Kriegsmarine vs Toned Heer decals

I. Not all that glitters is gold !

The discussions on what is a Kriegsmarine decal and what is not are as old as the first collectors. Thanks to recent (21st century) findings we can already dismiss a lot of helmets as being Kriegsmarine. We know now more clearly which decals are Kriegsmarine and which factories produced Kriegsmarine helmets and when. The lot number database together with online collector communities have mapped this relatively new info.

But now that we know which is which we are still left with one big issue. Toned decals !

II. What are toned decals ?

While the exact circumstances that make decals tone are not 100% clear we do observe helmets with bright silver decals , lightly yellowed decals and heavily toned decals. It must be a combination of patina and/or ageing lacquer.

Fact is that EF Helmets for example have more toned decals than any other maker. Maybe they used a different kind of lacquer ?

Collectors are trying to find ways to conclusively define what is a Heer decal and what is a KM decal , at first the USB microscope was thought to be the tool that would end any discussion but after personally checking both toned and real Kriegsmarine helmets I have to say it leaves too much room for interpretation. Today’s microscopes do not have the quality to answer this particular question and maybe they will never be able to silence the discussion.

III. Examples of Toned Heer decals

I specifically show you examples of partially toned decals so you can see how big the toning effect can get. There are plenty of examples of completely toned decals.

Here’s an eye opener , a toned Huber Jordan (Thin wing) decal superbly photographed by Sysyphus (moderator at German Helmet Walhalla).

Below HJ&K (Thin wing) decal sits on an EF M42 shell. You can see that the right side of the wing is silver while the rest of the decal is darkly toned.


This Pocher decal on an early Transitional shell also has very uneven toning. I can assure you that the toning looks like gold and if this decal had toned all over it would be called a KM decal. Although so far we do not yet have adequate examples or proof that the Pocher KM decal was ever manufactured.

Another Pocher decal albeit lightly toned


IV. End game

We can easily dismiss the above decals as being KM because we can see traces of the Heer silver. Completely toned decals will either have not toned hard enough (so the color is off , compare to original KM decals in the decals section) or they will have not toned evenly and you may find that out by using a good loupe or a USB microscope.