Original Imperial German WWI M16 KIA Shot Through Helmet with Liner & Chinstrap - marked G.62

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is an amazing example of a totally original WWI German M16 Helmet, which was "Shot Through" long ago, almost certainly killing the wearer if it was on their head at the time. It was then left on the battlefield for a while, which resulted in some deterioration of the liner and staining on the inside. It was not left there for long, which is why we can offer it in such wonderful condition.

The stamped, sheet steel construction, helmet retains a good amount of the original olive green paint on the exterior, standard for German WWI Helmets. The helmet shell still has both the dome headed chinstrap retaining rivets, which hold the interior pickelhaube style chin strap lugs in place. It also retains both of the extended ventilation side lugs, which are the correct longer step version for size 62 shells. This would ensure proper installation of a Stirnpanzer brow plate regardless of shell size.

The helmet also still has an original leather chin strap, with both of the alloy loops that attach to the lugs inside. The leather unfortunately broke, possibly when it was damaged, and was then tied together in front of the helmet. Since then the leather has shrunken and degraded quite a bit, so it definitely was tied together long ago. Both buckles are still on the chin strap though, a real rarity.

Thefront of the helmet has a bullet hole just above the forehead area, which definitely came from the front of the helmet. The steel is bent inwards, and it looks like some of it may be missing. The projectile also went through front liner panel and the padding behind it. We do not see any other dents or cracks, so it not go out the other side. Close inspection of the paint, style and aging of the edges lead us to be very confident that this totally 100% genuine. It looks to be most likely from standard small arms fire, most likely the .30" rifle bullets common at the time.

The shell is stamped G. 62 over the left ear, indicating that it was manufactured by Gebrüder Gnüchtel A.G., located at Lauter in Saxony, Germany. This company made shells in sizes 62 ONLY for the war effort. Size 62 is a smaller size that can accommodate liners from 54cm to 56cm or US 6 3/4 to 7. Unfortunately the paint on the inside of the helmet is thick, which along with the staining has made the rolling mill marking impossible to see.

The original liner is present, and still has the complete early war leather band, held in place by the three split pins. These look to be original, with original paint on them, and the rear pin is the correct thicker version. Though the leather is quite stiff and degraded, the liner is almost entirely complete, except for the bullet hole, with all three pads still mostly intact. Most of the helmets that we see are missing the liners completely or have only remnants, so finding a liner this complete is a real rarity.

With the recent 100-year anniversary of the close of world war one, this helmet, offered in great collectible condition, is a perfect addition to any Great War collection.

History of the M16

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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