Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Nationalist China M1 Steel Helmet
“I had never expected that the China initiative would come to fruition in the form of a Ping-Pong team.”
Richard M. Nixon
Well, yeah, that, and throwing over Nationalist China in favor of cheap crap to stock Wal-Marts with.
The helmet is a straightforward copy of the good old US M1. The backstory, however, is a sordid saga of the United States unwisely propping up the wrong side - to the hilt - and then turning its back on that marionette of a partner, no, I'm not talking about Vietnam, Iran, Iraq, or Panama, or...gosh, we seem to have a long history of that sort of thing...No I'm talking about Taiwan...You know...the GOOD China!
Here's a graphic to help put things into perspective:
The good China is on the island of Formosa, known as Taiwan, or ,until recently "Nationalist China". It was established shortly after World War two by this guy:Warlord Chiang Kai Check, a brutal anti-commie, anti-Japanese, bully who fled with his makeshift Nationalist "government" to the island where he enjoyed the fawning support of the free world and was held up as a shining example of courage against the Reds and their "Bamboo Curtain".
Lots of American surplus military hardware started flowing into Taiwan -
the full roster of cool hardware:
really nice destroyers,
This hardware also Included the always fashionable and effective U.S. M1 helmet. What better way to signify a link of common democratic values than to eqip your barefoot soldiers with the steelpot of the American G.I.?
Eventually manufactured in South Korea, (our other "bastion against Communism" buddy over there), this M1 clone varied little from the venerable U.S. M1
From the front this clone has the typical "Willie and Joe" look of the M1. Subtle Differences become apparent under closer scrutiny (we'll get there).
The top view also presents no surprises, the ovoid shape is distinctly M1.
Our first glimpse of non US manufacture comes with the liner. Neither fiber nor composite, this liner is some sort of heavy vinyl or perhaps ABS through and through. The suspension and rigging configuration is straight out of the final generation US M1 of the 1980s.
The non-reflective surface treatment relies on silica sand in the olive paint. You can do your nails with this pot!
Tricked out in its Nationalist Chinese livery the liner profile is again, distinctly M1 of the 1980s.
Both the shell and the liner are completely without any dates, numbers, or makers marks. Only one label, left tantalizingly blank, appears underneath the suspension webbing.
And now, for the gory details:
The swivel bail as well as the chinstrap and chinstrap fastener begin to reveal the cheapness and lack of finish of this helmet compared to the US version. Metals are lighter, spot welds are cruder, placement is somewhat slipshod, and there are lots of rough or sharp edges on the metal. The chinstrap webbing is also very light and cheap feeling.
In close-up the rear rim joint reveals the lack of polish to this helmet. from the heavy handed spot welding to the misaligned and often wavy rim component, this helmet would not have passed muster for service with US forces.
Similarly, the chinstrap fastening hardware, although, identical in appeareance to the US version is rough, cheap, and poorly finished (remarks often directed toward me by an ex in-law).
Hats off! to a fine effort to bring a little G.I. to the forces of non-communist, non-mainland, and (possibly) non-viable Nationalist China.
Needless to say that as time, fashion, and politics have passed and matured,the United States no longer seems to remember knowing Taiwan, let alone going to the prom with her, and now the US seeks a much more sensible and lucrative (for China) relationship with mainland China, that is, the Peoples Republic, formerly known as "the bad guys".
Now, as far as American foreign policy is concerned, this is how we'd prefer to think of the country formerly known as Nationalist China, its "happy hour" a thing of the past:
Part of me feels hopeful that one day America will again turn her favor toward the best little buddy it ever had, that island beacon of ...well certainly not democracy...but certainly anti communism, the tiny giant -
accession number: MOA hmar.45.17.8
Model M1 Nationalist Chinese helmet.
Acquired 1979, Lansing Michigan, from collector Floyd Tubbs.
Purchase price :$50.00
My China Syndrome is now at an end. It is once again safe to leave your shelters. Thank you for your cooperation.