Monday, October 27, 2008

Helmets of the Spanish Civil War (and beyond)

Americans of the Abraham Lincoln brigade ready to strike a blow against fascism while wearing what appear to be Italian M.16 helmets.

The Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) Was a brutal, repressive, and for this Americano, difficult to follow struggle which pitted several not particularly sympathetic groups - some quite repugnant- against each other.

When it was over strongman Francisco Franco  was left standing, the Spanish Republicans were on the run and in tatters, and the Communists were just as looney as ever.  The three guys who may have benefited most were Ernest Hemingway who got a great book and movie deal out of it all, Picasso who left us with an incredible painting, and Adolf Hitler who profited from what was a great opportunity to road test much of Nazi Germany's new war making hardware.  

Today over a half century later we are left with a modern Spain that may be the leading exporter of irrelevance and ambivalence.  At least that struggle gave the helmet collecting world some very interesting steel lids.

During that war the various  factions used a variety of helmets, foreign and domestic, interchangeably with each other while they bled their country white.

This jaunty Red wears the Spanish manufactured  M.26 helmet.

This stylized graphic poster provides us with an arty look at the "Eibar" helmet

These bicycle peddling Republicans sport the Italian M.16 ...

as do these actual Italian fascist troops assisting Mussolini's pal Franco in his nefarious ambitions.

Like the sandal-clad republican above, I'll try to figure it all out while showcasing, over the next five weeks, several Spanish helmets, including a few from the Civil War era.  Beginning with the specimen below, an Italian M.16 in Falangist livery.

The  "yugo y flechas" (bow and arrow)  is an insignia of the Spanish Nationalist group "Black Arrows".

I never get tired of that classic Adrian-inspired design.

No surprises inside.  I often wonder, when examining the helmets in my collection, how the former wearers fared.

Close up of the "yugo y flechas" insignia.

Join me again next week (Monday) for an in-depth look at the Czech manufactured M.30.  A unique helmet exported for use by both sides in the Spanish Civil War.

Keep on collecting!



Don M said...

Excellent finds and commentary both!


Virginia Rose Kane said...

Fabulous specimens, sir ~ and your insightful and historical tidbits ~ pure gold. Carry on, my good man! Until next week...

Sharky said...

I believe the helmet you have pictured is a French M-26 helmet and not an Italian Adrian helmet. The Italian helmets have the top comb spot welded on (no rivets), and the French Adrian helmets ridges are riveted. Both French and Italian Adrian helmets were used in the civil war. Early in the war France supplied a number of M-26 helmets to Spain. These helmets were made in France, but did not have the holes on the front for the attachment of helmet badges.
Love your blog! Keep up the fantastic work!