Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Doughboys of Harvey Dunn

American painter, Harvey Dunn (March 8, 1884 – October 29, 1952) was an American illustrator and painter. His best known work is The Prairie is My Garden. He was primarily known for portraying scenes of the Great Plains, but he also made a name for himself
for his images of the Great War.
Do click for larger images, you'll be glad that you did.

A recurring theme for Dunn is the depiction of American soldiers
 fighting through ruined towns.

These doughboys are advancing across a no-man's-land illuminated by flares.

 This work is entitled The Machinegunner

American soldiers in rubber knee-boots perhaps returning from the trenches to a rear-area.

German prisoners as litter-bearers for wounded Americans returning from the front lines.

A Renault tank supports an advance through the wire.

A doughboy fighting through the wire of no-man's-land.

American artillerymen night-firing a 75mm field gun.

Wounded and stunned soldiers after the fight.

An advance through a ruined village.

Dunn's paintings and illustrations provide vivid documentation of American combat that he observed during the First World War

These army trucks trundling along have the look of covered wagons rolling across the American landscape...

not surprising, considering Dunn is best known for his painting The Prairie is My Garden.
(please do click to enlarge)

Dunn died in 1952 at the age of sixty-eight but left a memorable record of the American effort during the Great War.

Friday, May 6, 2016

United Kingdom airborne forces mk.II combat helmet


Members of the British 16th Parachute Brigade during "Operation Musketeer", Suez, 1956.

The Luftwaffe was an early entrant to the airborne realm with their first operation against Denmark in April 1940.  It wasn't until October of 1941, a year and a half later that the British airborne arm was operational.
The design of the mk.II was clearly influenced of the German Fallschirmj√§ger helmet.
The mk.II airborne helmet was introduced in late 1942. 
Made of manganese steel it weighed just over three pounds.

 Ovoid in shape, it came in two sizes.
The mk.II shell was repurposed as a dispatch rider's helmet, and armored vehicle crewman's helmet, and was utilized by the Royal Navy well into the 1980s. 


 The three-point chinstrap provided a great deal of stability though it did not allow for a particularly quick release or wide range of adjustment of the chin cup.



 The rim is finished with a folded, non-magnetic strip.
This shell was produced by the British firm - Briggs Motor Bodies
and was manufactured in 1953.

 The ovoid shape is apparent from above.

 Thick sponge rubber provides a firm cushion between the shell and the wearer's head.

Anyone familiar with the US M1 helmet recognizes the Riddell-style suspension.  This simple method of adjustment could make the shell sit higher or lower on the head.

 The leather headband is of high quality, and in this example, manufactured by the
 London firm of Christy & Co. Ltd in 1953.

The liner, and chinstrap bails are attached by three screws.  Also visible is the rough, non-reflective, finish of the shell.

The bails are quite robust, as is the webbing of the chinstrap.

 Square brass ferrules are riveted to the ends of the straps.

 The intersecting web straps encompass a brown-dyed chin cup worn rough side in.

The sponge-rubber shock absorber is about an inch thick.

British paratroopers operating in the Suez, 1956.


The mk.II paratrooper helmet was also used by Israeli forces.


A British paratrooper of the Second World War.

An altogether handsome helmet and a welcome addition to the collection.
See you next time with another cool helmet!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Hungarian m.35-38 combat helmet part one

Some of my favorite Hungarians:

Bela Bartok

Ernie Kovacs

Eliza Doolittle.  "...and not only is she of royal blood; she is a princess!" *
                                                                               Zoltan Karpathy

And the Hungarian (and often Finnish) M35-38.

Uh-oh, I don't know about you but I'm always a little skeptical about countries that model their helmets after the German stahlhelm.  Sure its a great design but it has a troubling cachet, n'est-ce pas ? (Bang! two french terms in a row).

This is an example of a Hungarian M35-38 which was refurbished into Finnish army service.

Differences from the German M35 include the rivet placement...

and the small bracket on the rear skirt.

This bracket was used to fasten the helmet on to the soldier's backpack while on the march.

The M35-38 in the field and gaily decorated.

A video of the Hungarian helmet in action here (with a nice view at 1:25)

Size and manufacturers marks are stamped into the inside of the rear skirt. Flecks of blue paint on the again indicate the Hungarian lineage of this helmet which, following WWII, was repainted and fitted
 with a Finnish liner.

The liner is distinctly Finnish.

The fabric envelopes for the pads are a little festive.

The ventilator is stamped rather than a separate piece similar to the German M40 and M42.

A very simple iron buckle graces the chinstrap.

The rivets and washers appear to be brass and the liner fingers are sewn to a heavy leather band, vey similar to the German M.16.

More tell-tale flecks of blue paint add to the circuitous  pedigree of this helmet.

The M35-38 served from 1936 well in to the Cold War, seeing two decades of service both with Hungarian forces and later in the livery of Finland.   German design, Hungarian manufacture, Finnish service; this is a well-travelled helmet.

* Thanks to Frances for this information and to Mark for his peerless interpretation of Henry Higgins.