Saturday, November 1, 2008

Czech M.30 steel helmet of the Spanish Civil War

A favorite helmet in my collection, this unique design combines aspects of the German M16  and French Adrian of  World War One as well as more than a hint of the medieval.
As pictured in the Robert Capa photo above and portrayed in the stylized poster below...

the M.30 occupies its own little slot, somewhat imitative, never imitated, and in use for a relatively short time.  This Czech manufactured expedient export helmet served both sides in the Spanish Civil War.

Although the photographs in this post (all recently recovered "Mexican suitcase" Capa prints) are of Spanish Republican forces sporting the M.30, my example, with it's Francoist eagle insignia, is distinctly Nationalist.

This side view shows the ventilation lug to good effect.

Here is that Robert Capa photo again, showing unusually uniform helmet use among the Republican troops, all (in this instance) equipped with the m.30.

The top view demonstrates the slightly asymmetrical positioning of the ventilation lugs

The liner is typical of Spanish helmets of this period, three, two-fingered pads mounted on a leather band riveted to the shell.  There is precious little space between the helmet shell and the wearer's skull with this very cheap suspension, which would severely limit the overall protective value of this lid.

The chinstrap, with roller buckle and metal loop keeper is actually of a higher quality than one might expect in this helmet.  The Czech-manufactured liner was of significantly higher quality.

Whether or not this lid was ever used by Czech forces is unknown to me, though I'm pretty sure it was an "export only" item used both in Spain and Ethiopia.

Peened rivets are used throughout for mounting.  Note the thick "daubed-on" appearance of the paint, so common on Spanish helmets in general.

The rivets from the outside.  Also evident are the multiple layers of green paint, again typical of helmets in Spanish service.

Just slop it on and let the next guy worry about the rust.

The ventilator lug immediately brings to mind the classic German M.16 of WWI.  As far as I know these lugs were for ventilation only and not to support any ancillary frontal armor as in the case of the German Helmets of the First World War.

The securing washer for the lug from the inside of the shell.  Note the earlier shade of grayish-green paint.  I wonder if this was the color originally applied in the Czech factory.

On the underside of the leather suspension there appears to be slight remnants of felt padding, common to most Spanish liners of the era.

Initials on one of the pads, here "AAP"...

and here, "APV".   Who knows?

The distinctive Spanish Eagle affixed to the front, and not with the usual system of a tab which slides into a bracket as on most other models of helmet used by Nationalist forces, but with...

cotter pins that pass through holes in the shell to secure the Eagle firmly in position.

All in all a very handsome, if ballistically inadequate helmet.

I leave you with two more Robert Capa photos, grim reminders of the dreary purpose which these helmets served.  

Helmets are silent reminders of the all too frequent inability of men to find alternatives to self-destruction.

accession number: MOA hmar154.43.49
Czech steel helmet, (Spanish livery)
Acquired 1987, Comstock Park Michigan.
Purchase price :$22.00
Condition: very good

I'll be back next week with another  Spanish helmet of the Civil War era.


Lone Cat said...

This Czech helmets look much very like Japanese ones

Mannie Gentile said...

There is some similarity in the dome.