Hi Mark,

As you strongly suspected, the helmet is a Para, Lightweight. I'll explain about the appearance of it below my question.

I've a question regarding 1st / 2nd patterns: I've always thought that the first pattern was this type, the second pattern being the 1990s(?) kevlar reinforced version.

There was a separate helmet called the "GRP (NI)" (Glass Reinforced Plastic, Northern Ireland) issued prior to the Para helmet in the picture and it was used in NI in the late 1970s.

This isn't being confused with the 1st pattern Para helmet, is it? I'm wondering if it's that that's actually the "M76". Can anyone please advise with any certainty?

Many/most(?) of the support arms Paras (Sappers, PFA, etc) still wore the HSAT Mk2 during the Falklands War: the glass fibre helmets were still in process of being issued across the Airborne units, priority of issue being first with regular Para battalions, regular support arms then their reserve counterparts.

MoD being what it is, it could easily take that long (6-9x years) for kit to be rolled out. But if the Falklands War helmet is a Mk2, then it makes the '90s version a Mk3.


The helmet in the picture:
It has a close fitted DPM cover (think Status Quo jeans!) with a standard helmet net over the top of it. No scrim.

There were proper helmet covers manufactured but these seemed to be made/supplied as an afterthought as well as in far too short a supply. These original covers have two parallel horizontal elastics. They were very difficult to get hold of and, seemingly, made only for the small sized helmets - unless size small was all that was available after the first few minutes of stores issue. They may have been trials kit 'cause they're incredibly rare - even for a Para in the late '80s.

Because most were too small, they'd slip off the helmet even if they managed to stretch around the brim. As a result, the only way to keep them on was to tape them around the brim and onto the inside of the helmet.

The later - much hated - covers with the "cage" type elastics were introduced at the same time as the army received the GS Mk6 helmet. If the size matched the shell, they'd fit. Otherwise, you'd need to tape them.

I think all army personnel of the 1970s/80s were issued green nylon helmet nets. We'd use these to help hold down the fabric covers. Taping kept everything in place. And it became a habit to the present day!

In British Airborne Forces, no-one outside parachute training is allowed to wear a helmet without a cover of some sort. On qualifying, I was given my (very) basic scales of kit - no helmet cover. I was given the choice of a sandbag or a square of black hessian (from a landrover drape) and a net to make one (within about 15 minutes!).

It was impossible to make anything respectable. No time or fabric for scrim. At the first opportunity, I made a cover EXACTLY as the one in the picture. No visible tape, a personal pet peeve.

The helmet is dismantled. Take enough DPM fabric, wet it and stretch it as best as you can over the shell. Then hand tack the folds to keep them down. The seams can then be stitched on a sewing machine, if desired/available. The surplus fabric inside is cut out.

The cover is put on the shell dry and is folded into the shell where it is gaffer taped in. For a really neat job, the helmet net is also taped into the shell - not using the drawstring. Then the helmet is reassembled. The polystyrene shell holds everything down. All fits nicely and securely, the bolts keeping everything very definitely locked in place.

Scrim seemed to be losing favour by the early 1990s.

When not worn the helmet is clipped to the webbing. You'd want your helmet to be distinctly different to others' so that you can ID your kit quickly as kit is passed out of vehicles. You'd also be able to recognise colleagues by the pattern of their cover/scrim.

No Para ever wants to be mistaken as non-Para. When those cage type covers were issued, blokes would usually at least cut off the vertical elastics so as not to be mistaken as from a non-Para unit. A helmet is often all you'll see on exercise/operations and it's useful to be able to tell friend from foe at a glance.