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The first German “Stahlhelm” (German for”steel helmet”), called the M1916 , was first introduced in 1916 during the Verdun campaign in WWI.

The M1916 featured two distinctive side-mounted “horns” that acted as air ventilators. The horns also allowed for a “brow plate”, also call a “Stirnpanzer” (German for frontal armor), which saw very limitied use by German snipers during WWI.

The first German Stahlhelm models were a great success, and provided excellent protection for German soldiers during World War I.

However, the helmet did have some flaws, such as the side-mounted “horns”, which collected mud from the trench warfare, and let in the cold winter air during World War I.


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The M35 is considered the best Stahlhelm model. In 1934, the German military started testing and improving the WWI models. Thus in 1935, they came up with a better model, the M1935.

The German M35 manufacturing process used “stamped metal” which was much faster and reliable to produce than the hand made helmets before. The side mounted “horns” were retained, however they were much smaller than the original.

The liner was completely redesigned, and this time, made with leather. This greatly improved the helmets safety, and was much loved by the Germans soldiers because of the adjustability.

All the changes made to the M35 made it lighter, and safer than the earlier models. Millions were produced by the Germans until the M40 model came out.


The M40 model was basically a M35 model that was tweaked to allow for faster production. The manufacturing process became streamlined in order to produce the millions of helmets that the German military needed for World War II.

The biggest change to the M40 were the “horn” like ventilator holes on the sides, which were now stamped in the manufacturing process.

The M40 helmet model name was given by collectors. The German military considered the M40 as the M35 model since the changes were not that bold.


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The German M42 helmet model was purely designed for a faster manufacturing process. Since by 1942, Germany was engaged at an all out war and had limited resources and time. The biggest change was the beautifully rolled corners of the helmets were now rough, which sped up the production process, and saved valuable metal.