Sunday, July 17, 2016

Portugal m.1916 combat helmet

I'm quite serious...

the only helmet that offers less ballistic protection than the lid of a
Webber barbecue grill...

is the Portuguese m.1916 of the Great War.

Burgers anyone?

It is no coincidence that the m.1916 bears a great resemblance to the British mk.I helmet as it was designed by British Army officer Major John MacIntosh.

The steel of this featherweight helmet is very thin; it weighs only 1.3 pounds.  Compare that to the manganese steel British mk.I which weighs in at 2.09 pounds and the heavyweight German nickel-chromium m.1916 at 3.04 pounds!

The chinstrap is missing and the liner is only partially intact; factors that made this very rare helmet affordable to my humble collection.

There is a ventilation hole on each side, formed by a separate grommet.

 A flimsy band of corrugated cork provides the only spacing between the helmet shell
and the head of the wearer.  Ouch!

The name, or initials, of the wearer are inked into the leather headband.

The edge of the rim is folded, surprising for such a cheaply stamped helmet.

Further compromising the meager ballistic value of the helmet are all of the holes drilled through the shell by which the liner is stitched in.

The corrugations in the steel, giving this Brodie-style helmet its distinctive look, were probably to add rigidity to this very thin helmet.

The post-war "Cruz de Aviz" insignia indicates that this helmet soldiered on after the Great War as part of the fascist paramilitary group; the Legião Portuguesa.

Legião Portuguesa members.

Now, as is usual with these posts, some photos and graphics of the m.1916 in action:

Pictured at center, in this group of Portuguese and British prisoners
is a soldier sporting the m.1916.

Now, I have to get back to that barbecue!

See you next time with another cool helmet from the collection.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Serbia/Bulgaria m.1915 combat helmet

Unintended consequences

It's June 28, 1914 and 19-year-old Serbian Gavrilo Princip made history.  And how.

By killing one of Europe's most insignificant monarchs, Princip plunged the world into a war that cost  thirty-eight million casualties including 25% of the Serbian army.

I bet he didn't see that one coming.

The Serb forces were depleted after the Balkan wars and were sorely under-manned and under-equipped at the outset of the Great War.  Overwhelmed by the Bulgarians, Serb forces were nearly devoured and had to flee into neighboring Albania.

Enormous amounts of Serbian military materiel were captured by the Bulgarians, including French-made Serbian m.1915 helmets.  Those helmets would embark on a long journey which would see them converted into Bulgarian air-defense helmets during World War Two and , eventually, to my helmet gallery.

What keeps this from being a typical French-produced m.1915 Adrian helmet is the addition of the additional split pins and rivets.

In the newer layer of paint is the outline of the original Serbian helmet insignia.

The crest, one of the features that is emblematic of an Adrian, is more than just decorative...

it provides an air-flow through the helmet to provide ventilation and a modicum of comfort for the wearer.  Air enters the slits on each side of the crest...

and exits through this hole in the crown of the shell.

The rivets at the top attest to the variety of liners that this helmet has had.

The original WWI liner brackets, as with all Adrians, were welded to the shell, the evidence of the welds are clearly visible. At some point in the history of this helmet what I imagine were similar brackets were riveted in place of the earlier welded ones.

The large split-pins affix the final liner in this helmet - a WWII Bulgarian, when this helmet was reconditioned with new liner. new paint, and a new mission - wartime civil defense.

The smaller split-pins affix the leather to the band, and the larger pins, the band to the shell.

The band was originally finished bright, very little of which remains intact.

The liner is the type found in the Bulgarian m.36/C of the Second World War.  The chinstrap bears a great similarity to that found in German helmets of WWII, of whom
Bulgaria was an ally.

The liner is of fairly good quality, with the drawstring holes backed by
leather washers.

The sole marking on this helmet is the ink-stamped liner size on the inside of the liner.

And here are some views of the Serbian m.1915 in WWI service.

And what happened to Gavrilo Princip?  he's considered a hero in modern-day Serbia.

It's a heart-warming story of "local boy makes good".  All's well that ends well, I guess

See you next time with another cool helmet from the collection.