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Czech Vz-53 (M53, Ssh39) helmet - An EBay Story

Article about: Thanks col james, that's what I had guessed. I think it's worth the effort to get one of these that are, in fact what they are advertised to be: a Russian helmet reissued for Czech use, not

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Czech Vz-53 (M53, Ssh39) helmet - An EBay Story

    Thanks col james, that's what I had guessed. I think it's worth the effort to get one of these that are, in fact what they are advertised to be: a Russian helmet reissued for Czech use, not just a Czech manufactured helmet styled after the SSh39.
    The older of my two Czech models has "52" stamped next to the crossed swords(?) . Is this a date stamp or what ?

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  3. #12

    Default Re: Czech Vz-53 (M53, Ssh39) helmet - An EBay Story

    I normally read only the World Steel helmets element of Warrelics, as that's my main interest, but having poked about a bit more I have found this thread. Something else I'm interested in! regarding these Czech helmets I recently posted the following on a "Steel Helmets" thread - it may interest anyone who usually only reads this particular forum - -

    OK, I've been asking about a bit and had some good information on the '53 from Slovakian collector Radovan Kolocnik, who has produced an article about this helmet for a Czech militaria magazine. I have extracted the following from his response to me. So all credit for the information is really Radovan's, though the words are mine.

    Regarding the basic essential vz53, the one we think we all know about - this is the one that resembles (only resembles) the Russian ssh39, in that it is roughly the same shape and has its liner held by three rivets set in the upper part of the shell - there are three real variants, different only in their chinstraps.

    The first is the simple two-piece leather chinstrap which was used from the beginning (early 1950s - earliest known 1951 (yes, that's surprising to me too).

    The second is the apparently four-point leather chinstrap (actually attached at only three points) which seems (nothing is certain here) to have been introduced in tthe early 1970s, earliest known photograph is 1971, and the change was introduced in order to improve stability of the helmet. It is not a paratroop helmet.

    The third variant is the same basic shell and liner again, but with a rather flimsy-looking nylon chinstrap, again looking like a four-point but actually a three point attachment. This dates from the mid-late 1980s, and was introduced as part of a general refurbishment programme, and apparently helmets with it fitted may also show signs of sandblasting and subsequent repainting.

    Now, regarding the Russian ssh40 shells converted into vz53 - according to what Radovan tells me a C. Benes defined this SSh40/vz.53 hybrid as vz.52 helmet in a book on Czech militaria**, but that was an assumption by him without evidence in period documents. Benes's theory was that these helmets were completed with new Czech liners and imported Russian SSh40 shells before production of Czech vz.53 steel shells began. Due to specimens of existing vz.53 helmets with CS army approval ink stamps dated 1951 there seems some doubt about this.

    These ssh40/vz53 hybrids exist with single leather, double leather, and nylon chinstraps, as they were refurbished and upgraded as other standard vz.53 helmets, the shells underwent the same refurbishment process like vz.53 helmets which received new liners and nylon chinstraps in the second half of the 80's.

    Well, that's amazing. See how we take for granted an apparently simple and 'commonplace' helmet like the vz53 and than once we look we find out there's a lot more going on than was first assumed. I am genuinely excited to have got to know all this - and will now be making a real effort to get examples of each type. Scarily, Radovan mentions in passing that the 1980s refurbishment liner has 'minor differences' to the prexisting one. Now, what can *they* be....the world must know! Radovan....talk to me some more!

    Greg Pickersgill

    Postscript - ** Apparently NOT a book specifically about Czech militaria at all, I have now discovered by the magic of Google. Its a book titled 'Prilba - Ochrana i Odzoba Valecnika' by Ctirad Benes, published 2002, and covers helmets worldwide and across history. See here, handy if you read

  4. #13
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    Default Re: Czech Vz-53 (M53, Ssh39) helmet - An EBay Story

    Thanks Greg, interesting and informative, and from a good source. I have just found a vendor in the Czech Republic who sends photos of an SSh40 reissued with Vz53 type liner that he can acquire and resell to me. I intend to jump on the deal.
    I have the first and last iterations of the Vz53... two-piece leather chinstrap, "52" stamped next to the crossed swords (1952?), and the 1980's version with the flimsy nylon three-point strap setup with a leather pad under the chin.
    For comparison I have an SSh39 shell, relic condition with no liner frame but the only rustout and pitting is at the very top. The obvious difference with the Vz53 is that the transition to the outward flare of the rim edge is more abrupt, and the outward flared rim is narrower than Vz53. Plus the rivet heads are a tiny bit larger on the Russian helmet.

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