Tuesday, January 14, 2014

1938 AVBCW Irish Uniform

The Irish model 1926 helmet

Rather than adopt the British helmet which would have had bad memories for many people in Ireland as it had only been 4 years since the War Of Independance, it was decided to got for something different. The first helmets bought for trials were of the French 'Adrian' pattern but these proved to be unsuitable.

The Ministry of Defence then decided to investigate the possibility of something similar to the German-systle helmet of the Great War which had been show to offer vastly superior protection to troops and the German consulate was approached. Due to the restrictions imposed by the Versailles treaty, germany was not allowed to export military hardware, including helmets. The British government was then approached and they gave the contract to the Vickers company. Vickers produced a design which was almost identical to the WW1 German M1918 pattern and in all, 10,021 helmets were made.

Each helmet was supplied with a coat of what is best described as a Matt Black/Green paint. (Army Green paint with 1/100 matt black paint added). Only the shell was supplied by Vickers, with the remainder of the assembly work being completed in Ireland. The helmet was lined with a leather band supporting 3 pads filled with horse hair. The pads and leatherwork were all fitted by the Dublin firm of T. Symth & Son and the leather band was stamped with the manufacturers name 'T. Styth & Son', followed by a letter S, M, L indicating small, medium or large.

Interestingly, the helmet was manufacturered from an inappropriate grade of steel, instead of the normal 'helmet quality' manganese steel. Stress lines can usually be seen along the front peak where the poor quality steel was drawn into the mould at high temperature. More evidence of the quality of the metal is obvious from the fact that the helmet can be dented very easily.

The 3 pad liner was made in natural leather of high quality and was mounted to the shell by three 1/4in. flat copper rivets with 9/16in. copper washers. The chinstrap was identical to that used on the familiar WW1 German M18 helmet. The 3/4in. steel air vents were identical to those on the German M18 helmet as were the chinstraps which featured an aluminium sliding buckle that was permanently mounted on the leather strap.

The most distinguishing feature of the helmet was the pair of badge lugs mounted on the front by four 1/16in. dome head rivets, these were intended to take the modified version of the 1924 pattern Officers cap badge.

It is clear from photographic evidence from the period that not all helmets were issued with a badge. The badge itself had a unique mounting on the back, which was specifically for the Vickers helmet. The author has examined three original helmets belonging to vererans and each helmet and badge featured this particular method of mounting.

You can regularly find the current pattern officers badge with its rear lugs twisted down to enable it to be worn on the M1927 helmet. For astetic purposes, this is fine and virtually indistinguishable from the original. However, this is historically incorrect and there were subtle differences between the badges.

The 'Vickers' or M1927 helmet remained in service until 1940 when it was replaced by the MkII British helmet. In total 10,021 helmets which were ordered and issued in 'dark matt black green'. In 1940, after the outbreak of WW2, several thousand helmets were painted white and issued to the civil authorities. More recently, the Irish army crushed and bulldozed about 4,000 helmets into the ground during a construction project. The Vickers or M1927 helmet is now quite scarce and many worldwide helmet collectors are trying to obtain them

With some conversion work I think I could get close to the uniform and weapons

1 comment:

  1. Brilliant never saw this helmet design on any Allied forces before. It seems so odd to see. Look forward to seeing your troops built and painted.