Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The helmet bookshelf

Two collections that give me a great deal of enjoyment are my library and my helmet collection.

 Among my book collection is a short shelf of helmet references, most of which are very good, and I'd like to share them here.
 For both the beginning and the seasoned collector good reference works are essential in not only the identification helmets, but also in detecting the original article from that which has been "restored" or otherwise tampered with.

Stahlhelm, Evolution of the German Steel Helmet  Floyd R.Tubbs 
I have a soft spot in my heart for this book as it was my first helmet reference book that I bought from Mr. Tubbs himself. Floyd was generous in his sage advice and I wish I'd had more opportunities to talk helmets with him. This slim volume is by no means comprehensive but, with its many black-and-white photos and exquisite drawings, this book will provide essential information for the novice collector, and much enjoyment for the more experienced. A golden oldie that I'm proud to have on my reference shelf.
Combat Helmets of the World/Elmetti de combattimento di tutto il mondo (English and Italian Edition)   Paolo Marzetti 

If there is an essential work for the helmet collector, this is it. This is my go-to book when looking for quick identification of helmets. This is by no means an exhaustive study on helmets, rather a photo encyclopedia of the helmets of the world. This book is especially important for the beginning collector. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Marzetti is the master.

Germany's Combat Helmets - 1933 - 1945: A Modern Study  Ken Niewiarowicz 
Perhaps not exhaustive, but very nearly so, this work by Niewiarowicz, paired with the book by Ludwig Baer, may be the only volumes a collector really needs on the subject of German helmets. Rich with both information and outstanding color photos, this book provides essential guidance for the beginning collector as well as endless enjoyment for the more experienced collector. This is a real prize on my reference shelf. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Whew! I've gotta go lie down.


Wehrmacht Combat Helmets 1933-45 (Elite)  Brian C. Bell 
Although the back cover blurb purports this to be a "masterclass" on the identification and collecting of Wehrmacht combat helmets; that may be a little bit of an overstatement. What it is is a very good overview of the German helmet. Although a very slim volume (unexpectedly so) this book contains a great deal of information. I think that it provides a great service for the beginning collector in avoiding the pitfalls of pricey helmets that have been tampered with or are outright fakes. The author is an experienced collector and dealer who has an excellent website filled with additional information as well as some very choice offerings. I would recommend this book to the novice for guidance and enjoyment for the experienced. It's far from exhaustive but, nonetheless, a really fine reference that I'm happy to have on my reference shelf. I recommend it.


Tin Lids: Canadian Combat Helmets  Roger V. Lucy 
Roger Lucy, a seasoned and top-shelf collector puts it all together in this slim volume. A compreshensive study that could only be improved by the inclusion of color photographs - something I would have paid for, considering the quality of this book. One my think that the Canadian military helmet represents only a narrow band of color in the combat helmet spectrum, but Mr. Lucy brings depth and illustration to the full range of Canadian "Tin Lids". This is a welcome addition to my reference shelf. I'd recommend it as guidance for the beginning collector, and enjoyment for the more seasoned.

Helmets and Body Armor in Modern Warfare Bashford Dean 
This is the seminal work for the helmet collector. Bashford Dean was instrumental in the design of the venerable US M1 helmet. Written in 1920 This volume traces the helmets and body armor of the early 20th century to that of the classical period of European suits of armor. Detailed are the design and manufacture of the m1917, 1917 A1, and all of the experimental models in the run-up to the development of the M1. this is an essential primary source for your reference library.


Russian Helmets: from Kaska to Stalshlyem 1916-2001 Robert W. Clawson
 This may be the best reference on Soviet helmets, but I think it may also be the only reference on Soviet helmets. Considering the stature of the author, I was expecting an exhaustive study. This is, rather, an overview in a very slim volume. More Floyd Tubbs than Ludwig Baer, nonetheless an essential work for the reference shelf. It provides good guidance for the beginning collector, and enjoyment for the more seasoned collector. I'd give it four (out of five) stars.


