If you are a collector, being able to tell the difference between a real and a fake World War 2 US helmet is essential. This is a hobby shared by thousands of war history enthusiasts around the world and, while our troops saved enough of their gear to go around, this is a kind of competitive market with lots of incentives for swindlers.
First, we must identify the three main categories of “fakeness”.
These are not as common as not many people are dumb enough to defile their WW2 helmets. These are usually decorated with exaggerated markings of famous units, and artificially aging you can spot from across the street. However, if you still have problems identifying a toy helmet, keep reading.
These are usually genuine steel shells, and some of them have seen real combat. However, most of the components have been stripped off and replaced by new reproduction parts. The easiest way to spot these is by taking a look at the paint, webbing, and hardware. If they look too new, they probably are. Some of these pieces have experienced some natural aging since they might have been restored 30 or 20 years ago. In this case, check the manufacturer’s markings and see if they match any actual manufacturer of that time. There are more subtle signs that are more difficult to recognize such as the difference between modern production methods versus traditional methods. A typical example can be found in the woven straps and check if they´re needle woven or if a wartime shuttle loom was used in the manufacturing process.
These are really hard to spot as they’re usually made by people who have seen the real thing up close and went out of their way to reproduce every single aspect no matter how minute. Sometimes these are 100% original but have added details to make them more valuable like rare and famous decals and insignias. When you find something like this, make sure you go accompanied by someone who knows his stuff, you don’t want to pay thousands of dollars for a piece that might be worth a couple of hundred dollars.
These are the three most common types of helmets you will find going around in your regular store.
However, there are honest sellers out there who carry World War 2 US helmet replicas made from original parts or crafted by manufacturers who follow original government specs to the letter. Since they are dedicated to their craft, they usually tell you exactly what they have with total transparency so you know you´re getting exactly what you pay for. I think the best company to work with today is At The Front. They supply collectors from around the world, museums, theater companies, and even advise custom and production companies. Their owner personally inspects the whole manufacturing process to make sure every piece and detail is exactly as it is supposed to be.
If you are in need of a World War 2 US Helmet or other gear used by ally and axis combatant forces, you must visit At The Front or contact them at 270.384.1965 to talk to the man himself.