Original German WWII Luftwaffe Worn Normandy Camouflage Single Decal M35 Helmet - Stamped SE64
Original Item: One-of-a-kind. This is what we all look for and can never find! An incredible 100% authentic Normandy Camouflage Model 1935 German Luftwaffe Double Decal Helmet! This example is an "overpaint" camouflage, which was added over the original paint and decals, and even has a lot of texture to it. The camouflage was then worn away over the years in service, which exposed much of the original paint, as well as the original single decal. At some point, two "Sig" symbol were added to the front, for the SS, but we suspect that these may have been added post war. This is a great helmet, with lots of history!
Some of the most unique German helmets of WWII were worn during the Battle for Normandy. The terrain of thick green hedgerows, rolling green meadows, golden fields and orchards created diverse but deadly battlefields; one that necessitated good helmet camouflage for survival. To help their helmets blend into this environment, German soldiers at Normandy used a wide range of paint, wire, cloth covers and other devices to this end. These men were often hardened, experienced combat veteran with experience in campaigns in Poland, France, Africa and the USSR. They knew from experience what worked and what didn’t, and the helmet they wore during the Normandy campaign reflected that.
One effective, although more permanent method of concealing the helmet was the use of camouflage paint. It is up to some debate exactly when this method began among German soldiers but by the time of the Normandy campaign it was widespread. In mid 1943 the German high command ordered that a three color camouflaged scheme of tan, green and brown be used in the painting of vehicles and other equipment. These same paints were used to camouflage helmets as well. While the high command did order specific color codes be used for consistency, the hues of tan, green, and brown can vary on original examples significantly. The mix of these tan, green, and brown colors were used by German troops at Normandy with such frequency that today collectors call almost any German helmet with a mix of these three colors “Normandy Camo”. It should be clear that while the use of these three colors for camouflaging helmets was common, there was never a directive from the German military high command to paint helmets in this manner.
No officially sanctioned “Normandy camo” existed. The collector term, Normandy camo can still be justified to a large degree. Photos from the battle as well as surviving original example with Normandy providence would indicate this particular camo pattern was a favorite of Germans during the campaign. The mix of the three colors was certainly a good choice for Normandy as the countryside does exhibit those same colors. That being said with much of Western Europe’s terrain looking so similar this same pattern would see action in other battles as well. The camouflage paints used at Normandy do not confine themselves to distinct hues of tan, brown and green. Some helmets were painted with two colors or just one and sometimes with non-standard military paints that were probably locally sourced. Further complicating the matter, captured British, Soviet, French and Italian paints were all used to camouflage helmets at Normandy. The hue of these colors often deviate from the standard German military colors. The German soldiers who camouflaged their helmets were well aware of their surroundings and certainly were aware of what colors and patterns would blend into the terrain they would soon be fighting in. It is logical they would have chosen colored paint based the local area which would account for the variation.
The camouflage on this helmet is mostly retained on the sides, while the top has worn down to the original Luftwaffe Gray Blue paint. The left side of the helmet has traces of the original single decal, which was covered when the textured layer was added, but then covered with the green and brown paint. This has worn away somewhat, so the decal can now be partially seen.
The reverse, interior, neck guard apron is serial number stamped 6360 and the interior, left side, apron has the stamped manufacturer's code and size, SE64 indicating that it was manufactured by Sächsische Emaillier und Stanzwerke A.G. of Lauter, Germany. Size 64 is a nice medium size that can accommodate liners from 56cm to 57cm or US 7 to 7 1/8. Size 64 shells are harder to find and are therefore more valuable to a collector. The underside of the rear skirt is also marked faintly with black paint Uffz. Mei[s]el, for Unteroffizier Meisel, a Junior NCO rank equivalent to "Corporal".
All three original liner retaining pins are intact and have some of the original paint on the ends. The interior of the helmet still has an original M31 leather liner with all eight fingers, complete with the original top tie. The leather is somewhat worn, though still mostly soft. The liner band is the correct early war aluminum, correct for a helmet of this vintage, and is marked 64 n.A. / 57, indicating that it is a size 57 for a size 64 shell. The right side displays the full manufacture information, as well as a date:
Bln. Ch'burg 5.
This liner has an additional aluminum layer around the chin strap bales for reinforcement. Soon afterwards, the liners were changed to the stronger galvanized steel, which eliminated the need. The chinstrap is present, and in very good condition, with the correct aluminum hardware for an early issue liner. There is however deterioration due to age, and the leather is now somewhat stiff.
Overall a great Luftwaffe Normandy Camouflage M35 Helmet with a lovely patina! These are becoming harder and harder to find on the market. Sure to appreciate in value over the years!
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, (Iron and Foundry Works), 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, (National Defence Force, Circa 1919-1933), era and on into the early years of the Third Reich until the development of the smaller, lighter M35 style helmet in June 1935.
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 armor 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.
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. The Germans still referred to the M1940 as the M1935, while the M1940 designation were given by collectors.
The last wartime upgrade to the standard helmet took place on 6 July 1942 at the request of the Army High Command. The rolled edge found on M1935 and M1940 helmets was discontinued as a measure of economy. On 1 August 1942 the first M1942 helmets were placed into production, and this was the model produced until late in the war, when most factories were captured or stood idle due to material shortages.
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