Thursday, February 18, 2016

Yugoslavia m.59/85 combat helmet

Is it just me...

 or does Tito look like Liberace?

Josip Broz Tito, the Yugoslav partisan leader of WWII is said to have designed the Ne44 helmet; the forerunner to the last generation Yugoslav helmet, the m.59/85.
(Note: There are differences of opinion regarding the lineage and the designation of the Ne44.  I think this is more than a fine point as I have heard this assertion before.  I use the collector and author Paolo Marzetti as a yardstick for this blog and my collection, nonetheless every source may have errors.  Please see Bill's comment at the bottom of this page, he is a knowledgeable collector and I respect his opinion).

With the end of the Cold War era and the civil wars and internal disruptions that typified some former Eastern Bloc countries of the time, the m.59/85 transitioned from use in the Yugoslav army to the various emerging forces of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Servia, Montenegro, and Macedonia.  Simple huh?

But I digress, let's stick to good old Yugoslavia when it was still, nominally, under the Soviet umbrella.  I stress nominally.  Tito was a nationalist strongman, who did not march in lockstep with Stalin or his many successors.  By and large Tito was his own man and he strove to plot a course for Yugoslavia that was unique among the Eastern Bloc countries and client states.

 The Ne44 helmet was introduced in 1952 and was used, along with its successor the m.59/85
 through the end of Yugoslavia's existence.

 Of note is the captured German materiel in use by these Yugoslav soldiers.

Here then is the offspring of the Ne44, the m.59/85.  It is interesting to note that unlike many Soviet client States which adopted various versions of the Soviet Ssh-40 and 60 helmets, Tito, characteristically, chose to retain this unique helmet design for Yugoslav military forces.

 A primary difference between the m.59/85 and its progenitor the ne44 is that the bottom edge of the m.59/85 is curved while the earlier is more straight, this is very evident when the rear skirts of the two models are placed side by side on a flat surface.

Commies! the bogey men of my Cold War childhood.

Anyone familiar with the US M1 helmet will recognize this Riddell-style suspension.  It is used in nearly all of the M1 euro-clones and even here in the helmet of a Cold War enemy.

Typical Riddell adjustment for depth at the crown.

With the headband removed one can see that unlike the USM1 the crosspieces in the m.59/85 are adjustable by buckles.


The headband assembly.

Another significant difference between the Ne44 and the m.59/85 is the manner in which the headband suspension is affixed to the liner.

In the Ne44 all suspension components are permanently fastened making replacement of a damaged suspension difficult, if not impossible.

The m.59/85 has an entirely different fastener.


The head band lock into place with a spring-loaded fastener, making replacement of the band a cinch.

An American invention that turns up in helmets across the globe is this little spring clip which attaches the headband to the suspension.

The headband has an adjustment buckle in the back

I wouldn't say that the chinstrap bail is flimsy, but it is the thinnest and most lightweight that I have ever seen in a helmet, certainly any of my helmets.  The wire isn't much thicker than a paperclip.

Another difference between this helmet and the Ne44 is the chinstrap.  On the earlier helmet the strap has a single adjusting cam buckle, the newer helmet has two.

Tito's design is still soldiering on and is one the the few European helmets that hasn't yet been replaced by the newer composite models.

I'll see you next time with another cool helmet from the collection.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Denmark m.48 combat helmet

As Dara of the Vikings reminds us...

helmets are nothing new to the Danes.

The m.48 is another clone of the American M1 helmet; and, as with all European
 copies it is of very high quality.

The m.48 was introduced in 1951 and used by Danish troops through the mid-1990s,
eventually to be replaced by the Spectra m.96.

The liner, again nearly identical to the US M1 was manufactured in Denmark by
Dansk Industri Kunststof.  Today DKI makes a broad variety of injection-molded and extruded products (check the maker of that plastic office chair you're sitting in).

Where the liner chinstrap on the American liner was leather,
 the Danish version is fabric webbing.

Even the almost-never used insignia grommet mirrors the early M1 liner.

Initially the Danes used large stocks of American M1s
 that were in such abundance following the Second World War.

Later the shell, still an import, was produced by one Austrian and two German firms.

The helmet, with liner, weighs in at 3.21 lbs.

The non-reflective surface is robustly rough and anti-reflective.

The stud and garter fastener is identical to the
 US M1 liners made prior to 1964...

as are the arrowhead-shaped "A" washers that secure the suspension and nape strap.

The familiar American-style headband clips appear in nearly all M1 clones.  The spring steel clips with gripping teeth are an elegantly simple fastening solution.

The Riddell suspension is gathered with stout cord, making the depth of wear adjustable.

The cam adjuster is typical of the M1 and its clones.

The Danes utilized the US m.1944 camouflage net as a standard issue
accessory for the m.48.

The reliable Riddell suspension is identical to the US M1.  If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The chinstrap is affixed to the swivel bail with T1 style clips
 making the chinstraps easy to replace.

The chinstrap is fastened with the familiar ball-and-clevis buckle system.

Length of the chinstrap is adjusted by sliding the webbing through a simple steel keeper.

A classic design that soldiered on with the Danish army for over 40 years,
and a delightful addition to the collection.