Co.
Bossert & Abrecht
Carl Wild
C. Balmberger
Carl Poellath
CHR. Bauer
Carl Winkler
C.TH. Dicke
Dr. Franke & Co.
Dultgen & Schutte
Deschler & Sohn
Erhard & Sohne
E.L. Muller
Ernst Conze
E.F. Wiedmann
E.V.GL. (Emil Vogelsang)
Funcke & Bruninghaus
Fr. Zimmermann
Fr. Knodler
Fries-Beuster & Schild
Ferd Wagner
Friedrich Keck
F. Mannheim
Friedrich Hosbach
Fr. Neuner
Friedrich Linden
Foerster & Barth
Forster U. Graf
G. Danner
Gerb. Fest
Gustav Brehmer
Bebruder Baldauf
Gerb. Albert
Gebr. Lange
Gerb. Schmidt
Gebr. Heute
Gebr. Bender
Heinrich Vogt
Hermann Aurich
Hillenbrand & Broer
Hermann Bauer
Josef Pauser
Jorgum & Trefz
Jul. Bauer
Kerbach & Israel
Karl Hensler
Karl Erbacher
KMF (Kallenbach, Meyer & Francke
K. Frank
Kuhr & Langer
Lindner & Maak
M. Nett
Metallwarenfabrik Stefan Merkl
M.O.S. (Matthais Ochsier & Sohn)
M. Kremhelmer
OW (Otto Wolter)
Otto Schickle
Overhoff & CIE.
O&B (Ochs & Bonn)
Pleuger & Voss
Paul Merkens
P. Erich Bruckmann
Paul Schulze & Co.
Paulmann & Crone
R. Hauschild
Robert Metzger
Rob. Schenkel
R. Sieper Sohne
Steinhauer & Luck
Tweer & Turck
UL. Bauer Sohne
Voss & Co.
Walter Hornlein
Wilhelm Binder
Wilhelm Schroder
W. Annetsberger
W. Borgas
Wilh. A. Jager
Wachtler & Lange
Walter Demmer
Wilhelm Schwahn
Ziemer & Sohne


In July 1939 the German Government passed a law calling for all arms manufacturers to substitute their company names/logos etc with a numerical code. Later, probably around end of 1939 beginning of 1940 this was changed to the “3 letter” ordnance codes so familiar to many fellow collectors of Third Reich Militaria.

Below is a list of the firm codes (the upper number in the MPA logo)…

List of Press Work Codes of the Materialprüfungsamt as of December 1938:
21. Neuyork-Hamburger Gummiwaren-Kompanie, Hamburg.
22. Bebrit-Preßstoffwerke GmbH, Bebra und C.F.Schlothauer, Ruhla.
23. Lüdenscheider Metallwerke AG, Busch-Jäger, Lüdenscheid.
24. Gebrüder Merten, Gummersbach.
25. Süddeutsche Isolatorenwerke GmbH, Freiburg.
31. Vereinigte Isolatorenwerke AG, (Viacowerke) Berlin-Pankow.
32. H.Römmler AG, Spremberg.
33. Wolff und Co KG, Walrode.
34. Siemens-Schuckertwerke, Abteilung Isolierstoffe, Berlin-Siemensstadt.
35. Heliowattwerke, Elt, AG, Berlin-Charlottenberg.
36. Gebrüder Adt AG, Ensheim-Saar.
38. Allgemeine Elektrizitätsgesellschaft, Henningsdorf.
39. Dr. Deisting und Co, GmbH, Kierspe.
40. Isolawerke AG, Birkesdorf bei Duren.
43. Dynamit AG, vormals Alfred Nobel und Co, Abt. Zelluloidfabrik, Werk Troisdorf.
45. Presswerk AG, Essen.
46. Erich Wippermann, Kierspe.
50. Gebrüder Vollmerhaus, Kierspe.
51. Presswerk Winkel, Schulte und Conze, Herscheid.
53. Erst Backhaus und Co, Kierspe.
54. Ellinger und Geissler, Dorfhain, Bezirk Dresden.
55 Robert Bosch GmbH, Metallwerk, Stuttgart-Feuerbach.
56 Mendelith, H. Mende und Co., Dresden.
58 Deutsche Philips-Gesellschaft mbH, Berlin.
59 Seckelmann und Co., Lüdenscheid.
60 Gaudlitz und Kaiser, Koburg.
61 Ernst Bremicker, Ing., Kierspe.
62 Wacker und Dörr, Niederrahmstadt bei Darmstadt.
66 Hermann Ros, Koburg.
67 Bayerische Elektro-Zubehör AG, Lauf bei Nürnberg.
68 Mix und Genest AG, Berlin-Schöneberg.
70 Bisterfeld und Stolting, Radevormwald.
71 Wilhelm Geiger GmbH, Lüdenscheid.
72 Leopold Kostal, Lüdenscheid.
73 Wilhelm Quante, Wuppertal-Elberfeld.
74 Römmler und Schumann KG, Berlin-Lichterfelde.
76 Bezet-Werk Hermann Buchholz, Motzen, Kreis Teltow.
78 Hugo Krieger und Faudt, Berlin.
79 Linden und Co, Lüdenscheid.
80 Gebrüder Berker, Schalksmühle.
81 Pressstoffwerk Paul Schnake, Schöppenstedt.
82 Paul Teich, Berlin.
83 Christian Geyer, Nürnberg.
84 Gebrüder Vedder KG, Schalksmühle.
85 Theodor Krägeloh und Co., Dahlerbrück.
86 Presswerk Kraus und Steidel, Berlin.
87 Paul Hochköpper und Co., Lüdenscheid.
90 Firma Thormann, Berlin.
93 Porzellanfabrik Bernhardhütte GmbH, Blechhammer bei Sonneberg.

