Sunday, August 31, 2008

Soviet Ssh40 Steel Helmet of WWII and beyond

"Let's go Marching Through Georgia!"  is the rough translation of the poster above.  This is the second of three installments of Soviet helmets of the 20th century in recognition of the, that is "Russian" invasion of neighboring Georgia.
The Ssh40 typifies the Red soldier of the Second World War as well as the Cold War, and represents the exported image of Marxism globally.  This commie lid would end up on the heads of Reds from China to Cuba and became symbolic of the "bad guys" to us Amerikanskis. From the front the deep dome and flaired skirts reveal a well designed, cheap to produce, and very protective helmet.  Unless, of course, one chooses to wear it like Comrade Numb Nutz  pictured second from right (below)... all that his helmet is protecting is his pompadour. Side views show a very simple, worker-friendly design, with very clean lines and simple assembly. This particular specimen, with a nearly perfect finish,  is in unissued condition and I'm happy to have it in my collection Only the slightest storage blemishes are evident.  This is one very clean lid.
Let's follow Ivan and Boris as they go... Charging toward the details!   (Поручать к деталям!)
The three-pad oil cloth liner is attached to the dome at six points by split rivets.
There are numerous markings and stamps throughout this helmet: On the shell, (I'm assuming that this is the date of manufacture - 1958) and on the liner pads.  A robust cotton cord joins the three pads and provides a good degree of adjustment for setting the depth of the head into the helmet. The chinstrap, of olive canvas with a metal buckle and ferrule, is both cheap to manufacture and very durable as well as easy to adjust. A close-up of the horse hair padding, the liner band, and the split end of the attaching rivet. The helmet is finished rough in a very even coating of grit and olive paint. The Russkis could never design a decent sportscoat, automobile, ball-point pen, or calculator, but they sure nailed this one.  All in all a fine helmet which came, in the last half of the 20th century to symbolize the scourge of Nazis and (ironically) freedom-loving people throughout the globe.
But,  that was then...
This is now.
Stop by next Monday for a look at the Soviet Ssh68 "high dome" steel combat helmet.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Russians, Beware!

Buck Turgidson, the world needs you again.

I'll be posting another Soviet helmet on Monday.

See you then.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Soviet Union Ssh36 Steel Helmet of WWII

More than simply men kissing men...

its the Ssh36 helmet of WWII

Just when you thought it was safe to mothball your nukes...

They're baaaack!

Like a villain in the Batman series, the Russians have finally come out of their dormant state and are back to their old shenanigans, just like the old days. How nice it must be for China to be out of the oppression spotlight for awhile.

The suspense was killing me, I knew it was only a matter of time until the Soviets who run that morally-decayed cuspidor of a country reasserted their brand of barbarism.

In celebration of the return of an old enemy (the Harvey Dent of geopolitics) here’s the first installment of what will be three posts on the Sovietski lids in my collection. My hope is to have all of them profiled before nuclear war is declared over the Red invasion of Georgia (why couldn't it have been Arkansas?). I begin with the classic Ssh36.

Behold that marvel of aesthetics The M36 helmet of the USSR, this is one of the finest examples of design to come out of the Soviet Union since this thing:

  No, I don't know what it is either.

Seriously though, I think this is a great looking helmet, and this example is one of the favorites of my collection.

This side view demonstrates the classic lines; deep skull, flared skirt, crest, and broad visor.

Head-on, this beauty hints at some influence from the French Adrian.

Although the steel is surprisingly light (ballisticly) the depth of the skull provides superior protection from falling debris and low-velocity shrapnel.

The short ventilator-concealing crest is strangely, and  fashionably, Adrian-like  for the product of such a classless, charmless, and godless society.

From the rear, note the slight asymmetry of this helmet, an indicator of the third-world industrial base Russia has always excelled at.

Liners in specimens of the Ssh36 are often missing.  Research indicates that the liners were often removed by the soldiers to provide space to accommodate their winter caps beneath the helmets.  This particular helmet has an unmarked liner, though a liner unlike any I've ever seen for a Soviet helmet.  I'm assuming its a replacement.  Made of what appears to be pigskin it has five fingers and is sewn to an olive drab wool band.  

Again, like the classic French Adrian, the chinstrap bales are fairly thin wire.

And like the Adrian, this corrugated metal band provides both airflow as well as a buffer between the inner surface of the helmet and the head of the wearer.

The all-fabric chinstrap is rugged and cheap to produce.  The slider buckle is thin stamped metal.

The only marking "Z-I3I6" appears inside the rear skirt.

This close-up of the welded crest shows the openings that allow for passage of air...

through the hole in the top of the skull:

Unlike the Chinese helmet I profiled earlier, the rivets are machined by slave-laborers rather than peened by slave-laborers

Aside from a few scratches the green paint on this lid is in remarkably good condition.

And the stenciled red star on the front is still very much intact.

Now let us hope and pray that the Russkis come to their senses and quickly get out of Georgia, and return the concept of unilateral invasion of sovereign countries back to where it belongs...

