Category Archives: Japan

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

The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Sun Helmet: Part III -1930-39

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

1930 May, Launch of the Second Model Sun Helmet Showa 5 Type (昭五式)

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7 years after the introduction of the IJA’s first sun helmet, a revamp of design was signed off by Emperor Hirohito on 14th May 1930. A whole new range of items got launched at the same time like new canteens, back packs, bread bags and the army jacket now got a vertical seam in the back to rationalize production efficiency.

The external appearance of the sun helmet did not change hugely, but instead of having a third vent grommet on each side, a top vent with cover was revived. Continue reading

The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Sun Helmet: Part II – 1921-30

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

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1921 Sun helmet Prototype testing

300 Sun Helmet Prototypes were produced for the test, of which 100 had “felt shells”, 150 had “woven Panama hat shells” and 50 had “Gourd Sponge shells (also tested in helmet covers later in 1934)”. These were benchmarked against the standard army visor cap and also against the captured German Sun Helmet. Continue reading

The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Sun Helmet: Part I – 1887-1921

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

1887-1911 Colonial Predecessors of the Army Sun Helmet

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Initially a trademark of the British and French colonial look, the wearing of pith helmets spread worldwide from the late 19th to the early 20th centuries. However, despite of this worldwide fad, Japan was slow in coming to see any need for such gear. That was because being a late comer to the game of Imperialism, Japan did not hold any tropical colonies.

But even so, the well-travelled Japanese Navy must have felt obliged to match the colonial style dress code when making port calls at tropical colonies of the European empires. Thus the Imperial Japanese Navy introduced a sun helmet already in 1887, nearly 40 years ahead of the army. Continue reading

The Evolution of the Japanese Imperial Army Sun Helmet (1915-1945)

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.

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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

A Japanese War Trophy

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With the fall of Hong Kong on December 25, 1941 and Singapore on February 15, 1942 the British suffered two of its greatest setbacks in the Far East during World War II, with the latter being described by Prime Minister Winston Churchill as the “worst disaster” in British history.

Some 80,000 men were captured at Singapore and untold equipment with it. Today it is possible to encounter British sun helmets (and even steel helmets) that were possibly captured by the Japanese in either Hong Kong, Singapore or in the later invasion of India. However, as it is all too easy to add a Japanese cap star to a helmet these should be viewed with suspicion at the very least. One has turned up that does have all the right signs that indicate that it is likely the “real deal.” Continue reading

The Animal Brands of Japan

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The classic Japanese “Safari” style helmet (collection of Jareth Holub)

LabelsOne of the great misconceptions of Japanese tropical headgear of the Second World War is that the pattern known to collectors as “English,” “safari” or “European” was in fact produced outside of Japan. This is likely based on the fact that the helmets are similar in shape externally to the various Indian pattern helmets but also because the maker labels inside are in English. Continue reading