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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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