Danish M23/38

Danish soldiers on a field exercise*

General Information: The Danish Model 1923 is the most unique, and to some, the strangest looking combat helmet of the Second World War. No other country used a helmet like this. All of the M23 helmets were fitted with a Danish national coat of arms made of oxidized brass. The ostensible reason for the badge, apparently, was to differentiate between Danish helmets and those of other countries[1], even though the singular design of the M23s would seem to make this additional distinguishing element redundant. The liner and chinstrap systems on the M23 went through several changes. Eventually, the Model 1928 liner and Model 1928 chinstrap became the standard. The M23s have a slot in the back which was used to attach the helmet to a rucksack when the soldier was on the march. The earliest M23s had air vents in the back.

One defect of the M23s was that the smooth paint became reflective after a period of use. To address this deficiency, brown sand textured paint was applied to later production runs. These helmets with sand textured paint were referred to as the M23/38[2], although modern collectors tend refer to both early and later models as the M23.

One feature of the Danish M23s that is unique among production helmets of the Second World War is that each individual helmet was numbered. This number was imprinted on a small brass manufacturer’s plate attached to the liner band. The company name on the plate is “A.S. GLUD & MARSTRANDS FABRIKER.”

The Danish War Ministry decided to purchase 120,000[3], although based on the known range of plate numbers it seems that total production was 105,045.

Thanks to research made available on a collector’s forum[4], it is possible to know the date that a given helmet was delivered to an arsenal. Those date ranges are as follows:

1-11297 – 1927 (all with air vents)

11298-18156 – 1927 (some are with air vents)

18157-57404 – 1930

57406-58000 – 1930 or 1935 (uncertain)

58001-63000 – March 1935

63001-74000 – November 1935

74001-81045 – March 1940 (dark green sand mix paint introduced)

81046-102045 – December 1940

102046-105045 – February 1946

It is interesting to note from this data that production of the M23 continued after the German invasion of Denmark. It is interesting also, that there was a short production run immediately after the war.

Displayed Example: I bought this helmet from German Helmets Inc. in 2009. From the manufacturer’s plate we can see that this was helmet number 78,904. According the table above, this helmet was delivered to the arsenal in March of 1940, just prior to the German invasion the following month. It is the later M23/38 type with rough sand texture. It has the Model 1928 liner and chinstrap. Two different owner names are written on the interior.

Collector Notes: These odd and interesting helmets had one of the most limited production runs of combat helmets of the Second World War. Just over 100,000 M23s were manufactured. They can be hard to find, but they do pop up from time to time. When they are sold, the M23s tend to command modest prices. I had one of these on my table at one of the Show of Shows and Ken Niewiarowitz, of German Helmets Inc. stopped by and commented that he could not sell these things (despite the fact that that I got my specimen from him). Indeed, at the end of the show, the M23 that I had on my table remained unsold.

Be aware that Danish army M23s were reissued to police. The police helmets were painted black, or sometimes grey-brown. M23s  were also reissued to civil defense units after the war. In early 1941, a lightweight version of the M23, the Model 1941 was manufactured. These were used by paramilitary units like home guard, fire brigades, red cross personnel, auxiliary police, and other organizations.[5] Non-army, or reissued army helmets are sometimes refitted by collectors with the brass Danish coat of arms insignia and fraudulently offered for sale as original Danish army M23s. Any M23 with a “CF” stamp on the liner and/or without a brass badge is not a WWII Danish army helmet.[6]

*Mark-ski (aka). “Danish soldiers in action.” HelmNet. (private website). 2nd post. January 6, 2012. Accessed December 29, 2022.

[1] Skötte, A. 1986. pp25

[2] Skötte, A. 1986. pp9

[3] Skötte, A. 1986. pp14

[4] Jesper (aka). “Danish helmets II – M-23.” German Helmet Walhalla. March 6, 2010. https://www.ghw2.com/topic/19639-danish-helmets-ii-m-23/. Accessed December 29, 2022.

[5] Skötte, A. 1986. pp36

[6] [6] Jesper (aka). “Danish helmets II – M-23.” German Helmet Walhalla. March 6, 2010. https://www.ghw2.com/topic/19639-danish-helmets-ii-m-23/. Accessed December 29, 2022.

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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