MkII Steel Helmet

Just before the outbreak of the Second World War, in 1938, the British Government finally introduced a replacement steel helmet for the venerable WW1 steel helmet. Although visually similar to its predecessor, the new MkII helmet was a new design:imageThe shell was a single pressing from a sheet of steel, with a non magnetic rim attached around the edge (this being the main difference from the MkI):imageAs can be seen this early helmet is painted in a satin finish bronze green paint; this was later replaced with a matt finish to reduce reflection off the helmet shell. The inside of the shell has a maker’s mark for F&L and a date of January 1939:imageThe initials ‘F&L’ stand for Fisher & Ludlow Ltd of Birmingham who produced helmet shells from 1939 to 1942. The company specialised in pressed steel car body parts, so the transition to helmet manufacture would have been a logical one:Im193905MO-FishA single brass nut and bolt passes through the crown of the shell:imageThis secures a fibre liner with a rubber crown pad into the helmet:imageThe crown pad here is a ‘cross’ shaped example. This was introduced to replace an earlier oval pad that was more complicated to produce and only used on the very first production run of the new MkII helmet. Removing the liner shows a set of rubber buffers around the liner that hold the two apart and provide a degree of shock absorbsion when worn:imageThese helped reduce the risk of concussive injuries from shockwaves that could have caused a severe shock to the helmet that would have been transmitted to the wearer’s skull. The liner is also marked with a size, maker’s initials and date:imageIn this case the liner is a 7 ¼” and is marked BMB1 for Briggs Motor Bodies Ltd of Dagenham who made liners throughout the war. The chin strap on this helmet is a Chinstrap, Helmet, Mk1. The helmet had a non magnetic spring at each end, covered in cloth:imageWhilst a metal buckle in the centre allowed adjustment to get the best fit for the wearer:imageThese helmets remained in use throughout the Second World War- the later MkIII never fully replaced them. The classic ‘soup bowl’ shape of the Britsh helmet has become synonymous with the Tommy in both world wars and rightly has achieved iconic status.

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