94 Thega-Kontakt GmbH, Berlin.
95 Ericher Jäger KG, Homburg.
98 Elt. Fabrik Weber und Co., Kranichfeld.
99 Friedrich Dörscheln, Lüdenscheid.
A3 Volkenrath und Co, Schwenke.
A4 Deutsche Legritgesellschaft mbH, Berlin.
A8 Lindner und Co., Jecha-Sondershausen.
AM Unknown at present, found on “feldflasche” cap from Luxembourg!
E2 Vossloh-Werke GmbH, Werdohl.
E4 Paul Jatow, Dodendorf bei Magdeburg.
E7 Gebrüder Spindler KG, Köppelsdorf.
E8 Graewe und Co., Menden, Kreis Iserlohn.
E9 Lohmann und Welschehold, Meinerzhagen.
E0 J. Carl GmbH, Oberweimar.
F1 Alusil-Preßstoffwerk Eugen Gaßmann, Probstzella.
F2 Franz Stauch, Unterrodach.
F4 Robert Anke, Porzellanfabrik, Ölsnitz, Vogtland.
F5 Max Schulze, Meissen.
F8 Gebrüder Borghammer, Schramberg.
F9 Wester, Elbinghaus und Co. Hanau.
F0 Otto Backhaus und GmbH, Bollwerk.
H1 Casp. Arn. Winkhaus, Carthausen.
H2 Emil Adolff, Reutlingen.
H3 Otto Langmann, Hagen.
H4 Gerdes und Co., Schwelm (später Gerda Plastic).
H7 Gebrüder von der Horst, Lüdenscheid.
H8 Friemann und Wolff GmbH in Zwickau.
H9 Schulze, Schneider und Dort GmbH, Schönow bei Berlin.
L1 Hoppmann und Mulsow, Hamburg.
L2 Isopresswerk GmbH, Berlin-Oberschöneweide.
L3 Thiel und Schuchardt, Metallwarenfabrik AG, Ruhla.
L4 Meirowsky und Co, Porz am Rhein.
L5 Porzellanfabrik Theodor Pohl, Schatzlar.
L6 Krone und Co, Berlin.
L7 Brökelmann, Jäger und Busse, Neheim.
L8 H. Bodenmüller, Ing.,Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen.
L9 Robert Karst, Berlin.
L0 Gebrüder Reiher KG, Braunschweig.
M1 Bender und Wirth, Kierspe.
M2 Österreichische Siemens.Schuckertwerke, Wien.
M3 Carl Germer, Berlin.
M4 Kronacher Porzellanfabrik Stockhardt und Schmidt-Eckert, Kronach.
M5 Richard Giersiepen, Bergisch Born.
M6 Kaiser und Spelsberg, Schalksmühle.
M7 Frankl und Kirchner, Mannhein-Neckarau.
M8 Storch und Stehmann GmbH, Ruhla.
M9 Jos. Mellert, Bretten.
M0 Carl Friedrich Lübold, Lüdenscheid.
N1 Sursum Elt.-Gesellschaft, Leyhausen und Co., Nürnberg.
N2 Adolf Vedder KG, Schalksmühle.
N4 Paul Jordan, Berlin-Steglitz.
N5 M. Hildebrandt und E. Hammerschmidt, Brand-Erbisdorf.
N6 Kurt Postel, Köln, Höhenberg.
N7 Cuno Heinzelmann-Hassberg, Berlin.
N8 Ernst Maté, Wien.
N9 Karl Potthof, Solingen-Ohlings.
T1 Gustav Branscheid und Co., Lüdenscheid.
T2 Willi Burgbacher, Neukirch-Baden.
T3 Karl Wegner, Berlin.
T4 Bamberger Industrie-Gesellschaft, Bamberg.
T6 Jaroslaw’s erste Glimmerwarenfabrik, Berlin-Weissensee.
T7 Fritz Heublein, Neustadt bei Koburg.
T8 Agalitwerk Milspe, Kattwinkel und Co, Milspe.
T9 WG Petersen und Co, Wandsbeck.
T0 Wilhelm Kötter, Unna.
U1 Feba Fabrik elektrische Bedarfsartikel, Stückrath-KG, Berlin.
U2 J. Preh junior, Neustadt-Saale.
U3 Alois Zettler GmbH, München.
U4 Schneider und Co, Breslau, Gr. Ohlewiesen.
U5 Karl Buchdrucker, München.
U6 Fresen und Co., Lüdenscheid.
V7 Carl Walther, Waffenfabrik, Zella-Mehlis.
V8 Julius Kräcker AG, Berlin.
V9 Gebrüder Klein, Nürnberg.
V0 Weisse und Co. Gräfental.

