GERMANY-DDR - M56 3.jpg


Despite some mental confusion (possibly mine alone, but not helped by a lack of information from DDR M56 experten...) regarding the later versions of this helmet, I feel confident in saying that this version, with three rivets placed high in the crown, is the first and original! That's something certain then, around which we can all orient ourselves.
This helmet entered service from 1956 onwards



GERMANY/DDR M56 - liner

This liner, with four rubber spaces, is similar to the German WW2 helmets, and entirely unlike that on later models.
There is a shell stamping, a Roman 2 above 75 above 64. What's that mean then?
Some of these early three-rivet shells had the later plastic liner cradle (see below) retrofitted. How did this work?






GERMANY/DDR_M56 - shell

OK, now I'm confused. This may well be the second version of the M56, which still has the three upper rivets, but has been retrofitted (?) with six stud-type spikes inside the shell to take the new standard plastic liner spider.


GERMANY/DDR_M56 rivets detail

Here you can clearly see the inside end of the old upper rivet and two of the new welded-in studs.
What I do not understand is where the version with the plastic liner and six rivets set low down on the shell comes in. Did this actually go into service or was it just a prototype? Information please!

DDR militaria collector (and fluent German reader, who has actually made sense of the parts of Baer Vol 2 that I couldn't understand!) Henk van der Waarsenburg from the Netherlands offers this explanation of the various types of M56, which certainly looks convincing to me:-

(Regarding the type with both outside rivets and internal spikes) "This type of helmet is not rare, It is a transitional model and many thousands of them were made. Over here is is commonly known as the M56 Type 2. Type 1 being the first with the WW2-like liner. Type 2 the old shell with the new liner,  Type 3 the new shell without the rivets outside and the new liner. And then there is a Type 4 which is like Type 3 but as you lay them up-side down on a table the Type 4 will lay still because the top of the helmet is flat. This is on plain view hardly noticeable.

On the M56 with the six rivets on the outside, I have found in the book from Baer volume 2 photographs where you can clearly see them, but in the text he is stating that this was done by the manufacturer when during test it came clear that the first model bolts came loose when the helmet was shot upon during trials. So these helmets with the six bolts on the outside are used during the test phase of the second type liner and are therefore extremely rare."  

Henk van der Waarsenburg


GERMANY/DDR_M56 liner 1

This is actually a very ingeniously designed liner, easily assembled using press-studs, and once it is examined out of the shell it proves to be highly adjustable. Great design!


GERMANY/DDR_M56 liner 2

This specific helmet also had the foam-rubber pads as is typical fit with this liner, but were missing when I acquired it; traces of dried foam on the liner pins demonstrated they were once there.


GERMANY/DDR_M56 liner 3









Final pattern shell, no external rivets.
First pattern has three high mounted rivets, second has three rivets and six internal spikes, the third has no external rivets....and a rounded top, and the fourth has a flat top! Eeeee! Have I ever seen one, and probably didn't even notice.....


 GERMANY/DDR M56 - liner

Second (or is it third?) pattern liner, plastic cradle fixed to six internal spikes welded into shell.
The foam rubber pads are standard with this plastic and leather liner.
This version came into service from 1967. Several other national armies have used this model, particularly since German reunification when it was supplanted by the M862 Kevlar helmet, and stocks sold abroad.