German M40

Wehrmacht soldier in Russia*

General Information: The German “Model 1940” is a collector term to describe a wartime modified version of the Model 1935. In March of 1940 the German Army issued a bulletin that mandated “helmets of the army will receive a coating of slate-grey paint, the exterior of which will be slightly roughened.” In addition, the bulletin mandated the elimination of the national color shield for Heer (army), Luftwaffe (air force) and Kriegsmarine (navy) helmets. The national shield (with swastika), was also eliminated from SS helmets, but was retained for Feldgendarmarie (field police). At approximately the same time, the Army High Command issued an order requiring a change in the air vent from an inserted bushing to stamped hole with a ridge.[1] Commensurate with these changes was a shift from aluminum liner bands to zinc coated steel bands. This was presumably to conserve aluminum and/or to add strength. The practice of putting ink inspection stamps in the interior dome of the helmets continued, but starting in 1940 these were not dated.[2]

Displayed Example: I bought this nice specimen from German Helmets, Inc. The helmet bares the manufacturer code “SE” which stands for Sachsische Emailler und Stanzwerke A.G. which was located in the city of Lauter, Saxony.[3] It is a size 64, which is the most common size. The lot number is 22036 which places its date of manufacture as 1941.[4] The chinstrap is nicely embossed, “Wilhelm Eilers Jr. Bielefeld 1941.” The original owner wrote his name in the liner. The liner band is the zinc type typically seen on M40s. The decal is a gold toned Heer type. As the Heer decals age, they sometimes take on a golden tone and can be mistake for gold colored Kriegsmarine decals.

Collector Notes: The M40 was the most common helmet of the German soldier in the Second World War. Millions of these were manufacture and great numbers are circulating in collector markets. M40s are still surfacing from time to time from attics. They are not scarce, but because of the great popularity among collectors, they can fetch high prices. There is a tremendous amount of fakery in this field, some of it good enough to fool experts. Be especially careful before laying out significant funds for this type.

My father was one of the first people in the United States to own a German M40. In 1943 the Boy Scouts rewarded his troop for a successful war materials drive by giving the boys captured equipment from the North African campaign. They brought a dump truck to his Boy Scout location and pulled a lever, spilling the contents to the ground. My dad picked out a German M40, an Italian M33, a German gas mask, and some other booty.


[1] Baer. 2001. pp.133.

[2] Niewiarowicz. 2009. pp.71

[3] Niewiarowicz. 2009. pp.453

[4] Ice. 2013.

*Russland-Mitte, Soldaten der französische Legion. Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-141-1292-09,(-). Accessed 3_27_2022.

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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