How to Spot a Fake German Helmet

The German helmet used in WWII (World War 2 or the Second World War) is noted for its strength and durability. They fought the Second World War between 1939 and 1945.

Germany was one of the main protagonists in the triple Alliance of Germany, Italy and japan. Britain, France, Canada, the soviet union, china formed the allied powers. The USA joined the allied powers in the later parts of the war. The war was a global one, as they even extended it to Africa.

How to spot the fake German helmet from WWII helmet is very essential because so many fake German helmets are out there. This article or guide will give the tips on how to spot a fake German helmet.

The German helmet became symbolic of the Second World War as its sight instilled fear and terror in the minds of people during the war. It was also a symbol of advanced war technology in the design of combat helmets. They manufactured the German helmets between 1935 and 1945. It produced about 25 million of German WWII Helmets.

Most fake WWII Helmets come as toys, usually as the post-war clone or the clone of an M1 Helmet embellished with the painted insignia of a well-known unit such as 101 Airborne. The fake also comes as the re-enactor’s piece or forgery (a very good fake).

The re-enactors’ piece normally has a genuine wartime steel shell and inner liner, which some have been stripped of their original parts and built with completely new materials. You can identify them just from their appearance. The paint, hardware and webbings look too new.

With age, the fake helmet can be exposed by factors like fantasy manufacturers marking such as kirkman Mfg and a modern method of production such as needle loom woven straps. This is in contrast to the wartime shuttle loom.

The helmet can also show an arrangement that no particular manufacturer has ever produced. That is a paratrooper liner produced by a different company instead of Hawley, General fibre , St Clair inland or Westinghouse.

In this guide, our concern is with forgery, which is the most difficult fake to spot. So what are the red flags? A helmet is not the original German helmet used during the Second World War?

To know the fake, you have to know the real. Not every helmet you see with WWII markings painted on it is a German helmet or was produced during the Second World War.

This guide will take you through the features of a real helmet used by a German soldier during the Second World War. Then it will take you through the red flags that a helmet is not actually the one worn by a German soldier during WWII.

Soldiers During WartimeThe German Helmet

Originally, German helmets were an incomplete shell or a combination of a decal, a camouflage paint scheme and a liner. Observing a German helmet decal with a magnifying glass will reveal if the decal is fake or not. German WWII helmet has a lot number on them, which helps to determine the correct helmet decals configuration.

You should focus the magnifying glass or microscope on the designs borders (Waffen SS or a vertical feather on the heer eagle). We will see wartime decals to maintain a straight edge while fake decals will show a jagged saw tooth edge.

This is a sign or a telltale (red flag) that the forgers produced the decals with a modern printer. The creators of Waffen SS Helmets escaped magnification by actually painting their own decals. You should avoid SS Helmets if you do not have enough experience in helmets.

You can look for the book The History of the German Steel Helmet 1916-1945 by Ludwig Bauer. it has photos and specific examples of any variety of helmets worn by German soldiers during combat.

Tips and Tricks on How to Spot a Fake German Helmet

To see if a German helmet shell has just been recently completed with a replacement liners, follow the tips below on the red flags or tell-tales that a supposed German helmet is fake.

  1. Fake German helmets have liners with remnants of paint that do not match the helmet shell’s interior. After WWII, Norway and the Czech Republic refurbished a great quantity of German helmets. In this process, someone repainted internally them and externally. Some of the paint often remained on the inner liners.

So if you see a helmet whose liner bands seem like they have painted, check whether the paint on the steel shell matches that found on the liner bands. If it does not, then the liner is not the original to the helmet.

  1. Fake German helmet has a paint smell. The paint smell should last for about 6 months. Paint applied above 70 years ago should not smell like paint today. Forgers try to artificially mask the paint smell if they painted them recently. This will cause the forged helmet to smell Smokey, musty, etc.

The original paint provided for the soldiers during WWII was lacquer and alkyd enamels (US Helmets). You can use Blacklight flashlights to test vintage paint, which is non-reactive to Blacklight. Though some modern paints is also non-reactive to Blacklight, they do not shrink, crack and craze with age like vintage paint. Carry out dual magnification (30x & 60x) jeweler’s loupes with a built-in LED lighting to identify genuine micro-cracking on the war time helmets.

