Original Imperial German WWI M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Shell with Camouflage Paint & Battle Damage - marked B.F 62.
Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice example of a totally original WWI German M16 Helmet shell, with a very nice "paneled" camouflage paint scheme. This was a very popular type of camouflage used on both sides of WWI. The stamped, sheet steel construction, helmet shell retains about 50% of its original hand painted camouflage paint. The original paint color is visible in many places where the camouflage paint has worn. The top however is missing some paint around a battle damage hole in the top, which also has cracks running away from each side. We're not sure how this hole was made, but it does not appear to be from a bullet. It also looks to be punched out from the INSIDE of the helmet. Definitely worth a look!
The helmet shell still has both the dome headed chinstrap retaining rivets, which holed the interior pickelhaube style chin strap lugs in place. It also retains both of the extended ventilation side lugs, which are the correct longer version for size 62 shells. This would ensure proper installation of a Stirnpanzer brow plate regardless of shell size. The liner, liner pins and chinstrap are unfortunately absent.
The shell is stamped B.F. 62 indicating that F.C. Bellinger of Fulda manufactured it. This company made shells in sizes 62 and 64 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. There is a rolling mill mark on the top of the helmet, but unfortunately due to oxidation the it is not entirely legible.
This helmet, offered in relic collectible condition makes an eye catching and affordable addition to any Great War collection. Ready to display!
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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