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My pre-WW2 Polish wz.31

Article about: Hello all, In an effort to reach the minimum 15 posts to remove that “watermark” obscuring the complete viewing of photos on this site, and partially due to boredom on a Friday night . . . h

  1. #1

    Default My pre-WW2 Polish wz.31

    Hello all,

    In an effort to reach the minimum 15 posts to remove that “watermark” obscuring the complete viewing of photos on this site, and partially due to boredom on a Friday night . . . here are a few pics of my current wz.31 Polish helmet. I’ve owned several wz.31’s over the years in a slow upgrade progression until acquisition of this fine example a couple of years ago.

    The design and development of the wzor 31 (model 31) dates to 1930 with formal production started in 1934 after extensive testing. It was intended as the primary combat helmet to replace French Adrian design with production continuing up until the outbreak of WW2. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the wz.31 is the anti-reflective paint treatment. Known as “salamandra” it was a combination of the Polish military khaki-green shade lacquer paint and cork. The helmet was manufactured of chrome-molybdenum steel to high quality standards typical of all pre-war Polish military equipment (contrary to popular myth). Another unique feature was the quick release chin strap.

    This helmet was brought to the US by a returning GI who picked it up in Germany in ’45. It evidently resided in Germany as a souvenir of the September ’39 campaign. This one has survived in near perfect condition and appears as though it was picked up off the battlefield last week. Never altered or disassembled, original unmolested wz.31’s such as this one are few and far between. It was made in the Huta Ludwikow factory in Kielce and bears the ink stamp LUDWIKOW 49 36. 49 denotes the lot number with 36 indicating the 1936 year of manufacture.

    Regards,
    Tony

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  2. #2

    Default Re: My pre-WW2 Polish wz.31

    A few pics showing the wz.31 “in use” . . .
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  3. #3

    Default Re: My pre-WW2 Polish wz.31

    nice helmet,exelent condition.as i understand there is not much left until theese day,s.

  4. #4

    Default Re: My pre-WW2 Polish wz.31

    Hello ostlanddigger,

    Thank you for your comments. Yes, the pre-war Polish wz.31’s are scarce, and especially so in complete original and un-abused condition. The few wz.31 survivors are often ‘barnyard relics’ from Poland - rusty, beat up with split shell and long ago missing any trace of the linings. I have only seen two or three that are comparable to this one.

    After the September Campaign the victorious Germans reissued these for Luftschutz usage after painting them black. Here are pics of one of these surviving Luftschutz examples . . .

    Cheers,
    Tony
    Attached Images Attached Images    

  5. #5
    ?

    Default Re: My pre-WW2 Polish wz.31

    Tony,
    Great helmets !
    I've always fancied a WZ31 "Salamander" finish ...

    These helmets seemd to have always held their price, .. I don't recall ever seeing one with it's original liner and chin strap going for an "undervalued" amount, except for the ones that were refitted post war with I think the WZ50 liners.

    G.

  6. #6

    Default Re: My pre-WW2 Polish wz.31

    Hi Gary,

    Thanks for your comments. Even the re-issue wz.31/50 you refer to have all but disappeared. I remember not five years ago seeing these floating about the market for well under $100. The last one I spotted about a year ago had a price tag pushing $300. Crazy.

    The pic below shows a comparison between the pre-war wz.31 and post war wz.31/50 which used pre-war Ludwikow made shells Among the differences is the two additional rivets required for the "Italian style" post war liner.

    Regards,
    Tony
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  7. #7
    ?

    Default Re: My pre-WW2 Polish wz.31

    Tony,
    The helmets you've shown actually reminded me of the film of Marshall Pilsudski's funeral .. there was some shots taken showing Polish soldiers in full dress uniforms wearing WZ31's.

    Anyhow, I had a brief check on youtube, and found some excellent footage from the funeral showing some great pre-war Polish uniforms ...

    YouTube - Pogrzeb Józefa Pi?sudskiego

    Have a look !

    And from a Polish modern film .... the Battle for Warsaw 1920.

    YouTube - Bitwa Warszawska 1920



    G.

  8. #8

    Default Re: My pre-WW2 Polish wz.31

    Gary, many thanks for the link. I’ve seen this footage and most of the other IIRP and PSZnZ military history footage posted on YouTube, although the “Cud nad Wisla” clip was new. Good stuff! Isn’t YouTube great?! My teenager introduced me to it and it never ceases to amaze me the music and history stuff posted there. To stray off topic for a bit, this one is a current favourite. Stirring music and lyrics. It's difficult to stay planted in my seat when this is playing loud!

    YouTube - Pierwsza Pancerna

    Best Regards,
    T.

  9. #9
    Johnnie
    ?

    Default Re: My pre-WW2 Polish wz.31

    Really nice. These are indeed hard to come by in this condition. I have always wondered why I have never seen these before in the Luftschutz mode. Thanks for posting these. It was a much better helm that the captured Czech helms that ended up as Luftschitz helms.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Johnnie

  10. #10

    Default Re: My pre-WW2 Polish wz.31

    Hi Johnnie,

    Thanks for your input. I’m not sure exactly why more of the wz.31 Luftschutz conversions don’t pop up. Aside from the one pictured I have only ever seen one other. But one reason may be this . . . I recall reading where by mid-war as Allied bombing intensified it was required that all German civilians meeting certain requirements were to do Luftschutz duty. Procurement of a helmet was their responsibility and they could choose whatever they could find and simply paint it black. Perhaps by this time many of the wz.31’s captured back in Sept / Oct ‘39 had found other uses or been melted down - ?. I suppose the same argument could be held for the Czech helmets, but maybe there were more of these ones stockpiled - ??? I’m open to suggestions . . .

    Regards,
    Tony

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