Original German WWI M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Shell - Battlefield Pickup
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice example of a totally original WWI German M16 Helmet shell, with remnants of what appears to be camouflage paint. The most noticeable features are the impact holes located on the top and rear of the helmet, a solid example of the harsh reality that is warfare.
It is uncertain whether or not the damage was sustained while the helmet was being worn in combat or if it fell victim to target practice. The holes are old and appear to be period, we are just unsure, that will be for you to decide.
The stamped, sheet steel construction, helmet retains about 20% of its original green paint. The entirety of the helmet was not painted camouflage, but other colors were just brushed on in areas. The colors that we can see that were used was a mixture of shades of gray, greens and possibly orange.
The helmet still has both the dome headed chinstrap retaining rivets, which hold the interior pickelhaube style chin strap lugs in place. It also retains both of the extended ventilation side lugs, which are the correct short version without a step for the larger size 66 shell. This would ensure proper installation of a Stirnpanzer brow plate regardless of shell size.
All three liner split pins are missing, as well as the chin strap and liner. This is just a shell.
The shell is stamped, but unfortunately we cannot make out the maker or size information. We measured the shell and it is approximately a size 66. Size 66 is a nice large size that can accommodate liners from 58cm to 60cm or US 7 1/4 to 7 1/2. Size 66 shells are always hard to find and are therefore more valuable to a collector.
This helmet, offered in a highly collectible “relic” condition, makes an eye-catching and affordable addition to any Great War collection. Ready to display!
History of the M16
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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