The type of paint used on German helmets varied greatly in colour and texture. Many collectors have noted that no two German helmets ever appear to have exactly the same paint finish. The evolution in paint finish even over a relatively short period, and the ability to standardize colour, were complicated by several factors. Like other features, paint used on helmets was modified as a result of practical experience of simulated combat manoeuvres and field situations. Many helmets underwent factory or supply depot refurbishment prior to reissue, and received different paint schemes. When paint was available in the field many helmets were repainted by the men who wore them, using whatever was to hand. The 1919 Treaty of Versailles required the confiscation and destruction of vast amounts of military equipment. Much that remained continued to bear World War I colour schemes. In 1922 the German government allocated funds to upgrade the military, which included new paint standards and colour schemes for basic equipment, vehicles, and artillery pieces. Many items - including helmets - were repainted a standard shade of light field-grey. Beginning in that year, Reichswehr officers began to file reports complaining about the painted surface of the helmet; they particularly noted that the smooth finish often gave off revealing reflections when wet, or if exposed to bright sunlight or moonlight. The Reichswehr Minister authorized an investigation into the problem, and three paint-manufacturing companies were selected to compete for a new contract. After field trials finished in October 1930, the firm of Blume in Magdeburg was selected as the new supplier of a matt finish helmet paint. Paint was also provided to military supply depots through requisitions placed by the central Procurement Office of the Wehrmacht. This paint was intended for touching-up and repainting of World War I helmets still in service; and in 1934-35 many of these transitional helmets received a second coat over their original Reichswehr finish. During these early years helmets were often repainted by hand using a paintbrush. This photo taken in 1935 shows the M1918 helmet worn with 1934 Anny Insignia. In the pre-war years helmets like this were typically repainted light field-grey In a matt finish. Following the introduction of the M1935 helmet, the firm of Duco AG in Berlin-Spindlersfeld was chosen as the primary supplier of paint. Their product had a smooth lacquer base with a heavy concentration of zinc to prevent rust; and although a matt finish continued to be thought important, factory-finished helmets often displayed a semi-gloss or ‘eggshell’ appearance. The Duco AG paint was produced in a light field grey (Feldgrau) for the Army and Navy, and in a blue-grey (Blaugrau) for the Luftwaffe. Inevitably, colours often varied slightly from one production run to another. In addition, other firms were contracted to supply paint to the helmet factories when helmet production was expanded, resulting in yet more varied nuances of shade. Large numbers of M1918 helmets were refurbished with rough-textured paint and the single decal, and many of these were issued to German infantry prior to the 1940 invasion of France. German veterans of that campaign have commented that R was not uncommon to see the older helmets in use even with front-line combat units. Colour standardisation The Supreme Commander of the Army established the standard colour for all helmets used by the Army and Navy in June 1935. This early paint scheme is often referred to as ‘apple green’ due to its unique shade of field-grey. The Navy often repainted helmets at unit level with light or dark grey colours if shipboard service was expected, but otherwise they continued to use the Army field-grey colour as their primary paint scheme. This M1935 helmet exhibits field repainting. Large blocks of textured paint have chipped away, revealing the smooth pre-war finish underneath. This type of appearance was common to helmets that saw extended use in the field. On 4 November 1935 - nearly six months after the introduction of a standard field-grey by the Army and Navy - the Luftwaffe selected blue-grey as their standard helmet colour. A darker shade blue-grey was also applied to some helmets; there has been speculation that the darker helmets were intended for wear by anti-aircraft and ground combat units, though it is possible that variations were due simply to different sub contracted paint suppliers. To create a uniform standard for the manufacture of paint, the firm of Duco AG and others registered their colours with the German government. These industrial colour standards were administered by the RAL Institute (Reichs Ausschujl fur Liefebedingungen und Giitesicherung), established in 1927 through a government commission that set out to ensure that standard colours would be used on various industrial products. This included items manufactured for the military as well as other government organizations, such as the railway and postal services. The paint standards were not very rigorously enforced, and individual manufacturers could adopt a registered colour or create their own without difficulty. By the end of 1927 approximately 40 military colours had been registered with the RAL, including many used by the Reichswehr. By May 1945 more than 120 individual registrations had been created to cover the entire scope of military paints used by the Wehrmacht. Due to the number of possible paint schemes as well as the variety of manufacturers supplying equipment, it is difficult to establish which registered colours were specifically designated for helmets. Table 7 (Above) provides a selection of ‘RAC numbers registered for use in the production of military equipment prior to May 1945; these are a representative sample of some of the colours most likely used in the production of helmet paints. This M1940 helmet displays a non-reflective textured finish common to helmets delivered after 21 March 1940. The decal insignia has chipped off as a result of the rough painted surface.