Original German WWI M16 Stahlhelm Helmet with Panel Camouflage Paint & Battle Damage - Marked BF64
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice example of a totally original WWI German M16 Helmet, with a very nice "paneled" camouflage paint scheme. This was a very popular type of camouflage used on both sides of WWI. The stamped, sheet steel construction helmet retains about 60% of its original hand painted camouflage paint. This was painted over the original field gray paint, so this is visible in areas where the paint has flaked off.
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 longer type with a small step for the medium size 64 shell. This would ensure proper installation of a Stirnpanzer brow plate regardless of shell size.
All three liner split pins, including the correct larger rear pin (installed in the front left), are present, and still retain most of the camouflage paint. They hold in place the liner which is complete except for the top string. The chin strap is also missing as are both loops.
On the right skirt as well as the rear, there appears to be battle damage. By the looks of the impact hole and the smaller impact mark on the rear of the skirt, the round that struck this helmet was a ricochet and “tumbled” into the helmet, striking it on it’s side and the tip impacting the rear of the skirt.
The shell is stamped B.F.64. indicating that F.C. Bellinger of Fulda manufactured it. This company made shells in sizes 62 and 64 for the war effort. Size 64 is a nice medium large 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 top of she shell has a rolling mill mark reading R 461, for steel produced at Stahlwerk Röchling in Volkingen.
There is faint handwriting on the underside on the ride side of the skirt. It is very hard to read and was overlooked multiple times. It appears to be more information than just the normal rank and name we usually see. We can’t make it out, so hopefully you can!
This is a fantastic example of a genuine battle damaged camouflage painted German helmet and comes 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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