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The M1918 Helmet

Discussion in 'German WWII Uniforms and Equipment' started by Jim, Sep 19, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    The German Steel Helmet (Stahlhelm) is one of the most notable of all pieces of 20th century military equipment, its distinctive appearance recognized throughout the world. Apart from Germany herself some 25 other countries have used the helmet, or one patterned after its characteristics. Produced from blueprints drafted with the assistance of the original designer of the M1916 'trench helmet', the updated World War II model was lighter and more compact than its World War I predecessors. At the time of its development the helmet reflected a state-of-the-art appearance at the forefront of military design; yet its shape still retained a faint echo of the medieval salade or salkt. This distant visual descendant of the headgear of 15th century German knights and foot soldiers would be used in all theatres of operations, from the North African desert to the steppes of central Russia. With an ever-increasing emphasis on mobile warfare, an improved design for the combat helmet was necessary to meet the needs of a mechanized army. Although designed primarily with the German Anny (Heer) in mind, the helmet was quickly integrated into all branches of the armed forces (Wehrmacht). In the Navy (Kriegsmarine) the helmet found practical use among the many land-based units that supported sea operations - marine infantry, artillery and replacement and training troops, and particularly the crews of anti-aircraft (Flak) batteries and coastal artillery fortifications. Seamen serving aboard a variety of surface vessels also used the steel helmet.

    A Reichswehr artilleryman wears the M1918 helmet with a hand painted shield insignia in the white and green provincial colours (Landesfarben) of Saxony. The portrait was taken in Dresden between 14 March 1933 and 17 February 1934. The helmet is a large size 66cm shell with a standard 'carbine clip' chinstrap.

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    The same helmet was issued to men of the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) for a variety of duties, ranging from basic training, sentry duty and ceremonial parades to front line combat. Apart from the very significant Luftwaffe anti-aircraft branch (whose heavy 8.8cm units doubled as anti-tank artillery on several fronts), the Air Force also provided a number of field formations for ground combat, the most celebrated being the 'Hermann Goring' armoured division? From the outset, the helmet's basic design was intended to fulfil the whole range of requirements identified by a modern military organization; and a cutdown version of the standard helmet was even the origin for the design developed to meet the special needs of the growing parachute units (Fallschirmjager)
     

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