Steel Pots : The History of America's Steel Combat Helmets, Volume 1 Chris Armold

Armold's book, coupled with Mary Reynosa's book on the M1, are an unbeatable combination. Although small in format, this volume abundant reference information as well as color photographs of many, many M1 helmets of all branches and configurations. This is an essential work for the collector's reference shelf. Informative for novice and experienced alike.


Painted Steel: Steel Pots, Vol. 2  Chris Armold   

Paired with volume one - Steel Pots - Armold delivers the goods. In the minefield that is the collecting of painted and marked helmets, Armold, through many, many color photos provides essential information for the collector - novice or experienced - looking to avoid the fakes that have become the bane of the hobby. The M1 books by Armold and Mark Reynosa are an unbeatable combination for your reference bookshelf.

The History of the German Steel Helmet (1916-1945)  Ludwig Baer 

Not quite exhaustive but nearly so and absolutely essential. This book, coupled with that of Ken Niewiarowicz are the only references a collector - novice or experienced, will need on the subject of German helmets of the Second World War. A gem on my reference shelf. Ludwig  Baer is a master.

The M-1 Helmet: A History of the U.S. M-1 Helmet in World War II (Schiffer Military History)  Mark A. Reynosa
This is a first-rate reference on the venerable M1 helmet. Though perhaps not exhaustive, this work is nothing if not comprehensive. It provides essential guidance for the novice as well as real enjoyment for the experienced collector. It's a very fine book and I highly recommend it.


Post-World War II M-1 Helmets an Illustrated Study (Schiffer Military History) 
Mark A. Reynosa     
Reynosa never disappoints. The post-war M1s are always overshadowed by their elder brothers of the Second World War but this volume gives the new guys their due. Perhaps not exhaustive, but nearly comprehensive this is an essential work for beginner and experienced collectors alike. A welcome addition to my reference shelf.

The History of the Steel Helmet in the First World War: Vol 1: Austro-Hungary, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany (v. 1) 
Michael J. Haselgrove & Branislav Radovic     
Very attractive, large-format, nicely bound, with beautiful color photos of some superb examples of WWI helmets, this book is nonetheless more of a niche coffee table book than a reference. The text is sparse and the information is paltry in comparison to other books listed here.

Helmets of the First World War: Germany, Britain & Their Allies (Schiffer Military History Book)   Michael J. Haselgrove & Branislav Radovic 
This large-format, nicely bound, and altogether handsome book provides a treasure-trove of large, high quality color photographs. Visually this book is stunning. Where it is lacking, however, is in essential information; the text is sparse and the information is paltry. This is more a niche coffee table book than an essential reference. Despite that, I'm happy to have both volumes one and two.
Happy reading!
See you next time with another cool helmet from the collection

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

German M.42 steel helmet of World War Two

"Among my Souvenirs"

Recently (April 2010) , the collection acquired its 140th helmet; a Nazi German M.42.  The helmet is a garden variety "raw edge" from the late war period.  As helmets go is is a very nice specimen, as artifacts go it might seem singularly ordinary, as is the nature of all artifacts, however, what sets this object above the "ordinary" is that it is connected to a personal story.  It is only through a connection to people that artifacts have any value at all.

This is David Langbart, the donor of that most recent acquisition the German M.42 which he is shown holding.

He generously presented me not only the helmet as a gift, but also the story of the man who brought that helmet home from WWII, David's father...

Pfc. Joseph Langbart, U.S. Army
(This may, by the way, be the only photograph I've ever seen of a soldier actually having the leather chinstrap of his helmet liner deployed as a chinstrap.)

Langbart was a member of the 99th Infantry Division, the so-called "Battle
Babies" of the Bulge owing to their rookie status as they were rushed into
harm's way.

Langbart, a member of the Cornell University class of 1943 (as was fellow-GI Kurt Vonnegut), enlisted in the U.S. Army and went overseas in 1944, just in time for the
last great German offensive of the war, "The Battle of the Bulge".  

