BACKGROUND: The first "modern" steel helmets were introduced by the French army in early 1915 and were shortly followed by the British army later that year. With plans on the drawing board, experimental helmets in the field, ("Gaede" helmet), and some captured French and British helmets the German army began tests for their own steel helmet at the Kummersdorf Proving Grounds in November, and in the field in December 1915. An acceptable pattern was developed and approved and production began at Eisen-und Hüttenwerke, AG Thale/Harz, in the spring of 1916. These first modern M16 helmets evolved into the M18 helmets by the end of WWI. The M16 and M18 helmets remained in usage through-out the Weimar Reichswehr era and on into the early years of the Third Reich until the development of the smaller, lighter M35 style helmet in June 1935.
DESCRIPTION: The helmet retains a good portion of its original smooth pea green factory paint both inside and out. The interior left side apron is stamped strongly with manufacturers code and size, "W66", indicating manufacture by Hermann Weissenburger & Co., Stuttgart-Canstatt, size 66. A nice large size that would comfortably fit most men's heads of today. The M16 natural leather liner is fully intact, three leather pads with two fingers each, with cotton pockets to the reverse with padded pillow inserts. The liner is a high end European reproduction that I professionally aged to appear like the last photo in the gallery of an original example. Liner adjustment string is present and also masterfully aged. Chin strap is also an aged reproduction whereby I mainly just aged the metal buckles while keeping the leather soft and strong for possibly use my film or re-enactors who want to wear the "real deal" out in the field. Another interesting feature is that the German solider did write his name in pencil on the inside rear skit but a bit too faint for my mature eyes to adequately decipher but something like "Trom XXX". All in all a very nicely preserved helmet that literally 100+ years old and without an dents, cracks or rust pitting whatsoever. A real survivor of a specimen.
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GERMAN HELMET FACTORY PRODUCTION CODES
(Every original German helmet produced from 1935 to 45 had two factory stampings punched into the side and rear or both in the rear. The alpha numeric number refers to the factory location and the inside metric circumference in centimeters. The rear lot number refers to the production run and was used as a quality control measure. The font styles used at each factory were slightly different but highly consistent throughout the war and so fakes or reproductions will either not have these numbers at all or they will use the wrong font style or letter spacing and so are easily identified as post war made.)
|Maker name/City||Maker code||Sizes produced|
|Gebrueder Bing A.G., Nuernberg||G.B.N||64|
|F.C. Bellinger, Fulda||B.F.||62,64|
|J. & H. Kerkmann, Ahlen/Westf||K.||64|
|Gebrueder Gnuechtel A.G., Lauter i./Sa.||G.||62|
|Vereinigte Deutsche Nickelwerke, Schwerte i/Westf. – N.J.||N.J||62|
|R. Lindenberg A.G., Remscheid-Hasten||“Bell” L. a.k.a. rattle logo||64|
|Koerting & Mathiesen, Leutsch /Leipzig||K&M||66,68|
|Hermann Weissenburger & Co., Stuttgart-Canstatt||W.||66|
|C. Thiel & Soehne, Luebeck||T.J.||66,68|
|Eisenhuettenwerke Thale A.G., Thale /Harz||E.T.||60-68|
|Siemens & Halske A.G., Siemenstadt Berlin||superimposed S over H stamp||60|
|Eisenhuette Silesia, Paruschowitz Oberschlesien||Si||62,66|
|F.W. Quist, Esslingen/Neckar||Q||66|