Saturday, November 29, 2008

Spanish M.42/79 Steel Helmet

Here is a variation on the classic "shell game".

Pictured below are three seemingly identical Spanish helmets; the model 42/79, the German manufactured M. 35, and the "modello Z".

Your objective is to determine which is the M42/79.  It is concealing the image of Francisco Franco.   You may want to go with your instincts on this.

If you instinctively thought "hmmmmm, Franco...far right?"

You would be...

                                     ¡Hola, mi nombre es pequeño Francisco!

The M.42/79 is essentially a rehash of that which has gone before (the model Z) with a more highly engineered suspension and chinstrap system.

Its handsome looks still draw from its ancestor the German M.35 which saw Spanish service following the Civil War and accompanied Spanish troops as they assisted the Nazis in their campaign against the Soviets.

Like the "modello Z", the M.42/79 is made of much lighter, thinner steel than its German forebear.

As can be  seen here:
note the bent profile, no doubt after an encounter with an aged Bolshevik.

The liner, though much improved from earlier versions, is still an overly-complex design that provides little of the critical space between the shell of the helmet and the head of the wearer.

Comprised of a leather band, riveted to the shell, the liner is a series of fabric and leather straps radiating toward a hammock-style apex.

The chinstrap is almost identical to the U.S. Army airborne M1C liner jump chinstrap.

The  finish on this particular helmet is much finer than on other examples.  The lack of those typical multiple layers of slopped-on paint lead me to believe that his helmet was in service only a short time.

Spanish police also used the M.42/79 for many years, eventually making the transition to composite helmets:

as seen here actively protecting Spanish society from rampaging gangs of old people.

Speaking of old people who were on a rampage...

now it is time to leave Francisco Franco and his nasty legacy behind as we bid farewell to the Nazi inspired design of the Spanish helmets of the 20th century, and return them to their places in the gallery.

Join me next time for as I begin a two installment series on the Danish helmets in my collection.

accession number: MOA hmar249.68.14
Spanish M.42/79 steel helmet
Acquired 2008, ebay
Purchase price :$36.53
Condition: excellent

Helmet Holiday Hiatus

I'm taking the Month of December off, returning with regular weekly posting beginning on January 4.  In the meantime catch up on earlier posts, click on the links below for other great helmet sites and resources.

Otherwise I wish all a happy holiday season!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Spanish M.42 "Modello Z" steel helmet

"Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy: I knew Jack Kennedy; Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack Kennedy."
Senator Lloyd Bentsen to Senator Dan Quayle, Oct 5, 1988

And Francisco Franco may have draped himself in fur, but he was no Joan Crawford!

I think the same can be said regarding the Modello Z in comparison to the German M.35:

", senor, are no M.35"

And here we plunge in to Spain's attempt to replicate the German M.35, a superior helmet that Francoist troops got a taste of in WWII during their eastern expedition to bring destruction and madness  to Russia (as if the Russkis needed any help in those particular departments).

The war ended but the memory lingers on, memory of that classic M.35 design, replicated here, ersatz in every way, in the M.42 Model Z helmet.

I've read recently that the easiest way to tell a Spanish M.42 from a German M.35 is with a hammer.  

Let me, instead, save a little wear and tear on your collection with these photos. 

The insignia mounting bracket on the front of the helmet is not a sure  giveaway, as you'll remember from a recent posting that the German M.35 (in Spanish service) sported a similar bracket.  The actual differences are, rest assured, quite obvious.

The raw edge and lousy paint-job provide a glimpse in to the production abilities of a nation impoverished by civil war and foreign adventurism.

The rear view...

as well as the top reveal the typical M.35 profile, but also...

the multiple layers of paint, carelessly slopped on, over the lifetime of this helmet.  A typical hallmark of Spanish helmets is this clumsy ham-fisted finishing.

Peer through the multiple layers of flaking and runny pigment  and here is another big difference between the M.35 and its Spanish counterpart; the crudely punch-stamped ventilator.

That mounting bracket in closeup is quite shoddy when compared to the flush-soldered bracket on the German model.

The pay- off when making your i.d. comes when you look inside:

OUCH!  that very standard, very cheap, and very ineffective Spanish liner is revealed.  As in previous examples posted to this blog, the Spanish M.30 and M.26 share this same rudimentary liner, one which provides almost no space between the shell of the helmet and the skull of the wearer.

Here's the available padding, about 1/8 of an inch of felt.  My brain hurts just thinking about any impact to the shell.

The liner pads are sewn to a leather liner band which is riveted to the shell.