W1 Heinrich Kopp GmbH, Sonneberg.
W2 Bonner Keramik AG, Bonn.
W3 Dralowidwerk der Steatit-Magnesia AG, Teltow.
W5 Hans G. Voigtel, Auma-Thüringen.
W6 Blumberg und Co, Lintord bei Düsseldorf.
W7 Ernst Albert Senf, Bautzen.
W8 Heinrich Knöll, Gross-Bieberau.
W9 August Hessmert, Brügge.
W0 Otto Single, Ing., Plochingen.
X1 W. Stiefelding, Berlin.
X3 Kurt Wentzel, Berlin.
X5 Ostland GmbH, Königsberg (Ostpreussen).
X6 Julius Carl Görler, Berlin.
X7 Kugella vorm. Max Roth GmbH, Mittelschmalkalden.
X8 Ernst Gomolka, Zehdenick.
X9 Ernst Gösser, Iserlohn.
X0 Richard Rinker GmbH, Menden.
In addition to the maker codes listed above and on the previous pages there at least another 100 further makers which we have, as yet to identify.
Below we list the chemical composition types of bakelite items. This is the letter or number that appears in the lower part of the Materialprüfungsamt logo. In the case of the example shown here you can see that it is an “S”, denoting that the bakelite comprises of a wood flour (sawdust) filler.

Carbolic Resin (Bakelite) with inorganic (mineral based) filler.

Type 2
Synthetic material with Asbestos or alternatively an organic filler.

Type 3
Kunstharz with Asbestos or alternatively an organic filler.

Type 4
Bitumen with Asbestos or alternatively an organic filler.

Type 6
Natural resin or Bitumen with an inorganic filler.

Type 7
Natural resin or Bitumen with an inorganic filler.

Type 8
Bitumen with an inorganic filler.

Type A
A Cellulose mixture with some other sort of filler.

Type K
Believed to be a urine based compound with an organic filler.

Type M
Carbolic Resin (Bakelite) with an inorganic (mineral based) filler, possibly asbestos?

Type O
Carbolic Resin (Bakelite) with wood dust/sawdust (wood flour) filler.

Type S
Carbolic Resin (Bakelit) with wood dust/sawdust (wood flour) filler.

Type T
Carbolic Resin (Bakelite) with a textile based filler.

Type X
A silica cement compound with Asbestos or alternatively an organic filler.

Type Y
A Lead and ash filler.

Type Z
Carbolic Resin (Bakelite) with a woodpulp filler.

I hope that visitors find these codes useful in helping to identify their items of military equipment. We welcome any feedback or additional makers codes if you find them! We thank Kay Meiners in Germany for helping us share this crucial information with visitors.

German Population

German Population in 1933: 66,000,000+
German Population in 1938: 78,000,000+
German Population in 1939: 80,600,000+

Gender and Age

German Men in 1939: 38,900,000+
German Men age 15-65 in 1939: 24,620,748
German Men age 15-20 in 1939: 3,137,429
German Men age 21-34 in 1939: 8,885,775
German Men age 35-44 in 1939: 5,695,510
German Men age 45-65 in 1939: 6,902,034
German Women in 1939: 41,700,000+
German Women age 15-65 in 1939: 27,960,000+


