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Memories of the steel MK5 Tin Hat.......


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All the recent chat about 70s-80s combat kit reminded me of that bloody awful steel helmet that we had to wear.....


The so-called "GS MK5", a late-50s development of the 1945 MK4 tin hat, itself developed from the "D-Day" MK3.........


The changes mainly concerned the liner and chinstrap......the former now of multi-piece construction and issued in bits for personal assembly, the latter in a thicker green elasticated webbing.......


Seemingly, the MK5 liner was developed during the late-1950s, although the earliest example I've seen was dated 1962.....an article in a '55 edition of Soldier magazine mentions that the new liner with the synthetic stockinette head-cushion was to provide improved comfort and to absorb perspiration.........maybe.....


But my personal recollection is the bloody thing made your head itch after only a few minutes wear to an uncontrollable degree.......I ended up removing the thing altogether just to get some relief....


And everytime you hit the deck wearing it, the thing would slip fowards over your face striking the bridge of the nose, regardless of how tight the chinstrap was..........I actually lost mine completely hitting the deck at the top of a hill to assume a firing position whereby the thing flew off my head and disappeared down the slope like a bouncing bomb........


When running, the damn thing would bounce up and down on your nugget, and your entire focus was concentrated on the lid alone to stop it flying off (hence the oft-used nickname "the boingy").......


And if the liner didn't fit tightly, you'd turn your head quickly only to find the steel shell rotating entirely separately due to the effect of inertia, akin to a chopper's rotor blades on start-up........


And you had to watch your "mates" carefully....some joker would always wallop you on top of the head when your back was turned whilst wearing the lid, usually with a GS shovel or pick-helve....and that perverse spike fitted internally to mount the lining would impact into the top of your cranium with obvious painful results......


Oh the memories.........some troops moan about the fibre GS MK6, but you wouldn't complain if you'd ever experienced the tin lid.......>:(

Edited by wdbikemad
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ha ha ,reading your post brought back some painful memories especially the bit about the lid cracking you on the conk,


On occasions even 30 years later, my missus won't believe me when I tell her I'm sure I have a narrow indentation in the top of my head caused by that spike that my little finger fits into !!! Mind you, she's only 4'10" and I'm 6'3" so she can't check it out.....:-D

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Happy Days??? wearing these! I remember them well! Horrible things they were! The above mentoned points on itchyness & bouncing up & down are well founded!


The Hemet (Or as we called them: Steel Toby's = Cos they looked like tortosises!) deliberetly had an elastic chin strap that was one of the min causes of the bouncing when you ran.


The reason behind this was: If an enemy approached you from behind, & put his left arm ACCROSS the back of the helmet & transversely along your shoulder. With the resultant gripping of the FRONT of the rim of your helmet. AND then a sharp REARWARDS pull of the Helmet. It WOULD break your neck if the chinstrap had no give in it!


This was a method favoured in clandestine approach of an Enemy when they were wearing the German M35 or M42 Versions of the classic profile of thier favoured headgear!


It was when I was attached to the Parachute Regiment that I was issued the classic Steel Jump Helmet. Which was a MUCH better designed & comfortable item of protective headwear to use!


When I later joined the T.A, The Kevlar MKVI was then thrown at me. VERY Comfortable to wear for prolonged periods of time, I felt. The only nause was, you had to take it off to apply ear defenders when using on the range!......


I have not examined the latestet MK7 version yet. So Cannot comment on it's wear or performance!

Edited by ferretfixer
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"It was when I was attached to the Papachute Regiment that I was issued the classic Steel Jump Helmet. Which was a MUCH better designed & comfortable item of protective headwear to use!"


I always found the steel para helmet had to be worn several sizes larger than your actual head size......my bonce is only a size 7 & 1/8, but I needed a 7 & 1/2 minimum in the para lid to fit........yet with a steel DR helmet I can get away with a size 7.........quite strange, as both lids share the same shell and are both fairly well padded........


I often wonder what happened to the tons of MK5 helmets left after the services went over to the MK6.........I can remember around the late-90s visiting an ordnance depot near London "on business" and seeing a builders skip full to the brim with the things.....some were new and stacked together, others just lobbed in there still with the netting and scrim attached.......and being outside, the skip was half full of water ! Speaking with a surplus dealer a few years later, he told me that he'd bought a load of these for the scrap-metal value but found them impossible to process due to the steel used in manufacture.......I think he just dumped 'em....



Edited by wdbikemad
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The Dutch army were wiser by the looks of it.

We copied the US style helmet.

To avoid choking by the enemy or a blastwave we hade a special clasp that would unbuckle easy enough.


Still in my glorious Army time of 3 weeks :D I remember jumping in a trench and the helmet going up and smacking down on me.

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Memories of TAPOC course and on the ranges at Barriebudden where your mind was supposed to be on important things like, where are the enemy, point your rifle, shoot, dig a ditch, stand in it, fight, run, etc !!!!!!!!!


Half the time was spent restling with kit, especially the daft tin lid that had a life of its own !!!!!!


Lie down fast ,,,,,,,,,,,,, helmet beats you to the ground !!!!!!!!!


Look down as you are digging ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, pick helmet up from the ditch !!!!!!!!


Lie down or crawl with your back pack on ,,,,,,,,,,,,,, you can't bloody well see where you are going as the helmet always gets shoved forward !!!!!!!!!


Try to shoot with your back pack on, even kneeling ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


But trying to do anything with the amount of clobber you had to carry around in the field !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Glad they changed the helmets ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, glad I was not Occifer material ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, GLAD I CHANGED ROLES FROM FOOT SLOGGING CANNON FODDER to RICKSHAWS, CAMMELS AND TAXIS !!!!!!!!!!!


Chuck the heavy stuff in the motor and drive !!!!!!


How the real soldiers did and still do it always amazes me !!!!!!





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