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WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?

Article about: I acquired this helmet several years ago in a large lot of WW1 items, mostly US Army AEF tunics and British field gear. Though I collect mostly WW2 German pieces, having always been a fan of

  1. #1

    Default WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?

    I acquired this helmet several years ago in a large lot of WW1 items, mostly US Army AEF tunics and British field gear. Though I collect mostly WW2 German pieces, having always been a fan of the original 1930 film adaption of "All Quiet On The Western Front" I was happy to add this helmet to my collection.

    The interior side of the helmet skirt is marked "B. F. 64" which denotes production by F.C. Bellinger in Fulda and the size of the shell as "64." The helmet has been painted black and been modified to accept an M31 liner. The M31 liner band is marked "57" as well as "SCHWE" which could indicate production by Schuberth-Werk K.G. in Braunschweig. Two of the three original liner split-pins are still present, the rear pin has been replaced with a brass flat-head screw and washer. The screw is tarnished, shows age and appears to have been in place for a long time. The black paint on the exterior of the shell shows honest wear from handling and the patina of both the painted and unpainted surfaces is consistent. The interior surfaces of the shell do not appear to have been painted black and remains a dark greenish brown. Paint runs can be noted on the rear skirt, this is apparently common for the "B. F." shells. The original M1891 chinstrap hooks are still intact.

    While I am very satisfied with this helmet just as it is, I would be happier knowing it was a genuine Reichswehr reissue as that aligns more closely with my interests. Though not shown in the photographs, I recently found a damaged West German M1A1 helmet liner that fit perfectly inside the intact M31 liner, though not original it "Completes" the shell and looks passable if you squint! I welcome any criticisms, opinions and thoughts willing to be shared concerning this helmet and it's past service.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  


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  3. #2

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    It’s always harder to evaluate a helmet that doesn’t feature the more regular features such as decals, liners and period recognised paint to use as a sort of checklist. My understanding is that most of the early Reichswehr helmets were initially issued with their WW1 feldgrau paint and a bit later given a new coat of feldgrau green. Some retained their Imperial liners while others were fitted with M1927 liners which were not dissimilar to the original WW1 and were the precursor to the M31 liner. Between 1923 and 1933 many had provincial shields hand applied to the left hand side. After 1933 national shields were applied and they started to look more like transitional steel helmets of the Third Reich.

    With all of that being said, your shell does not look to be in a Reichswehr configuration with its coat of black paint. However, it is still interesting to study and nice to see what looks like some of the original WW1 felgrau peeking through or is it a transitional period green? Would like to see the colour of the paint inside and closeups of the green underneath the black. You are correct about BF manufactured helmets and paint run for which they are quite well known and are usually found running from the top and down the sides on the exterior. It’s does appear to be Schuberth liner band made by Schubert - Werk AG / Gmbh / K.G. – Braunschweig. Appears to be an aluminium reinforced band so potentially put in place anywhere between 1938 and 1943, but likely later than 1940 given the round cornered D-Rings.

    This all points towards this one potentially having been reissued as a transitional helmet at some point, but prior to that and after, i.e. later war, who knows what it looked like? Can you see a sign of decals on the sides under the paint? Having said that, it may have sat out the war and been painted black for civil use or civil use during the war as the black paint does appear to have age to it. As always, photos are very important, so if you could provide some photos taken outside in natural light (not too bright) that would greatly assist to see if there are any more clues to the past life if this example.

    Andy

  4. #3

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    Andy, thank you for your concise and thoughtful response; I will add more photographs tomorrow weather permitting!

    I cannot detect the presence of any decals or signs that any had been previously removed, it strongly appears that the coat of black paint was applied on the "clean" shell. I think your notion about civil usage is keen and probably the most likely possibility. Maybe Luftschutz or Feuerschutz service? While I have seen photographs of a variety of foreign helmets employed this way, I have not seen any evidence of WW1 era German helmets pushed into service. However, I have seen photographs of Heer soldiers wearing M16s later in the War than you would imagine, I will try to find a few images in my references to share. I can see very mild traces of a dark green paint on the interior of the shell, I will make sure to get good clear images of these areas. There are a few areas on the exterior that show loss of the black paint and these might reveal a few clues in sunlight too.

