Sunday, November 9, 2008

Spanish M.38 Eibar steel helmet

Joseba's sitehas a really outstanding examination of this helmet, however if you don't speak Spanish you'll have to do what I did, use "bablefish" for a  translation, but you'll get the general gist of Joseba's superb entry.

This version of the Spanish-produced M26 was simpler to produce and of a lighter steel than that helmet. Introduced in 1938, this lid saw service on all sides in the Spanish Civil War and was especially utilized by the para-military falangists.

My example touts the eagle insignia of the Francoists.

Somewhat Germanic in profile, this helmet appears to provide good protection for the wearer's head and neck, though in reality, the thin steel is of only moderate ballistic effectiveness.

The lines of this helmet are quite pleasing to the eye though much subdued when compared to the Spanish M.26 which was very sweeping profile and a very pronounced flare to the brim.

Sadly, my collection is sin modello.26.

From above the single, large, rivet that secures the lining suspension is visible.

The simple four-pad leather liner and chinstrap are suspended and secured by that one rivet.

A name, "MAZA" and the number 489 are penciled on one of the liner pads.

Note the spartan nature of this liner.  Very little space lies between the shell of the helmet and the cabeza of the poor soldier wearing it.  One is gratified to observe that senior MAZA's helmet has no dents in it.

The rivet secures the two pieces of steel band that support the liner.  Note the brush marks in the paint, so typical of Spanish helmets of that era.

The last that I'll harp on that rivet.  I'm just struck, however, by the fragility of such a system.  Neither the rivet itself, nor the steel bands supporting the liner are very robust, the bands are, in fact, quite puny.  I'd imagine that the rough and tumble activity involved in rousting Republican families from their slumbers to herd them in front of Nationalist firing squads took quite a toll on these lids.

The ubiquitous insignia mounting bracket soldered to the front of the helmet.

This outstanding piece of photojournalism by photographer Xabier Mikel Laburu (link here) is a chilling reminder, once again, of the use these helmets have been put to. 

 The M38 on the right provides mute testimony to the savagery and tragedy that is civil war.

This handsome, if somewhat understrength helmet, has graced my collection for over twenty years.  I'm happy to have it and hope one day to have an M.26 to keep it company.

And finally, here is a fantasy illustration containing a variety of helmets with the M.38s, PDAs, and the under dressed beauty as complete anachronisms in this trench of World War One.

Nonetheless its a very cool illustration which accompanies a New York Times Review of Books article by Umberto Eco which can be viewed here .

accession number: MOA hmar247.68.4
Spanish M.38 "Eibar" steel helmet
Acquired 1987, Grand Rapids Michigan.
Purchase price :$19.00
Condition: excellent

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