Original German WWII "Battlefield Dug" M40 Heer Single Decal Helmet Shell found near Frankfurt - size 64
Original Item: One of a kind. This is a very nice all original example of a German WWII M40 helmet shell, as issued to the Heer (Army). It saw service during WWII, and was then left on the battlefield for some time, and ended up buried. It was later dug up by a souvenir seeker, probably several decades later. We unfortunately do not know the exact time and circumstances, but know that it was dug up in the Frankfurt, Germany area.
It definitely suffered from exposure to the elements, and there are only rusted remnants of the original liner, with a tiny bit of the original chin strap. The front brim was bend up on the left side, which also cracked off that end of the brim. This looks to have happened some time ago, possibly even before it was buried. However, it does still retain traces of the original field grey paint in areas, and even more amazingly, a good portion of the left "wing" of a Wehrmacht Heer Silver Eagle Decal.
The rusting to the interior of the helmet has unfortunately obliterated the original maker markings and heat lot stamp. However the exterior measurement is about 65cm, indicating a size 64cm shell. This 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.
Overall this is a wonderful example of a "battlefield dug up" M40 Heer Single Decal helmet shell, with liner remnants a great patina! 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.
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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