Heer or Kriegsmarine ?

The title of this blog article is a question that many collectors pose on the online forums. The answer to that question is important because if a helmet is a Kriegsmarine helmet it has a higher value. The fact that decals can tone very heavily makes it sometimes almost impossible to see if a decal is silver or gold. Still you do not want to buy a helmet at Kriegsmarine price if it turns out it is not a Kriegsmarine helmet.

I already have a page on GHV that talks about the heavy toning on Heer decals here.

This week-end I had a chance to plug in the USB Microscope again to answer for myself if the helmet I found was a Heer or Kriegsmarine.


This helmet just surfaced out of the woodwork in Belgium.

The helmet came out of basement that the grandchildren were cleaning out after their grandfather passed away. The grandfather told them he got the helmet from a German soldier. He was still a kid during the war. That is all the story there is to it.

The helmet is an M40 , ET size 66 with a 1940 dated liner band. Lot number is only partially visible 112x.

The camo scheme is interesting as it looks to have been dabbed in mustard green/yellow paint which was spread unevenly across the helmet.

It is in fact very similar to another helmet I have.

Some USB close-ups of the paint.

STEP 1 : USB microscope at 25x zoom

Upon first inspection at home I got excited. The decal is nice and evenly golden. I did not spot an area that looked less golden. And the helmet is an ET which is another box ticked.

I set up my USB microscope and scanned the decal. It blew me away at 25x zoom. Evenly proportioned gold color.

STEP 2 : Looking for the ridge

ET Kriegsmarine decals are know to have a pronounced outline all around the decal. Collectors call this ‘The ridge’. It is part of the KM decal printing process.

You can spot the ridge with the naked eye but in case of a more worn decal or in this case partially overpainted one a black light can help.


Unfortunately I could not see the ridge with the black light.

STEP 3 : USB Microscope at 200x zoom

Comparing these close-ups to those of an original KM decal answered my question. As you can compare from yourself below the difference is like night and day.

What do we see in the original close-ups ?

  • Surprisingly at 200 zoom a KM decal’s pulver is made up for 98% out of gold foil but you still see some silver and darker elements in there.
  • The 25 zoom photo shows the same but less pronounced.

A Kriegsmarine decal (left at 25x , right at 200x)

Now the other decal :

  1. It does not show a pulver made up of 2 different components. Even at 200x zoom it is still even in color.
  2. In the right photo you can spot larger areas of silver around the damaged areas.
  3. But also significant is that gold color at 200x zoom looks like a brown wash that is very uneven. You can see small and large clouds. (The results correspond to a similar analysis a few years back)

The decal on the woodwork helmet at 200x zoom.


Sometimes we need to go a little deeper to find the truth , this could have been classified as a KM camo helmet and maybe nobody would lose sleep over it. But if we stop analyzing and think that details do not matter we lose control over our hobby and I know people that love to pull away the power of knowledge from collectors as that would give them back the power to sell you utter crap.

Keep on top of your game ! Happy hunting.



4 thoughts on “Heer or Kriegsmarine ?

  1. sysyphus November 6, 2017 / 6:01 pm

    Great post Frank. the ADM has been again a very useful tool, otherwise too many doubts were left on what such decal actually is, which any naked eye would be able to spot; that doesn’t mean that the helmet you found it’s a lovely one.

  2. Billy curran November 16, 2017 / 2:33 pm

    Hi there I have an m42 helmet it’s original colour on the inside is field grey number hkp64 3428 can you tell me witch part of the army this came from please thank you billy

    • schwerpunkt73 November 19, 2017 / 12:22 pm

      Hello Bill , the lot number is not an identity number. It’s a steel plate number. Probably hundreds of helmets were made in the same lot and the lot number list you can view on my website shows that one number can have helmets of different branches and sizes even.


      • Billy curran November 19, 2017 / 2:01 pm

        Thank you for you’re help cheers frank

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