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    Luftwaffe (Air Force):  Fliegerstahlhelms Type I and II

The M1944 (Type II) Protective Flight Helmet

Luftwaffe Steel Flight Helmets

Attempts to create a steel flight helmet (Fliegerstahlhelm) for Luftwaffe air crews officially began in 1943.  Luftwaffe medical personnel tested and prototyped a steel protective helmet that would provide defense against aerial debris and shrapnel generated from both ground and air attack.  In the winter of 1944 the first model (Type II or M1944) helmet manufactured in steel was introduced to bomber crews in limited numbers.  The interior of the Type II helmet consisted of a leather insert and a chinstrap made of woven cord.  The bottom portion of the chinstrap was similar to that found on German paratrooper helmets including the buckle and the snaps.  Due to the late introduction of the Type II helmet not many saw service.  As a result the Type II helmet is consider very scarce and exceptionally rare.

Even before the Type II helmet was introduced, many German bomber crews felt it necessary to create their own protective helmets.  In most cases, flight crews simply wore standard M1935 or M1940 helmets over their cloth or leather flight caps.  However, the shape of the steel helmet did not allow for a comfortable fit in regards to the radio devices on the sides of the flight helmet.  In an effort to rectify this situation, some M1940 steel helmets were field modified by pounding out the sides with a hammer so that enough space was created to allow a comfortable fit when wearing the regular flight helmet.  These helmets have come to be known as Type I steel flight helmets as a result of their early introduction. 

As a result of this customization, most original Type I helmets bear repainted surfaces.  Many original helmets also exhibit the application of unit flight insignia including the Luftwaffe second pattern eagle decal.  The interior of the Type I helmet was void of the standard M1931 liner which was removed in favor of a series of thick wool felt pads that allowed for protection when the cloth or leather flight cap was worn. 

The Type I field modified protective flight helmet saw very little use1 and as a result is considered very scarce. 


Notes:

1 Collectors should note that many Type I helmets currently on the market are in fact high quality reproductions.  It has been established that several European sources modified and repainted M1940 helmets to make them appear as authentic originals.  These helmets have since been sold in both the US and the UK as "originals" despite the fact that they are clearly counterfeits.

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The Type I Field Modified Steel Protective Flight Helmet

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