MilitarySunHelmets.com presents a very 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. This was originally published on the War Relics Forum.
In my past research on helmet covers, I came across quite a few documents discussing sun helmets, as they were often tested together in the same tropical test sessions in Taiwan. So when a recent question popped up about an early model sun helmet, I had a chance to review my files and thought I could have the whole picture of sun helmet development with only a little more digging for missing links. I was actually finishing a new complete history of the IJA’s pay book, but due to the lack of one early sample to study and confirm a couple of details, I had to shelve the project for later completion and was in search of a handy project instead. Continue reading →
Photo: Digital Commonwealth of the Massachusetts Collections Online
Since its introduction in the middle of the 19th century various military forces have used neck curtains as a way to shield the harsh rays of the sun from a soldiers neck. First introduced in India circa 1842, the neck curtain – commonly dubbed a “Havelock” – was not limited to use in India, or even by the British military. The French Foreign Legion may be one of the best examples of a military to use the neck curtain – in part thanks to movies and books, which showed the Legion in North Africa with a kepi and havelock. However it seems that even in the recent past military planners have considered how these simple neck curtains could be incorporated with modern combat helmets. In the 1970s the American military tested some helmet covers that could be left unfolded in the back as a way of creating an ad hoc Havelock neck curtain.
Since posting last month about “The Forgotten American Experimental Helmet,” more information on this particular pattern has come to light. Apparently the helmet isn’t really so forgotten as it does appear in several reports and even some news accounts.
Even more interesting is the fact that a collector has come forward not only with some additional details but some photos of the actual helmet! Collector Marc Giles currently owns what is for now the only known surviving example of this helmet. Continue reading →
Following the end of the Second World War American military planners considered a number of replacements for the M1 steel helmet, yet it wasn’t until the late 1970s that the PAGST (Personnel Armor System for Ground Troops) was developed. It was made of Kevlar and was a major departure from the steel helmets that had been used since the First World War.
However, during the 1950s the American military also apparently considered a lightweight helmet for use tropical areas where the rays from the sun were often as much as a problem as enemy bullets. The helmet was never adopted and this author has only once even seen an example for sale. Continue reading →
During the Second World War the St. Louis, Missouri-based International Hat Company, formerly the International Harvest Hat Company, produced the “pressed fiber” sun helmet for the United States Army, Marines and Navy. Tens of thousands of these were produced by International Hat Company based on the pattern developed by Hawley Products Company.
It is well-known, and widely established, that the United States Marine Corp used the International Hat pith helmet as both combat gear, as well as a standard part of the Marine Corps training uniform. In both roles the helmet had one major drawback – it didn’t provide adequate ventilation to the wearer’s head.
1st Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment c1892 wearing experimental helmets developed in the late 1880s. (Photo courtesy Michael Barthorp)
Since being introduced into the British Army in the late 1870s several problems with the Colonial pattern helmet prompted a search for a replacement. Those problems were; the rear of the helmet forcing the front peak down thereby making firing a rifle in the prone position difficult, and the lack of sun protection to the temples. There are many period photographs showing the helmets being worn back to front to provide better sun protection to the eyes although, therefore, exposing the neck. Continue reading →