German M35

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General Information: The German Model 1935 was the first of a series of three basic models of helmets used by German soldiers during the Third Reich era. During the Weimar and early Nazi era German soldiers used reissued M16/17/18 type helmets. These were good helmets, but the new design addressed certain flaws of their predecessors, in particular “hinderances to sight and hearing while sighting, shooting, and operating optical devices.”[1] The M35 retained the iconic basic shape of the First World War type, but was more compact, lacked protruding side lugs, and had an improved liner and chinstrap system.

The main features that distinguish the M35 from later versions are that it had a rolled edge and separate pieces to form the side vents. The M40 also had a rolled edge, but the side vents were pressed into the shell rather than being attached separately. The M42 had a raw, unrolled edge.

The helmet shells were mainly produced in four separate sizes: 62cm, 64cm, 66cm, and 68cm. Size 60cm and 70cm helmets were also manufactured, but in small numbers. Several companies manufactured these helmets and on the M35s the names of the manufacturers are indicated by a one or two letter abbreviations along with a two-digit size number stamped on the interior skirt section on the wearer’s left side. Each shell size accommodated different sized liners that were marked with the head size. For example, shell sizes 64cm and 66cm could accommodate liner sizes 57cm and 59cm respectively. Intermediate sized liners, like size 58cm, would be installed in a helmet shell for the next largest size – 66cm in this case. On the rear of the helmet skirt were lot numbers. These were applied to the rear of the helmet as a quality control measure for a sequence of smelting batches. The sequence was generally chronological with smaller numbers corresponding to earlier pressings. Because of this feature, the lot numbers can be used to date the manufacture of helmet by referring to published and online resources.[2][3]

The liners on the M35s were mostly mounted on aluminum bands. The bands proved to be weak at the point where the chinstrap loops were attached. To address this flaw, later production versions of the helmet were equipped with liner bands that were reinforced with an additional layer of aluminum on the sides. This is a feature that is used to date helmets (early/late) on visual inspection. The outer side of the liner bands have the name of the manufacturer and date of manufacture on one side and the shell and liner size on the other. These can be hard to read as they are between the liner band and the shell. The chinstraps also usually have a manufacturer name and date although these stampings sometimes became obliterated or illegible from use. In addition, it was common practice to shorten the long end of the chinstraps which also eliminate the manufacturer stamp.

Most of the M35s were manufactured with two decals. The Wehrmacht (army), Luftwaffe (air force), and Kriegsmarine (navy) had tricolor shields with national colors black/white/red on the right side and service branch decals on the left. The Schutzstaffel (SS) and Feldgendarmerie (field police) had Nazi party shields on the left and right sides respectively, and service branch decals on the other sides. Some of the late-production M35s were made according to new specifications issued in 1940 which eliminated the used of national color and party shield decals (Feldgendarmerie were an exception to the one-decal rule.). Reissued M35s had just one decal, or sometimes no decals. On these helmets you can often see traces of the original, issue decals under a second coat of paint.

Displayed Example: This is an early issue helmet with an unreinforced liner band which is dated 1937 and bears the stamp of the Schuberth-Werk K.G. company of Braunschweig. On the wearer’s left side, it’s stamped Q64. This marks it as a size 64cm manufactured by the Quist company. It has an interesting lot number – 100. This makes it one of the very earliest of the Quist M35s. Production for these helmets began in late 1937. [4] The liner has a dark ink stamp with the number 57 in a circle to indicate the liner size. The interior of the dome at the top bears a faint remainder of a purple ink inspection stamp from one of the main procurement offices that oversaw the military contracts. The army decal has subtle features that are unique to Quist made helmets. Chinstrap stamps, if there ever were any on this example, are not legible.

Collector Notes: German helmets were among the most prized war trophies of the American GI and soldiers brought great numbers of these helmets back home after the war. Interest in stahlhelm has continued over the years. The most popular category of helmet collecting and one of the most popular areas of militaria collecting overall is the German WWII helmet. More has been written about German WWII helmets than about any other helmet type and there are several excellent reference books to draw from (see References section).

With great interest comes high prices, and with high prices comes bountiful fraud. Some of the fake helmets are extremely good and even top authorities on the subject have been hoodwinked by artful recreations. Before you invest significant money in any one piece, it is good to educate yourself by purchasing some reference books and joining a good online forum. It is best to buy from reputable dealers. Avoid sellers who do not offer guarantees that include the right to return the item.


* Citation pending

[1] Baer, 2001, pp115 quoted from General Army Correspondence.

[2] Niewiarowicz, 2009

[3] Ice 2013

[4] Ice 2013, pp261

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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