Indian Army Mk 3 Helmet

Although the Indian Army first introduced glass fibre helmets into service in 1974, older steel patterns continued to be used for decades to come, the size of India’s army precluding a swift replacement of a piece of older technology. One helmet design that continued to see service with second line troops into the 21st century was the venerable British Mk 3 pattern of helmet. Developed during the Second World War, the shell of this helmet was made of steel and was in a tortoiseshell shape offering good protection to the sides of the head and the neck. The Indian Army upgraded these shells to a more modern design, but fundamentally the helmet itself was to remain unchanged. The most distinctive feature of these upgraded helmets was the use of permanently attached camouflage covers:

The camouflage used here was introduced in 2006 and featured swathes of black, brown and green on a khaki green background with small crossed swords and the words ‘Indian Army’ in both English:

And Hindi:

As can be seen from the photographs above, the upgrades also included a rubber rim around the bottom edge of the helmet and large rivets at the rear and sides to allow a three point chinstrap to be attached to the helmet to allow it to sit on the head better. At the same time the internal liner was replaced by a foam insert with a black cloth cover, the three points of rust and damage where the original chin strap attached:

These helmets were clearly upgraded after 2006, however photographs of them in use are scarce. Their outdated design suggests that they were either strategic reserve supplies to equip extra troops in the event of war, or were for use by training cadres rather than seeing front line service. A large number of Mk 3 helmets were surplussed out and came to the UK earlier this year, although few were complete with cover and liner. I suspect most will be refurbished for World War II re-enactors, however from my point of view getting an example with its Indian cover and liner was much more interesting and a great addition to my small but growing collection of post-independence Indian Army militaria.

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