Original German WWI M16 Russian Capture Helmet with Red Star and Camouflage Paint - Featured in Book

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is an amazing example of a totally original WWI German M17 Helmet which was captured by the Russians and reissued to Anti-Aircraft troops the 1920s. The very helmet was featured in the wonderful book; RUSSIAN HELMETS from KASKA to STALSHLYEM 1916-2001 by ROBERT W. CLAWSON.

The stamped, sheet steel construction, helmet retains about 95% of its original German WW1 hand painted camouflage paint. The helmet has both the dome headed chinstrap retaining rivets, both of the extended ventilation side lugs and all three of the flat-headed liner retaining rivets.

The interior of the helmet has an 1917 pattern steel helmet band, three pad leather liner. All three leather pads are complete but none retain their original horsehair stuffing. Pads soft and supple. All of the six-liner string adjustment tabs are intact. Original chinstrap is also present. Shell is stamped but it is difficult to read due to the paint. Interior of shell on the dome has a steel lot stamp. Interior rim is named in black paint in period font to Sergt. Hoyer.  Size 66 (originally intended to accommodate head sizes of 58cm to 60cm or US 7 1/4 to US 7 1/2).

History of the M16/17

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.

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 chinstrap 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."

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 ocher in summer.

After the effectiveness of the M1916 design was validated during the 1916 campaigns, incremental improvements were subsequently made.

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