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M51 French OTAN helmets

Article about: Hi guys. Have been looking around the Internet trying to pick up one of these helmets only because of France's involvement in Vietnam and the battle at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 which was the pr

  1. #1

    Default M51 French OTAN helmets

    Hi guys. Have been looking around the Internet trying to pick up one of these helmets only because of France's involvement in Vietnam and the battle at Dien Bien Phu in 1954 which was the pre curser to the US led Vietnam war. Now some of these helmets I have seen going for upwards of £80 (not in great condition) which I think is quite a lot but hey ho I kept searching and then found these two beauties going for £16.50p each and £10 postage costs. When they arrived I was absolutely astonished to see these have either had extremely light use or not used at all. One is the very first type with fixed bales and studded chin straps and the second seems to be the second type with swivel bales and stitched chin straps. I would love your opinion on these helmets guys and thanks for looking
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  2. #2

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    Helmet number 2
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  3. #3

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    Very nice early examples! Virtually mint condition mle51 are not uncommon (I suggest searching on Ebay France for the best and cheapest, even including postage) as the French seem to have cleared out a lot of old reserve stock in recent years. Despite what a lot of Ebay sellers may claim not many of these helmets were actually used during the First Indochina War (roughly 1946-54) - for the most part the troops there (both local Viets and the French) used ex-US M1s, and a few mle45 Jeanne d'Arc, and anything else handy really. The mle51 was a bit late for distribution as production only really got going in 1952 (so you have at least one really good early liner there!) It was, however, the main - only? - helmet used during the Algerian War.

    Some things worth noting; for example you will not often find a shell and liner with matching date; they were produced separately and matched up first-come first-served in depots. There are a bewildering variety of makers of both shells and liners, many of which have minor but significant (to us collectors anyway) differences. On top of that there are 3 basic forms that the shell went through over its period of production (as you have already noticed, I see), and even more different types of liner. I ought to be able to tell you all this from memory as I am a real mle51 fan, but its all so complex and my memory isn't what it was! Search through this forum and you'll find a LOT of useful knowledge.

    Honestly, you can build up quite a substantial collection of just variants of the mle51 alone - I know, I have about 22 of them. Good grief.

  4. #4

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    I have been doing some research today on them and it's mind boggling to how many makers there are for this type of helmet. I thought the American M1 was varied in producers but the French M51 blows it out of the water. Not sure if I have the space to start collecting all the different makers of the M51 I am already on a final notice by the disgruntled wife about how many lids I own

  5. #5

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    Thanks both - 'really interesting...I for one hadn't appreciated that France also had the fixed-before-swivel bale issue....and with 22 of them Greg...you should know!

  6. #6

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    you know, in France, we don't like this helmet, symbol of last wars : Indochine, Algérie....
    The best Militaria forum in France is here : http://deutsch-militaria.forumactif.us/

  7. #7

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    ..if I may suggest an alternative.....hate the CONFLICT...love the helmet ? ;-)

  8. #8

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    Quote by Composite View Post
    ..if I may suggest an alternative.....hate the CONFLICT...love the helmet ? ;-)
    Love the helmet

  9. #9

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    When I started off discovering the mle51 I had a wild idea of gettine one-of-each, an example of *every* shell and *every* liner from *every* maker. Well, that's just nuts unless you have infinite space, which there certainly is not in this small house. The annoying thing is that it wouldn't actually be impossible, or even particularly expensive, just very timeconsuming peering intently into the depths of every mle51 - or mislabelled M1 - that comes up. But sometimes, rarely, reason prevails. But if I ever get any more space.... One thing worth remembering is that like many other helmets these may be commonplace - and too often ignored - now, but that situation will not last for ever. Be warned!

    At least I don't get any problems here about collecting - I made sure I married another collector! We are both book collectors (that takes care of all the available wall spece then...), and Catherine is also a fountain pen fan. Its amazing how little space 200 pens take up in relation to 200 helmets. And they're a lot easier to display properly too. Around here my helmets tend to get shoved into any hole or corner where I can find space. At the moment about fifty of them are wrapped up in rubbish sacks in a not terribly weatherproof garden shed - I view the endless endless rain with genuine apprehension, and not just about flooding.

  10. #10

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    Majority of my collection are wrapped and stored in boxes in my loft thank god I don't have a garden shed or a garden I wouldn't be able to sleep knowing they were out there. My wife is an avid collector of shoes, hand bags and fridge magnets all of which I tell her don't appreciate in value like my helmets do but it just falls on deaf ears

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