Original German WWII Army Heer M42 Chicken Wire Steel Helmet - marked hkp66
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice all original example of a German WWII M42 helmet, issued to the Heer (Army), with a lovely original Chicken Wire Cover. The wire was used to easily attach foliage and other camouflage items from the area, and could easily be redecorated for a new season. The wire has the correct zinc soldered twist joints, which indicates this is definitely period correct wire. This stamped sheet steel construction helmet retains much of its original paint but does show some chipping, scratches, and rust, typical of a helmet that was used in the field. You can see how the chicken wire has worn the paint itself, showing that the wire has been on the helmet for a long period of use.
The reverse, interior, neck guard apron is serial number stamped 518, and above this is a very faint [h]kp 66 indicating that Sächsische Emaillier und Stanzwerke A.G. of Germany manufactured it. Size 66 is a nice large size that can accommodate liners from 58cm to 59cm or US 7 1/4 to 7 3/8. Size 66 shells are harder to find and are therefore more valuable to a collector.
All three liner retaining pins are intact, and still have some of the original paint. The interior of the helmet still has the original M31 leather liner installed, however the leather is quite deteriorated and torn away. It looks like remnants of all 8 fingers are present, with the top tie, but the leather has mostly torn away from the band, and the felt padding is exposed on over 50% of the band. The side of the galvanized steel liner band is marked 66 n.A. / 58, indicating that this is a size 58 liner for a size 66 shell. The other side has the manufacturer and date, part of which is faintly stamped:
Bln. Ch'burg 5.
The chin strap is unfortunately completely missing, and given the condition of the leather in the liner, that is no surprise. It most likely deteriorated and fell off long ago.
Overall a very nice 100% genuine M42 Heer Army helmet with original chicken wire! M42 helmets of this quality are always the hard to find on the market. This is an item that will only continue to appreciate in value over time.
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.
More than 1 million M1935 helmets were manufactured in the first two years after its introduction, and millions more were produced until 1940 when the basic design and production methods were changed, replacing the multi-piece riveted vent with one stamped directly into the steel. Later, in 1942 the rolled steel rim was removed from the pattern to further expedite production.
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