World War II German helmet chinstraps varied
in overall construction based on the manufacturer. While many
chinstraps looked similar they did in fact exhibit subtle differences.
Regardless of the maker, each chinstrap had to conform to basic patent
characteristics regarding size and quality of materials. Even so,
slight variations existed when the final product was finished.
Chinstraps were required to be 3 cm in width with the longer segment
measuring 87 cm. The short end with the buckle was to be 22 cm in
length. The number of openings in the long strap varied between 12
and 13 in number. These openings were generally oblong in shape,
but many were round. Manufacturing requirements stated that the
chinstrap was to be finished on one side with black dye. The
quality of the dye often varied which resulted in finishes that ranged
from glossy black to matte chocolate brown. In some cases the
leather received no dye whatsoever. Many of these chinstraps are
though to have been used by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) although
some were certainly issued to the German Army (Heer) and Navy (Kriegsmarine).
The thread used to sew the buckle to the short strap could be black,
white, or tan in color. When sewn, it was often crossed in the
back for additional security before passing the stitch to the opposite
side. However, this step was not always done and many original
examples omit this feature. Despite all of these characteristics,
many collectors dispute the subtle differences found on original
examples. Collectors tend to prefer "textbook" examples for their
collections. As a result they often become wary of any
characteristic that does not seem to fit the general trend in textbook
examples. Even so, the original examples photographed below
clearly show a wide range of variation in chinstrap construction.
When examining chinstraps it is important to consider these factors
before dismissing a particular item as "reproduction." Individuals
in Eastern Europe and well as the United States have produced excellent
reproduction chinstraps. Many of these are aged in an effort to
fool the unsuspecting collector.