diagrams by Professor Schwerd the designer of the helmet and its
subsequent World War II varieties.
|The World War II German
combat helmet has a history which is tied to its World War I
predecessor; the leather spike-topped helmets of the early years of
the Great War. The familiar spiked-topped helmet was replaced in 1916
with a new steel helmet (stahlhelm) designated the M1916 for the year
of its introduction. This steel helmet was developed in response to
the French Army's distribution of the early Adrian model helmets which
were in fact the first wartime steel helmets ever issued by a 20th
Century army. The M16 helmet went through several modifications
during World War I resulting in the M1917 and M1918 model helmets.
All three helmets were similar in overall appearance except for their
internal liner systems and chinstrap arrangements. This included
an M1918 model with 'ear cut-outs' that provided for better hearing
when in the trenches or when riding on horses. The helmet was
also used in limited fashion by field telephone operators which gave
it the nickname 'telephone operator's helmet'.
During the 1920's and 30's, the German
government began to redesign the World War I steel helmet in an effort
to improve its look and function. The vast majority of World War I
model steel helmets were destroyed under the terms of the Versailles
Treaty. Some helmet remained in active service to meet Germany's
small military needs. As a result of significant shortages, the M1917
was remanufactured and introduced as a specially patented
'transitional' model for parade and general use. The remaining stocks
of wartime manufactured M1916, M1917, and M1918 helmets were
reconditioned for military and police use before the National
Socialists came to power in 1933.
In 1935 the military approved a new
combat stahlhelm known as the M1935. The M1935 was similar in basic
appearance to the old M1917 but was lighter, more functional, and
significantly updated. The M1935 helmet evolved several times
throughout World War II based on wartime production needs. Each
modification resulted in a slightly newer variation although each held
the same basic design. At least three models were manufactured
exclusively for combat; the M1935, M1940, and M1942. Each helmet was
designated by its year of introduction1.
All three versions of this helmet were worn throughout World War II.
In the United Kingdom the M1942 helmet is often referred to as the
M1943 based on the year of its distribution.
Each section of German-Helmets.com
is divided into separate Information Tracks that outline important
details, facts, and historical notes pertaining to steel helmets used by
the German Armed Forces during World War II.
Information Tracks are organized by
subject matter and their content is directly related to the service arm or
organization to which each topic is related. Topic areas that bridge
one subject matter to another are cross linked within each Information
This Information Track provides historical
facts pertaining to helmet history 1933-1945. Individual
links related to this subject are outlined below.