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ww2 Swiss helmet
Old 10-29-2008, 05:57 PM   #1
Dennis J
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Default ww2 Swiss helmet

Does anybody here have any pics(inside and out)of a WW2 Mod 18 Swiss steel helmet.On the helmet forum Mark has a Swiss helmet that he needs to know if it is a 1918 or a 1918/40 with a WW2 liner or a post war liner.The pics of the helmet in question is on the helmet forum.I know there was a fellow forum member(from France) that has one but I can not find the post.Or if anyody knows any web sites about The WW2 Swiss helmet and it's post war configuration.Thanks for any and all help.I think the one on the helmet forum is a 1918/40 or 43 with a post war liner.

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Last edited by Dennis J; 10-29-2008 at 07:21 PM.
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Swiss M1918 / 40
Old 10-29-2008, 07:14 PM   #2
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Default Swiss M1918 / 40

.

here's my SWISS M1918 / 40

with rough finish and a full ring liner

Last edited by bolo; 11-14-2008 at 11:24 AM.
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Old 10-29-2008, 09:06 PM   #3
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Dennis:
Here is a comparison of M18 and M18/40 from Swiss reenactors forum. Found this linked on another site where a Swiss man was discussing WWII Swiss uniforms. Several members there reenact WWII Swiss and are extremely knowledgeable about these things. I would tell Mark to contact one of them.


http://lebendigegeschichte.phpbb.ch/...highlight=helm

Translation:
Quote:
After 1943, the smooth green paint was replaced by a rough-surfaced anthrazit-colour.

Steel Helmet Model 1918
A - visor area begins farther forward
B - continuing, adjustable chinstrap
C - continuous liner ring
D - metal eyelets for cord in liner

Steel Helmet Model 1918/40
A - visor area expanded
B - since 1930, with retainer on chinstrap
C - interrupted liner ring
D - after 1963, leather loops in place of eyelets
Looking at your other thread, Mark's helmet appears that it might be M18 that was manufactured between 1930-1940. The visor angle appears deeper than usual M18/40, has prewar paint and liner ring type, along with post-1930 chinstrap. Or it could be early production M18/40 as well. The visor region is very hard to differentiate.

regards
Klaus

Last edited by Klaus1989; 10-29-2008 at 09:23 PM.
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Old 10-29-2008, 10:07 PM   #4
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what year do you think mine was made? since it has the older style liner with continuous ring?
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M18s vs. M18/40
Old 10-30-2008, 11:42 AM   #5
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Default M18s vs. M18/40

Klaus, That's a great reference piece. Thanks for digging it up and posting it! It wasn't clear to me who "Troupier Suisse" is. There is a Swiss collector who has written on the subject. I sent him an email a couple of days ago and am still waiting to hear back. Maybe it's the same person.

Based on this comparison, I would say that my helmet and Bolo's helmet are both M18s. The most telling difference is the more sharply angled sides on the M18s.

The thing that I find confusing is that there are references to M18/40s that have the same more sharply angled sides as the M18. For instance, see Joseba Revuelta's web site "Cascos del Siglo XX" http://www.cascoscoleccion.com/suiza/su1840.htm. According to Sr. Revuelta the difference is in the height of the visor. Half way down this web page he has a side by side comparison of an M18 and an M18/40 that both look like the M18 shown in the Troupier Suisse comparison above (with more sharply angled sides). The difference supposedly is the height of the visor. Maybe the two comparson helmets on Cascos del Siglo XX are actually both M18s and Sr. Revuelta made a mistake. Or maybe there is such a thing as an early production run of the M18/40 that closely resembled the M18. Maybe this was what Klaus was refering to regarding my helmet.

At any rate, until I see other evidence, I understand that the helmets with sharply angled sides are M18s and those with more subtly angled sides are M18/40s.

For the archive, here's the photo of my M18 that I'm selling on eBay.

Mark D.
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Old 10-30-2008, 02:26 PM   #6
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Since the M18, M18/40 helmet shells are not date stamped, and at least some of them have been relined and repainted in the course of their service life, and all but the last type of liner (with the sewn loops) are unmarked, it's really anyone's guess when any of these helmet shells were manufactured (except those that have retained their original smooth paint).