American foreign policy.

Bottom line, the ex-commies are at war with the ex-commies.  That makes it really hard to know which side to root for on this deal.   After all, wasn't it Georgia that cursed the world with favorite son Stalin, for goodness sake?

Stalin says: "Yummy, SUPPER!"

accession number: MOA hmar233.62.2
Ssh36 Soviet Steel Helmet
Acquired 1983, Lansing Michigan.
Purchase price :$20.00
Condition: excellent (though liner may not be original to the helmet)

Another Soviet helmet next Monday

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Anchors Aweigh

Here's a little sea story for you. Pictures, and text, of how I sometimes spend my vacation time. I hope you enjoy the side trip.

This is me in 1973:

(U.S.S. Dehaven, Long Beach CA)

This is a later version of me just a few years ago:
(U.S.S. Laffey, Mount Pleasant, SC)

I'm off for a few days, taking a trip up to Buffalo New York to participate in a working field day aboard the Navy destroyer, USS The Sullivans (DD-537) which is now a museum ship.

The "Sully"

I used to do this every year as a member of the destroyer veterans organization; TinCan Sailors.

(me, waving from the back row)

Most people are unaware of the fact that the third largest fleet (currently) in the world, is the historic fleet, that is, ships of all nations (mostly U.S.) that are preserved as museum ships.

I've been helping out as a field day participant since 1996, first aboard the Gearing class destroyer, U.S.S. Joseph P. Kennedy (DD-850) in Fall River Mass.

It was a real deja vu weekend, walking the passageways of a ship that was utterly identical to my second ship (back when I was in the Navy) the U.S.S. Higbee (DD-806). It was both a little weird and a lot of fun.

Closer to home (when I lived in Michigan) was the U.S.S. LST 393.

This amphibious ship was part of the Normandy invasion and then in civilian life was converted over to a Great Lakes car-carrier. I think the 393 is still undergoing a very long process to return to WWII livery as a museum ship in Muskegon Michigan.

Here I am doing overhead work in the well-deck of the 393...
and chipping paint on the pilot house door:

I've also helped out on the U.S.S. Laffey (DD-724) in Mt. Pleasant South Carolina...

the sister-ship and spittin' image of my first ship the U.S.S. Dehaven (DD-727). I did two field day weekends aboard the Laffey and made the acquaintance of one of the finest guys I've ever known, retired senior chief petty officer Vic Fletcher, who has since gone to his celestial reward.

Vic was the Chief engineer at Patriot's Point just outside of Charleston. He was responsible for the upkeep of, among other things, a Coast Guard cutter, a submarine. a destroyer, and an aircraft carrier; all museum ships. He was really outstanding at what he did. As a crew boss he worked his volunteers really hard, and then fed them really well. You never found yourself with nothing to do for want of instructions or tools. Vic really knew how to maximize the efforts of his volunteers.

That's Vic in the center of this jolly group, Jim Sehey (bottom left) is a National Park Service Volunteer at Cowpens (I think). Vic actually served aboard the Laffey when they both were on active duty.

Here's my favorite shot of Vic as I was leaving the Laffey. Vic is on a bollard, what he referred to as his "favorite seat".

This is the last time I saw one of the nicest guys I ever knew.

Aside from the endless sea-stories, catfish fries, adult beverage consumption, and general fun, an enormous amount of preservation work occurs during these working field days. Imagine yourself the curator of an historic vessel and every year thirty guys show up with pickup trucks full of tools, materials, and often spare parts (don't ask) to spend three intensive days chipping, painting, welding, patching, splicing, calibrating, and generally putting your ship right. Its like getting a major grant! When the weekend is over the shipmates return to their far-flung homes and the ship is always in much better material condition than it was prior to that whirl-wind of elbow grease.

Check out the before and after shots of this interior bulkhead. This is the "veggie locker", part of the galley on the Sullivans. Rust and rot were having their way with this space:

Three days later it looked shipyard new, This is typical of the sweat and attention to detail that these veterans apply to the task:

Yes, there's some clowning around by the occasional doofus(that's the battleship Massachusetts in the background, also a museum ship). But everybody else works very, very hard. That's Retired Chief Boatswains Mate, Ron Black (below) making a splice.

Its a real treat to call a guy like this "shipmate" even if only for one weekend a year.

I always really enjoyed these events. It felt great to be doing something so worthwhile, alongside such a great bunch of guys, on these remarkable steel veterans of so many oceans.

However, I've taken the past four years off as I redirected my life. other things, including relocating to Maryland and starting a whole new life and career intervened. And that life has been very, very good.

But now, I've got a hankerin' to get back aboard for a weekend of work and bullshooting with other former destroyermen.

Here is part one of a YouTube I produced on the subject. This, as well as part two , will give you a really good idea of what these events are all about. I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I enjoyed making them.

I'll post my next helmet entry Monday (Aug 25)

Until then I leave you with this:

That's beard used to be much darker than my helmet...must be the camera.

(former radioman) Mannie