In Wehrmacht Service*, 1939: 4,722,000+
In Wehrmacht Service*, 1940: 6,600,000+
In Wehrmacht Service*, 1941: 8,154,000+
In Wehrmacht Service*, 1942: 9,580,000+
In Wehrmacht Service*, 1943: 11,280,000+
In Wehrmacht Service*, 1944: 12,070,000+
In Wehrmacht Service*, 1945: 9,701,000+
Total in Wehrmacht Service, 6.01.39-5.31.40: 4,894,200+
Total in Wehrmacht Service, 6.01.40-5.31.41: 2,493,300+
Total in Wehrmacht Service, 6.01.41-5.31.42: 3,098,400+
Total in Wehrmacht Service, 6.01.42-5.31.43: 3,470,200+
Total in Wehrmacht Service, 6.01.43-5.31.44: 2,645,500+
Total in Wehrmacht Service, 6.01.44-4.30.44: 1,291,600+
Total in Wehrmacht Service 1939-1945: 17,893,200
Total Wehmacht KIA 1939-1945: 2,230,324
Total Wehmacht MIA 1939-1945: 2,870,404
Total Wehrmacht WIA 9.01.39 -12.31.44: 5,240,000
Total Wehrmacht Casualties 1939-1945: 10,340,728


In Heer Service, 1939: 3,737,000+
In Heer Service, 1940: 4,550,000+
In Heer Service, 1941: 5,000,000+
In Heer Service, 1942: 5,800,000+
In Heer Service, 1943: 6,550,000+
In Heer Service, 1944: 6,510,000+
In Heer Service, 1945: 5,300,000+
In Heer Service, Total 1939-1945: 13,000,000+
Heer Desertions, 1939 – 1945: ??
Heer KIA/MIA, 1939 – 1945: 1,600,000+
Heer WIA, 1939 – 1945: 4,175,000+
Heer Casualties, 1939-1945: 5,775,000+


In Luftwaffe Service, 1939: 400,000+
In Luftwaffe Service, 1940: 1,200,000+
In Luftwaffe Service, 1941: 1,680,000+
In Luftwaffe Service, 1942: 1,700,000+
In Luftwaffe Service, 1943: 1,700,000+
In Luftwaffe Service, 1944: 1,500,000+
In Luftwaffe Service, 1945: 1,000,000+
In Luftwaffe Service, Total 1939-1945: 3,400,000+
Luftwaffe Desertions, 9.01.39 – 4.30.45: 120
Luftwaffe KIA, 9.01.39 – 4.30.45: 165,014
Luftwaffe MIA, 9.01.39 – 4.30.45: 155,450
Luftwaffe WIA, 9.01.39 – 12.31.44: 192,594
Luftwaffe Casulaties, 1939-1945: 485,000+


In Kriegsmarine Service, 1939: 50,000+
In Kriegsmarine Service, 1940: 250,000+
In Kriegsmarine Service, 1941: 404,000+
In Kriegsmarine Service, 1942: 580,000+
In Kriegsmarine Service, 1943: 780,000+
In Kriegsmarine Service, 1944: 810,000+
In Kriegsmarine Service, 1945: 700,000+
In Kriegsmarine Service, Total 1939-1945 1,500,000+
Kreigsmarine Desertions, 9.01.39 – 4.30.45: 150
Kriegsmarine KIA, 9.01.39 – 4.30.45: 65,029
Kriegsmarine MIA, 9.01.39 – 4.30.45: 105,256
Kriegsmarine WIA, 9.01.39 – 12.31.44: 21,002
Kriegsmarine Casualties, 1939-1945: 191,287+


In SS-V Service, 1939: 35,000+
In Waffen-SS Service, 1940: 50,000+
In Waffen-SS Service, 1941: 150,000+
In Waffen-SS Service, 1942: 230,000+
In Waffen-SS Service, 1943: 450,000+
In Waffen-SS Service, 1944: 600,000+
In Waffen-SS Service, 1945: 830,000+
In Waffen-SS Service, Total: 1,000,000+
Waffen-SS Desertions, 1939-1945: ??
Waffen-SS KIA/MIA, 1939-1945: 250,000
Waffen-SS WIA, 1939-1945: 400,00
Waffen-SS Casualties, 1939-1945: 650,000+

KIA/MIA/WIA, by Campaigns

German KIA, Polish Campaign: 16,343
German MIA, Polish Campaign: 320
German WIA, Polish Campaign: 27,280

German KIA, Norwegian Campaign: 4,975
German MIA, Norwegian Campaign: 691
German WIA, Norwegian Campaign: 1,600

German KIA, French Campaign: 46,000+
German MIA, French Campaign: 1,000+
German WIA, French Campaign: 111,640

German KIA, the West to 5.31.44: 20,000+
German MIA, the West to 5.31.44: 1,700+
German WIA, the West to 5.31.44: ??

