The Stahlhelm was the standard helmet used by Germany during the First and Second World Wars. The first production model of the Stahlhelm was the M1916 which featured a solid steel construction and side ports for additional protection. Inside the helmet was also a leather strap and leather padding for comfort. 

The helmet proved to be quite a reliable design and showed great promise with German troops. However, the helmet was slightly more expensive to mass-produce than Allied counterparts when it was introduced. 

On the sides of all early Stahlhelms were several decals depicting the branch of service the helmet was given to and the national colors of red, white, and black in a shield or the national flag in a shield if given to the SS. An eagle in flight holding a swastika depicted the Luftwaffe, an eagle at rest holding a swastika depicted the Wehrmacht, two lightning bolts were for the SS, and the Kriegsmarine had the same as the Wehrmacht except that the Eagle was gold colored.


The first variant of the original 1916 Stahlhelm were the models M1917 and M1918 which were similar in appearance to the original M1916 yet had several modifications made to the interior lining and leather.[1] The next variant, not including the short-lived M1933 model, was the M1935 which had many of the obsolete World War I modifications removed such as the additional frontal armor attached via the side ports. Though these were technically retained but functioned better as ventilator holes. The M1935 also had the visor shortened for a more mobile helmet for German forces. In 1940, the helmet was simplified to create the M1940 model. Although it should be noted that officially there was no M1940 designation, but rather this is an identification for historians.
Wehrmacht Stahlhelm Insignias

The standard insignias for the Wehrmacht stahlhelm

Produced alongside the M1940/M1935s was the M1935 Fallshirmjäger modification which had most of the main features of the original helmet removed so that it would not produce drag when the wearer parachuted.

Also produced at this time was the Luftshultz model which was assigned to Luftwaffe ground troops. This model had a different helmet liner to the original and had a larger neck guard.[2] Although later on the metal strip protrusion was removed to be lighter. The M1942 was a far more cost-productive version of the M1935 and featured most of the standard protrusions and even the rolled metal edge of the helmet were removed. 


The Stahlhelm was developed in 1915 by Dr. Friedrich Schwerd as a response to the World War I French distribution of Adrian helmets which were far better than any other deployed on the battlefield at the time because they were the first to be constructed out of steel. The helmet quickly caught on with German troops and was adopted as the standard helmet for the armed forces and even police forces. The helmet design stayed and was then adopted again in World War II where it was modified (M35, 40, 42) and produced throughout the war. The Stahlhelm was designed to resemble the sallet helmet, a type of war helmet worn by German, Italian, Hungary, and a few other northern and western European countries during the 15th century. 


  2. Tubbs. R. Floyd and Clawon, Robert. Stahlhelm:Evolution of the German Steel Helmet. Kent State University Press (2000), Page 51

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