This is a NEAR EXCELLENT example of the 1st Pattern Luftwaffe Tropenhelm (Pith Helmet). Tropical use helmets were adopted by the Heere (Army) in late 1940 for use by the forces that were going to be serving in the upcoming North African campaign. The German forces serving in that theater were known as the DAK (Deutsches Afrika Korps), meaning “German Africa Corps”. The Luftwaffe quickly followed suit and developed a complete tropical issue uniform, including a pith helmet. The helmets were not particularly popular, and were abandoned as an issue item in late 1942 or early 1943.
This 1st Pattern Luftwaffe Tropenhelm is in NEAR EXCELLENT condition and is made with the typical formed cork core, covered with tan cotton cloth. The cloth is seamed in six vertical panels, and terminates in the center with a removable ventilator cap that has three vents and is covered with the same tan colored cloth. The brim of the visor trim and the chinstrap are made of thin tan leather, with the trim sewn to the edge of the visor. A similar leather sweat band is located inside the helmet, covering a semi-rigid liner band which is attached to the helmet by four suspension brackets and padded with a thin layer of “shoddy” wool/cotton mix between the liner band and sweat band. Each maker tended to have slightly different liner band construction and attachment systems. The interior of the crown of the helmet is lined with bright red cloth, and has a brass alloy four-segment ventilator in the center of the crown. The underside of the brim is lined in a similar olive colored fabric. The adjustable leather chinstrap is attached directly to the interior body of the helmet. The helmet is maker marked inside the leather sweatband with an ink stamp that reads A. Sch. K.. It is also size marked 55, which is about 21.65” and falls in between US hat sizes 6 7/8 and 7. The helmet has two pieces of insignia on it; a national colors shield on the left side of the helmet and a 2nd Pattern Luftwaffe Eagle on the right side of the helmet. The silver washed, metal alloy Luftwaffe Eagle is clutching a canted, swastika in one talon has a roughly 64mm wingspan. The eagle retains the majority of its silver wash, with significant thinning and wear loss along the high edges. The most significant loss is on the swastika, which has a darker brass patina, with some minor verdigris present around the talons. The national tri-colored shield is about 44mm tall by 38mm wide, and has three diagonally angled bars in the national colors of black, "white", and red on a slightly textured alloy metal background field. The national tri-color shield retains about 98%+ of its original black paint and about 95% of the original red paint. The "white" portion is represented by the unpainted silver allow metal, which has a pewter age patina. Both pieces of insignia are secured to the helmet by three prongs which are inserted through the helmet and are bent over inside. These prongs can be clearly seen on the interior of the helmet. The helmet is in really fantastic condition, showing only the most minor wear and handling. The exterior is sound, with only minor soiling and a couple of minor light stains present. These is also a small amount of wrinkling around the brim/helmet junction. All stitching is tight throughout with no loss or damage. The leather brim trim shows some minor scuffing, but no loss or damage. The chinstrap is practically new, with only some minor light crazing from use. The sweatband is in wonderful condition as well. There is some minor loss to the “shoddy” lining between the liner band and the sweat band, but this is only noticeable if the sweat band is folded down to reveal the liner band. The helmet is 100% complete, correct and original and is completely undamaged, with only light use and absolutely no abuse.
Overall this is a really wonderful looking example of a scarce and desirable 1st Pattern Luftwaffe Tropenhelm. These helmets are rarely found in this kind of condition, as their fabric construction made them extremely susceptible to heavy wear and damage in the field. After doing some additional research on these helmets, I found that most of the examples being offered for sale are in the $900 to $1,400 range. This one is as nice (or in most cases nicer) than any of the ones that I have found for sale, and is priced much lower than those. This would be fantastic addition to any World War II German headgear collection, a Luftwaffe collection or an Afrika Corps collection. This is simply a great looking helmet that you will be very proud to own.