Sunday, February 15, 2015

Turkish M1 parade helmet

I can't pass up shiny objects!

so you can imagine how happy I was to find this dazzler from Turkey. 

I was letting my fingers do the shopping on ebay when I came across this Turkish air force general's parade helmet.  I'm always looking for something different (as well as affordable)
and I didn't have a Turkish helmet, until now.  At a very reasonable price and shipping charge, this arrived from Turkey two weeks after my winning bid.

Google "Turkish honor guard" and you'll find lots of pictures of these lids from all branches of the Turkish military.  They are all highly polished plastic M1-style liners in the color of the arm of service.  and they all have the most wonderful metal badges left, right, and front.  What a piece of confection!

A near-identical copy of the United States M1 liner, this clone is manufactured in an unbreakable flexible plastic.

Immediately familiar is the Riddell suspension system of the American M1 copied here with only minor changes...

most notably the buckles for adjusting the fit.

Otherwise components are identical, including the clips for attaching the sweatband...

and characteristic "A" washers...

affixed to the shell with flat, polished rivets.

The nylon chinstrap is adjusted by a slider buckle.

The webbing has clear maker's markings...

and more information is molded in to the bottom of the visor.

The various badges are really beautiful.

This is the general officer's insignia affixed to the front. 
The crest is backed by red velvet  - Ooh la!

The shield of the Air Force is mounted on the left-hand side of the helmet.

Each branch of service has it's own distinctive shield.
(photo courtesy Mark Skrzynski)

The national shield is enameled metal with a screw back.

It is devoid of any manufacturer's marks.

All shields are secured with a simple square nut.

The chinstrap is mounted with furniture identical to that of the American Hawley fiber liner.

Air mailed all the way from Turkey and now a showpiece of my modest collection.

Turkish delight indeed!

Monday, February 2, 2015

French m.1915 infantry helmet


Previous entries to this blog have made it pretty clear that the 1915 Adrian is my favorite type of helmet; I continue that admiration with this close-up examination of the m.1915 infantry helmet of the Great War
(a video I made on the subject here)

The eponymous Adrian helmet was the brainchild of French General August Louis Adrian.  Here, follows an excerpt from the early masterwork on helmets by Brashford Dean, curator of armour at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the designer of the progenitor of the M1 helmet.

     A few words as to the work of General Adrian: During colonial service in which soldiers were in danger less from the enemy than from diseases due to improper sanitation this officer was known for his ingenuity in developing devices which aimed to protect his men.  Their well-being became his hobby, and when the present war [WWI] broke out, with its appalling casualties, General Adrian sought ways and means in all directions for reducing his losses.  One day he stood before a stretcher and talked with a wounded man - "I had luck," said the sufferer, "I happened to have a metal mess-bowl in my hat and it saved my life."  This incident impressed the General deeply.  Here was the question of a device which might prove of universal value.  So with his usual earnestness. he attacked the problem of a head defense.  He promptly had a steel "calotte" made and fitted inside his cap; then he wore it constantly to find whether it would cause notable discomfort.  next he had many of them made and used experimentally.  Good reports soon came in from the front.  Thereupon, he developed the regular helmet which was manufactured in great numbers for the French Army.  At first this defense was turned out hastily, stamped from dies which had already served in making the helmets of firemen.

     Investigation showed that the new helmet was of actual value in the field; hence it became a part of the regular equipment and was used by every soldier on active duty.  Its use naturally added to the burden of each wearer, causing at first considerable grumbling.  During the period of probation of the helmet, some of the critics  pointed out that the number of head wounds increased notably, but the advocates of the helmet, referring to statistics, replied that the vast percentage of those who were formerly wounded in the head found their way not to hospitals but to cemeteries!