All available reference sources indicate that the M18/40 shells had a revised visor profile that provided a better field of view for the wearer, but the illustrations shown are often at odds with one another. Troupier Suisse's illustration essentially matches what Juerg Burlet had shown in his book; whereas Joseba Revuelta appears to have followed the scheme laid out in Paolo Marzetti's book.

Who is right? Until someone comes up with an original blue print for these helmets, who really knows for sure?

However, my personal observation is that there are at least 3 distinct shell types (not counting the differences in liners, the shape of vent rivets, the manner in which liner attachment pins are welded to the shell, etc.). I posted these observations on the Swissrifles forum some years ago, and found that others there have noticed the same thing:





Shells 1 through 3 are of one type (Type I), shells 4 and 5 are of a second type (Type II), and shell 6 is of the third type (Type III).

Type I and II are similar, but differ at feature A (Type II has a sharper turn here than Type I) and feature B (Type II is noticeably straighter here than Type I).

Type III is significantly different from Types I and II: not only is it more rounded at feature A than Type I, and has a much more pronounced notch at feature B than Type I, it does not 'sit' flush on a flat surface like the other two types, due mainly to a rounded profile of its neck guard (feature C). Moreover, the Type III visor (feature D) is broader, more duck bill-like, compared to the smaller, pointier visors of the other two types (with Type II having the pointiest visor of the three).

If Paolo Marzetti is right, that the M18/40 shell had a "lower" visor, then he must have been referring to Type III, rather than Type I, because when balanced on a flat surface, only Type III has a significantly lower visor than the other two shell types.

Until there is solid evidence proving otherwise, I would suggest that Type I and II shells were concurrently made, and both should fall under the M18 designation (so both helmets shown in Troupier Suisse's illustration are in fact M18s). Type III came later, and are therefore made in smaller quantities (as a result, we don't come across these nearly as often as the other two types).

Notice also that the air defense helmet (#2) in my illustration is noticeably wider than the other helmets, which may indicate another subtle variant for this subtype, or perhaps a quality control issue, as I have seen some very oblong examples as well. Although, the intra-typical variance here is nowhere near that seen among, say, Bulgarian helmets of the same model.

As for Mark's helmet, if the paint is original, you should be able to see an inked serial number stenciled inside the dome, preceded by the letter "A" (standard shell size) or "B" (large shell size). These markings are invariably lost when the helmets are stripped and repainted. I have never seen a "B" marked helmet, and would snatch one up in a jiffy if I ever come across one.


Gene T
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WW2 Swiss helmet
Old 10-30-2008, 07:55 PM   #7
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Default WW2 Swiss helmet

This is what I love to see a person selling a item on ebay and going the extra mile to find out that what he tells you the bidder is the 100% truth about the item(helmet)he is selling.The second part is you guys here on the forum comming forward with all this help.I really like this forum .

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Old 10-30-2008, 08:28 PM   #8
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Since I do not collect Swiss, I never realised that there was so much variation! Now I not really sure what model it is. And of course, when M18/40 was introduced, it appears the M18 still saw service for some time later. All that I meant by early M18/40 was that it had green paint instead of grey (1940-43 production).

The visor angle of "Type III" is significantly different now that I look at it closely. It is almost horizontal while others slant upwards.

regards
Klaus
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Old 10-31-2008, 12:43 AM   #9
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Now that I've carefully looked through Revuelta's web page again, I realize that he too, has focused almost entirely on the subtle differences between the dimensions of Type I and Type II shells. In fact, the one that he identifies as M-40 has a slightly lower visor than his M-18; which contradicts Marzetti, whose own illustrations are somewhat ambiguous (the profiled 72.8 helmet on p262 of his book looks like a Type III shell, but the two liner illustrations show dimensions that suggest Type I and Type II shells).

The problem with focusing on curvature and height differences is that in the absence of precise measurements, these are just comparative estimates, which are affected by the viewing angle. There is no way one can positively identify a visor that's 2 mm lower than another, or that one curvature is slightly more pronounced than the other, without actually inspecting the two helmets side by side.

