Any WWI helmet experts out there ?

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House of De Clifford
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Any WWI helmet experts out there ?

Post by House of De Clifford »

Hi all, a WWI german helmet has recently come into my belonging. I know very little about this period and need some advice. I am sure the helmet is an original as it came to me from a reliable source, it has been painted but has no liner or strap. Now, question is, is it an M16 or an M18 helmet? Is the paint original/painted in the trenches or done after ?
Any help would be greatly recieived..photos to follow very shortly.
Dave.
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Last edited by House of De Clifford on Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Lord Byron
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Re: Any WWI helmet experts out there ?

Post by Lord Byron »

There are three main German issue helmet types during WW1 - the Model 1916, the Model 1917, and the Model 1918. All share the same basic shell.

The Model 1916 was the first. This had the chinstrap fixed to pointed posts attached to the flange on the inside. These posts were the same profile as were used on the picklehaube, so they could reuse the same chinstraps, but was a pretty poor system. The liner comprised a thick leather band to which three pads each with two fingers were attached. These could hold little pillows, and by adding or removing these a better fit obtained:

http://www.kaisersbunker.com/feldgrau/h ... 6green.htm

The Model 1917 is essentially the same shell as above, but with the leather liner band replaced by a metal band which the pads were crimped into. The same chinstrap arrangement as on the M16 was also used.

In 1918 they improved the chinstrap arrangement. Gone were the picklehaube style posts attached to the flange of the helmet itself, and loops rivetted directly to the steel liner band were used instead, alongside a much improved chinstrap. The liner was otherwise unchanged from the M17.

A lot of these were modified in the 30's and used alongside the newer patterns by the German Army, so it's not impossible to see one with the aluminium band and the multiple tongued leather liner.
"If I am a fool it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no-one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom".

Maker of reproduction WW1 and WW2 paperwork, eg 1915 AB64's, Officer's AB439's, Memorial Scrolls, etc:

http://www.thefunkhole.co.uk/

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Re: Any WWI helmet experts out there ?

Post by House of De Clifford »

Ok, so from the pointed lug for strap attachment, this is either an M16 or M17 type helmet. What about the paint ? is it correct ? I have seen similar before and this paint looks like it was applied a long time ago.
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Lord Byron
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Re: Any WWI helmet experts out there ?

Post by Lord Byron »

This is from Wikipedia, but is correct:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stahlhelm

"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."

The pattern on the helmet illustrated loosely follows this order. The problem is individual units in the field then interpreted the order. The usual fashion was to give all the helmets to one soldier or a small group rather than have each man do his own, so it's not uncommon to find virtually identically painted helmets surviving from the same unit. The lines are rather narrow, but not impossibly so. The colours are a bit odd, but again not impossibly so.

My gut feeling is it's probably a later repaint, but quite possibly a fairly vintage repaint. There's an account of none other than Walt Disney serving with the Army of Occupation after the war taking plain helmets and repainting them with camoflage patterns to sell them for more, so fake camo paint jobs are almost contemporary with the real thing in some cases :D They were usually painted with the liner holding split-rivets in place - does the camo job go up to the very edges of their three holes in the shell, or is there a void to suggest the paint job was done whilst they were present? If there's a lack of a void I would say it's almost certainly not an original WW1 period paint job. Stripped down and repainted it would probably be worth somewhere around £80-100, likely more if it's not hiding old pitting.

It should be marked in two places - a number/code on the inside crown (to do with the steel used in its manufacture, to trace duff batches) and a shell size/maker code (eg BF64) by the chinstrap post on the wearers left.
"If I am a fool it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no-one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom".

Maker of reproduction WW1 and WW2 paperwork, eg 1915 AB64's, Officer's AB439's, Memorial Scrolls, etc:

http://www.thefunkhole.co.uk/

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House of De Clifford
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Re: Any WWI helmet experts out there ?

Post by House of De Clifford »

That's great info, thanks Byron. It has the size and production stamps as you suggest, the paint as far as I can tell is not hiding anything more sinister than age related wear and tear. The paint does go to the edge of the holes suggesting it was painted without the liner in place. The helmet came from an old boys estate who served in France at the right time and came from his collection. There are actualy 2 helmets painted in the same colours and pattern, could they be from the same painter in the field or do you think it more likely they were painted after being taken by the British? Is this a common thing done by tommies ? I have seen german helmets painted by American soldiers but they are in an american style and usually propagandist. would replicating original cammo paint be something a collector is more likely to do (ammature collector I'm thinking)?
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Lord Byron
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Re: Any WWI helmet experts out there ?

