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The French mle45 Jeanne d'Arc

Article about: Here's a little show&tell on one of my favourite helmets. Actually it probably *is* my favourite helmet, I have nine of them now and always feel a very strong impulse to buy any that eve

  1. #1

    Default The French mle45 Jeanne d'Arc

    Here's a little show&tell on one of my favourite helmets. Actually it probably *is* my favourite helmet, I have nine of them now and always feel a very strong impulse to buy any that ever come up for sale, so that number will grow depending on my bank account (slowly, then...) Anyway, there's just the little something about the French mle45, also known as the Jeanne d'Arc, which just fills me with a certain joy. Its such an attractive object!

    You can see that this model, developed post-WW2 as an 'all arms' helmet intended to be used throughout the French military, has clear lineage from the Adrian, although perhaps more so from the brimless helmets developed in the 1930s for moroorised troops than the mle15 or mle26. Although its called the 1945 model there's no real evidence that any were actually produced before 1946; this is actually hard to be certain about because although some are dated many if not most are not. The earliest date I have seen is 1948; its equally not clear when production ceased, though 1951 is as good a guess as any. Coincident with the development of the mle51!

    The Jeanne d'Arc, pretty though it may be, seems to have been a bit of a dead loss in practice. The complex liner (best seen in this excellently detailed page - .: World War Helmets - Casque Modèle 45 :. ) was notoriously fragile especially when mounted on really rather sharp-edged flanges welded inside the helmet (similar to those in the M26) and the sweeping neckpiece tended to get in the way of many things and activities. production was low overall, maybe 30,000 in all, predominantly made by Franck though Hennequin in CASQUES MILITAIRES FRANCAIS says that some early examples may have come from Thibaut. I've seen only Franck-made helmets, not even a photo of a Thibaut.

    About two thirds of the run went to the Air Force, finished dark blue with a dark blue almost black front bumper, and a third to the army, finished in khaki-brown with a brown bumper. Army examples are distinctly uncommon. The shells come in two sizes (almost always marked) as P or 1 for small and G or 2 for large. The Franck stamp is almost invariably there, but I do have an army example without any stampings at all, which is quite unusual. Some, usually army-issued, have ink stampings on the liner cradle, but most do not. I have no idea of the significance of this.

    The chinstrap is virtually the same as used on the M26, but unusually for any chinstrap a lot are fixed with a nut and bolt (see pictures) which seems to have easily worked loose as you will see many Jeanne d'Arc with a loose chinstrap end. A smaller number have a more usual rivetted chinstrap.

    The model rapidly fell from favour with the French military - a lot were lost in Indo-China apart from anything else - and was rapidly superceded by the much more practical but considerably less charming mle51. Ex-military examples were reissued to various civil organisations like the police or the CRS, and also to French police units in the Saar before it was returned to Germany in the mid-50s. Also, in a slightly modified form, to the Monaco police force. I'm guessing not in very large numbers, for that.

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  2. #2


    Beautiful example of this classic French helmet,many thanks for sharing.

  3. #3


    Nice, and unfortunately unhappy among collectors, helmets...
    Nice to see You, Greg

  4. #4


    they must be rare, I seldom ever see one for sale

    probably because the production was only a short time until they went with the M51

  5. #5


    Well, uncommon rather than rare. A few come up on Ebay and the like every year. It is also worth checking French sales sites like Naturabuy, and of course Ebay France (hmm, wait a minute, why am I encouraging other people to buy things *I* want?).

    I would also say avoid militaria dealers, because they always try for ridiculously high prices, usually based on the idea that just a small number were made (30,000 being the usually accepted total) and therefor they are old, rare, and thus *worth huge amounts of money* Rubbish. Well, yes, small numbers, but just because something is old or rare or in short supply does not automatically make it fantastically valuable. There has to be demand, moneyed demand, in order for the prices to be realistically high, and fortunately (for me) there is no real demand for the mle45. We're certainly not in the TR regions here, although some dealers would like you to think so. It ought to be possible to get a good Jeanne d'Arc, complete and with good paint, for somewhere between £80 and £100 pounds ($120--150). Not pocket-money prices, but not once in a lifetime either.

  6. #6


    Hello Greg,

    Good analysis

    The bleu one is "easier" to find than the Green one. This second one is really more difficult to find.


  7. #7


    Yes indeed, the Army version (brown paint and brown leather brow pad) is distinctly uncommon. Might say *rare*!

    And this reminds me of something I saw some time ago (many months) on a UK dealer website. Have a look at the photos. The helmet is obviously an Army mle45. Not an Air Force issue. But it is being sold as "French Armée de l'Air Pilot's Steel Helmet With Hinged Steel Collar Armour." Well, the first part of that is clearly nonsense - its an Army-issue helmet for a start, and its impossible to imagine even the Air Force issue ever being used by a pilot, except perhaps in the most unusual circumstances.

    The second part - "Hinged Steel Collar Armour" - does have me slightly baffled. Now, I admit I know next to nothing about body armour apart from helmets, but I do know that various types have been used throughout the 20th century, including by aircrew of all nationalities. But this object seems highly suspect. Does anyone have a clue as to whether it has any military provenance at all?

    The dealer has a price ticket of £395.00 on this peculiar combination, so it may not be a surprise to learn it has been on his website for almost a year now. I am slightly tempted to make him a realistic offer for the helmet alone, but I suspect that would net be met well. I once pointed out to the same dealer (after buying a reasonably priced Army mle45 from him (labelled as 'tank helmet' of course) that several of his other helmets were labelled inaccurately (very inaccurately, some of them) and was completely blanked.

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  8. #8


    Hello Greg,

    This an "interesting" combination.
    What would these people invent to sell anything...

    I would believe the colar to be a mid XIX's century "violet le duc" repro
    The helmet in itself still seems to be a Air force helmet despite the Brown color of the bumper but it sems to be still black Inside.

    These helmets were worn by ground troups. For comparison here is a flyer helmet. These were used till the 50s

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    To add on the Jeanne d'Arc in itself, here is an example worn by the CRS (companie republicaine de Securité) belonging to the police

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    All the best


  9. #9


    I also had noticed the colour of the interior of the helmet, and it is a little more obvious in a picture of the Franck stamp which I did not show. Its odd, but I assumed it must be a real army issue because of the brown pad. An interesting variation anyway. It would be nice to have this helmet in hand and see exactly what is going on.

    That CRS versions is - so far as I am concerned anyway - more rare than the army issue. I search for it but have never found one - and probably could not pay for it even if I did! Then of course there is the Saarland variant... I do not think I will ever get the complete set.

    Can you please explain this 'violet le duc' more? I have done a little searching and can find nothing that makes sense to me.

  10. #10


    Hello Greg,

    While collecting I feel impossible is never impossible. It is sometime just a question of time

    Viollet le duc was an architec in France in the Mid 19s that was involved in many medieval restauration. Mediavel ages was quite fashonable at that time and real item not enough so big productions were done of medieval helmets decoration, furnitures to provide the collectors at that time. Not a new process obviously : )

    They were well done event if not as accurate as authentic one and some persones are still looking for them.

    But not at the same price thank originals


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