This German World War II helmet was simply called the Stahlhelm. "Stahlhelm" is a German word that means "steel helmet". It was derived from a helmet design first introduced into regular service during World War I in early 1916. Changes to the helmet design were made after World War I, and by World War II three main versions of this helmet were worn.
The first version was introduced before World War II, in 1935. Often referred to as the M1935, it was made by pressing sheets of molybdenum steel in several stages. It had ventilator holes that were set in hollow fittings mounted to the helmet's shell. The edges of the shell were rolled over, creating a smooth edge along the helmet. It also had a new leather suspension, or liner, that was incorporated to improve the helmet's safety, adjustability, and comfort for each wearer. These improvements made the new M1935 helmet lighter, more compact, and more comfortable to wear than the previous designs. The German armed forces officially accepted the new helmet on June 25, 1935 and it was intended to replace all other helmets in service.
The second version was introduced in 1940. It was a modification of the M1935 to simplify its construction. The manufacturing process of the helmet incorporated more automated stamping methods. The principal change was to stamp the ventilator hole mounts directly onto the shell, rather than utilizing separate fittings. In other respects, the M1940 helmet was identical to the M1935. The Germans still referred to the M1940 as the M1935, while the M1940 designation was given to this version by collectors after the war.
The third version was introduced in 1942. This design was a result of continuing wartime demands. The rolled edge on the helmet shell was eliminated, creating an unfinished edge along the rim. The elimination of the rolled edge expedited the manufacturing process and reduced the amount of metal used in each helmet. Manufacturing flaws were also observed in M1942 helmets made late in the war.
The three helmet types were painted in several different colors or camouflage patterns as the war progressed. The colors varied from traditional grey to a dark yellow shade, and even to white for winter camouflage. Other markings sometimes included decals or insignia for the various branches of the German armed forces. These were often applied to the sides of the Stahlhelm during the war. However, on August 28th 1943, the helmet factories were ordered to stop applying these decals. By halting the application of all decals, these factories could save time and money, thus simplifying production at a time when the war was already turning against Germany.
At the end of the war, many of these helmets were brought back to the United States by victorious American soldiers. Later, such helmets were bought and sold by collectors, or added to the collection of many museums. Our helmet appears to be a Model 1942 Stahlhelm. It has one decal of the type that was placed on helmets used by the German Army.
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