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Portuguese M940/63 as used in Angolan War of Independence & Mozambique

Article about: The Portuguese M940/63 is the same steel shell as the older WWII M40 but with an improved upgraded liner very similar to the liner used in the M1 helmet liner / Riddell type made of a HBT OG

  1. #1

    Default Portuguese M940/63 as used in Angolan War of Independence & Mozambique

    The Portuguese M940/63 is the same steel shell as the older WWII M40 but with an improved upgraded liner very similar to the liner used in the M1 helmet liner / Riddell type made of a HBT OG cotton material, these were stamped in one size with two stamped air vents on each side for ventilation. the web chin strap is also a copy of the type used on a WWII era US M1 helmet with a squared buckle and a claw type hook on one side.

    These are the type of helmet they would have used in the Portuguese Colonial wars, and these helmets saw lots of combat use in Africa by the Portuguese military & Colonial Forces.

    The Portuguese Colonial War was fought between Portugal's military and the emerging nationalist movements in Portugal's African colonies between 1961 and 1974. The Portuguese regime was overthrown by a military coup in 1974, and the change in government brought the conflict to an end. The war was a decisive ideological struggle in Lusophone Africa and surrounding nations and mainland Portugal.
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  2. #2


    Ah, one of my favourite helmets. And one which, like the French mle51 and the Austrian Bundesheer Stahlhelms, has a number of interesting detail differences. Here are some pictures of a later evolution; I don't know its true exact designation, but it is frequently referred to as a paratroop helmet, and until recently I believed that's what it was (because I knew no better, even though it was far from plausible - where's the padding?!?!?!). It is obviously a move on from the M40/663 with a modern three-point harness and a very likely not very comfortable fabric headband. It actually exists in at least two versions, the ordinary one, which has a simple metal chinstrap fastener, and the less common, in which the fastener is velcro (I have one, but no pictures at the moment - watch this space).

    I have several of these and it is actually obvious that they are not new shells, but remanufactured old ones, going back as far as the original M40. repainted and with new fittings, but the shells may have characteristics of both the M40 and M40/63.

    As I said, I no longer believe they are para helmets, because I discovered this on a Facebook page ( Philip's Military Helmets's photos ) in which it referred to as the M40/63-

    Miguel Barbosa - ...The M40/63 was never intended for the parachutists, the 3 point chinstrap was simply used to give more stability like the german FJ60 (M62)

    Philip's Military Helmets - .... As for the M40/63, yours and Alex Gomes Pereira's explanation make more sense. I was following info gathered from Revuelta's site (which mentions a 3-way Para version) and that's why I never came across photos of Portuguese paras with this particular helmet version. The three-point chinstrap for added stabilitiy, just like the FJ60, is more feasabile as an explanation, since the M40/63 wouldn't have been able to offer adequate protections in a parachute jump.

    Alex Gomes Pereira - My father was a paratrooper in 1961-1965 (from 1963-65 he fought in Portuguese Guinea). When he was a recruit, he wore the m40 steelhelmet. But at the parachute training a kind of rubber and canvas helmet (spanish origin). After the recruit he got a american M1 steelhelmet. Later were was introducet a Portuguese version of the US M1 and of the French M51 steelhelmet. In the 90īs a friend of mine as a recruit in the paratroops wore the M40 steelhelmet also. But for jumping and for combat a kevlar helmet.

    Which may well be good evidence for the fact that this helmet is certainly not a para helmet and might well be still classed as an M40/63. Anyway, some more photos soon.

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  3. #3


    great info! Greg, here is a photo from 1974 in Lisbon, Portugal , the soldiers appear to be wearing the older M940 judging by the narrow chin straps & buckles.
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    Last edited by battle gear; 04-28-2015 at 07:11 PM.

  4. #4
    JBR is offline


    Very interesting, Greg. Have you noticed how difficult it is to adjust for a secure and stable fit? The M40 wasn't much better - as you can see in battle gear's photo! The liner structure in both leaves insufficient headroom - unless you happen to have a very flat head, of course. But I do like these. I have an M40/63 (2-point strap) and have had a couple of M40s in the past. I've not yet encountered the 3-point type except in pictures - none as clear as yours, by the way.

  5. #5


    These helmets were used by the Portuguese military during the wars in Mozambique & Angola during the 1960s and 1970s. As much equipment was left behind when Portugal left Africa, a large supply of equipment and helmets were used by African liberation units during the Rhodesia War and South African Bush Wars.

    After the Portuguese left their colonies in Angola and Mozambique in 1974 much of their weapons and kit was repurposed by the Rhodesians. Being under an arms embargo the Rhodesians had to make use of various military supplies both captured and left behind by other forces such as the Portuguese.

    These were used extensively by various factions and "freedom fighter" groups like MPLA, FAPLA and FRELIMO. The Rhodesians in turn made much use of former Portuguese kit and weapons captured during raids into Mozambique against ZANLA targets.

    the Portuguese "OTAN" style helmet was also very common during the African Bush wars of the 70's - 80's , very similar the French M51 steel helmet.
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  6. #6


    I have quite a heap of these Portuguse M40-series helmets, and one notable thing is that there is nothing in the way of markings/stampings/makers badging on any of them, and I have never seen any pictures that show anything either.


    A recent acquisition, examined by bright torchlight, showed to have a stamping in the inside rear about 2cm in the the rear edge. I have no idea what it means. It reads A2778.

    Enthused by this almost accidental discovery, I examined all the others, and found another, in the same place, on a white-painted Military Police helmet. Reads A2212

    Its worth noting that both these are early-production examples with the bushed-vent holes and long chinstrap lug plates, but whether that is significant in itself is arguable, because I have several more of these particular models and none have the alphanumeric stamping. I equally found nothing on the later models with the stamped-out vents, or the even later M40/63 with the 3-point chinstrap (which is NOT a 'para' issue - see above).

    Anyone else?

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  7. #7


    Here is my M40 in original liner configuration - also colonial use.
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    Looking for following WWII German items:
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    - entrenching tool carrier (straight and folding),
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  8. #8


    I have a few M/940 and M/940-63 helmets in my collection, the ones with stamped vents were all M/940 at the start, I have one that was converted to M/940-63 standard by replacing the interior for a Riddel type and a three point chinstrap adjusted by velcro.

    I also have a latter M/940-63 with the aluminium vents. In any of my helmets is it possible to find any markings.

    M/940 from the Guarda Nacional Republicana (GNR)

    M/940-63 converted from a M/940 shell


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