Saturday, December 27, 2008

Nazi Germany M.35 Feldpolizei-Wehrmacht combat helmet


Long ago I resigned myself to the fact that I'd never have a Double Decal WWII German helmet in my collection for the very simple reason that DD helmets are out of my reach, financially.

All that changed today, but only for 24 hours. Its a helmet Cinderella story. I now have residing in my collection a double decal M.35 police helmet, as an overnight guest.  It must return to its owners tomorrow lest it turns back into a pumpkin.

Here it is, ready for the ball:

Perhaps a little rough around the edges, rusty, and somewhat scuffed up, but still...

the real deal.

Here's how I came by this house guest.
 Two friends of mine just returned from the ancestral home up in Pennsylvania where they were enjoying Christmas with the family. While up there they decided to reclaim some childhood possessions, including this WWII German lid. He was half inclined to give it to me, he was equally inclined to take it in the back yard and use it as target practice. She, however, thought it might be worth something so they brought it to me for my opinion. 
 And I'm so glad that they did.

I was happy to be able to tell them that it is in fact a very collectible helmet.  That made them happy, and they made me happy by letting me bring it home for this photo session.

I expect it will make its next public appearance on ebay.

The helmet is, as can be seen above, completely unrestored, unconserved, and untouched save for the busy hand of neglect.

The shell is completely sound, and retains a great deal of the original paint as well as a subsequent (war-time) layer.

The M31 liner, though present, is in near relic condition.  The 75%  that remains is very brittle.  The chinstrap, however, is delightfully intact.

The chinstrap leather appears sound though quite stiff.  I was not able to discern any makers marks on the strap, and certainly many were not marked to begin with.

As can be seen in this detail shot, the chinstrap still retains very crisp outlines.

The liner drawstring is present and intact.

Many of the liner fingers are still complete, intact though inflexible.

Others are altogether missing from the band, revealing the horsehair cushion.

The size stamp "ET66" is quite evident.  This shot also shows to good effect some of the most pronounced pitting.

The maker code is very crisp and distinct.  I would also note that the "golden" hue of these pictures is a manifestation of the lighting I was using.

The Liner split-pins are present and sound.  The greatest exterior pitting is seen here around the rear split-pin.

Side split-pin.

This view shows the original  green paint underneath the peeling subsequent layer of flat medium green. A careful cleaning of this helmet may restore some of the vibrancy of the original green.

Though a museum curator for 12 years, I was unwilling to attempt even a light toweling of this helmet, I'll leave that for the competent (one hopes) touch of its future owner.

The rolled edge, characteristic of both the M.35 and the M.40.

The dead giveaway for the earlier M.35, however lies here, the applied ventilator hole.  The ventilators in later helmets were stamped.  Compare to my Spanish M.35 as profiled here.

The party decal is still quite distinct, and distinctly disturbing in all of its fascist, bastard, nastiness.

The Police decal is less intact.  Most of the black layer is gone leaving the metallic layer exposed.

Close inspection reveals the German police insignia, evidenced by this fragment of wing and the eagle's feathered neck and head.  Compare to this view from the outstanding website German-

German Feldpolizei take a break from world domination to check their bearings.  Of course we know that they're making a bee-line for the Gulag and a much delayed return home.  Dress warm boys.

As if war isn't unpleasant enough, check out these happy kraut wannabees:

A rather robust Feldpolizei complete with motorcycle coat and gorget. Only to be outdone in enthusiasm by...

this pair of jolly jackbooted Japanese whackaloons.  What a fabulously mixed-metaphor!  My goodness, what would my late parents think? 
We are all certainly entitled to our hobbies.  For some its dressing up and marching around.  For me its collecting combat helmets.  To each his own.

Click here to see many more photos of these Japanese Jerrys. I especially liked the full-size cardboard Hanomag half-track.

This helmet will require some thoughtful conservation after which it will end up being show- piece of someone else's collection (sigh).

Tomorrow I'll return this helm to its owners with my thanks for letting me feature it in this blog entry.  Next Sunday evening I'll return to the regular posting schedule with a two post series on Danish helmets.  After that, I do believe it time for some U.S. Navy M1s!

Until then, best wishes for a happy, prosperous, and peaceful new year.


This just in:
They gave me the helmet!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Don't make me come over there!

I'll be back to regular blogging this coming Sunday.



Saturday, November 29, 2008

Spanish M.42/79 Steel Helmet

Here is a variation on the classic "shell game".

Pictured below are three seemingly identical Spanish helmets; the model 42/79, the German manufactured M. 35, and the "modello Z".

Your objective is to determine which is the M42/79.  It is concealing the image of Francisco Franco.   You may want to go with your instincts on this.

If you instinctively thought "hmmmmm, Franco...far right?"

You would be...

                                     ¡Hola, mi nombre es pequeño Francisco!

The M.42/79 is essentially a rehash of that which has gone before (the model Z) with a more highly engineered suspension and chinstrap system.

