British paratrooper type-3 1944 BMB made helmet used by IDF, 1948-50s
Item code: 0110038

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Israeli Army (IDF) used British paratrooper type-3 steel helmet, circa. 1948-mid-1950's. This is a BMB (Briggs Motor Bodies) manufactured shell, dated 1944 and sized 7 (the size is stamped in a shield-like device with the date digits spilt in pairs before and after the shield). It is an olive-green painted helmet with lightly coarsed surfaces, white canvas webbing, tan leather sweatband and chin support, and thick reinforced side padding (now dry and somewhat brittle) around the liner which is held in place to the shell by an extra band of metal. The name "Katz" is written twice in Hebrew on the liner - once on a canvas strap and again on the leather sweatband.

The elements which make this specifically a type-3 helmet and a paratrooper issue as opposed to a tank helmet or dispatch riders helmet - with which each is often confused with the other - lie in these details: the canvas straps (i.e. type-3 characteristic versus type-2 which had thick black leather straps with punched holes; and not a dispatch rider helmet liner), the thick padding (i.e. not a tanker-helmet liner) and the large bolts visible on the exterior of the helmet holding the liner in place (i.e. a paratrooper helmet as opposed to a tanker's helmet which had small bolts).

The significance of the helmet is not that it is a generally sought-after British paratrooper's helmet but rather its connection to the Israeli paratrooper ("tzankhanim" in Hebrew) force: as a 1944 issue it was probably used during the early days of the Israeli paratrooper unit (which may account for it lacking a stamping of the Hebrew letter "Tzadi" [צ], which in later years of better organization, was used to catalog and account for military inventory in the IDF), which was founded in September 1948 outside Haifa in a former British commando school and numbered 219 officers and men organized into 3 companies; the Israeli "tzankhanim" units are prestigious formations in the IDF with much accumulated battle glory in the last 60 years, and count among them Ariel Sharon's elite "Unit 101", the 890th parachuted-infantry Battalion and the 1st Paratroop 202nd Brigade - among others.

At the time of the formation of the paratrooper unit, the IDF acquired much of its initial equipment from British surplus stocks - much of which was actually defective or requiring assembly and part-replacement. Similar to the concept of "Hitelmacher" hats, the Israelis also coined a phrase for these British paratrooper helmets - these were called "French helmets": although the initial training courses of Israeli paratroopers took place in Czechoslovakia in 1948, in the early 1950's, when Israel enjoyed warm relations with France, it was the French who also gave training courses to the IDF - and using their supply of Free French British-made surplus from the Second World War, the Israelis labelled these helmets "French helmets". In excellent overall condition, though with brittle padding inside and in places a somewhat worn leather sweatband. For more information on the Israeli "Tzankhanim" and photographs of their soldiers in British helmets and equipment, please see this page.

מילות מפתח: מיליטריה מיליטאריה מדים חולצות חולצה מכנסיים מכנס צה"ל צה"לי צבא אתא כסדה