WW1 German Helmets

WW1 German Helmets

WW1 marked a significant step in Helmets for the German Army, with the move from the elaborate Pickelhaube to the efficient Stahlhelm taking place. Here’s some more details about some of the WW1 German Helmets we have on offer.

Otto von Bismarck in his iconic Pickelhaube.
Otto von Bismarck in his iconic Pickelhaube.

The Pickelhaube is one of the most iconic pieces of Uniform from history, and the starting point for our WW1 German Helmets discussion. They were used by German forces in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, after their original design in the 1840s. The name translates loosely to “Pick/Pickaxe Headgear”. Often the spike on top would be detached when serving at the front. They were still in use at the beginning of the Great War but were slowly phased out due to the shortage of leather and practicality of design being reduced to all but ceremonial function by the end of the war.

Most of our reproductions are made from hardened leather to give the glossy finish and trimmed in gold coloured metal. However, some of the alternative designs are slightly different. Some of them are finished with a silver coloured metal instead, and another has silver coloured metal in place of the black leather. They are all individually hand made and have an individual craftsman’s finish rather than a mass produced, machine made feel and look.

The Stahlhelm of WW1 is also a key part of one of the most famous pieces of propaganda of the era.
The Stahlhelm of WW1 is also a key part of one of the most famous pieces of WW2 propaganda.

With the coming of WW1, the German Army moved towards a new design of Helmet. The Stahlhelm, or ‘Steel Helmet’, offered better protection on the battlefield. Specifically, the Helmet was required to suit the increasing focus on Trench Warfare. Beginning with the M16, the Helmet has a design which is very similar to their WW2 counterparts. A rounded steel shell is finished with a short visor, with the back of the helmet covering the back of the head and some of the neck. The lugs on the side of the helmet are noticeably pronounced, which is one of the key differences between WW1 German Helmets and their WW2 counterparts. We spent a lot of time developing these helmets to get well made and accurate reproductions. They also have a liner, made from a light brown leather, and the shell is painted in a WW1 grey.

The M17 model took the form of a slight re-design of the M16 helmet, but with some wartime economisations made to the liner. For the rest of the helmet, it shares an almost identical design, with the familiar shape, lugs, and chinstrap of its predecessor. After this the M18 model was developed from the earlier M16 and M17 models and included a new two-piece leather chin strap, which is attached directly to the helmet liner rather than the shell. We also have some custom designs, including 2 and 3 colour camo patterns, and the Skull and Grenades design used by German Stormtroopers as well as a similar design for the German Freikorps.

We are always looking at new designs and coming up with new ideas. We recently took an M16 and gave it a custom paint job and added decals to create a WW1 Helmet which had been reissued for WW2. We will be looking at introducing other new products and ideas in the future, so watch this space!

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