As I stated earlier, if we accept that there were only two official variants of M18 shells, then Type I and Type II shells should be viewed as slightly different subtypes within a common variant, because Type III really is a significant enough departure from the other two types to be visually recognizable on its own, without the need for side by side comparisons.

The easiest way to identify a Type III shell is to simply sit it on a flat surface - it is the only shell out of the three that can be rocked, as there is nearly a full centimeter gap between the flat surface on which the shell sits and the back edge of the neck guard. In contrast, all examples of Types I and II shells would either sit perfectly flush with the surface or very nearly so.

Another very obvious visual marker that I didn't mention earlier is the depth of the visor. Viewed from the bottom, types I and II visors are roughly 5 cm (2 in) deep (measured from the tip of the visor to the edge of the front liner pad); whereas Type III visor is almost 7 cm (2.75 in) deep! There is nothing subtle about this difference; one certainly doesn't need the help of a ruler or caliper to notice it.

I think the confusion on this subject will remain until one of those experts with access to Swiss military archives manages to make a definitive connection between these three shell types and their official design and manufacture specifications. We need our own Ludwig Baer!

Gene T
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Type I, II & III
Old 10-31-2008, 09:12 AM   #10
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Default Type I, II & III

Gene, It's really great to see this assortment of Swiss helmets set side by side. I think your classification of them as Types I-III is very useful. I draw a somewhat different conclusion, however. Note that all the "Type I" helmets have the earlier closed loop liner bands and all the "Type IIs" have the later open type bands. Sometimes you see Type Is with open bands, but in my experience you never see Type IIs with closed bands. This leads me to conclude that the Type Is are the earlier models and Type IIs are later models. Type Is with open liner bands would then have to be older helmets refurbished with newer style liner bands. My tentative conclusion is that I agree with Troupier Suisse's classification of the Type Is as M18s and Type IIs as M18/40s.

What kind of a thing is Type III? It is interesting to bring this variation to light. I've never heard this commented on before, but there is a notable difference between the Type III and the other types. Notice that my helmet has the same type of curved bottom skirt, so might be classified as a Type III, although the visor seems to be of the shorter type (5.5 cm from tip to top of liner pad). The Type III in Gene's collection has a later style liner band, but mine has the earlier type. It seems unlikely that a later production helmet would have an earlier liner band, but we know that sometimes the earlier production helmets were refitted with later type liners. My conclusion is that the Type III is an earlier production type and further that it should be classified as an M18 variant.

My overall conclusion is that Troupier Suisse is correct afterall and that all Swiss helmets that are sharply angled at point B in Genes scheme are in fact M18s and the others are M18/40s. Variations among M18s, including the Type III, would be attributable to slightly different pressings used by different factories or different production runs within the same factory. Some variation, particularly in height of visor, would be related to size of shell.

I think some of the confusion may stem from different interpretations among collectors about the implications of the Swiss army ordinance of January 5, 1940 which mandated that the height of the visor was to be increased between 5mm and 8mm. Collectors interpreting this ordinance pulled helmets off shelves, measured visor heights and found differences. They then tried to classify high visor helmets as M18/40s and low visor helmets as M18s. In reality these visor height differences may have been due to different shell sizes or differences among manufactures or production runs.

My theory is that whatever the intention of the January 5, 1940 ordinance, the result was the shift in production to the helmets with flater angles at spot "B." These are the helmets that we designate M18/40.

By the way, the reference to the January 5, 1940 ordinance came from a Swiss collector who has written about the subject. According to him this same ordinance mandated a shift to liner bands with open ends in back. Somewhere I had seen a reference to the liner band ordinace taking effect in 1951 (Marzetti?), but according to this source the liner change was simultaneous with the change in shell style.

Somebody (Gene?) asked about stamps on the dome of the helmet that I'm selling on eBay. The helmet was repainted (pre-1944 army smooth green repaint) so any stamps that may have been on the thing have been obliterated. It seems to be a medium size based on how it fits on my head.

It would be interesting to do some comparisons of M18s and M18/40s with the same size shells to see if the M18/40s have higher visors than the M18s.

