I have seen all kinds of fakes pass by online and on local fairs , I’m pretty methodical when it comes to dealing with all kinds of data. Be it lot numbers or remembering decals , helmet paints etc…
The purpose of this article is simply to show from my viewpoint how dangerous or well made fake decals are and if there have been improvements over the years since I started studying decals.
I. THE LUFTWAFFE ADLER
While it is impossible to say exactly when this first example was designed it surely dates back to the early eighties. Just do a side by side comparison with an Original decal and encircle the differences. Some are very obvious. Take a particular look at the head area and lower claw.
Funny thing is that it still confuses dealers and newer collectors even today. I started calling it “The easy fake” many years ago. Once you have identified the many mistakes I’m sure you will agree.
Conclusion : NOT DANGEROUS , EASY TO RECOGNIZE , STILL OFTEN SEEN ON DEALER SITES.
The next reproduction decal is superior to the “Easy one” but still flawed and easy to recognize as it has an extra line across the claw that should not be there.
So at first sight the second one is the more dangerous one but what has been the impact of this “better” decal on the hobby in the last couple of years ?
The answer is practically no impact. I saw this decal turn up only on a couple of helmets of which several were Fallschirmjäger helmets and I have not seen it for at least a couple of years. We can assume therefore that this decal had a very low production run and is probably no longer in production.
Conclusion : NOT DANGEROUS , EASY TO RECOGNIZE , SMALL CHANCE YOU WILL ENCOUNTER IT
The next decal is a reproduction Straightleg decal. These have been around for as long as I can remember and they probably turned up around the same time as the “Easy fake”. So around the early eighties would be my guess.
There are many graphical mistakes in this one so comparing it with an original is key to learning how to easily spot it. The first thing you can check is the iris in the eye which is bigger than that of an original. But many other lines are incorrect as well.
A snakeleg version of this reproduction decal exists as well and is equally flawed. Furthermore throughout the years there have appeared different copies of this copy.
While these types of fakes are less common I see people having more difficulty with them. I remember a topic from 2005 where a camo helmet with this type of fake decal was sold between dealers.
Still as reproductions go again this is a poor attempt.
Conclusion : PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION , EASY TO RECOGNIZE , STILL POPS UP OCCASIONALLY
II. END CONCLUSION
So these are the best of the best reproduction Luftwaffe decals I have come across in the last 14 years. While the German helmet collecting community got a whole lot smarter in these years no better Luftwaffe reproduction decals have turned up.
I often read that the fakes kill the hobby but these decals can’t even be called fakes. They are so far from the original designs that they can hardly be used to swindle someone.
Remember that helmets with fake decals usually often have other aspects that are incorrect. Newly painted , man made wear , replaced or fake liner , fake chinstraps.
For further reading and to see more examples of reproductions check these 2 links :
Let’s close with a combination that never existed. A Luftwaffe decal with a Hitlerjugend diamond.
Next time I will take a look at a decal from a different branch of the Wehrmacht and we will see if they are more worrisome.
Enjoy your sunday.