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The Story of the Sun Helmet Continues

While things have slowed down a bit we remain committed to reporting on the history of tropical headdress.

MilitarySunHelmets.com is grateful to have run a special article by author Nick Komiya on the development and evolution of the Japanese sun helmet.  We thank Nick for allowing us to republish this detailed study on the Japanese tropical helmets, and we once again extend our thanks to Benny Bough, Pedro Soares Branco, Enzo Faraone, Dr. Chris Flaherty, Roland Gruschka, James A. Holt, Clive Law, Shea Megale, Piero Pompili and Michael S. for their excellent contributions to this site.

We’re always interested to hear from our readers.

This story won’t end anytime soon.

Peter Suciu
January 2017

A Knight’s Helmet – The Helmet of Mr. Gene D. Knight

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When we previously wrote about The Forgotten American Experimental Sun Helmet back in August 2015 we weren’t sure how many of these helmets existed. Then a few weeks later we followed up when collector Marc Giles shared images of just such rare helmet in his collection, along with previously published information on the helmet.

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The Ottoman Sun Helmet

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Photo: Imperial War Museum

Today the sun helmets and other tropical headgear utilized by the Ottoman Empire before and during World War I remains somewhat of a mystery. One factor that is so few pieces have survived and the photographic evidence suggests that a variety of patterns were used.

Our colleague and friend Dr. Chris Flaherty chronicled the various patterns for these, but now a new photo and some insight from the Imperial War Museum may shed a bit more light on the Ottoman “Sun Helmet.” Continue reading

A Marine “Instructor” Fiber Helmet

usmc1Our friends at the National Museum of the Marine Corps recently shared some photos of the above helmet. It is truly something we’ve never seen before. It was suggested that the unique triangular metal plate may have been worn to identify the owner as an “instructor” but more information isn’t available. Continue reading

Mystery North Vietnamese Sun Helmet

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We’ve see plenty of oddball helmets. Many are fakes or bad copies, but then occasionally we come across something that seems completely wrong but yet doesn’t exactly seem like someone was trying to fake anything.

The most recent example is this apparently “homemade” North Vietnamese sun helmet. It came from a reader, whose said her father had bought it at least 20 to 25 years ago. This would have still been long after hostilities ended, and in truth before the current wave of surplus and outright fakes has flooded the collector market. It is simply put a helmet that could be many things, but what exactly is the mystery?

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Imperial Chinese Army Wicker Hat/Helmet

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We’ve previously covered the origins and evolution of the conical hats of Asia – noting that these were used in China, Japan, Vietnam and even the Philippines. In past articles we’ve also explored how these were used by colonial military forces, including the Hong Kong Police under British rule.

One other important use of these wicker/straw hats/helmets was during the Qing Dynasty in the 19th century and even early 20th century when these were used in its Imperial Army. These were the de facto headdress for the Imperial Chinese Army Infantry until it took on a more western influenced appearance. Continue reading

The Hawley Pressed Fiber Sun Helmet – Patented

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It has been long established that there were two makers of the American pressed fiber sun helmet –Hawley Products and the International Hat Company. As we’ve previously noted, the USMC blueprints for the helmets dated back to the 1940s, however we’ve been provided with the original patents from 1935 and 1936. These were filed with the U.S. Patent Office by Jesse B. Hawley, the founder of Hawley Products and apparently the original inventor and patent holder of the Hawley sun helmet. Continue reading

The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Sun Helmet: Part IV -1939-41

This is a special study of Japanese tropical helmets by Nick Komiya, and is presented in four parts.

1939 March, Design Patent Granted for the Type 98 Sun Helmet Liner System

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On 10th March 1939, the Patent Office Granted Utility Model Number 264722 to a Shotaro Fujioka of Tokyo for his invention of the flexible liner size adjustment system he developed for the Army’s Type 98 Sun Helmet. Fujioka was an employee of the Army’s Main Clothing Depot. The Army had applied for this on 2nd April 1937, just before sending the prototypes out for testing in Taiwan. Similar to a patent, but simpler to obtain, it is the same as the German Gebrauchsmuster system (when items are marked DRGM). Continue reading