Mark D.
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Old 10-31-2008, 12:06 PM   #11
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I agree with your observation regarding the liner bands, Mark. I too, have yet to come across a Type II shell with a closed band, so these may well be of a later manufacture. However, please have another look at Marzetti's M18 (72.6) on p262 - short pointy visor, shallow curvature on the side - it sure looks like a Type II shell!

I think an alternative (speculative) interpretation of the liner band difference is that Type II is actually the oldest style, such that the vast majority of surviving examples today were refitted with later style liners at some point, as the original liners in these had all deteriorated beyond acceptable levels due to age and wear. Conversely, you see more old style liners in Type I shells because they were made later, and were less likely to be refitted before being pulled from service when the M71s came along.

Yes, your helmet seems to have a gap in the back in some of your photos, but in a couple of others it does seem to sit flat (e.g., the profile shot from the right). Type III rim is really a lot more curved than that (it's too deliberate a feature to be attributed to batch variations). The "A" flexure on your example is also more angular than the one found on Type III shells. That, plus the fact that yours has a two inch visor, makes me think that yours is a type I shell. So the closed band is not unusual.

I only have two Type III shells in my collection. One is that refitted yellow Civil Defense helmet shown in the photo with the M63 liner, the other has the common anthracite paint and an M40 liner. It's impossible to draw any independent conclusion one way or the other based on these observations.

What you said about the 1940 ordinance with respect to visor height is very interesting to me. Did it really say "mm", rather than "cm"? Why would they bother specifying a design change that's virtually invisible, and which probably falls within manufacture tolerances? How was the visor "height" defined in the original ordinance? If the unit specified was actually "cm", and "height" is in fact what I had called "depth" in my previous post, then "increasing visor height from 5 cm to 8 cm" would precisely produce the difference I described between Type I+II and Type III shells!

Finally, regarding shell sizes, it's the one remaining mystery that has confounded me for years. Supposedly 1/3 of the 600,000+ shells were produced in size B (large), and 2/3 in size A (regular), so "B" shells shouldn't be rare at all. Yet, not only have I never seen a "B" marked shell, but every single helmet I've come across has measured about 71 cm in its outer circumference (around the crown, along the line of visor and neck guard flare, which defines the position of the liner band), regardless of whether they are Types I, II, or III. All examples in my collection that are sized-marked are marked "A".

So where are all those "B" shells today? How are they different dimensionally from the "A" shells, if at all? When you look at enough photos and videos of Swiss troops, you do notice occasionally that some helmets just seem bigger than average (see the circled examples in the picture below). Could these be the elusive "B" shells? Or is this an optical illusion due to the soldiers being microcephalic? Surely someone somewhere must have one of these in their collection? Notice also that there are a few possible "narrow" type helmets in this photo as well, which may or may not constitute a bona fide variant of their own right.




There is usually not much interest in Swiss materials on this forum; even the militaria board on the excellent Swissrifles Forum seems to have run out of pressing topics to discuss as of late. it's nice to come across a thread like this here, and find a handful of people who have also given thought to this matter.

Regards,
Gene T

Last edited by Gene T; 10-31-2008 at 12:26 PM.
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M18s
Old 10-31-2008, 06:57 PM   #12
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Gene, All known "Type II" helmet have the later type liner, therefore the most likely explanation is that they are later model helmets. No? Type I helmets usually have earlier liners, therefore the most likely explanation is that they are earlier model helmets. There is no real contoversy on this point.

The more interesting question and the area where there is some discrepancy in the available reference materials is whether all Type Is are clasified as M18s, or if some differ from earlier models (e.g. different visor heights) and are therefore classified as M18/40s. My tentative conclusion is to agree with Troupier Suisse and classify all Type Is as M18s and all Type IIs as M18/40s.

