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    Collector Topics:  Luftwaffe First Pattern Helmet Decals

 

Photo:  An Original Luftwaffe First Pattern Snake Leg Decal.

 

First Pattern Helmet Decals

First pattern Luftwaffe decals began to appear on transitional model helmets as early as 1935.  World War I model helmets that were initially used as combat service helmets often received the first pattern decal (and its variants) as part of the twin decal combination that also included the National tricolored shield insignia.

First pattern decals were printed in white and placed on the left side of all Luftwaffe helmets.  In 1937 when the transitional model helmets began to slowly be replaced with the newer M1935 helmets, many of the M1935 models issued to the Luftwaffe utilized the first pattern decal.  In 1937 a modified version of the decal was instituted as part of an overall effort at standardizing Luftwaffe insignia as part of the much larger task of expanding the organization within the ever growing German Armed Services (Wehrmacht).

Second pattern decals differed from the first pattern variations in size as well as graphic design.  First pattern decals are noted for their short, stubby wings and very large swastika.  Research into the various types of first pattern decals that were manufactured indicates that at least four different variations were produced.  These variations, while generally looking similar, had slight differences in graphic quality and detail.  These details are often subtle to the naked eye.

The four different types can generally be grouped into two categories identified by modern collecting terminology which includes the "Snake Leg" and "Droop Tailed" decals.  While both decal types could actually be called "Droop Tailed" in nature, those that carry the term are ones where the eagle leg is actually positioned horizontally across the main body of the eagle.  The term "Droop Tailed" stems from the overall look of the decal and the very pronounced downward pitch of the eagle's tail feathers.  The "Snake Leg" variety differ from "Droop Tailed" decals in the sense that the eagle's leg snakes upward in a pronounced curve.  The two decals shown on this page depict these features when compared side-by-side.

The first pattern "Droop Tailed" decal features a leg that is positioned horizontally across the eagle's body compared to the upward curving leg featured on the "Snake Leg" version as shown at the top of this page.

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