Item:
ONJR23MJ023

Original German WWII M18 Transitional Heer Army Double Decal Helmet with Partial Liner & Period Replaced Chinstrap - Stamped W.66

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a lovely example of a WWI M18 helmet, which was converted for use by the Third Reich in the 1930s before the widespread issue of the M1935 helmet. During this process it was fit with an M31 leather liner, WWII issue brown chinstrap and had a darker Feldgrau (field gray) paint job applied. 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.

After that, it did see long service, though the paint has held up wonderfully, now showing wear and staining from years of use. It looks like a darker paint may have been applied at one point, but it was not applied over the decals. This gives it the incredible look of a helmet that was really there, in service for decades. The decals themselves are relatively well retained, with the Heer Eagle at about 80%, with overall wear and some chipping, and the national colors at bout 90%, showing overall wear and staining. 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!

The shell is stamped W.66 indicating that Hermann Weissenburger & Co. of Stuttgart-Canstatt manufactured it. This company made shells in sizes 66 ONLY for the war effort. 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. There is also a heat lot rolling mill marking of E 4 6 7 on the inside of the shell, which is not a rolling mill code that we recognize, and leave this as a nice research project for the purchaser.

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 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.

The original liner split pins were all replaced with the WWII style when the new liner was installed. The liner itself and chinstrap unfortunately have not fared well over the years, with the leather of the liner only about 60% retained, and what is left is in very delicate condition. The leather is split over the top over at least half of the circumference, and the right side of the liner definitely has deteriorated more than the right side. The left exterior of the galvanized steel liner band is marked 66 n. A. / 59, indicating that it is a size 59 liner for a size 66 shell. The right side has the full maker information clearly stamped:

Metall-Lederverarbeitung W.Z.
1941
Bln.- Ch'burg 5

This indicates production by the metal and leather working company Werner Zahn, based in Berlin - Charlottenburg, in the year 1941, which means that the helmet most likely had the liner replaced at some point during service, a common occurrence.

The original chin strap with the liner must have torn away, and it was replaced with a non-standard type that looks to be from a German fire helmet, made from black finished leather. It is in very good condition, showing wear from age.

A beautiful, solid example of WWII Reissued M18 helmet with double decals, a type that is becoming increasingly difficult to find. 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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