German KIA, Balkan Campaign: 1,206
German MIA, Balkan Campaign: 3,915
German WIA, Balkan Campaign: 534

German KIA, Balkans 1941 – 11.30.44: 24,267
German KIA, Balkans 1941 – 11.30.44: 12,060
German KIA, Balkans 1941 – 11.30.44: ??

German KIA, Eastern Front 1941 – 11.30.44: 1,419,728
German MIA, Eastern Front 1941 – 11.30.44: 997.056
German WIA, Eastern Front 1941 – 11.30.44: 3,498,060

German KIA, Afrika Campaign 1940 – 5.43: 12,808
German MIA, Afrika Campaign 1940 – 5.43: 90,052
German WIA, Afrika Campaign 1940 – 4.43 ??

German KIA, Italian Campaign 1943 – 11.30.44: 47,873
German MIA, Italian Campaign 1943 – 11.30.44: 97,154
German WIA, Italian Campaign 1943 – 11.30.44: 163,600

German KIA, the West 6.06.44 – 11.30.44: 66,266
German MIA, the West 6.06.44 – 11.30.44: 338,933
German WIA, the West 6.06.44 – 11.30.44: 399,860

German KIA, Home Front 1939 – 11.30.44: 64,055
German MIA, Home Front 1939 – 11.30.44: 1,315
German WIA, Home Front 1939 – 11.30.44: ??

KIA/MIA, by Month 9.39 – 11.44








September 1939

16,436 | 375







October 1939

1,834 | 8







November 1939

1,834 | 6







December 1939

1,016 | ?







KIA/MIA 1940

January 1940

877 | ?







February 1940

747 | 75







March 1940

1,087 | 6







April 1940

2,564 | 358







May 1940

21,602 | 850







June 1940

26,583 | 118







July 1940

2,204 | 20







August 1940

1,842 | ?







September 1940

1,635 | 87







October 1940

1,348 | 120







November 1940

1,221 | 89







December 1940

1,206 | 14







KIA/MIA 1941

January 1941

1,396 | 100







February 1941

1,347 | 86







March 1941

1,578 | 97







April 1941

3,580 | 560







May 1941

2,807 | 500







June 1941

22,000 | 900







July 1941

51,000 | 3,200







August 1941

52,800 | 3,500







September 1941

45,300 | 2,100







October 1941

42,400 | 1,900







November 1941

28,200 | 4,600







December 1941

39,000 | 10,453







KIA/MIA 1942

January 1942

44,400 | 10,100







February 1942

44,500 | 4,100







March 1942

44,900 | 3,600







April 1942

25,600 | 1,500







May 1942

29,600 | 3,600







June 1942

31,500 | 2,100







July 1942

36,000 | 3,700







August 1942

54,100 | 7,300







September 1942

44,300 | 3,400







October 1942

25,500 | 2,600







November 1942

24,900 | 12,100







December 1942

38,022 | 40.500







KIA/MIA 1943

January 1943

37,000 | 127,596







February 1943

42,000 | 15,500







March 1943

38,115 | 5,208







April 1943

15,300 | 3,500







May 1943

16,200 | 74,500







June 1943

13,400 | 1,300







July 1943

57,800 | 18,300







August 1943

58,000 | 26,400







September 1943

48,788 | 21,923







October 1943

47,036 | 16,783







November 1943

40,167 | 17,886







December 1943

35,290 | 14,712







KIA/MIA 1944

January 1944

44,500 | 22,000







February 1944

41,200 | 19,544







March 1944

44,600 | 27,600







April 1944

34,000 | 13,000







May 1944

24,400 | 22,000







June 1944

26,000 | 32,000







July 1944

59,000 | 310,000







August 1944

64,000 | 407,640







September 1944

42,400 | 67,200







October 1944

46,000 | 79,200







November 1944

31,865 | 69,534








See also: Detailed stats on all German AFVs | Detailed stats on all German Tube-fired Weapons

*Includes Wehrmachgefolge – those considered armed forces auxiliaries and in the direct employement, assistance or aid of the Wehrmacht, but not considered part of the Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine or Waffen-SS. Inlcudes those from groups such as the RAD, NSKK, OT, etc.A word of caution regarding these numbers; there is no one single source for statistics and data on German casualties or service totals during WWII. As a result, numerous sources were checked and double checked to gather this information, and although some of the numbers seem to work out correctly, others do not. Taken together, these numbers should not represent an exacting view, but a more general one in which the trends and hardships can easily been seen. Those numbers with a ‘+’ indicate a number that is not exact. We will likely never know exact numbers for all the headings listed above. MYTHS, FABLES and DOWNRIGHT LIES ABOUT HELMETS

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Double decals on M40s? This police helmet is a
classic example of a German M40 with double decals.
Ken Niewiarowicz

By Peter Suciu

One of the biggest misconceptions among militaria collectors is that “history” is fact. This is not exactly true. In fact ­­­— no pun intended — history didn’t even really “happen.” The past happened, and the events of the past become the history. For various reasons “history” is not the absolute truth. Facts can be misinterpreted, details misunderstood and information misread. All of this makes studying history and inexact science, and causes plenty of stumbling blocks for collectors of historic objects.

