Sunday, August 3, 2008

British MkII - Royal Armoured Corps

ninth in a series of tanker helmet posts

Hard as it may be for you to believe, but I was unable to find a period photograph of this helmet in action. Seems that U.K. AFV crewmen prefer to be seen in those jaunty berets they made so famous. So in lieu of period photos I'll try to dress this post up with some gilding like this:

the crest of the Royal Tank Regiment

Here is my specimen of the WWII MkII UK tanker's helmet. This shell profile was also utilized for the UK paratroops, as well as the dispatch rider's helmet. The shell for all three is the same though the suspensions are very different.

I'm assuming that the number on the front indicates a particular vehicle in a formation.

This side view gives our first indication that this is a MkII, with its characteristic elasticized chinstrap and that VERY shiny little slider, peeking out from under the rim.

Now I'm aware that the helmet below is not the helmet in question, but I encountered this graphic while searching for MkII images and was really knocked out by it.

The top view demonstrates the very symmetrical and ovoid aspect of this lid.

Another "gimme" that this is a MkII is the tell-tale rivet at the top indicating the "lift the dot" suspension of the MkII family.

The familiar MkIII style suspension seen in the MkIII "turtle shell" infantry helmet greets us in this view.

A sunny close-up of the "lift the Dot" fastener.  Careful with these! Often as not the spring mechanism is just corroded enough that trying to force it off will instead tear it away from the suspension (speaking from sad experience here).

When I was in kindergarten one of my friends brought an "army helmet" from home.  I couldn't understand why anyone would wear anything so uncomfortable.  It wasn't until many years later, as a helmet collector, that I understood why it hurt so much when trying to wear that particular helmet on that particular day...

it was a MKII sans liner.  Ouch!  Now it all makes sense.

This liner's in really outstanding condition,  

and nicely, almost lavishly, marked.

The size is stamped very clearly.

I've no idea as to what this number is in ref. to  (any input would be appreciated).
I don't know why, but it's always a treat to discover the broad arrow.

Because of the texture the marking  below is difficult to read.  The bottom numerals appear to be "6/71".  Marzetti indicates that these helmets were in use by UK tankers until 1973, so I'm assuming this might be a manufacture date.

Here are British paratroopers in that same style shell.  Note the very different harness system, the suspension was also much more elaborate and protective than the tank crewman's helmet.

You may wonder;  "What is it that has these airborne troops looking upward?"

Their Ride!

accession number: MOA hmar223.60.47
Royal Armoured Corps, MkIII helmet
Acquired 1987, Lansing Michigan.
Purchase price :$20.00
Condition: suspension - excellent
shell - very good

Next Monday the final tanker helmet will be profiled.

Stay tuned!


william said...

hi Mannie
your British Mk.III could be a Royal Navy crew's helmet, as these were used by the R.N., & the painted # could pertain to a crewman's position, i.e. a gun platform or similar.just my opinion though.
the crosshatching cancels out the markings of the maker, model designation & date, i.e."FFL III 1952" as on my own example, although it doesn't have any white markings over them as yours does.i've no idea why this is done, but i've seen it before & may have something to do with it being surplus equipment being "demilitarised".i hope this info helps.
Bill (MHCC)

mannie said...


Thanks for the info. I've read in Marzetti that the RN utilized these helmets into the 1980s, though I'd expect them to be grey in color.


zippy Dykes said...

Hi Mannie
I served in the Royal Navy from 1977-1990 and these helmets were in use all that time and they were always painted green.