     It is interesting to note that almost from the beginning the "casque Adrian" was a successful experiment.  It protected a measurable portion of its wearer; it was light and soldiers of all classes shortly "took to it."  The casque was attractive in its lines and it added martial distinction to its wearer - which proved, in the opinion of many officers, a more important argument for its use than its ballistic value.  Then too, example was contagious and if one division wore it, the next was apt to follow suit.  Presently it came about that the helmet was looked upon generally as indispensable.

Dean, Brashford, Helmets and Body Armor in Modern Warfare.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1920.
The Adrian helmet...
and the French firefighter's helmet saucily modeled here.
(thanks to Dirk for this fabulous image!)


Side view, showing both the distinctive profile of this beautiful helmet and , at the same time, exposing its inherent weaknesses. The helmet consists of four separate parts: front visor, rear visor, bowl, and crest. Both visors have a folded edge providing adding strength though each seam and rivet represents a weak point - a place of potential failure. 

The comb is not merely ornamental it also provides a rain proof cover for the ventilation hole in the crown of the helmet.

Air flows through the slits...

and flows through the hole at the top of the wearers head, thus cooling the noggin of the wearer.

The six-fingered liner is adjusted with a drawstring at the crown. The corrugate spacers provide a protective space between the liner and bowl and also provide additional ventilation.

This close-up of the leather, wool, and aluminum liner demonstrates another weakness of this pioneer attempt a cranial protection: less than a quarter of an inch separates the shell of the helmet from the skull of the wearer; still, this is much better than a cloth cap and a soup bowl.

The chinstrap is very straightforward with a simple slider buckle to shorten or lengthen.
Now for the walkaround...

This design is a classic that was copied by many other countries, including Peru, Italy, Russia, and and even a second generation of French Adrians in the m.26 (the grist for a future post).  Just as the American M1 was copied by so many other countries, the Adrian was the M1 of its time.

The steel at 0.7 mm in thickness was of limited ballistic value, though, as General Adrian intended, it provided protection against splinters and falling debris.

The comb on the Adrian is very much like the lintel over this doorway...
The lines of this helmet are very art very French.

If a helmet can be beautiful, the Adrian certainly is a thing of beauty...

modelled by beauties...

and worn with jaunty distinction by the poilu of the Great War.

Merci General Adrian!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Hungarian/Finnish M35-38

Some of my favorite Hungarians:

Bela Bartok

Ernie Kovacs

Eliza Doolittle.  "...and not only is she of royal blood; she is a princess!" *
                                                                               Zoltan Karpathy

And the Hungarian (and often Finnish) M35-38.

Uh-oh, I don't know about you but I'm always a little skeptical about countries that model their helmets after the German stahlhelm.  Sure its a great design but it has a troubling cachet, n'est-ce pas ? (Bang! two french terms in a row).

This is an example of a Hungarian M35-38 which was refurbished into Finnish army service.

Differences from the German M35 include the rivet placement...

and the small bracket on the rear skirt.

This bracket was used to fasten the helmet on to the soldier's backpack while on the march.

The M35-38 in the field and gaily decorated.

A video of the Hungarian helmet in action here (with a nice view at 1:25)

Size and manufacturers marks are stamped into the inside of the rear skirt. Flecks of blue paint on the again indicate the Hungarian lineage of this helmet which, following WWII, was repainted and fitted
 with a Finnish liner.

The liner is distinctly Finnish.

The fabric envelopes for the pads are a little festive.

The ventilator is stamped rather than a separate piece similar to the German M40 and M42.

A very simple iron buckle graces the chinstrap.

The rivets and washers appear to be brass and the liner fingers are sewn to a heavy leather band, vey similar to the German M.16.

More tell-tale flecks of blue paint add to the circuitous  pedigree of this helmet.

The M35-38 served from 1936 well in to the Cold War, seeing two decades of service both with Hungarian forces and later in the livery of Finland.   German design, Hungarian manufacture, Finnish service; this is a well-travelled helmet.

* Thanks to Frances for this information and to Mark for his peerless interpretation of Henry Higgins.