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When the Nazi party took control of Germany in the early thirties, they immediately set out to strengthen their military.  The WWI German Helmet was used as a WWII German Transition Helmet with the addition of a new liner system known as the M31 or model 1931.  It replaced the old 3-pad liner system with an "eight fingered" leather suspension.  Decals were also added to the helmets to denote branch of service. 

As the Germans geared up for eventual war, they refined the WWI German helmet to make it lighter and more comfortable to wear.  The WWII German M35 Helmet was introduced in 1935 and used the M31 liner system.  It was the first WWII German Helmet widely used for combat.  It was shorter from top to bottom than the WWI German Helmet to give the wearer more mobility.  The air vents/lugs were replaced with a rivet style air vent on each side.

In the early stages of the war, the Helmet underwent a very small modification which cut down on production time and costs and was classified as the WWII German M40 Helmet.  The air vents were stamped directly into the metal instead of being separate rivets.  Also, the practice of placing the national tri-color shield on the helmet was discontinued.  To aid with camouflage, the finish of the helmet was more of a mat finish. 

The final helmet modification took place in 1942 and named the WWII German M42 Helmet.  It had the same characteristics as the M40 helmet with one major difference.  The edge along the bottom was no longer crimped inward.  It was left as a raw edge that flared out.  An order was also given which stated that decals should no longer be used.  This regulation was not always followed, thus many M42 helmets will have a decal on one side.