Original Imperial German WWI M16 Stahlhelm Helmet with Liner & Repaired Chinstrap - marked "Bell" L64

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice example of a totally original WWI German M16 Helmet, which looks to have been painted gray during the Weimar period, which we have seen before. The stamped, sheet steel construction helmet retains about 80% of this gray paint, showing wear consistent with service. This was painted over the original field gray paint, so this is visible in areas where the paint has flaked off.

Above the left ear interior of the apron of the shell has a faintly stamped manufacturer's code and size “Bell” L. 64, also called the rattle logo, which indicates manufacture by R. Lindenberg A.G. of Remscheid-Hasten, who produced shells in only size 64 during WWI. Size 64 is a medium size shell, which can accommodate size 56-67 liners. The larger size makes these harder to find and more desirable to a collector. The rolling mill mark is also visible on the dome 593. We have had several of these helmets, and they do not appear to have used rolling mill prefixes, so there is no way to tell who rolled the steel.

The helmet 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 version with a step for the smaller size 64 shell. This would ensure proper installation of a Stirnpanzer brow plate regardless of shell size.

All three liner split pins, including the correct larger rear pin, are present, and still retain most of the green paint, showing that the liner was removed when the shell was repainted. They hold in place a later pattern liner with a steel band, which replaced the earlier pattern with a leather band that would often rot out. Attached are three leather panels with two fingers on the end of each, and all three still have intact pockets behind them with padding installed.

As a real rarity, this helmet still has the original double buckle leather chinstrap, something we rarely see. It has been repaired, but even a partial chinstrap is extremely rare on these helmets.

This is a lovely example of the increasingly hard to find M16 helmet from the Great War. Comes ready to display!

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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