Original German WWII Texture Painted M42 Army Heer No Decal Size 66 Helmet with 57cm Liner & Chinstrap - Rare Unknown Maker “vL”
Original Item: Only One Available. Now this is an incredible, late war example of an M42 Stahlhelm. The helmet is stamped on the rear skirt with “vl 6” which would normally read as “qvl” but these were so often mis stamped that no one is sure on what it really is. A number of M42 helmets have been discovered with the manufacture marks of “qvL, bvl, and bvL”. There is no conclusive evidence as to which firm made these helmets. It appears that these three different marks are all from the same maker. It may be that the “b” is actually an upside down “q”. Complicating matters, a few of these helmets are found missing the first letter all together like this one, and is thought to be a factory error. Original helmets with these markings are found to be painted rough textured slate gray and lack decals, also like this helmet. These would seem to indicate they were made after the decal drop order of 28 August 1943. The helmet’s components are typically dated 1943 or 44 which further confirms late 1943-44 production.
This is a very nice all original example of a German Model 42 Steel helmet, as issued to the Wehrmacht Heer (army). This stamped sheet steel construction helmet retains about 70% of its original textured paint, with overall wear and oxidation consistent with use in service.
There are some areas where the paint was scuffed or scraped down to the steel, and this helmet also never had a decal applied. This is not uncommon with late war helmets, as sometimes there were no decals available, and the factories needed to make helmets as fast as they could.
Later in the war, the maker mark would be moved to the rear of the helmet like this one, which is vL6 / 57. The shell was measured (and confirmed via liner) that the helmet is a size 64. 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.
All three original liner retaining pins are intact and have much of the original paint on the ends, with some wear from service. The interior of the helmet still has an original very good M31 leather liner with all eight fingers in decent condition with slight tearing and cracking present. It still has the top tie strap installed, and has a fantastic brown color to the supple leather. The side of the galvanized steel liner band is marked 64 n.A. / 57, indicating that this is a size 58 liner for a size 66 shell. It is also RBNr marked and dated on the other side:
This indicates production by the metal and leather working company Werner Zahn, based in Berlin - Charlottenburg, in the year 1944, which fits right into the late war period.
The attached chin strap is in good condition, showing age and wear, but still having supple leather without any major tears. It has the correct steel hardware, and fits the helmet beautifully.
Overall a great late-war M42 "No Decal" Heer Army helmet, with everything completely correct! M42 helmets of this quality are always the hardest 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.
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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