Colonel J's - Pickelhaube and Imperial German Musings
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This is a very germinal timeline designed to give the basic flow.  It does not include the changing of cockade size as well as a number of other issues.  In specific, it does not talk about the other state's helmets and concentrates on Prussian.  It is designed to give a general development flow and to organize some of the other helmet identification items I'm working on.

 

1842 Pickelhaube

There are lots of stories about how the initial spike helmet design was chosen.  Some of them are myth, but generally the Germans wanted something new and different so the pickelhaube was born by an AKO on 23, October 1842. You can see the very tall conical shape, 22 cm tall.  The spike and base alone were 14 cm and there were two ventilation holes in the spike base. The front bill was heavy leather, with square edges, but sort of flared at the sides.  The back bill was flared also sort of inward.  These visor insides had a leather covering that had green on the front and read on the back.  In theory, the green had something to do with making it easier to see.  It was supposedly some scientific method.  I have no proof of this but have heard tale. There was an AKO in 1843 allowing one regiment (1st Gd. Regiment of Foot) to have silvered metal parts. There were leather cockades and convex chin scales. The chin scales were attached by a really extended screw (3cm) on the rosettes. They had a unique way of attaching to the helmet.  This was neither loops or posts, and I do not have a picture to show you.  The 9 September 1844 AKO approved the use of a ball on top for artillery units known as a Kügel. Generals were ordered to use spike helmets in 1848. In 1857 helmets became a bit shorter (AKO of 24 December 1857 made it 20 cm high.) and the infantry, chin scales became flat.

1860 Pickelhaube

Helmets were reduced to 16 cm in height. Spike and base is another 10 CM tall. The big change on March 16, 1861 was the introduction of the motto on the helmet plate or wappen.  Prior to this time there was no motto.  It said " Mitt Gott Für Koenig  Und Vaterland" and the eagle was 125mm tall.  Previously helmets had an FR, or an FWR on the chest of the eagle ad it was 130mm tall.  These were ostensibly, the initials of Friedrich Wilhelm Rex. These heavy helmets had a couple of things that are often mistaken for more modern ones.  They had the old-style pearl ring, which is always mistaken as an NCO pearl ring The back spine had two studs connecting it to the helmet as a result, folks often think it's a Dragoon helmet.  It has a squared front visor and a cruciform base for the spike. 

1867 Pickelhaube

A major change happened in 1867 with AKOs of 16 March and May 2, where the spike base was made round 95 mm high.  The front visor was also made round in all cases except the dragoons and general's helmets.  Helmets were reduced to 14 cm. There was no back spine on the helmet.  The front plate on enlisted helmets was attached by what I call a slider. Male hooks, slid into female receivers that were mounted on the helmet.   Eagle size remained the same at 125mm. Chin scales were mounted to the helmet to with a long threaded bolt. Many 1860 type helmets were converted to 1867.  This was done by removing the square front the visor, removing the rear spine, rotating the helmet 180 degrees and covering the old stitches that were previously hidden by the old spine, with the helmet plate. A new round visor was then stitched on. Cockades became 55 mm. Officers adopted the new helmet except for some non-regimental officers that retained the 1860 model.

1871 Pickelhaube

An AKO of 23 November, 1871 reinstituted the back spine.  It was now put on using a split brad or bolt so you didn't see the studs on the outside. Rosettes became the method of attaching officers helmets chin scales to the body using split brads.

1887 Pickelhaube

These changes affected only the foot enlisted helmets, or I should say those that were issued.  Officer helmets were unaffected and they continued to wear the 1871 patterned helmet.  The metal visor trim was removed and a built-up leather trim was used.  The chin scales were replaced by a weird hook strap that you can see in the picture to the right (M1887). The pearl ring went away and you can see the ring round the spike base. NCOs and mounted troops apparently kept using chin scales, and had a pearl ring.  I think this is where the idea of  NCO pearl ring came from. The easy to crush front visor and easy to lose leather straps and cockade's were very unacceptable.  Soon they were replaced. it seems as though an AKO of 12 November 1888, provided four stars on the officer's spike base instead of dome studs.

 

1891 Pickelhaube

The entire helmet continued to get smaller and the eagle itself shrank to 115mm. In the AKO of eight January, 1891 the big change was at the side post for connecting the straps. this hook system of connecting a strap to the helmet became universally accepted and used up to the end of world war one.  Both chin scales and leather straps had these kind of hooks mounts. They were called M91 mounts.  In cockade's with M91 mounts required larger holes than the small holes used in rosettes and for screws. This again was a change only for chin scale attachment to enlisted helmets. Guard and Grenadiers wore metal chin scales and in 1894 mounted troops adopted the M91 post with rounded chin scales (amazing called M94 posts). Officers continued to wear the 1871 pattern but cut down the size of the helmet to the 1891 standard. This was called the M1891 officers helmet The metal visor trim returned into use.

1895 Pickelhaube

A consistent problem with these helmets is that they were hot.  In May of 1895 an AKO increased the number of vent holes in the spike base from two to five for the enlisted helmets. There also was a slide ventilator added to the top of the back spine.  This could be opened to allow ventilating air into the helmet.  It was however, not utilized for all helmets and artillery continued to have the ones that were closed. Helmets reduced further in height but the eagle stayed at its final size.  The leather  body was only 12 1/2 centimeters tall. On top of this you added the height of the spike.

 

Also starting in the AKO of 25 May 1895, a different metal, in the production of pickelhaube was instituted. Brass was replaced by tombak.  Also, an AKO in May of 1895 decreed that aluminum bronze was to be used for the manufacture of certain metal items on the helmet including plates.  Tombak is red looking ad must have been of some problem to be replaced so quickly. Both of these metals have a high copper content and made production easier.

1897  cockade change

On 22 March 1897, the familiar red white and black national cockade was introduced.  There had been a national cockade earlier, but it was long ago and this is the one that everyone is familiar with.  The landes cockade  had been on the right side but were moved and the landes cockade was put on the left side and the national cockade on the right. officer helmets with all of the accoutrements of the Reich's cockade are called the M1897 officers helmets.  The residue of officer developments were called M1899 developments, only because there was a uniform regulation on 15 May 1899.  That regulation reinforce the 12.5 cm helmet and included a 9.5 cm spike height restriction. So the total height could be 22 cm. In 1911, the uniform regulation specified 8.5 cm for the height of the spike.  No one seemed to follow these regulations though.

Ersatz Helmets 1914-1915

Mobilization found that there were just not enough helmets to go around. As a result Tin, steel, felt, paper and other substances were used for helmets. Collectively called ersatz helmets these filled the gap and were faster to produce than normal leather.

                   

M 1915 Pickelhaube.

The requirement for brass and shortages caused by the blockade led eventually to the Germans replacing the brass in helmets with all sorts of ersatz or substitute models. The first universal model, called the M15 used gray steel or gray metal, which often is magnetic. officers helmets also followed suit getting cheaper, and using M91 posts in connecting the chin scales.  In fact, an AKO in September 1915, supposedly eliminated chin scales in favor of just using leather straps. Though they existed beforehand one of the most notable features here is a removable spike.

 

design and development by Flyswatter Designs