Saturday, February 17, 2007

Peruvian model 1934 Steel Helmet

Front view

side view. This helmet has the original chinstrap and...
French-style six pad liner.

Unlike the steel shell of the helmet, the comb is made of aluminum. I sometimes read that the comb of a helmet was to deflect sabre blows. Really? sabre blows? In the age of machine guns and high-explosive shells? I never really bought this idea of 20th century soldiers being under much a threat from cavalrymen weilding swords. Lets take a closer look at that comb thingy...

Look, you can see light through it, air can flow through it. Lets look inside the bowl of the helmet and see what this comb is covering.

Aha! ventilation holes! Almost all European manufactured helmets of the era had some sort of passive ventilation system, and this is basically a French helmet in Peruvian livery.

Imagine being out under the sun with a close-fitting steel dome on your cropped head. It could get pretty warm. Without ventilation your head could roast. The comb is simply a decorative and rain-proof "roof" over those vent holes. As we go along we'll see lots of other types of helmet ventilators. For the French, the comb was like a little cupola on the roof of a barn, providing a positive air flow while keeping the rain out, all while deflecting sabre blows from the ...farmer?

You also see manufacturer's marks stenciled inside the dome as well as the word "Sota" crudely scrawled in black paint . I'm wondering if this was the name of the wearer (who obviously didn't have access to a sharpie).

Also written in pencil.

Inside the liner the manufacturer's stamp is clearly visible,

as are other stamps which I assume indicate inspections as well as size.

Here then, is the most obscure helmet in my collection; the Peruvian (as in llamas) model 1934, Which is essentially a French Mod. 1926 with the Peruvian sunburst insignia. The sunburst is, coincidentally, the insignia of the bane of the current Peruvian government, the Marxist Leninist Sendero Luminoso ("the Shining Path)...the local Commies who promise to set the peasants free while cutting their fingers off (go figure).
Me, I prefer the Leninist MaCartneyist movement, but nonetheless, here is the helmet of the Peruvian army of the WWII era.

Peru, that bastion state which protects the free world from Ecuador.

Pictured here, is the Victory monument commerating the Peruvian triumph over Ecuador in 1941, the seven week war which established the border between those two world powers. Nice monument. The helmets are clearly visible, and apparently this piece was cast on a particularly chilly day as the nipples on the allegorical figure are in high relief.(that's chilly, not Chile).

This helmet was purchased at a Military relic show in Lansing Michigan in 1978. Purchase price was $15.00. It is original in all respects.

Starting Next week I'll begin a chronological posting of helmets beginning with the leather pickelhaube of WWI both infantry and artillery

Stay tuned.


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