Lot numbers : Often misunderstood

I touched upon this subject briefly when answering question 10 in my previous blog article ’10 questions for the German Helmet Vault’ but it seems necessary to make it into an article all of its own as I see more and more people posting questions or making wrong assumptions based on the information they got from a lot number list.

HOW MANY SUCH LISTS EXIST ?

First of all there are only 2 Lot numbers lists out there. One is posted here on the German Helmet Vault and is maintained by me and shared for free. One is in the form of a book. I have only seen some excerpts of that one.

There is a distinct difference between the 2 lists. My list has a description of the helmets which helps me to add helmets with similar lot numbers which in turn gives us better insight at how similar or disimilar in build they are particularly with regard to the installed liner , size and branch.

THE START … WITHOUT AN END

The idea of the creating a lot number list started a long time ago. Must have been 2005 maybe earlier on a forum that no longer exists. I’m not sure anymore how it all got started , I remember members sending in their lot numbers and they were put into a topic on that forum.

When that forum was closed and I got the chance to set up and run the German Helmet Walhalla forum we revived the idea and started working on a completely new list with moderators adding to it as they saw fit.

At a certain stage the list became unmanageable because we were working in a forum topic. The data input was uncoordinated because everybody used different codes and language and there was no way to check the data integrity.

So I decided to make it my own personal project , create the list in Excel. Add descriptions of the helmets so I could also add more helmets with the same lot number. As for the data integrity part I only added helmets that I had seen in hand or were posted on forums with enough details to ascertain authenticity.

I worked fevershly the first few years to get a 1000 helmets in the list. I can tell you it is A LOT of work.

Today there are 2200 helmets in the list , still a microscopic sample of all German combat helmets made during WW2. It is roughly estimated that 25 million German helmets were produced in WW2.

Q&A ABOUT LOT NUMBERS

I found my helmet lot number in your list does it mean my helmet is authentic ?

No. A visual inspection is always required.

If my helmet does not have a decal , can a lot number tell me what branch it used to belong to ?

No. We discovered thanks to the lot number list that a lot number is not branch specific. So one number can be Heer , SS , Polizei , KM and so on. Only if the paint color is Luftwaffe blue can you be sure your helmet is a Luftwaffe helmet. No Lot number needed for that.

Are helmets with identical lot numbers all from the same branch ?

No , the lot number is unrelated to the branch. So one lot number can have helmets of different branches and sizes even.

M407360SE 66SD Heersteel liner
M407360SE 64SD LWalu reinforced liner
M407360SE 62SD LWsteel liner

The green colored entries in my list show this clearly , these are helmets with identical lot numbers.

Can I tell from the lot number if my M42 helmet should have a decal ?

The lot number list can help with that depending on the factory. We have a pretty clear view around which number CKL started to produce no decal helmets and also the Quist M40 decal drop is visible. For the other factories it’s still rather vague.

One watchout , any conclusion drawn from the lot number list must be accompanied with a visual inspection of the helmet in question.

Can the lot number list tell me what year my helmet was made ?

The best indicators that can help you with that are the liner band date and the dome stamp (if your helmet is an M35). In case you can’t see them clearly you may be able to ascertain the approximate year of production by cross referencing the lot number with my list.

Can the lot number tell me if the components on my helmet are original to my helmet ?

A visual inspection is key of course but you can use the lot number to check if your liner band conforms with entries listed in the list but of course you have to compare apples with apples. A reissued M35 with lot 7XXX can have a later steel dated liner when compared with a factory untouched DD M35 with the same lot 7xxx number.

I see dealers adding lot number list print outs with the helmets they sell , should I have more confidence in buying a helmet that is listed in a lot number list ?

No. Having a lot number match means absolutely nothing so using this information to sell a helmet is useless.

Remember that lot number list present only a minute number of total helmets produced.

So what are lot number lists useful for ?

It’s usefulness has proven itself more on a higher “factory production” level than on an individual helmet level.

It helped us to see some interesting things about which factories produced for which branches. For example SE only produced Kriegsmarine helmets in a very small time frame (1940) and used M35 shells. NS never produced for the Kriegsmarine.

And as more and more helmets get listed we will get a better view on around which lot numbers the decals stopped being applied. For ckl and Q we already have good data.

Also useful when comparing component of helmets with identical lot numbers or very near lot numbers.

Do you use the lot number list when buying a helmet ?

Depends on what I am buying and where I am. On a fair I never check the list. If online I will have a look in exceptional cases. I will check for a late war M42 for the decal drop date or for a very early helmet for the liner band type and also for a late M35 for the liner band type.

But I don’t let the lot number overrule my visual inspection. If a helmet is untampered with I will buy it whatever the lot number data tells me , experience and knowledge trumps the list.

That’s it for this newsletter/blog , if you want to discuss it with other collectors you can do so in our community forum here : German Helmet Vault

Or leave a comment.

Stay safe and keep collecting !

Frank

6 thoughts on “Lot numbers : Often misunderstood

  1. Panzerheld January 25, 2021 / 10:56 pm

    Perfect timing again Frank. As you rightly pointed out, the Lot No IS NOT the definitive way of authenticating a Third Reich Helmet

  2. spudgun999 January 26, 2021 / 1:16 am

    Thankyou .

  3. Dan January 26, 2021 / 2:51 am

    Hey Frank – Thanks for sharing this summary on the lot number lists – Very informative and I appreciate it! Dan

  4. Andrew Kriener January 26, 2021 / 3:38 am

    Great article Frank. Do you log the helmets we post onto the list?

  5. Sysyphus January 26, 2021 / 9:17 am

    A lot of confusion goes with this lot nr thing, so well done Frank because you touched all points, accurately written. Your article should be printed and framed by plenty of people out there that still have no real clue about this matter.

  6. spudgun999 January 26, 2021 / 9:43 am

    Made it alot clearer, thankyou for taking your time for the update .

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