Original German WWII Ground Dug M18 Transitional Heer Army Double Decal Helmet with Replaced Liner Leather & Chinstrap - Size 64 Shell

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a great "ground dug" example of an Imperial German WWI M18 helmet, which was converted for use by the Third Reich in the 1930s before the widespread issue of the M1935 helmet. It was repainted with Pre-War Apfel-grün (apple green), and the helmet liner was replaced with an early pattern M-31 liner with an aluminum band and no side reinforcement. It was then fitted with Heer "Double Decals", a Heer (army) eagle over the left ear, and the German Tri-color "National Colors" decal, over the right ear.

At some point after that, it was dropped on the ground, or possibly lost in a fox hole, and was then covered in dirt, where it stayed under the ground for some time. This has resulted in a lot of bubbling to the paint finish, as well as a lot of oxidation to the shell, particularly on the interior, which may not have been repainted when it was put back into service for WWII. The leather and felt portions of the liner, as well as the chinstrap, would have completely rotted away.

Amazingly however, the exterior paint, while bubbled, is still very well retained, as are both decals! The use of the second decal was discontinued in 1940, and in 1943 it was ordered that helmets with the national colors have them removed, so finding a helmet with both still intact is a real treasure! Most likely the helmet was lost before that point, so the decals were never removed. They are both retained at about 75%, with the expected wear and bubbling from being buried for years.

After the helmet was found, the original aluminum liner band was still present, attached with the original WWII pattern split pins. It was then was fitted with a new interior section with attached leather, and a correct early pattern chinstrap attached as well. We did check the inside of the helmet, and there is no sign of any of the original markings, so we measured the exterior, and it came out to about 65cm, making this a size 64 shell. This is a nice medium size shell, which can accommodate size 56-67 liners. The larger size makes these harder to find and more desirable to a collector.

As this is the later M18 variation, this helmet never had the chin strap installation lugs on the skirt of the helmet, as the chin strap was attached directly to the liner. It still retains both of the extended ventilation side lugs, which are the correct longer version with a "step" for the larger size 64 shell. This would ensure proper installation of a Stirnpanzer brow plate regardless of shell size.

A lovely "ground dug" example of an early "transitional" helmet, with a fantastic patina! Everything about this helmet is absolutely correct! Comes ready to display!

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, in the spring of 1916. These first modern M16 helmets evolved into the M18 helmets by the end of WWI. At the end of WWI it is estimated that Germany had produced about 8,500,000 steel helmets. As a result of the restrictions placed on the German’s by the Treaty of Versailles, which dictated a standing army of only 100,000 personnel, there was an abundant surplus of these helmets, and though they saw widespread use by Freikorps personnel, there was still a stockpile controlled by the Reichswehr.

These excess helmets underwent minor modifications in 1923 with the addition of provincial identifying shield decals and in 1931 with the development of a new chinstrap and liner system. Although helmet development was ongoing when AH came to power in 1933, the M16 and M18 helmets were still the main headgear worn by the Reichswehr. The helmets remained the same until March 1933 when the provincial shields were discontinued in favour of the national tri-color shield. In 1934 the national eagle shield was introduced, and both the tri-color and eagle shields were applied to the helmets. After the development of the new M35 helmet, the WWI helmets were still issued to second line and training troops well into WWII. The Austrian M16 was almost identical to the German version with the positioning of the chinstrap liner rivets being the most readily identifiable difference.

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