One thing you can be sure of with a Military Mode Publishing book is that the photography within will be absolutely top notch, the latest release from this publisher, Oliver Lock’s “British Painted Steel” is no exception and the book is crammed full of fantastic images of different World War II painted helmets in high definition.
The British Army never had a universal policy on painting insignia on helmets, with some units and divisions going in for it heavily, whilst others kept their helmets completely plain. The insignia itself was equally varied, ranging from simple painted flashes to highly detailed decals of Regimental cap badges. This book does an excellent job of illustrating the wide variety of these helmets than can be found. The wide range of these helmets means that this is hardly a comprehensive study, but it does give a good impression of the variety of these painted helmets to be found by the collector.
The book however is of perhaps even more interest in illustrating both camouflaged helmets; both those sporting painted camouflage and those with a variety of camouflage nets (plus some combining both). In many ways this is of more value than the painted helmets as there has been debate on the correct sort of helmet net for as long as I have been involved in living history, with many different renew actors swearing blind that one design is accurate and the rest not- this book dispels the myths and shows the wide variety of helmet nets and scrim used.
The emphasis is very much on Western Europe, so although it would have been nice to see some examples of the Malta ‘stone wall’ camouflage pattern, or some of the marked naval helmets, both are absent from this study. This is not necessarily a problem, but something the purchaser should be aware of.
The text in this book is rather scant, the emphasis being on the photographs, and for a 173 page book I managed to read it cover to cover in 25 minutes. At £40 a copy this then makes you ask questions about its value for money, however the photography is superb and it is a distinct pleasure just to leaf through and enjoy the images. I suspect that this is a book for the specialist collector rather than the casual militaria fan for whom one helmet is enough in his collection. If you do specialise in this area though I can thoroughly recommend the book.
It is available from Military Mode Publishing here.