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Helmet net shadows: what can they tell us?

Article about: Hello everyone, My name is Geert and I have been doing reenactment for about a decade, portraying mostly British troops. A few years ago I came across this forum and found it extremely usefu

  1. #1

    Default Helmet net shadows: what can they tell us?

    Hello everyone,

    My name is Geert and I have been doing reenactment for about a decade, portraying mostly British troops. A few years ago I came across this forum and found it extremely usefull for reference in order to improve the historical accuracy of my kit.

    One of the things I came across multiple times is that you can tell if a helmet net belongs to a helmet by looking at whether it has left a shadow of discoloration on the paint of the helmet. If such a shadow is present, the reasoning goes, the net must be original to the helmet.

    This brings me to my story.

    Because I don't want to risk damaging an historical artefact, and because historical helmets look too old and would need to be repainted to be period accurate, which I consider blasphemy, I have been using a repainted Belgian clone fitted with a replica liner and large nut to cover the tell-tale dimple for reenactment. Since I was never really pleased with my attempt at Khaki Green No3 i used for painting it I bought an original period helmet net to camouflage my mistake. This has served me well for the past three years.

    Recently however I managed to mix a far more accurate batch of Khaki Green No3 using Mike Starmer's formula and decided to repaint my helmet. After removing the helmet net I was greeted by a shadow of the helmet net faded into the paint.

    This made me think: If such a shadow can appear in only three years time, what does this actually say about whether or not these shadows can be used as proof that a helmet net is original to a helmet? Should it still be used in such a way? This to me seems to indicate that all such a shadow can unfortunately tell us is that the helmet net has been on the helmet for at least 3 years.

    Now, if a helmet comes to you from a reputable source, this should not be a problem, but we all know there are far too many unscrupulous sellers out there who would love to scam us out of our money. This is why I decided to post about this, as a warning to not always trust the way things look, but to make sure you are not being scammed.

    Kind regards, Geert.

    P.S. Attached a picture of my helmet bearing the helmet net shadow.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Helmet net shadows: what can they tell us?  

  2. #2
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    It is a good point that you raise, I can faintly see where you mean on your helmet.
    Have you wiped the helmet with a damp rag to make sure it is not dust?

    For me I always like to see a ghosting of a net on an netted helmet,plus also the way the net sits on the helmet too, after so many years on it. Corresponding rust marks bleeding onto the net are also a good sign.
    It is just a few little things you have to rely on, the only things really to make sure as much as you can that the net is original to the helmet.
    Maybe using just the net ghosting is not enough.

  3. #3

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    Yes I have wiped the helmet off. In fact, I even washed it to de-grease it for painting, and the markings were still there.

    But looking for matching rust spots like you say is exactly one of the ways you can make sure you are not as easily fooled by first impressions. I don't know if there is a sure fire way to definitively prove a net has been on a helmet since the war though.

    On the other hand, if it has been on there for a long time, and both the helmet and net are absolutely genuine, does it matter whether it was put on there in 1945 or in 1955?

  4. #4
    SMP
    SMP is offline
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    I suspect it has a lot to do with the fact that you repainted the helmet. Manufacturers of car covers state quite firmly that they must not be used if a car has been re-sprayed in the last 6 months. Paint needs time to harden.

  5. #5

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    That is a good point. However, I had actually painted that helmet about 8 years ago, so roughly 5 years before I put the net on there. So I don't think that the paint not being fully hardened could have caused those markings to appear in the 3 years since it has been on there.

    But it does point out that those markings could be faked by scammers in such a way, which I hadn't thought of.

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