    Very interesting information about the liners too, I need to do more research on pre-M31 models. While I cannot rule out the Post-War addition of this Wartime production M31liner, it does appear to have been installed for a long period of time. But, the 50s and 60s weren't exactly "yesterday" and a lot has transpired since 1918 and 1945! You really have to sift through the many layers of time to get to the heart of the matter, so many hands have handled pieces like this and made changes to them as well along the way.

    Additional photographs inbound!

  5. #4

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    I’ve also seen black painted WW1 steel helmets that have been suggested to have been used by the Dutch Civil guard, so this may be another reason for the black paint. However, the M31 liner goes against this theory somewhat M16 Stahlhelm Dutch civil reissue.

    WW1 German steel were definitely used in WW2 particularly later when re-issued in single decal format and re-fitted with M31 liners. However, it has been suggested that as later stages of the war they were more often consigned to duties other than frontline fighting. I would expect to see evidence of rough feldgrau paint under the black instead of green if this was the case. Many had a single decal while some were issued without a decal or the decal painted over in thick reissued paint.

    I agree re: the liner being there a long time and I can’t imagine someone putting a good M31 zinc liner band inside the helmet just for the fun of it. To that end, it would be interstimg to see if the liner pins have any dates on them as well.

    Epic Artifacts recently sold a very similar M16 with an M31 zinc liner band and liner and painted black. You should still be able to view it in their sold inventory. They listed it as M16 Word War 2 reissue helmet.

    And FYI - below is an image of an M24/M27 liner.
    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?

  6. #5

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    The paint is all over and appears to have been done with the liner band removed (or very steady handed artist), rather than slap dash overpaint. These are only my observations and I cannot offer any reasoning behind the application of the paint, which has age as already noted. If mine I might be tempted to remove the paint from the inside to see if anything is under it but if you think it's bare metal then leave as it is and enjoy it.

  7. #6

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    Andy, I really think you are onto something with Late War "behind the lines" rear echelon or civil duties usage. That Dutch M16 really looks close in many respects, though with a different liner. I have tried to check the split-pins for markings and I could not see any on either, but that does not mean they are not there. It is a very tight spot to maneuver and I try to err on the side of caution, especially with these pins. I broke one on my first Stahlhelm "examining" it and I have approached them cautiously ever since. Will give it another look on a sunny day and see if my eyes can pick anything up better in daylight.

    Today was overcast and the sunlight diffused well, hope these photographs will give better details of the exterior and interior surfaces. I noticed that in the sunlight I could see more "drips" than I had noted previously, appearing to possibly be from an old coat of varnish. I find hard varnish on a lot of "souvenirs" brought back to the US, especially bayonets. I think the varnish could be influencing the color tone of the interior, making it appear more bronzy / golden / yellowed. I can distinctly see small patches of green paint near the right-side chinstrap hook, they are faint and appear to have been covered partially by the varnish. I also can't rule out the varnish is not creating this "ghost tone" from age and reaction to the rusty steel underneath. No traces of black paint can be noticed on the interior. There is also a strange "ring" shape present, it looks like it could possibly be a water reticulation stain.

