German-Helmets.com  - The Online Reference Guide to World War II German Helmets 1933-1945

    Collector Topics: Camouflage - Wire Comparison Photos

A great amount of debate exists among collectors regarding what type of wire was actually used during the World War II time period.  So diverse are the opinions on "chicken wire" that many collectors dismiss any helmet with wire as instantly being a "fake" without second thought.  However, it is clear that wire was used on some German helmets.  Wartime photos as well as authenticated helmets exist that bear this point out. 

Examination of original vs. modern wire indicates various differences (and similarities) with wire that was used between 1935 and 1945.  The opinions of collectors can generally be grouped into three categories regarding wartime wire:

1) All types of wire were used and there is no science behind looking at the twists or the gage of the wire;

2) Only European wire was used and it differs from modern and North American wire types; and

3) Any wire must be completely rusted into a helmet shell if it is truly an original.

Some of the concepts noted above are in fact based on lack of experience and collector "myths" which lead people to think one way or the other regarding helmets with wire covers.  The photos below depict modern wire originating from both European and North American sources.  The differences in gage and type of wire twist can clearly be seen.  Generally speaking, European wire has a continuous twist pattern while North American wire reverses the twist midway.  While it may be difficult to distinguish an original wire helmet from a fake, collectors can use the following points with some level of accuracy:

  • The number of original wire camouflage helmets is very small.  Most for sale today are in fact reproductions both old and new.  Despite the controversy, the wire used can be identified as original or modern if examined closely.

  • Fraud artists use both North American and modern European "chicken wire" of multiple gages and hex sizes when crafting a helmet.  Some on both continents have taken to the practice of plucking old wire from farms and fields in order to ensure that they are getting original wire of the proper type for use on counterfeit helmets.

  • Wire does not have to be completely rusted into a shell in order for it to be original.  While most of the helmets that look that way are in fact original, some authentic helmets exist that utilized zinc plated wire that does not rust.

  • Wartime era wire was manufactured in multiple gages and hex sizes.  Most wire was zinc plated to prevent it from rusting.  However, some wire was not zinc plated.

  • Wartime wire is generally hard and brittle with age.  However, if a helmet has been kept in good condition the wire is likely to have flex (or be bendable).

The photos below are grouped by European and North American classifications.  All of the wire shown is modern despite the fact that some has naturally aged.  The first two European wires are identical to wartime produced wire and would be hard to distinguish from original when examined closely.

Camouflage Main Camouflage Gallery Camouflage Paint Cloth Covers Helmet Netting Wire Configurations

Modern European Wire

Modern North American Wire

   

   
Aged Natural "Five Twist" Wire - Large Hex Aged Natural "Reverse Twist" Wire - Large Hex
   

   

Zinc Plated "Five Twist" Wire - Small Hex

Aged Galvanized "Reverse Twist" Wire - Small Hex
   

 

   
Galvanized "Three Twist" Wire - Small Hex  
 
 
Original Wartime Zinc Plated "Five Twist" Wire - Small Hex
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