The First World War was one of the most destructive conflicts in human history. From its chaotic beginnings in the late summer of 1914 until its conclusion on 11 November 1918, the Great War left a legacy which lasted for generations. This was even evident in the equipment issued to soldiers. The conflict changed the way wars were fought and this was reflected in the protective kit used by soldiers.
The German Army entered WW1 with little in the way of personal protective equipment. The standard issue Pickelhaube helmet did little to protect wearers against projectiles and shrapnel. It was not long before the German Army introduced the distinctive M16 steel 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. It’s design featured 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. There were lugs on the side of the helmet to enable thicker armour plates to be attached. The M16 soon became standard issue and was made even more effective by being painted in a camouflage pattern.
Although the new helmet design was a major improvement, soldiers were still highly vulnerable to shrapnel and projectiles striking their vital organs. In order to counteract this, the German Army developed articulated body armour made from a mix of nickel and silicon. The armour was designed to fit over a soldier’s uniform and provide protection to the chest, abdomen and groin. The vests consisted of a single main chest plate with three smaller articulated plates beneath it for flexibility. Although the armour gave protection against pistol rounds and low-velocity shrapnel, it was not thick enough to withstand rifle fire. In addition to this, the armour was too heavy to be used extensively by assault units. The vests were mainly used by soldiers in static positions such as snipers and machine gunners. In all, the German Army issued nearly half a million armoured vests throughout the course of the war. Notwithstanding its heavy weight, it was still a valued part of the soldiers’ protective kit. Our reproductions are highly accurate in both size, colour and finish to their original WW1 counterparts and are of high quality. We highly recommend them to any WW1 enthusiasts.
With the advent of chemical weapons, the need to provide soldiers with protection against gas became evident. Armies on both sides quickly developed various gas masks and accessories. The German Army adopted the M15 gas mask in 1915. They were made from a grey suede material, with clear plastic eye pieces and metal reinforcements on the inside. Protection from gas was provided by replaceable metal filters. The masks were stored in the M1916 Gas Mask Canister when not in use. Made from tough metal, the canisters were large enough to fit a mask and a filter and had a compartment for spare lenses. The canisters had a strap to allow a soldier to easily access the gas mask in an emergency. Later in the war, the canisters were painted in the German standard 3 colour camouflage. We’re excited to announce that we now stock hand-painted reproductions of these special camouflage gas mask canisters and they are available on our website.
These are just a few of the many WW1 items we stock. We highly recommend you browse the full range on our website. We’re confident we’ve got just what you’re looking for.