Stahlhelm, the stages of the helmet-making process of Stahlhelms for the Imperial German Army, 1916


In both world wars, the most distinctive feature of the German army uniform was the item that became a symbol of German militarism even in the most remote corners of the world – the helmet, the Stahlhelm.

Here, a display is set up on a table outside a steel helmet factory in Lübeck, Germany, showing the various stages of the process of making helmets for Stahlhelms for the Imperial German Army.

At the beginning of World War I, no combatants were issued any form of head protection other than cloth and leather caps, designed to protect against saber cuts.
When trench warfare began, casualties suffering from serious head wounds (mostly caused by shrapnel rather than gunfire) increased dramatically on all sides. The French were the first to see the need for greater protection – in late 1915 they began issuing Adrian helmets to their soldiers. British soldiers followed with Brodie helmets. And later German.

The person responsible for the design of the German Stahlhelm was Dr. Friedrich Schward of the Technical Institute of Hanover. In early 1915, Schwerd completed a study of head wounds that were the result of trench warfare and presented a recommendation for steel helmets.

Soon afterwards he was ordered to Berlin. Schwerd then took over the design and production of suitable helmet steel. In some cases, it was an advantage for Germany to have the chance to test both the English and French types before making its own definitive decisions, given that both designs were not adequate.

The design of the full helmet consisted of three sections: the dome, the visor, and the neck guard. The dome was the main covering and was cylindrical in shape and somewhat flat at the top.

The visor extended to provide shade to the soldier and protect him from inclement weather. It also served as an open shield against fragments. The neck guard flared out below the edges, providing more protection around the neck and ear area.

The basic helmet shell is made from a steel disc and goes through at least nine stamping stages before reaching its final shape. The entire M-16 weighed 2 pounds and six ounces (1.08 kg).

The color was field green, and the metal was composed of manganese, nickel, silicon, and carbon steel, often called nickel steel. It was between .40 and 0.45 inches (1–1.15 cm) thick, and is believed to have been hot-pressed on an electrically heated die and later dipped in Japanese glaze for an anti-rust finish. Was. As a result, the unit cost of the stahelm was higher than that of the British helmet, which could be made in one piece.

Helmets were called "shells" when they were empty of any liners and straps. The M-16 shell was produced in six sizes: 60, 62, 64, 66, 68 and 70.

Shapes were engraved on the inside of all shells, and the manufacturer's identification could be found along with it. The inscription was on the left side of the skirt.

There were eight factories involved in manufacturing, therefore, there were eight different code letters. The shape of the head was never imprinted on the shell, only the shape of the bowl. It was the metal liner that offered the perfect head shape.

chin strap
All M-16 helmets were equipped with a single style chin strap. The strap was of the same type found on leather spike helmets. It consists of a strip of leather wrapped around two slide buckles and attached to each end by adding "eyes".

These were fastened with lug bolts specially installed on the inside of the neck guard. Since the straps were detachable, many straps were lost, and so replacements were usually provided.

The inside lining of the M-16 helmet provides a cushioned and glove-tight fit necessary for wearing steel headgear. It consisted of a mounting band of leather or steel that ran the length of the inner wall of the shell.

In addition to comfort and safety, the M-16 liner featured ease of replacement of fittings designed in. If the soldier felt that the supporting cushions were too hard or thick, he was free to remove some of the filling as he wished.

side lugs
   There is no other feature on the M-16 as recognizable as the side lugs. They look different and are quite impressive. The lugs served two functions. The first function was for ventilation of the helmet; And the second function was to support a heavy armored plate, called a sternpanzer.

It was thought that this armor would protect sentries and machine gunners who were more vulnerable to enemy fire than other soldiers. Generally, soldiers threw away the armor at the first opportunity, as wearing heavy armor in the trenches was of dubious value.

Helmet production began in the early spring of 1916 at the Eise Anhüttenwerk in Thale am Harz. Ten factories joined the helmet manufacturing effort and together produced 3,500 to 4,000 helmets per day. Total production at the end of the war was 8.5 million helmets.

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