Its handsome looks still draw from its ancestor the German M.35 which saw Spanish service following the Civil War and accompanied Spanish troops as they assisted the Nazis in their campaign against the Soviets.

Like the "modello Z", the M.42/79 is made of much lighter, thinner steel than its German forebear.

As can be  seen here:
note the bent profile, no doubt after an encounter with an aged Bolshevik.

The liner, though much improved from earlier versions, is still an overly-complex design that provides little of the critical space between the shell of the helmet and the head of the wearer.

Comprised of a leather band, riveted to the shell, the liner is a series of fabric and leather straps radiating toward a hammock-style apex.

The chinstrap is almost identical to the U.S. Army airborne M1C liner jump chinstrap.

The  finish on this particular helmet is much finer than on other examples.  The lack of those typical multiple layers of slopped-on paint lead me to believe that his helmet was in service only a short time.

Spanish police also used the M.42/79 for many years, eventually making the transition to composite helmets:

as seen here actively protecting Spanish society from rampaging gangs of old people.

Speaking of old people who were on a rampage...

now it is time to leave Francisco Franco and his nasty legacy behind as we bid farewell to the Nazi inspired design of the Spanish helmets of the 20th century, and return them to their places in the gallery.

Join me next time for as I begin a two installment series on the Danish helmets in my collection.

accession number: MOA hmar249.68.14
Spanish M.42/79 steel helmet
Acquired 2008, ebay
Purchase price :$36.53
Condition: excellent

Helmet Holiday Hiatus

I'm taking the Month of December off, returning with regular weekly posting beginning on January 4.  In the meantime catch up on earlier posts, click on the links below for other great helmet sites and resources.

Otherwise I wish all a happy holiday season!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Spanish M.42 "Modello Z" steel helmet

"Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy: I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."
Senator Lloyd Bentsen to Senator Dan Quayle, Oct 5, 1988

And Francisco Franco may have draped himself in fur, but he was no Joan Crawford!

I think the same can be said regarding the Modello Z in comparison to the German M.35:

", senor, are no M.35"

And here we plunge in to Spain's attempt to replicate the German M.35, a superior helmet that Francoist troops got a taste of in WWII during their eastern expedition to bring destruction and madness  to Russia (as if the Russkis needed any help in those particular departments).

The war ended but the memory lingers on, memory of that classic M.35 design, replicated here, ersatz in every way, in the M.42 Model Z helmet.

I've read recently that the easiest way to tell a Spanish M.42 from a German M.35 is with a hammer.  

Let me, instead, save a little wear and tear on your collection with these photos. 

The insignia mounting bracket on the front of the helmet is not a sure  giveaway, as you'll remember from a recent posting that the German M.35 (in Spanish service) sported a similar bracket.  The actual differences are, rest assured, quite obvious.

The raw edge and lousy paint-job provide a glimpse in to the production abilities of a nation impoverished by civil war and foreign adventurism.

The rear view...

as well as the top reveal the typical M.35 profile, but also...

the multiple layers of paint, carelessly slopped on, over the lifetime of this helmet.  A typical hallmark of Spanish helmets is this clumsy ham-fisted finishing.

Peer through the multiple layers of flaking and runny pigment  and here is another big difference between the M.35 and its Spanish counterpart; the crudely punch-stamped ventilator.

That mounting bracket in closeup is quite shoddy when compared to the flush-soldered bracket on the German model.

The pay- off when making your i.d. comes when you look inside:

OUCH!  that very standard, very cheap, and very ineffective Spanish liner is revealed.  As in previous examples posted to this blog, the Spanish M.30 and M.26 share this same rudimentary liner, one which provides almost no space between the shell of the helmet and the skull of the wearer.

Here's the available padding, about 1/8 of an inch of felt.  My brain hurts just thinking about any impact to the shell.

The liner pads are sewn to a leather liner band which is riveted to the shell.

Visible here is the reverse side of the punched ventilator, a far cry from the applied ventilator of the German M.35.

The chinstrap is surprisingly well-engineered.  

Typical of Spanish helmets, this one bears no manufacturer's marks, batch numbers, inspection stamps, or other process marks of any sort.  The closest thing to a marking is this deliberate daub of white paint in the very crown of the shell.

Despite its shortcomings, pop on that brass eagle and the wearer is ready for any parade.

I think perhaps too much of Spain's military budget was being diverted to keep Franco in martial splendor as this cartoon may allude:

Now the final question: What becomes a legend most? Here is at least one trait shared by Spanish strongman Francisco Franco and Hollywood strongwoman Joan Crawford...
They both look good in fur.

Despite its shortcomings, I'm very pleased to have this example in my collection.

accession number: MOA hmar249.68.10
Spanish M.42 "Modello Z" steel helmet
Acquired 2008, ebay
Purchase price :$17.53
Condition: very good

Next week:  The Spanish M.42-79 steel helmet