In the last 100 years, helmets have changed massively and that is no different when it comes to Russian Helmets. In this article we will begin to scratch the surface of WW2 through to Cold War era Russian helmets. The models only changed ever so slightly across this period, but they did change. As the post-WW2 Soviet era began, many of the newly-Soviet countries took on the Russian helmet models and made them their own. This makes for a nice selection of helmets to collect.
Russian SSh36 Combat Helmet
During 1915 the French army modernised warfare by creating the first general-issue helmet. They then sold 2 million of these helmets to the Russians, which made it the first widely-issued Russian helmet. Although the Russian army did create their own version of this helmet, their main mass-produced helmet didn’t come until 1936 with the SSh36.
The SSh36 did include some similar features when compared to a WW1 Adrian helmet, including the comb on the top. However, the main change was the overall shape; making it cover more of the dome of the head and the ears. This example is in overall great condition and shows most of its original paint still intact. It also has the remnants of the Red Army star painted on the front of the helmet.
This cracking helmet is for sale in the USA for $995 from The Collector’s Guild.
Russian SSh39 Combat Helmet
The next pattern of Russian helmet was the SSh39. This is where the Russians went to their most-produced overall shape. The helmet’s shape had a more domed design, which made it more comparable to US helmets of the same era.
SSh 39 pattern helmets are quite rare things to find. They were only produced for around a year, so there just weren’t as many manufactured. This helmet for sale has a lot of its original paintwork still intact and most interestingly, has suffered some blast damage in battle, leaving it cracked across the top front edge.
Currently for sale in Holland from Rocksteady Militaria for €125, this helmet is a must-have addition to any relic collection.
Russian SSh40 Combat Helmet
Only a year later, the powers that be decided to change the model of helmet again. Although they kept the main overall shape of the helmet, the liner configuration changed. This moved the rivets that are visible on the outside of the helmet. Overall, the rivets are the easiest way to quickly identify the different variations of Russian helmets, so it is worth noting.
This particular helmet is a fantastic piece. It retains its original hammer & sickle in a Red Army star on the front, original liner and original chinstrap, making it an all-around great helmet. To add to this, there is blast damage on the roof of the helmet. This makes it a true combat item that likely saw action during WW2.
Helmets in this kind of condition with the paintwork in such great shape is becoming hard to find. This example is for sale from CS Militaria in the UK for £575.
Czechoslovakian Vz53 (M53) Helmet
Moving into the Soviet era post WW2, many nations were now under Russian control and as such, their soldiers would have to take part in national service with the Russian armies. Most countries, however, did end up with their own variation of helmet. More often than not this was simply a change of the liner design and configuration. So, much like with the SSh39 to the SSh40, the change on the outside of the helmet is simply a rivet location change, but inside, it is a change in liner design.
The Czechs produced the Vz53 helmet from 1953, adding in a more Germanic style of liner with suspended leather. This example below is available for sale for £45 from Battleflag Militaria in the UK and is a lovely example of this Soviet-era helmet.
Hungarian M70 Helmet
Much like with the Czech helmets, the Hungarians took an SSh40 and adapted it with their own liner configuration. By the time this helmet was being produced, we were well into the Cold War and the Soviets were prepared/preparing for a potential fight in Germany with the Allied forces. Luckily it never came to this! But as such, lots of these helmets were produced and are currently still readily available on the market.
This particular example retains almost all of its original paintwork and the liner appears in good useable condition. It is currently available for sale in the UK from The Militaria Shop for £23.99.
Painted Russian Helmet for Sale
Finally today, an unusual and interesting item. I had to include this as personally, I just love items like this. Hand-painted by Kirsty Sanderson in the UK, this Soviet helmet has been painted to show WW2 combat on the front and sides and then a Russian award on the rear. The paintwork is all done in acrylic paints and is a complete one off item, making it a great piece for any display or collection.
This unique item is available for sale in the UK from VIGO Militaria for £155.
As we are all about showing you items, today I presented the variations I was able to find within our partner sites. However, it would be remiss not to mention some of the other variation of post-WW2 cold war era helmets. For example the Polish Wz.63, which – like many of the others – resembles an SSh40 in most ways, barring the liner. There were some other Soviet Union helmets that were not modelled on the SSh40, however. These include the Romanian Model 1973 and the East German Model 1956, which had completely different shapes.
Overall, collecting all Russian helmets from the last century would be an interesting challenge and one I am now considering, having spent the time to write this article.
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