Some sellers of authentic war time helmets also use digital microscopes or strong magnifying glass which allows for magnifications as high as 500x. Identifying genuine paint and micro cracks will not be your problem if you have these tools.

  1. Fake German helmets are too new and clean. Though forgers of German helmet will try to age a counterfeit helmet to look like the original German helmet, a key eye will spot it. They attempt to age the decals, but it is easy to spot. Fake German helmets actually look new compared to the original wartime helmet worn by a German soldier.
  2. Fake German helmets have red rust that rubs off easily. Rust is the product of a chemical reaction between the iron parts of the helmet and oxygen in the presence of water. Rust is reddish brown. The real German helmet will have some of this rust on its iron parts. In a helmet that they forged, the red brown color will easily rub off.
  3. Liners of Fake German helmets have smelled like leather. WWII helmets should be ancient by now (above 70 years) and the liners should not the smell of leather. They don’t smell. Liners are soft foam they wear under a steel helmet for protection.
  4. Fake German helmets show a very characteristic or identifiable metallic look. Forgers try to mask the age of the decals of a helmet. But if you are vigilant, you will spot the difference between the original Heer decals, Waffen SS decals and Kriegsmarine decals from forged ones.They are lacquer or slide water. Original decals have a shiny luster that is very visible.
  1. The cost of a Fake German helmet is suspicious. A real German helmet should cost dearly. A real German helmet cost from $1500 to above $4000. Price cannot be the only test, of course, for forgers can manipulate the price to convince you, you are purchasing an original German helmet.
  2. Fake German helmets possess Chin Straps that imitate the originals smell and texture.

Fake chin straps are tricky to find out. Forgers use chemicals to harden fake chin straps, making them to look old but they have a smell. A German helmet of above 70 years will not smell. So smelling chin straps is a red flag or a telltale that you are dealing with a fake German helmet.


How to spot a fake German helmet is quite a daunting task. We should take none of these red flags in isolation. Put all of them into consideration when searching to purchase a real German helmet.

The best place where you can buy your German helmet is from military surplus stores and antique shops or direct purchase from Veterans. Beware and take time while searching a war time German helmet.

You can also read Do Bike Helmets Expire


FAQs on How to Spot a Fake German Helmet

What helmets did Germany use in WW2?

While the US military use the M1 helmet during ww2, the German military was using the Stahlhelm. Stahlhelm, which means steel helmet, is the German military steel combat helmet whose purpose was to protect the head against shrapnel and grenade fragments.

The Stahlhelm was the distinctive design of the German military. This was the best World War 2 German helmets.

So which helmet was best in WW2? The German Stahlhelm and the American M1 helmet were the best helmets of ww2.

What are the types of German helmets?

The German fighting or combat helmet types included M35, M40, and M42. They manufactured the ww2 German steel combat in 3 different types. On the helmets you can see the German helmet markings ww2. These marks can help today in ww2 German helmet identification.

How can you tell if a German helmet was ww2?

It is always an arduous task in ww2 German helmet identification. Put several factors  into consideration. How do you identify a ww2 helmet?


  • whether helmet liners have a remnant of paint which do not match the helmet shell’s interior
  • if the helmet has Paint that smells
  • If he helmets are new
  • Whether the German helmet has red rust, that rubs off easily
  • If the liners have a smell, like leather
  • If The helmets show a characteristic metallic look
  • The cost

What do the numbers on German helmets mean?

The lot numbers give the production details of the German ww2 helmets. The German helmet lot number database will give you manufacturer codes for all German helmets used in World War 2. The numbers show the batch of sheet steel used in manufacturing a quantity of helmets.

What is a ww2 German helmet worth?

So how much is a German World War II Helmet worth? A standard ww2 German helmet will cost between $600 and $1000. The German SS Helmet will cost about $600 to $1000.

What are M1 helmet liners made of?

The M1 Helmet was the helmet used by the US military during World War II and the intention was to stop bullets and explosives.

The liners were made of compressed cardboard, but .low pressure liners were made from rubber fiber. During the war, the low pressure lowers became ineffective and high pressure liners were used. These were made of composite fiber material which made the liners hard.



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