For new collectors, things can get very confusing. This is particularly evident with helmets where “information” ranges from confusing to downright wrong.

The first pattern USMC cover does not feature
any stenciled insignia.
Peter Suciu

More importantly, because of the omnipresent Internet, misinformation is often spread, quoted and cited. While decades ago there were only a handful of books on the subject of helmets, and most of these were limited to German helmets from World War I and World War II, today there are dozens of books on the subject, but much information is still unclear. And except for American and German helmets, to this date very little has been written in length on international helmets – and much of what has been written on Italian, French, Polish or Japanese helmets has been in those languages.

All this has made the spread of militaria misinformation very common. Following is a look at some of the most common myths, fables and downright lies about military helmets:

MYTH #1. Lead Paint Is A True Sign Of A Good German Helmet
The myth: The fakes today are so good it is sometimes hard to tell a real helmet from a bad one, but a surefire test is whether there is lead paint. Lead paint was commonly used before kids started snacking on the paint chips. So old paint must be old.
The truth: “On the contrary,” says advanced German helmet collector Ken Niewiarowcz, who notes that if there is lead found in the paint, something is wrong. “The fact is that if one takes a lead test strip (available through the EPA or at any hardware store) and tests the surface of any factory painted helmet, it will indicate negative as far as the presence of lead. People assume that all old paint has lead. True, it was added as a binding agent to most latex and certain enamel paints, but not the types of lacquer and enamel used by the helmet producing factories.”
There is an exception to the rule, though. Niewiarowcz, who is authoring a new book on German helmets, says this rule does not apply to camo helmets, which may use paint obtained from a limitless variety of sources. So a camouflage helmet with the so-called “Normandy Pattern” paint scheme could have lead, or it might not.

A comparative look at the Soviet SSh-40, Czech Model 1953 and
Hungarian Model 1973 which shows that, beyond the obvious
differences in liners and rivet placement, the helmets possess subtle
differences in the shape of the steel shells.
Peter Suciu

MYTH #2. German Helmets Had Sand Mixed Into the Paint
The myth: The texture on German helmets, including those with camouflage paint, has a sandy texture.
The truth: German helmets did have a texture that is observed on helmets painted according to the 1940s spec, according to Niewiarowcz. This was instead of the pre-1940 smooth finishes, and people may assume it to be sand. “The actual material used was powdered aluminum oxide,” explains Niewiarowcz. Big difference and a telltale one at that.

MYTH #3.
German Model 1940 Helmets Should Only Have A Single Decal
The myth: The German Wehrmacht realized that the pre-war “Apple Green” and “Parade Blue” helmets used respectively by the Army/SS and Luftwaffe weren’t ideal for combat and, more importantly, the tri-color shield made it too easy for soldiers to be seen. The order was given to remove existing decals and that all future helmets would be issued with a single decal. Thus, only Model 1935 helmets should have two decals  — and thus be “double decal.”
The truth: The truth is part of the myth. The Germans did change the color of the helmets from green to a darker gray color, and the decals were indeed ordered off. But that’s where the truth ends and the myth begins. The order didn’t strike at midnight on January 1, 1940 and some Model 1940 helmets, with the modified vents, were produced with two decals. “At least two of the factories (ET and Q) continued for a short time to produce Heer (army) and SS helmets in double decal configuration after the switch to the Model 40 helmet shell and after the switch to 1940 specifications of the painted finish,” stresses Niewiarowcz. “Of course, helmets supplied to the feldgendarmes continued to be adorned with two decals until the end of the war.”

MYTH #4. Germany Made Spanish Helmets
The myth: This story is typically repeated on eBay: Germany, after World War II produced the Spanish Model 1942 or Modello Z helmets. The typical reason given by sellers is to help the German economy — as if producing a few thousand helmets would eventually transform the nation to the most prosperous industrialized nation in Europe (well something did, but it probably wasn’t helmets).
The truth: The Spanish essentially copied the German design, but the helmet was not made in Germany or on German equipment. This is no doubt a story that sprung up to convince would-be collectors that the $50 helmet is somehow “German in origin.” There is nothing wrong with Spanish helmets, and the nation produced a variety of interesting helmets — and used a variety of other helmets from other nations, notably Czechoslovakia — but except for a few German helmets that may have made it to Spain, these weren’t truly German.

