Thursday, February 21, 2013

Peoples Republic of China GK 80/A Steel Helmet (arny)

More from Red China:

Behold the helmet that finally established the institutional identity of the Red Army, the home-grown GK 80/A.

One of the things that makes Red China so slaphappy these days is its very long and very sad history of being the jailhouse bride to a passing parade of occupying thugs and bullies. After years of this degradation, a dazed (but still very much in love) Red China has stepped up to assert itself as a first-tier dictatorship among the greater community of third-rate nations, thugs and bullies. Full-circle! group hug!

Eschewing the trappings of centuries of colonial or outside influence, the Peoples Republic was happy to discard the Soviet Ssh40 steel helmet which characterized its participation during the Korean War (and other hot spots of the Cold War), for their very own, motherland-produced steel GK 80/A.

This Chinese manufactured helmet is simple, strong, asymmetrical, and ironically very similar the the M30-32 helmet of the Japanese forces that spent so much time in China doing all of those unspeakably nasty things that they (the Japanese) can't seem to remember to have happened at all... oh look over's Hello Kitty!

A testimonial to "form follows function" his helmet is mighty plain, design is not it's strong suit. But when you've got six hundred god-zillion troops to outfit; ease of production, speed of manufacture, and economical materials tend to drive the program.

The shell is simple and straightforward, with a slight upward tilt to the raw rim running forward ending in a very modest visor. Nice depth to the shell, you can protect a lot of head with this helmet.

The profile of the rear skirt really brings to mind that Japanese number from the dark days.

From the top this helmet has a distinct ovoid shape, narrowing at the front.

Marzetti notes that the liner is "odd but simple", and goes on to say that it is quite comfortable. This is a simple liner, almost to the point of being elegant. I like it very much.

Using mostly cotton web, the suspension is very similar to the American M1 of WWII days. The band is a strip of vinyl backed with a soft rubber shock absorber. The space between the shell and the wearer's head is about three quarters of an inch, again similar to the American M1.

Adjustment is easy with a buckle in the rear...

and a tie at the top, an obvious copy of the M1 system, embracing the foreign to further the revolution.

The Y-yoke chinstrap does not unfasten but is completely adjustable with a cam-style buckle.

Chinese-style "A" washers and rivets connect the suspension to the shell, and this reveals a weakness in this steel plain Jane...

those eight rivets communicate to the outside of the shell where they are machined flat, hard for the eye to detect but weak points ballistically.

The few storage scuffs on this otherwise "unissued" looking helmet indicate how very thin the olive green finish is. Fortunately the ballistic value of paint is negligible.

The only confection that came with this very proletarian helmet was the heavily enameled (and somewhat chubby looking) commie star on the front, affixed with some sort of Epoxy. Otherwise the helmet is free of any makers or inspection marks of any sort, all glory going to the people, and the chairman, I suppose.

Representing the last generation of the venerable steel helmet this example is a nice first stab by China at establishing a unique look for its forces and restoring some self-esteem for its National Psyche.

Overheard exchange:
Red Guard: China is not imperialistic!
Gunboater: Want ta bet?

accession number: MOA hmar.46.17.13
Peoples Republic of China GK 80/A helmet.
Acquired 1984, Lansing Michigan.
Purchase price :$50.00
Condition: excellent/unissued

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