German World War I helmets

Between 1916 and 1918 the Germans produced three types of helmets. They are known today by collectors as the M16, M18, and M18 cut-out. M16 shells are often called M17s. The M17 designation is actually referring to the liner, not the shell. In 1917 the Germans changed from using a liner band made from leather to steel. The newer design also called for liner pads made from chromed leather instead of vegetable tanned leather, which held up better in the constant moister of the trenches.

It may be worth noting that there are a few slight variations on the models, such as the “duck-bill” produced by Gebrueder Bing, and J. & H. Kerkmann. The Germans never made any distinction between these types of shells. These variations were simply that, variations on the original model.

The M16 and M18 helmets are fairly similar in appearance. The major difference is the chinstrap system. The M16 utilized the old M91 Pickelhaube chinstrap which attaches directly to keyed lugs which are riveted directly to the helmet’s skirt. The M18 helmet did away with the archaic M91 chinstrap system. The new design added chinstrap bails riveted

The so called M18-cut out helmet is one of the rarest of German helmets produced in both WWI and WWII. In August of 1918 close to 100,000 of these helmet were produced by the Eisenhuttenwerke factory for field trial. These helmets are highly desired by collections, and unfortunately most on the market today are fakes. If you are considering the purchase of one of these rare helmets there are a few things you should be aware of. All M18 cut-out helmets are marked ET64. The ET64 stamp must be in gothic script. If the helmet lacks this stamp or is in any other script, the helmet is a fake. Never fall for the, “Don’t Worry, I’m sure the stamp is under the paint” line. If the seller can’t show you a gothic ET64 stamp then there is a really good chance the helmet is a fake. It is true that sometimes the stamp gets filled in with paint, but with prices ranging from $2000 for just the shell to close to $10,000 for a complete helmets, don’t risk it. The helmet should also have a heating lot number in the dome of the helmet. Almost all originals have at least 6 characters in the series. The series usually start with the letter R.

This is an original M18 cut-out
Gothic Scripted ET64 stamp in an original M18 cut-out.

All M18 cut-outs are marked on the inside of the wearer’s left scallop E.T.64. If the helmet does not have this mark, or if the mark is not exactly as seen here then it is a post-war fake

Note the smooth slope of the skirt, this detail is something that those who counterfeit these helmet have never been able to

From 1916 to 1918 there were thirteen know factories contracted to produce German helmets shells.  Almost all German helmets with a few exception are marked with a manufacture’s code on the inside of the helmet’s skirt. The table below is indicates the code and the manufacture

Maker name/City  Maker code Sizes produced
Gebrueder Bing A.G., Nuernberg G.B.N 64
F.C. Bellinger, Fulda B.F. 62,64
J. & H. Kerkmann, Ahlen/Westf K. 64
Gebrueder Gnuechtel A.G., Lauter i./Sa. G. 62
Vereinigte Deutsche Nickelwerke, Schwerte i/Westf. – N.J. N.J 62
 R. Lindenberg A.G., Remscheid-Hasten “Bell” L. a.k.a. rattle logo 64
Koerting & Mathiesen, Leutsch /Leipzig K&M 66,68
Hermann Weissenburger & Co., Stuttgart-Canstatt W. 66
C. Thiel & Soehne, Luebeck T.J. 66,68
 Eisenhuettenwerke Thale A.G., Thale /Harz E.T. 60-68
Siemens & Halske A.G., Siemenstadt Berlin superimposed S over H stamp 60
 Eisenhuette Silesia, Paruschowitz Oberschlesien Si 62,66
 F.W. Quist, Esslingen/Neckar Q 66

On the inside dome of every WWI German helmet you will find a heating lot code. These codes were used by the factories durring production. In many cases the heating lot code will indicate where the steel was milled. These steel mills are called rolling mills. I been able to document a few of the mills here. Although I have seen some variation I have noticed ET and Q marked helmets usally have steel that was milled by Stahlwerk Röchling,Volkingen, while Si marked helmets usally have steel milled by Oberschlesien,Bismarckhutte

Rolling mills Marker Code
Stahlwerk Röchling,Volkingen R
Stahlwerk Becker,Kiefeld B
Oberschlesien,Bismarckhutte Bi

Austro-Hungarian WWI Helmets

There are only 10 known factories that produced helmets during WWI for the KUK. Unlike the Germans the Austrian pattern helmet are often found without factory stamps and heating lot codes. When the heating lot codes are present it is often on the top of the helmet instead of the inside.

Maker name Factory location  Maker code Sizes produced Model
A. Westen Cilli Celie, Slovenia AW 64 M17
Brüder Gottlieb u. Brauchbar Brunn Brunn BGB 66 M17
C. A. Scholtz,Mateocz Sloeakei CAS 66 M17
Berndorfer Metal-Warenfabrik A Krupp AG Berndorf, Austria “Bear” logo 66,64 M18 “Hungarian, M17 Berndorfer, & var.
Bruder Lapp, Rottenman u. Warcholowsky Unknown ? M17
Nadrag,Transilvania Transylvania – (Kingdom of Hungary) Unknown ? M17
Resicka, Transylvania Transylvania (Kingdom of Hungary) Unknown ? M17
Bleckmann & Poldihutte Klando Boemia, Phonix Unknown x Stirmpanzer
Weiss Manfréd Acél- és Fémművek Csepel , Budapest Superimposed WM 64 M17
Warchalowski, Eissler & Co, Wien Wien, Austria “Heart” logo 68 M17
Gebruder Bohler & Co., Kapfenberg Austria, Stiria GB “Star” Logo 66 M17
Rolling mills Marker Code
Ludwikow L
Bleckmann B
Poldi P
Ludwikow marked steel
This codes shows the steel was milled by Oberschlesien Bismarckhutte

German World War II Helmets

During WWII the German helmet when through three distinct changes. The first changes came in 1940 when the vent was ordered to be stamped into the shell instead of being made from a separate grommet. The steel was also upgraded to stronger manganese-silicon steel. The last changes were ordered in July of 1942. As an economic measure the rolled edge was discontinued in favor of a flared edge. It is important to note that although the design changed during the war the older models were not considered obsolete. The Germans continued to re-work and reuse older model helmets thought out the war. There is no validity to the myth that late-war units only received M42 helmets.

M35, Produced from June 1935 to March of 1940 
M35, Produced from June 1935 to March of 1940
M40, Produced from March of 1940 to July of 1942
M40, Produced from March of 1940 to July of 1942

From 1935 to 1945 there were five know factories contracted to produce German helmets shells. Almost all German helmets with a few exception are marked with a manufacture’s code on the inside of the helmet’s skirt. The table below is indicates the code and the manufacture. There maybe at least one more factory that produced shells near the end of the war in occupied Czechoslovakia. The name of that factory at this point appear to be lost to history. Shells from this “unknown” factory are marked “qvL or bvl.

Assigned Manufacture Code Manufacture
ET, changing to Ckl in 1943 Eisenhüttenwerk AG, Thale Hartzuttenwerk AG, Thale Harz
EF Emaillerwerke AG, Fulda
*Q F.W. Quist G.m.b.H., Esslingen
SE, changing to Hkp in 1943 Sachsishe Emaillerwerke, Lauter
NS  Vereinigte Deutsche Nickelwerke AG, Schwerte
qvL Unknown
bvl Unknown

*F.W. Quist is know to have continued producing the M40 helmet well after other factories started producing the simplified M42. F.W. Quist did produce a small number of M42s but continued to produce the M40 until 1945.

M42, Produced from July of 1942 until May of 1945
M42, Produced from July of 1942 until May of 1945