Original German WWII Reissued M18 Army Heer Single Decal Steel Helmet with 55cm Liner - marked B.F 64.
Original Item: Only One Available. Now these are something we do not see very often! This is a very nice all original example of an Imperial German WWI M18 Stahlhelm Steel Helmet, which was then reissued for use during WWII. As the war progressed, the need for helmets often outstripped supply, so WWI helmets that were still serviceable were reissued with new paint, liners, and decals. While slightly heavier than the WWII styles, they were still effective, especially for rear line troops. This stamped steel helmet still retains a lot of the original mid-war darker blue "Feldgrau" paint, which does show some wear through around the rim and in ares. The left side of the helmet features an original Heer eagle decal, which is retained about 90%, with wear and checking, and still has a lovely color, with lots of shimmer.
The shell is stamped B.F. 64 over the left ear, indicating that F.C. Bellinger of Fulda manufactured it. This company made shells in sizes 62 and 64 during WWI for the war effort. Size 64 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. There is a rolling mill mark on the top of the helmet is covered in paint, and unfortunately not legible. The helmet still retains both of the extended ventilation side lugs, which are the correct "stepped" version for size 64 shells. This would ensure proper installation of a Stirnpanzer brow plate regardless of shell size.
The helmet has had the WWI era liner pins replaced with the WWII style, and all three are present with some original paint. The interior of the helmet still has the original M31 leather liner with all eight of its fingers intact. The liner does show some use, but overall he leather is still soft, and the original top tie strap is present. The mid war issue galvanized steel liner band does not have a size stamp, but the leather itself is marked with 55 in a circle. The other side of the liner band has a clear manufacturer's mark and date:
B. & C.
Attached to the liner is a correct chin strap, however it is in delicate condition, and has already broken about 3 inches from the right side bale.
This is a helmet that served in two world wars, and still is in such great collectible condition. This is an item that will only continue to appreciate in value over time.
History of the M16 Helmet
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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