Friday, October 28, 2011

Swiss Model 1918/43 Helmet, M18/43 M/40-43, M43

Here is another recent addition to my collection, a Swiss Model 1918-43 helmet.  This model is also know as the M18/43, the M43, and the M40-43.  After I get through the description of the helmet and the different models, you will understand why there are so many variations to the model designation!

This helmet is the first steel helmet that was issued to the Swiss troops.  The helmet was designed in 1918 and was issued out to the troops around 1924.  The original finish was smooth and the headliner was fully circular.  In 1940, the helmet shell was very slightly refined and a new production run was made with headliners that were only 3/4 circular.  The paint finish on these M40 helmets was still smooth and green.  In 1943, the helmets were all recalled and a new black, textured paint was applied to the shell.  These helmets are known as the M43 helmets.  The M43 is the helmet that I have.

Here is an outstanding website that covers these helmets in depth.  The site has lots of photos and is quite extensive.  The site is in Spanish, but quite easy to figure out if you don't speak the language......:or you can just copy and paste the text into Google Translator and read it in your own native tongue.

Here is the link to the website's main collection page that lists helmets from numerous countries:

These Model 1918 helmets in all the variations, were used through the 1960's, and into the mid 1970's, when the new Model 1971 steel helmets were issued as a replacement style (no visor or flared skirt and new style liner...... a modern steel helmet!).  Prior to being pulled from service, a last variation was made in the Model 1918 styled helmet.  A new headliner was fitted that did away with the lacing eyelets in the crown of the headliner in 1963.  The helmets with this last headliner are referred to as M63,

My helmet is the Model 1940 that was repainted in 1943 with the black textured paint.  This makes my helmet a M40-43........... (There are quite a number of ways to describe this model: M18-43,  M43,  M40-43, Model 1918-43, and probably a few others not listed!).

The helmet in my collection is in fantastic shape for its age.  Inside the helmet, tied to the liner, is an old tag that lists the previous owner's name.

Here is the photo album of my helmet:

 UPDATE:  I have a posting that shows the WW2 camo helmet cover for these helmets.  You can see it here:

Here are two videos that do a good job of showing this style helmet in use.  It is interesting to note that in the first video, the two soldiers firing the rocket launcher, are both wearing their helmets backwards!  This must have been for a bit of extra protection from while firing in the prone position........

And to finish things off, here is an album of historic photos showing these helmets being worn in the field ( I found the first photo a bit humorous!):

Here is an outstanding photo showing the uniform and equipment that the WW2 era Swiss soldier would have been carrying and wearing in the field:

Here are a series of photos showing how the original Model 1918 run of helmets were made:

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Gendarmerie Nationale Casque modèle 51 Gie, French National Riot Police Helmet , 1955, 1973

The latest addition to my growing helmet collection is an early model French National  "Gendarmerie Mobile" Riot Police helmet.  This model is officially known as  the "Gendarmerie Nationale Casque modèle 56 Gie".

Here is an amazing page (in French), that details every version of this helmet: Casque-francais-Mle-51-et-Mle-56-Gendarmerie

Before we go into the details of the helmet, here is a little background history and a link to details about the  National Gendarmerie .

The Gendarmerie Nationale is the French National Police Force that is actually part of the French Military.  They are tasked with Policing the french countryside (about half of the french polulation), riot and crowd control, airport and military security, and military police.  Gendarmerie Mobile is the section of the Gendarmerie Nationale that is responsible for riot control and special operations.  Gendarmerie Mobile  The helmet that I have is from this section of the police force.

The helmet that I have is officially known as  Gendarmerie Nationale Casque modèle 51 Gie.  This helmet is based on the French Model 51 OTAN military helmet, officially known as Casque-Francais-Mle-51-TTA.
The particular model that I have is the last improvement that was made on the original 1950's version.  In 1970, an order was put out to retrofit the old Mle-51 helmets with a new 3 point, leather strap system.  Helmets were recalled to the French Armory where the old strap mounts were carefully ground off, the paint stripped, new mounts welded on, new leather straps installed and the helmets repainted and re-stamped.  This retrofit was done in two batches:  1973 and 1975.  My helmet is from the 1973 retrofit.

The steel shell is made of Manganese Steel (non-magnetic) and is stamped with the Armory name and date of 1973.  It is painted in a very dark blue, officially designated as Bleu-Gendarmerie Valentine 1701.

The removable liner is stamped with the date of 1955.  The liner also has been marked in ink pen with the name of "BELTRAN" and the initials of "EB".  

The inside of the steel helmet portion has two stickers with the name of:  "VEST P2".  One of the stickers is an old Air France baggage sticker!

On the front of the helmet is a brass "flaming bomb" with the initials "RF" for République Française, or Republic of France.  The bomb is attached with two tabs that fit through two slots in the steel shell.

It is quite remarkable how similar this helmet is to the original US M-1 steel helmet.  The liner is nearly identical with the exception of the shape.  Even the headband, chinstrap and fasteners are the same!  The completely assembled helmet fits like a cross between an English Bobby helmet and a US M-1 steel helmet.  It rides very high on the head.

Here is an album of photos of my helmet:

Here are a couple of videos that depict the 1968 Paris Riots. As you watch the videos, you will notice a number of the officers wearing this version of the riot helmet.  The first one is a video slide show with a great mix of police shots and classic 1968 protester posters, graffiti and slogans...... enjoy!

Here are a few historical photos of French officers wearing this helmet during the 1968 Paris Riots.