Original Imperial German WWI M18 Stahlhelm Helmet - Shell Size 68

Item Description

Original Item: In an amazing victory for the collecting community IMA secured an exclusive deal to purchase a major cache of totally original German World War One helmets that were us by the Imperial German army from 1916 through 1918. After the war these helmets were sold to the Finnish Army and used by the Finns through WW2 the Winter War, the Continuation War until the 1960s when they were taken out of service and put into military storage. Forty years later, in the early 2000s, all of these genuine German WW1 helmets were purchased by a Finnish dealer who, in 2014, sold them all exclusively to IMA. Therefore, the provenance of these amazing nearly 100 year-old, helmets cannot be disputed.

What is the difference between an M16, M17 and M18 helmet? There is no distinction between an M16 and M17 shell. The term M17 refers only to the liner band. M16 helmets first were produced with leather banded liners and later were produced with M17 steel banded liners. The shell remained the same during this transition. The M18 helmet shell differed from the M16 due to the chinstrap mountings. On the M16 helmet, the chinstrap mounts by means of the same M1891 post mounts as found on early and pre-war pickelhaube spiked helmets. The M18 shell eliminated these M1891 posts and the chinstrap mount was affixed directly to the metal-banded liner. (In the collecting world, there is much confusion regarding this but actually it is quite simple) Therefore, there are only these three shell models; M16, M18 and the rare M18 "ear cut out".

Every German M18 helmet will be 100% original and will have the following notable features-

• Maker’s code with size marking 68 stamped on the interior of the shell found over the wearer’s left ear. Maker’s codes vary (see chart below) and all will be genuine WW1!
• Correct original air ventilation lugs.
• Dome stamp (under the paint). On the inside dome of every WWI German helmet you will find a heating lot code, these codes were used by the steel factories during production. These steel mills were called rolling mills.
• Genuine Military issue paint (most likely Finnish), colors will vary.
• Finnish made leather liner; styles vary between traditional WW1 three-pad type and post war Finnish style.
• A chinstrap mounted to the liner.

Please note these are genuine military issue helmets that were used in two world wars and in military service for more than 40 years. Every helmet will be free of any major issues, but please expect paint imperfections, scratches, minor rust spots, very minor dings or dents, etc…


Helmet Shell Size 68 (liner size 60-62, US 7 ½ - US 7 ¾ )

A note on sizing- M1916 liners being a bit more primitive than the later WW2 liners, allow for a wider size tolerance. Meaning simply, bigger heads fit into smaller helmet shell sizes than their WW2 counterparts. In each pad of the liner there is a pocket into which a padded "pillow" can be inserted. As such, helmets are slightly oversize. The buyer can add or remove padding as needed. Without padding, a size 66 helmet shell can fit up to a size US 7 3/4 hat-size.

With the 100-year anniversary of world war one here (August 2014) these helmets, offered in fantastic collectible condition, are a perfect additional to any collection!

History of the M16 and M18 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 that 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.

Frequently Asked Questions about German WW1 Helmets (courtesy of German Helmets, Inc):

Question: How do you determine the size of a WW1 German helmet?

Answer: Every WW1 German helmet is marked with a maker and size mark on the inside rim next to the wearers left ear. The maker mark will be a 1, 2 or 3 letter code followed by a number 60, 62, 64, 66 or 68. That number is the size of the helmet in centimeters as measured around the inside dome at the level of the three split-pin holes. Typical markings are ET64, Q66, W66, BF64, K64 and so on. For explanation of the maker marks, refer to the maker chart at the bottom of this page.

Question: The maker and size markings are obscured on my WW1 German helmet. How can I determine the shell size?

Answer: Look at the air-vent lugs. Since they were designed to support the brow plate (which was made only in one size) the base of each of the opposing lugs must be the same distance from the other. Since helmet shells were made in different sizes, a "step" was added to smaller helmets in order to make the base of the lugs an equal distance apart. The brow plate rested on that "step" when worn with these smaller helmets. The higher that "step", the smaller the helmet shell.

Question: There are some letters/numbers stamped into the inside dome of my WWI helmet. What do they mean?

Answer: These are accountability numbers which reference specific steel batches from which the planchet came before it was die struck. Intended to aid in quality control at the factory. These numbers have no practical meaning for collectors at this point.

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