Post by Lord Byron »

If there are two helmets it's not impossible, but I feel it's more likely that the old boy or someone in his family did them at some point, or he possibly acquired them from someone who had. A copy cammo job might be something a collector did to fill a gap in his collection at a fraction of the cost of a genuine one, or just to make them look a little more interesting. Ironically now genuine complete unmessed with plain examples are actually starting to come up in value closer to what a genuine cammo in similar condition might fetch given the large no's of copy cammo finished applied to otherwise genuine helmets that appear on the market and are sometimes very hard to distinguish.

Looking at the pictures again, is the inside painted the same lightish green as parts of the outside? The colour it would have started out life as would have been closer to how the circle on the top appears in the pictures, and I would be very suprised if even a field done refurbishment at some point repainted the interior with the light green (if the interior was redone, it usually obscured the markings, and so the size, eg 64, would often be stencilled in white on the inside flange to make it obvious again). Another question - is there any wear around the chinstrap posts to the paint finish? I've just finished the restoration of a virtually identical helmet (to a plain finish :lol: ), and in getting the tightly fitting chinstrap to fit the posts, and in wearing it a little, it has already stripped a lot of the paint of around the main post where the keepers touch it. If the paint is intact around here it would suggest a later paint job after the chinstrap had already been lost.
"If I am a fool it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no-one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom".

Maker of reproduction WW1 and WW2 paperwork, eg 1915 AB64's, Officer's AB439's, Memorial Scrolls, etc:

http://www.thefunkhole.co.uk/

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House of De Clifford
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Re: Any WWI helmet experts out there ?

Post by House of De Clifford »

Once again, sound advice Byron. The inside is painted the same as the light green on the outside and the posts still have old leather around them which is also painted. Logically, my next question is what next? Do I try to source original parts and bring it back as is or strip the paint ? What would you do ? They are lovely helmets and a real piece of history so I would like to do the best by them.
Dave.
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Lord Byron
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Re: Any WWI helmet experts out there ?

Post by Lord Byron »

They are nice bits of kit, very iconic of the period. Sourcing original parts in usable condition would be a bit of a struggle, not impossible, but somewhat costly, and not made easier by the large number of modern copies that have been aged and something to be wary of. Original parts also do not necessarily lend themselves well to be installed on another helmet after 90+ years (the arms tend to split on the rivets when rebending, leather shrinks and dries and looses it's stretch).

I would tend to leave the paint finish alone - it might not be original WW1 period, but it displays nicely enough, and it looks like it might have been on the helmet long enought to have acquired interest in its own right. Also if I turn out to be wrong and some real expert in the field declares it had been fine at a later date you won't want to hunt me down and kill me for knocking several hundred quid off the value :o :D

This is my recently restored example:

http://postimage.org/image/1fxm4k550/

Image

It's a size 64 shell, which fits my noggin perfectly without any extra padding in the pads. The shell cost me £35 about 6 years ago, but was in an appalling state when I got it (liner holes filled in with car body filler and covered in a thick layer of recent black paint :( ). A friend did the stripping and repainting, I sorted out the liner - made by the Prairie Flower Leather Company in the USA. I highly recommend them - not the cheapest option (not helped by getting stung by additional Customs charges every time I've dealt with them, not their fault) but excellent in terms of quality and authenticity. If you wanted to replace the missing parts I would suggest going down the repro route, faster, cheaper, and you won't risk being stung by buying the aged fakes of the same.

http://www.pflco.com/
"If I am a fool it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no-one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom".

Maker of reproduction WW1 and WW2 paperwork, eg 1915 AB64's, Officer's AB439's, Memorial Scrolls, etc:

http://www.thefunkhole.co.uk/

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House of De Clifford
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Re: Any WWI helmet experts out there ?

Post by House of De Clifford »

I owe you a pint Byron !! That web site is fantastic, will be ordering M16 liner and strap asap... They look fantstic. Nice job on the recon of your helmet by the way, looks great!
Is there much call to re-enact WWI german infantry in the UK? Not a period i am familiar with.. Mostly muddyeval you see.
House of De Clifford
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Lord Byron
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Re: Any WWI helmet experts out there ?

Post by Lord Byron »

Most of the major WW1 groups in the UK have the odd member or two who portray Imperial German troops, the main group dedicated to it is IR28 - they used to be one of the regiments that were part of the Great War Society, although I'm not quite sure if they still are:

http://www.ir28.org.uk/
"If I am a fool it is, at least, a doubting one; and I envy no-one the certainty of his self-approved wisdom".

Maker of reproduction WW1 and WW2 paperwork, eg 1915 AB64's, Officer's AB439's, Memorial Scrolls, etc:

http://www.thefunkhole.co.uk/

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