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my french helmets

Article about: here's my collection of french helmets from ww1 adrian ,ww2 adrian ,model 51 ,and two Opération Daguet f1's the progression from inner tubes as a way of tidying up and holding the helmet edg

  1. #21


    the Mle 51 steel shell is also bigger than the US M1 and the liner falls out very easily since there is no tension to help keep it inside the shell, thats probably why the French often use a piece of tire tube or tape to keep it together

    the design actually feels kind of sloppy compared to the US model

    they should have just stuck with the US M1 like they wore in Vietnam during the early 1950's instead of designing a different model of the M1

    most other euro countries made copies / clones of the M1

    like Belgium, Holland, Norway, Austria, Israeli , etc

  2. #22
    JBR is offline


    Good points, battle gear. But I expect a direct copy would've been resisted - the French, especially the army, like to go their own way. In fact, it speaks highly, I think, for the M1 that they were prepared to adopt it at all! Regarding your comment about sloppy design, I think the aesthetic strength of the M1 shell's lines compared with the liner is reversed in the case of the M51. The M51 liner usually (they do vary) looks clearly defined to me, whilst the shell often seems to lack clarity - if you see what I mean. As far as quality is concerned, the M1 is a hard act to follow but I don't think the M51 is far short. Of course, there's the often pointed out issue of easily dented shells. Looking at other French design, I am feel sure this is the result not of cost cutting but of designing up to a specification and no further. What was a steel helmet in the 50s meant to protect a soldier from? No helmet with any practicality would stop a full power round or high velocity fragments. The M51 will protect against spent rounds, falling debris etc - and that's all an M1 will stop, too. Actually, a shell that deforms easily may protect more than a more resistant shell as it will absorb rather than pass on the shock to the wearer. This is only guesswork on my part and I'd love to discover proper evidence of official thinking - I hope it wasn't only cost! Best Regards, John

    PS: Nice collection, James!

  3. #23


    James love the French helmet collection. The green Adrian lid is by far the best IMO...Thanks for showing. Cheers Terry.

    PS I didn't get up into the loft with my gammy knee so I will have a look at Christmas time. So sorry old bean. Cheers Terry.

  4. #24


    Hello JBR,

    Your assumption is right. French helmet are aimed to absorb shocks and deviate bullets. You find this on nearly all the family type from adrian to F1. Thats alos why many of them will have dents.

    Concerning the shape of the M51, they were mostly developed during the Indochina war were many M1 helmets were used and proved not to get the best drawing. Thats why the back was bigger to prevent rain and the front shorter to enabe a better vison as well as a better use of devices (binocular...)
    Now that said, what was good for Indochina didn't proved to be that good afterward. The helmet is still very big.


  5. #25
    JBR is offline


    Hello Bourguignotte, Thank you for that. I'm grateful for your support of my theories! Anglo-Saxons have a tendency to dismiss French design in favour of German!!! The Germans have a reputation for well made goods that's certainly deserved, but in many people's opinion they also have a less well known tendency to over-design - for example, the expensive and complex WW2 tanks that faced Russian mass produced and minimally designed but very effective tanks. I believe French design shows an ability to think "outside the box", as they say here, and risk following a different path. For example, I've enjoyed many arguments with petrol-heads regarding Citroen 2CVs (the most satisfying car I've ever owned) belonging to a different segment of the market but more equivalent to a Ferrari than a Ford (or a BMW) in quality of design-for-purpose terms! Getting back to M51s, size was a problem, was it not? Presumably the F1 was a response to this. It's smaller, more stable and secure on the head and better padded against shocks. What I would like to know is whether there is hard evidence of the French army's thinking on helmet design. I remember reading that there is documentary evidence that the British army rejected the M1 partly because of the rain water problem, although I've never seen it for myself. Fortunately, there are several members of this forum who admire French helmets. I expect that, like with 2CVs (and MZ motorcycles - another design favourite of mine!), most of the criticism comes from people who don't actually know them.


  6. #26


    Hello John,

    Thanks for your comment and analyse.
    There are so many reason for liking or unliking things : )
    Especialy when it come to English and french ; )

    As I understand you the most important is the why and how of things. The fascinating piece for collecting in my opinion.

    I think we also need to take in consideration the nationalistic part and identification purpose

    English as french kept their old WW1 design despite the facft they were already known as irrelevent.

    Post war issue was more or less the same excpet it was mandatory to find a new system
    For English it was the evolution of the MK2 and finaly the airborn helmet
    For France we tried to adapt the M35 but ended customising the 2 pièces M1 helmet.

    I think many elements drived this:
    - M1 helmet weren't technicaly the best shape
    - The national image wasn't reflected (remember the Italy and Provence troups wearing M26 helmets)
    - The protection wasn't reflecting the french concept (absorbing insted of stoping)

    Concerning hard evidence on design, yes. This will be a long subject in itself but the process goes thorught study, prototype and test before adoptions.

    I will be happy to help as far as I can
    The site "world war helmets" is a very good and well done source of information. I know it was quoted several times

    All the very best


  7. #27
    JBR is offline


    I agree Bruno, we do seem to have a similar approach to our interest. We are bound to meet again on this forum! Yes, World War helmets is excellent - a favourite resource for me.

    Best Regards, John

  8. #28


    Hello John,

    With pleasure.

    In case I do not answer please do not hesitate to drop me a message.

    I am currently investigating the soviet part of the forum and find many very interesing things concerning the ever lasting red enemy : )

    An other piece of history to discover

    All the very best


  9. #29


    Here is a M51 from 1951.
    Not an easy one to find. At some point I was thinking they just never existed.
    But it is also why we are looking for them

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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  10. #30


    some of my French helmets on a shelf
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by battle gear; 01-23-2014 at 03:46 AM.

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