    The exterior paint shows a variety of wear marks that appear to be both old and new. Some of the exposed areas show steel that is still mostly gray in color, while seemingly older areas of loss are a darker red tone you would associate with exposure and age. There are a few blemishes that appear to be underneath the coat of black paint. Fine white paint spots can be detected on the "top" of the peak. Also of interest, there are discernable traces of green paint just above the peak as well as a small scuff near the right-side domed chinstrap rivet that reveals paint of the same color. The shade of green appears to be a commercial tone as it's very bright. While the green paint seen above the peak appears to be exposed under the black coat, however the green paint rests on top of scuff near the chinstrap.
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

  8. #7

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    Forgot to mention that I could see no signs of decals underneath the black paint. Also no signs of "forceful removal" either. Hope these photographs help!
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  


  9. #8

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    I was thumbing through my copy of "Belt buckles & Brocades Of The Third Reich" by John Angolia and happened upon this image of RLB recruits wearing WW1 era Stahlhelms. It's tough to say for certain but there do not appear to be any visible decals present on the helmets. No exact date is given but it looks like mid-to-late 30s to my eyes.

    I know Angolia's book on SS insignia gets a lot of flak (Ha!) but I own many of his references, including the SS insignia book, and have always found them interesting if not informative. Hindsight is always 20/20 and a picture is worth 1000 words!
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?   WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?  

  10. #9

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    Quote by komet45 View Post
    Andy, I really think you are onto something with Late War "behind the lines" rear echelon or civil duties usage. That Dutch M16 really looks close in many respects, though with a different liner. I have tried to check the split-pins for markings and I could not see any on either, but that does not mean they are not there. It is a very tight spot to maneuver and I try to err on the side of caution, especially with these pins. I broke one on my first Stahlhelm "examining" it and I have approached them cautiously ever since. Will give it another look on a sunny day and see if my eyes can pick anything up better in daylight.

    Today was overcast and the sunlight diffused well, hope these photographs will give better details of the exterior and interior surfaces. I noticed that in the sunlight I could see more "drips" than I had noted previously, appearing to possibly be from an old coat of varnish. I find hard varnish on a lot of "souvenirs" brought back to the US, especially bayonets. I think the varnish could be influencing the color tone of the interior, making it appear more bronzy / golden / yellowed. I can distinctly see small patches of green paint near the right-side chinstrap hook, they are faint and appear to have been covered partially by the varnish. I also can't rule out the varnish is not creating this "ghost tone" from age and reaction to the rusty steel underneath. No traces of black paint can be noticed on the interior. There is also a strange "ring" shape present, it looks like it could possibly be a water reticulation stain.

    The exterior paint shows a variety of wear marks that appear to be both old and new. Some of the exposed areas show steel that is still mostly gray in color, while seemingly older areas of loss are a darker red tone you would associate with exposure and age. There are a few blemishes that appear to be underneath the coat of black paint. Fine white paint spots can be detected on the "top" of the peak. Also of interest, there are discernable traces of green paint just above the peak as well as a small scuff near the right-side domed chinstrap rivet that reveals paint of the same color. The shade of green appears to be a commercial tone as it's very bright. While the green paint seen above the peak appears to be exposed under the black coat, however the green paint rests on top of scuff near the chinstrap.
    Thanks for these additional photos - they’re good and the conditions looked to be perfect. Overcast days throw a lot of light around but take away the shadows. The interior is in much more of a relic condition that I had thought particularly with the wear to the chinstrap attachment posts. The green that can be seen to my eyes looks like an Imperial German feldgrau and as you say, appears to have a lacquer or some other protective coat applied post war. Never seen BF paint runs inside a shell but they normally have liners or I’ve never notice. Below is a good example of some BF paint runs.
    WW1 Imperial German M16 Stahlhelm Helmet Interwar Period Reichswehr Reissue?

  11. #10

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    Quote by komet45 View Post
    Forgot to mention that I could see no signs of decals underneath the black paint. Also no signs of "forceful removal" either. Hope these photographs help!
    The green in the last two photos looks like WW1 feldgrau in my opinion. I can also see spots of that turquoise type green which appears to be some type of non war related colour. And you often see white specs on helmets from sitting in garages etc over the years. I think the white specs often just stand out better and particularly on black paint. Not sure what’s going on with the black paint in certain areas as it looks like it’s been near a heat source or something similar.

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