MYTH #5.
U.S. Sun Helmets Of The 19th Century Were Made In England
The myth: The United States Army used English-made sun helmets during the 19th century.
The truth: It is hard not to think of the British when you see a pith helmet, but the truth is that many nations, including the United States, used the design. The American pattern typically differs from the British model in that the American helmets have four seams and panels whereas the British have six seams and panels. Most American helmets were made by only a few firms including the New York based McKennedy and Company and the Horstmann Brothers and Company of Philadelphia.
Twist on the myth: Often, American helmets show up as “British Pith Helmets” on auction sites such as eBay. While the British didn’t make these helmets, they didn’t use them either.

MYTH #6. The USMC Wore EGA Insignia On Its World War I Helmets
The myth:  The “Devil Dogs” wanted the Germans to know who they were facing, and many members of the USMC in France in 1918 attached the Eagle-Globe-Anchor insignia to their helmets. Other times these are called “China Marine Helmets.”
The truth: There are a lot of American Model 1917 helmets with the EGA attached to the helmets, but buyer beware. When this was done and by whom should be questioned. There is little photographic evidence of the Marines attaching the EGA on helmets in either France or China.
The exception to the rule: Marines did wear the EGA on the Model 1917A1 helmet, but this was not a widespread practice, either.

MYTH #7. The USMC EGA Was On Helmet Covers During World War II
The myth: USMC covers issued during WWII featured a stencil of the EGA on the front.
The truth: “The EGA was not worn on USMC covers during World War II,” says American helmet collector Chris Armold, author of Steel Pots: The History of America’s Steel Combat Helmets. Armold notes in his book that those surviving World War II covers with the EGA were likely a post-war addition.

. Hinged Chinstrap Loops Are A Sign Of A Very Late-War or Post-War M1 Helmet
The myth: American M1 helmets from World War II must be of the welded steel chinstrap loop (fixed bail) variety to have seen action.
The truth: The hinged chinstrap loop replaced the welded loop in the fall of 1943, and this style loop became the standard for all M1 helmets to follow. Thus, it is highly possible that helmets used following D-Day could be of the hinged strap variety. “The hinged loop was created in 1943 and did see service in WWII despite what collectors might think,” confirms Armold.

MYTH #9. U.S. 1938 Pattern Tank Helmets Were Used By Israel And In Europe
The myth: Various nations, including Israel, used American 1938 Pattern tanker helmets. These include the light desert tank color versions.
The truth: Many of the tank helmets advertised as U.S. World War II or 1938 Pattern tank helmets were, in fact, of European origin, according to Larry Munnikhuysen, an advanced collector of tanker headgear. “Buyers should be aware that if a tank helmet looks very much like a U.S. WWII tank helmet, but has an ‘X’-shaped webbing support across the ear receiver holes on the ear flaps, then the helmet is of European post-WWII manufacture,”  Munnikhuysen says. The same goes for Israeli post-WWII helmets, which are based on the American design. These too, he says, have webbing over the receiver holes and are normally painted a light desert tank color.

MYTH #10. The Warsaw Pact Helmets Are Soviet Clones
The myth: Czech and Hungarian helmets from the Cold War era are either Soviet-made or just Soviet “clones” of the SSh-39/40 pattern.
The truth: “Calling the various Eastern European post-war helmets that resembled the SSh-39 clones of the Soviet helmet is not a very precise use of the word ‘clone,’” says Dr. Clawson. Of course, this hasn’t stopped various sellers from advertising the Czech M-53 as a “Soviet Bloc helmet.” Not so, says Dr. Clawson. “They were almost all separate designs — close look-alikes, but each represented local military attempts at independent home boy statements.”

BONUS MYTH Japanese Steel Helmets Were Manufactured From American Steel
The myth: Japan bought up American scrap steel throughout the 1930s, and this is likely the metal used in Japanese helmets.
The truth: “Go prove it,” says veteran headgear collector Jareth Holub. While it is true that the United States did sell scrap steel to the Japanese until an October 1940 embargo, Holub says it is impossible to know whether this steel was used in a particular helmet. Japan was obtaining steel from any source possible, so it is impossible to say for certain whether a Japanese helmet is made of recycled American steel.

Related Posts:

More Images:


An American Model 1917A1 with the definitive EGA insignia; note the location of the placement of the badge

Rivets (Splinte)

The German helmet rivets (Splinte) or split pins History, Facts and Dates

The purpose of the three rivets (split pins or Splinte in German) is to secure the liner to the shell. One is located at the back and two at the front. The rivets were inserted through the three holes in the helmet shell and the outer band of the liner. A flat washer with two rectangular holes was installed before bending the two parts flat to opposite directions.