Visible here is the reverse side of the punched ventilator, a far cry from the applied ventilator of the German M.35.

The chinstrap is surprisingly well-engineered.  

Typical of Spanish helmets, this one bears no manufacturer's marks, batch numbers, inspection stamps, or other process marks of any sort.  The closest thing to a marking is this deliberate daub of white paint in the very crown of the shell.

Despite its shortcomings, pop on that brass eagle and the wearer is ready for any parade.

I think perhaps too much of Spain's military budget was being diverted to keep Franco in martial splendor as this cartoon may allude:

Now the final question: What becomes a legend most? Here is at least one trait shared by Spanish strongman Francisco Franco and Hollywood strongwoman Joan Crawford...
They both look good in fur.

Despite its shortcomings, I'm very pleased to have this example in my collection.

accession number: MOA hmar249.68.10
Spanish M.42 "Modello Z" steel helmet
Acquired 2008, ebay
Purchase price :$17.53
Condition: very good

Next week:  The Spanish M.42-79 steel helmet

Sunday, November 16, 2008

German M.35 Steel Helmet in Spanish Nationalist Service

Here's a story about a helmet and when people go crazy.

This is one of the stars of my collection, a bona fide German M35 used by the Francoists.   I'm very pleased to have this piece although it represents a very sad time in human history,  when Spain went mad.

Here is a group of modern day Spanish nut-bags giving that all-too-familiar fascist salute.

Let's trace their odd behavior to its source.

Adolf Hitler, seen here with his Spanish fascist lackey, and dictator of Spain, Francisco Franco.

Note that Franco is all signed off on the Nazi salute, he's been practicing in front of a mirror. 

Lots of people were being swept away with the false promises of fascism and its trappings.

Even the Catholic church.  Wow,  what would Sister Angelica say?

Below is a Communist reaction (during the Spanish Civil War) to the clergy selling-out to the Nazis.
These reds are taking pot-shots at Christ (do you suppose that they don't realize its only a statue?)  "That'll learn 'im!"

Despite the best efforts of the Commies,the Republicans, and a host of others, the Hitler-backed and equipped Francoists were victorious in the Spanish Civil War.  As a show of gratitude, one of the many favors Franco extended to Hitler was the gift of Spanish troops (the Blue Division) in Nazi Germany's fight against the Soviets.

These Spanish lads won't be so jolly a year later.

A lasting legacy of this relationship between Nazi Germany and Fascist Spain was the influence of that most distinctive of helmets, the M.35, a design that continued in a couple of versions until only recently in the Spanish armed forces.

And here is the original, direct from Nazi Germany, the M.35 in Francoist regalia.

The Nationalist eagle adorns the front of this very  handsome (albeit sinister) German helm.

The distinctive profile shows off the clean, classic lines of the M.35

Unlike other Spanish helmets, the insignia mounting bracket on this specimen is cleanly soldered and finished.

The original M.31 liner is in excellent condition...

and bears the name of a previous wearer.  I wonder, what became of Juan?  Note that the chinstraps no longer retain their original rivets but are sewn on to the D rings.

That most distinguishing feature of the true M.35; the applied ventilation holes.

I'm assuming that this is a batch number stamped into the rear skirt of this molibdene steel helmet.

The shell size; "ET64" is stamped inside the left-side skirt.

Part number and liner size stamping on the inside of the liner band.

Liner size stamp underneath one of the liner fingers and...

again on the band.  Man, talk about Germanic attention to detail!

A close-up view of one of the split pins that connect the leather liner to the flexible liner band.

Another distinctive feature of the M.35 (as well as the M.40) is the rolled edge, shown here in close-up.

The chinstrap, though unmarked and without original rivets is the original German manufacture.

This is an outstanding helmet that I was lucky enough to acquire nearly 25 years ago for a relative song.   Those were the days.

A remarkable helmet, and a tragic story.  Although Franco shattered his own country and marred the reputation of Spain in the second half of the twentieth century, Franco himself managed to get off scot-free, ruling that country until his death in 1975, quite unrepentant.

I bet I can guess what style of helmets they wear in hell, heh, heh, heh.

Let me leave you with a different take of Picasso's reaction to Fascist excesses in Spain:

Lena Gieseke's Guernica 3-D (go here)

My next two posts will profile the Spanish-manufacured copies of the M.35.  The differences in quality will be startling.

accession number: MOA hmar249.68.11
German M.35 in Spanish Nationalist livery
Acquired 1980, Lansing Michigan.
Condition: very good