Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Review of
Wehrmacht Combat Helmets 1933-45
By Brian C Bell and Kevin Lyles
Osprey Publishing (
ISBN 9781841767253
RRP GBP £11.99

One of the most famous icons of the German forces in World War 2 was the Stahlhelm or steel helmet (herein after referred to as the “helmet”). It was originally introduced into the German forces in World War 1 and became notorious during World War 2.

The various models used during 1933-45 were produced in the millions and the design was so good that it was copied and / or used by many other nations. They are highly collectable but they are also expensive so it is important for the collector to be able to identify genuine wartime examples.

They come in a range of models and with various insignia / paint schemes. By buying this excellent book the collector will be able to ascertain to a higher degree the “genuineness” of the helmet he is viewing.

The book gives in-depth knowledge about the metal shells, liners and paint scheme / insignia. It is lavishly illustrated with many period photographs showing the helmets in use. Also there are excellent modern colour images of the various features of the helmets.

The book is divided into a number of chapters reflecting specialised issues. The first chapter discusses the origins of the helmet from the Reichswehr patterns of the First World War. Then the book progresses to the four basic patterns of the Nazi era steel helmet. The 1933 Vulkanfiber, and the more famous 1935, 1940 and 1942 models are considered. A specialised version the Nazi era helmets were used by the fledgling Parachute (Fallschirmjager) units. These helmets were “based” on the main Wehrmacht designs and there were three models of Parachute helmet (models developed in 1936, 1937 and 1938).

After discussing the main “shell” designs the book progresses to a number of associated issues. These issues include the development of helmet liner systems and the modifications that were necessary to the overall design and comfort of the helmets. Even the liner retaining rivets and their types are noted. The design of the chinstraps, manufacturers and their markings and variations of the “basic” chinstrap are all mentioned.

Progressing from the design of the helmet there are a number of interesting chapters on the helmets in use. Paint schemes are examined and so too are the various decal manufacturing and applications techniques. The book gives a good narrative about the usage of the various decals, their introduction and their eventual removal from helmets. Also camouflage techniques and cloth helmet covers conclude the main portion of the book.

This compact book gives the reader an excellent insight into the Nazi German Steel Helmet. I have found it most interesting and informative and I am sure that it will become a standard reference text on the subject. The authors have produced an outstanding guide to the subject and their book will become an essential item for helmet collectors.

March 2012