With his division thrown into line at the Elsenborn Ridge in Belgium, Langbart, as an artilleryman of the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery Division Artillery, reported that the Bulge represented the only time he actually saw what he was shooting at, so close was the proximity of the Germans to the howitzers of Langbart's battery.

The German offensive extinguished, the Americans and their allies continued the relentless push into Germany with the 99th Infantry Division, the first complete Allied division to cross the Rhine River, at Remagen, and winning the race to Bavaria.
(insignia of the 99th Infantry Division)

Upon the allied victory, Langbart spent some time on occupation duty prior to returning home and back to a law degree from Cornell in 1948 followed by a long career of public service as a government attorney at the Department of Justice, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Department of Labor, retiring as an administrative law judge adjudicating cases of coal mine health and safety.
As have so many of the World War Two generation, Joseph Langbart only recently passed on, much missed by family, friends, and associates.  He is representative of a generation of men, and women, to whom following generations owe a great debt.

The youthful Joseph Langbart also shared a trait of all young Americans in all wars since the revolution, a trait celebrated in prose and cartoon by the likes of Ernie Pyle and Bill Mauldin...

the collecting of souvenirs.

Here then, is one of Joseph Langbart's souvenirs of the war that defined the 20th Century, the German M.42 steel helmet.

This is a late-war M.42 finished in field grey without decals. Application of decals ceased on August 28, 1943 as a cost cutting and time saving measure reflective of the changing fortunes of the Reich.

Another austerity measure was "raw edge" - one of the features that characterized the M.42 and distinguishes it from the M.40 and M.35, both of which have the more finished-looking "rolled edge".

That raw edge, as well as the stamped ventilation hole (contrasted with the applied ventilation rivet of the M.35) are emblematic of the declining fortunes of the Third Reich as the tides of war were turning against Hitler and his evil minions.

The Nazi industrial base was becoming overtaxed by a multi-front war and impoverished by dwindling resources.

Mechanically rolling over the edge of a helmet brim and applying a machined ventilation washer represented additional steps in the manufacturing process that the German war machine could ill-afford.

Just as Hitler was rushing children to the front as soldiers, so too was the German armaments industry rushing simplified, cheaper to produce helmets into the ranks of the armed forces.  Though the M.42 was cheaper to produce it was still an exceptionally well designed helmet and one which provided superior protection for the wearer.

From the top the condition of the paint is shown to good effect.  A moderately thin application of greenish-grey that is about 80% intact with only scattered areas of very light surface rust.

The liner and chinstrap are quite complete, and, as with all German lids, this one is 
abundantly marked.

The size is stamped into the liner band, along with...

the manufacturer as well as the date of manufacture of the liner.

Not believing anything can be overstated, an additional size stamp appears
on the liner band...

and on one of the leather leaves of the liner itself.  Note the original drawstring,
in very fine condition.

Another ink stamping appears underneath the leather though I'm not able to make it out.

The size of the shell, E.T.64, is stamped inside the flare of the brim.

The name, rank, and number of the original owner appear to the rear of the flare along with the stamping "D412", the significance of which is unknown to me (can readers shed any light here?)

Even with a lighted magnifying glass the manufacturer's name is difficult to discern:
"Rahm u. Kampmann  Wuppertal."

The leather of the liner is affixed to the liner band with several split pins.

Save for one worn and split area to the rear, this liner is in generally very good condition...

and a very nice addition to the collection.

Many thanks to friend David Langbart for this fine helmet. and many more to his father and millions like him for this future which their sacrifices secured for the rest of us.

Now here's something that I added on to this helmet for my own enjoyment.
It was a farily common practice for German soldiers to utilize a bread bag strap
as a camouflage band.

A very bemused looking German soldier.

I found this original army bread bag strap on ebay for a very reasonable price. 
 I'm very pleased with the result.
See you next time with another cool helmet from the collection.