Sunday, January 11, 2009

Danish M39 steel helmet

Again I ask, What's not to like about Denmark?
Though never having been there, I find Danish helmets nearly as cool as Danish culture.
Look at all of the wonderful things the Danes have given the planet:

The Little Mermaid,

delicious bacon,

the model for recent American foreign policy,

Classic looking palace guards,
(Click here for a Youtube of these guys marching around at Amalienborg Palace)

And a very cool and unusual looking helmet, the M39, known in some circles as the "Amalienborg" helmet.

For perhaps the very best exploration of this helmet, be sure to check out Joseba's outstanding site here.

With a profile nearly as unique as Brigitte Nielsen, the M39 helmet has a look unlike any other.
Deep bowl and very wide skirts characterize the very Danish design.

Originally a Police helmet, though now in Civil Defense livery, this helmet is often referred to as the Amalienborg helmet, in reference to its use by the guards of that magnificent royal residence. I don't know if that is true or simply a ploy to peddle these helmets.
Though the design of these helms is, in my opinion, selling point aplenty!
Providing very good over all protection, the M.39 doesn't seem to interfere with the wearer's peripheral vision as the Danish M. 23/41 could.

The top view reveals a very symmetrical oval shape with a generous all-around lip.

The liner and suspension are downright lush with no scrimping on either materials or engineering. I suspect that this helmet was a very expensive one to manufacture.

Split rivets secure the leather liner to the suspension system.

Similar to the Dutch helmets of the same period, the M39 (like the Danish M 23/41 ) has this hanging slot in the rear skirt.

The lugs securing the suspension to the shell are another feature unique to the M.39. For as highly engineered as they appear on the outside...

they are even more so on the inside. The padding and spacing of this liner provide outstanding protection for the wearer, with a good deal of adjustment available.

My model had, at one time, a police shield mounted on the front since removed and leaving only a trace, a tantalizing pentimento, a vague stromatolite, of that badge I do so wish it had. The badge, now removed, left its faint outline on the helmet which has been repainted from police black to civil defense gray, the badge mounting holes individually sealed with rivets.

Again, for outstanding views of the police and army insignias refer to Joseba's site here.

Here's the interior view showing the other side of those rivets.
One of the things I enjoy about many helmets are the many markings and mysterious clues to its former life and use. This one has an abundance of markings; including this one...

Mr. Rasmussen's head being a former occupant of this helmet, I presume.

Mr Nielsen also wore this helmet for a time, no doubt Brigitte's dad.

Another cryptic notation stenciled on the very fine quality leather liner.

When I pulled back the liner fingers I was greeted with this nice surprise...

a brass tag with two more marks. I'm assuming the "57" refers to the size of the liner. Again, the craftsmanship of this helmet is remarkable.

Again, I'm assuming this stamp on one of the liner fingers refers to the liner size.

The chinstrap is very straight forward with a high-quality roller buckle. Again, unique to this helmet are the cleated split pins securing the chinstrap halves.

The leather, like the hardware, is first-rate.

This is a marvelous helmet, such a unique design and so much evidence of prior use. If only this helmet could talk, fortunately most Danes speak English so my limited linguistic skills would not be overly-taxed.
An altogether unique and handsome helmet, fit to guard a royal family, if indeed that is the history of these so-called "Amalienborg" helmets. Perhaps a reader can enlighten me on this issue.  (See comments below)

Thus, ends my two-installment exploration of the Danish helmets of my collection. I hope to begin a fairly long series on U.S. Navy M1s with the next post.

I'll see you next week with a new posting. Thanks for stopping by.



Anonymous said...

Nice article, Manny.

As far as the "known in some circles as the 'Amalienborg' helmet" - That's the only thing the M39 is known as here.

They were introduced in the occupation for the police guarding the palace to wear, and it's quite interesting to note that no soldiers actually ever wore them.

Their use eventually spread out into the civil defense groups as well as the Danish resistance.

I'm shocked to see how much these sell for outside of home. Here you can get them for about 150 DKK (less than $10), and they are more than plentiful at flea markets.

If there is anything else I can help you with, please let me know!

Mannie Gentile said...

This from Mats at military helmets collectors club, a Yahoo group:

The story behind the "Amalienborg" nickname of the M39 helmet is
that during the German occupation, when the armed forces for natural
reasons were no longer around to guard the royal palace, the Police
got the job instead. So instead of dapper Army guards in their
striking uniforms, black uniformed policemen with the typical M39
helmet were substituted. The Police guards at Amalienborg palace and
king Christian X's daily horseback ride through Copenhagen were for
many Danes symbols of the Danes keeping their heads up in spite of
the occupation.



Anonymous said...

Molto bello il tuo articolo, sono contento di averlo letto soprattutto ora che io aspetto di ricevere un "danese 1939" dalla Germania purtroppo come tutti dipinto di grigio CV.(altrimenti sarebbe una rarita' e non lo avrei potuto comprare!)
Molto bello il tuo video su youtube
Complimenti per la collezione fantastica