The early rivets were made of brass and then zinczoated (not all the time, you can find a lot uncoated early pins). This was done to prevent corrosion. They where made out of four parts: A firm base, the head, the prongs and the washer. Brass rivets were not strong enough and its production was stopped. Later pens are made ​​of steel.

The manufacturers had to place a maker stamp on one of the legs of a split pin. In the early years they didn’t. From 1938 most rivets have a maker mark.

The firms that produced the rivets

Marking Firm Location Note
B.u.C. yy Biedermann und Czarnikow Berlin  I’ve seen late original pins marked B&C 1944, More in line with markings on the liners.
D&C xxyy Dransfeld und Company Menden, kreis Iserlohn, Nordrhein-Westfalen
FWW yy Firma Friedrich Wilke Westig Westig, Nordrhein-Westfalen
IKA yy Julius Kremp Lüdenscheid, Nordrhein-Westfalen
MSS yy Mathias Salcher und Söhne Wagstadt, Sudetenland Today: Bílovec, Czech Republic
SC xxyy Schmöle und Company Menden, kreis Iserlohn, Nordrhein-Westfalen Arrow marking

yy = manufacturing date, two digit year, example 39
xxyy = manufacturing date, four digit year, example 1939


The Afghan Helmet Connection     by Thomas Buck

      In the past few years collectors have been finding strangely modified WWI Central Powers helmets popping up in the collectible market place. The ones that are being found are the Austrian M 16, the German M 16, M18 and sometimes even the very rare M 18 cut out helmets. They are typically found without liners but when they are, the liners are of a crude manufacture and are certainly not original to the helmet. All of these helmets all share a set of curiously punched vertical holes on the right side. What are these helmets and where are they coming from?

      Soldiers returning home from war have been known to bring back mementos and souvenirs. Many of these items eventually land in the collectibles market place. This is the exact case with these helmets. They are coming back with soldiers who have been fighting in Afghanistan.

      Afghanistan? How is it that helmets that were made and originally issued to German and Austrian troops 90 years ago are being found today in one of the most remote areas on earth? The answer goes a little like this;

    In the early 1930’s Afghanistan under the new King Zahir began a program that was to reform its military. In 1933 he sought and received assistance from Germany who along with Turkey sent military advisers and instructors to Kabals newly opened military academy. King Zahir had looked to the former Central powers because the allied powers had turned a cold shoulder to him. This was mostly motivated by the British who wanted to keep Afghanistan as weak as possible for fear that the Afghanis may someday attempt to take back the territory that they had stolen from them at the end of the previous century. In spite of Germany’s assistance they were still lacking in arms and equipment. 

     Czechoslovakia, who has always known for producing and exporting military equipment, answered the Kings call when it came time for helmets. Production of the model 30 and 32 was in full swing and both being exported to Spain and to a few African countries. These were offered to the Zahir who rejected the offer most probably over the price. The Czechs still eager for a sale dug deep. Being part of the former Austrian, Hungarian Empire and the Central Power alliance, they still had some of the helmets that were used during the First World War sitting in storage.  Provisions in the Treaty of Versailles allowed Czechoslovakia to keep and maintain a small token army. These were those helmets. Out of use by the 1930’s and most likely destined for the scrap heap, the King seeing a good economical solution to his needs bought them. They were brought to Afghanistan and refurbished. They were given new liners, chinstraps and a new coat of paint. The right side was punched with two vertical holes and a badge featuring the national tri colors were put on. These were then issued to his elite cavalry units.

     By 1938 the Kings standing army numbered nearly 100,000 troops but by summer of 1939 Afghanistan declared neutrality. I spite of this declaration they allowed Germany to conduct acts of sabotage from within their borders on the Soviet Union and British India. Diplomatic protests from both of these countries and their military intervention into nearby Iran compelled the King to put at stop to these acts. Being in no position to take on either the Soviet Union or Britain, Afghanistan reaffirmed it’s earlier position of neutrality by expelling all of the German agents that were operating within it’s borders and proclaimed it’s backing of the Allied forces. 

      Zahir’s army and these helmets would not see combat during the Second World War. However, these helmets remained in service in the Kings army well into the 1950s and possibly into the 60’s before being put into storage. It is speculated that these helmets began to come out of their hiding spots and were used by some of the US backed Mujahideen freedom fighters during the time of the communist revolution in the 1980’s. Many more were left in hidden equipment and ammunition cashes throughout the country and are now being found and brought home by our soldiers.