To clarify the ordinance specified that the visor heights were to be increased by 5 to 8 mm from existing heights. This is from a translated secondary source, so I can't vouch for its accuracy.
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Old 10-31-2008, 09:48 PM   #13
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Hi Mark, I understand your point. I have no pretention to be an authority on the subject, I am merely an interested student. Again, while I have never personally come across a Type II shell with a full band, I certainly have not examined enough of these to reject with any confidence the possibility that such a combination did exist (e.g., the example shown in Marzetti's book). Given that the vast majority of these helmets were refitted and repainted after 1943 (some of my helmets were hand-painted with black paint, without the removal of the liner, but most were clearly stripped and repainted from scratch, and fitted with a fresh liner, which may not necessarily be identical to the original liner), I'm just not comfortable using the liners as a definitive marker to identify helmet types.

I don't want to belabor the point, but when I look at Type I and Type II shells side by side, the thought that one is an ordinance-imposed "improvement" over the other just seems absurd to me, especially since there is a vastly different model - Type III - which could clearly fit that bill. The more I think about it, the harder I find it to believe that the visor "height" specified in the ordinance was in reference to the distance between the flat surface on which the helmet sits and the tip of the visor. A 5-8 mm difference in this value is absolutely insignificant when the helmet is worn! In contrast, the longer (or deeper, or higher) visor of the Type III shell does make a quantitative difference to the wearer, which is readily noticeable.

To think that Type I and Type III shells could have co-existed prior to 1940, and that the Swiss would still go through the trouble of issuing an ordinance to create the Type II shell as an improvement (over which one?), just seems to defy logic.

One final point: My Type I and Type II helmets consistently weigh about 1.2 kg apiece, regardless of liner type; whereas my two Type III helmets, with different liners installed, weigh just over 1.1 kg each. My understanding is that M18/40 helmets are supposed to be slightly lighter than M18s. So this is another piece of evidence that makes me think Type III is the real M18/40.

I know I have begun to repeat myself, because I have reached the limit of my cumulative knowledge on this subject. So this is it for me.

Thanks for the conversation! Hope you get a good price for your M18 (which is indisputably an M18 shell, regardless of whether Troupier and others are right or I am right).

Regards,
Gene T
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Old 11-01-2008, 04:50 AM   #14
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Hi.

here is my helmet for comparison [sorry, my cat is a little bit snoopy]



Significant ist the gap (red marking), see Post 6, No. 2.
The liner is the continuous liner ring (C).

One of the front straps is stamped 1937.

Regards
Uwe
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Old 04-02-2017, 09:19 PM   #15
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A quick update on this 9 year old thread that a handful of you might be interested in seeing (it has managed to lay dormant through both Obama terms!):

I recently acquired an M-18 with a serial number in the low 50,000, dating it to the period between 1918 and 1919, when the very first batch of these helmets were issued to the troops (according to the World-War-Helmets site, which has grown into the most complete reference on Swiss helmets over the last few years, whether online or in print, anywhere in the world).




You can clearly see that while the reference M18 helmet on the left (with a serial number dating it to the late '30s) is a common "Type I" per my old scheme, the early unit on the right is clearly a "Type III", which World-War-Helmets posits was the improved model introduced in 1963 (while there was indeed a documented liner change in 1963, the shell modification seems to be more assumed than known, based largely on collector observations, rather than any official documentation, of which there appears to be none).

Clearly something is amiss here. Either my first batch M18 is an elaborate forgery (but who would bother going through such trouble, considering no one knows for sure which model is which even today? This was a very inexpensive eBay pickup), or else Type I and Type III shells co-existed since the very beginning. One possibility is that Type III shell was withdrawn from service shortly after its initial launch (perhaps the contractor who made the Type III was dropped, as this shell bears a rather rare "S" maker stamp), then reintroduced with the 1963 liner modification for whatever reason; which might account for its rarity among the surviving early examples, and substantially increased presence among units produced (completely refurbished?) after 1963.

I posted this on the World-War-Helmets forum seeking feedback. So far no one has responded.

Until someone proves me wrong, I am more inclined than ever to believe that the classification scheme separating the models into M18, M18/40, M18/63 based on shell shape may be inadequate, that there was significant overlap between the production of all three types of shells during the long service life of this helmet. This may mean that we would need to use compound terms to describe these helmets. For instance, the unit on the right could be described as a Type III M18 with original liner, modified in 1943 (and de-modified in 201?), while the unit on the left is a Type I M18 in 100% original condition.

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