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The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

Article about: Hardly no information as surfaced about the Bulgarian M51 & M72s helmets. We know its a copy of the Italian M33 helmet & that the shape of the shell will be slightly modified overtim

  1. #1
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    Default The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Hardly no information as surfaced about the Bulgarian M51 & M72s helmets.
    We know its a copy of the Italian M33 helmet & that the shape of the shell
    will be slightly modified overtime.

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The main question is, why replace an old model of helmet with another old model?
    Let's have a closer look at different models, starting with what i believe to be the original M51.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    For a certain reason there was an issue with the quality of those first models.
    Low quality of steel? Remember it is the early 50s.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Technical problems involving the different steps of manufacturing? Drawing, line dies or spanking.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    This first model was never mass issued, on the contrary
    it made a shy introduction & never replaced it's predecessor the M36.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Note the symmetry of the shell. Its weight: 1034 gr.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Note that this old helmet is far from new but it as the first model of metal band & liner.
    The early M51 metal helmet band was not reinforced.
    The M72 one was an exact copy of the Italian model reinforced
    with a second metallic band providing better stability.
    Lets compare both models.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1 The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1 The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1 The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1 The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1 The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Overtime the M51s will also be refurbished with the M72s metal helmet band.

    Note the M51 felt padding made of recycled material & of white material for the M72.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1 The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1


    Both model used 12 split pins to attach the liner to the metal band.
    The liner was easy to replace if you didn't have big fingers!
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Bulgarians were flexible when came time to repair or refurbished their helmets
    meaning that anything available was used. Here are examples of the main chinstraps.
    The early model chinstrap were riveted to the bales, the later ones stitched.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Comparaison of the M51 & the Italian M33 (post WW2) models.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    A few photos.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The old helmet making way for the next generation.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Stay tune for Part 2.
    Last edited by Jack59; 04-26-2024 at 11:59 AM.

  2. #2
    MAP
    MAP is offline
    ?

    Default

    Great research!
    "Please", Thank You" and proper manners appreciated

    My greatest fear is that one day I will die and my wife will sell my guns for what I told her I paid for them

    "Don't tell me these are investments if you never intend to sell anything" (Quote: Wife)

  3. #3
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    Default The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 2

    In part two we will have a look at another M51, partly refurbished with M72 components.

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Note the light texture in the paint.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    I've seen three type of small rivets on these M51 helmets & a larger flat one.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Note the symmetry.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    This is interesting, the metal head band was replaced but the original liner kept.
    Weight: 1024 gr.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The old chinstrap was unstitched from the former helmet & riveted back on this one.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    More to come, the more we look at those helmets the more we enjoy them!

  4. #4
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    Default The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 3

    The M51s have been exported, here is perhaps such an helmet.
    I've already presented this helmet Unusual Bulgarian M51 helmet
    I'll be brief with an interesting development concerning my export theory.

    This helmet shows signs of banding, during the manufacture of the steel
    the temperature was not adequate creating those vertical waves.
    This condition diminishes the strength of the shell.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Note the type of rivet, small with a flat top.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    It weights 1132 gr.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Earlier I noticed an unusual stamp in this liner.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Here is a Bulgarian trade union award medal, the industrial wheel is similar as the one stamped on the liner.
    The liner's similar industrial wheel stamping was perhaps applied on export helmets to symbolize
    the Bulgarian trade union brother's support & friendship in the fight for freedom!
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    A few photos from Cuba.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Cuba 1962, note the FN FAL rifles.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    More to come later, the M72s.
    Last edited by Jack59; 04-26-2024 at 12:19 PM. Reason: Added weight

  5. #5
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    Default The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 4

    Here is a model introduced in the early 70s, the M72. It kept the shape of the M51 shell without the curved rim.
    It is fitted with the improved second metallic band as seen earlier. This model is in mint condition.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The M72 air vent/ rivets are larger with an oval top.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Its weight is 1169 gr.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The steel quality of the shell & finition as improved.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The liner is similar to the Italian one, the leather is thinner,
    there is no grommets to reenforce the tip of the tongue's drawstring holes.
    It as also 10 ventilation holes per tongues.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The liner padding is now made of white felt & follows the tongues shape.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Its shape reminds of the Greek M39 helmet from a past era.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    A few photos.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    It was also exported.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1
    Last edited by Jack59; 04-26-2024 at 11:44 AM. Reason: New felt liner photo

  6. #6
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    Default The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 5

    The final model to be seen is a variant of the M72.
    As we will see the rim of this model as been flattened
    on purpose to look similar to a Russian helmet.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Another mint helmet stored after manufacturing.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    It weights 1077 gr.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Both M72 variants shared the same components.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The quality of this helmet as improved very much
    compared to the early models from the early 50s.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Nice paint, good leather chinstraps.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The acceptance's stamp seem to be from 1989.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Lets compare the M72 & the Russian Ssh 40.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1


    Many people will wonder if the M51s & M72s helmets were issued in different shell size?
    I cannot answer that question, looking at the photos sometimes the helmet seems tiny on the owner's head.
    Again the M51s & M72s never replaced the M36s, most models were used together for more than 40 years.
    Trying to identify these different models is like the Wild West, I didn't want to mislead anybody & tried to use a chronologic way.
    Bulgarian helmets are fun to collect, salutations to our Bulgarian members & guests.
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    I had fun doing this thread, after a while my desk did look like a disaster zone!
    It always start slowly until... I forgot this, those photos are to dark & the list goes on...
    But it's worth the time & effort.
    Jack
    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1
    Last edited by Jack59; 04-26-2024 at 01:07 PM. Reason: photo added

  7. #7

    Default

    Wow, Jack.
    You have done excellent research and documentation on the subject, with some very good photographs, what more could one ask for?
    Thanks for sharing everything with us.

    Regards
    Santi

  8. #8

    Default

    Nice summary Jack, this helmet which has a lot of charm is gradually becoming more difficult to find, the supply is decreasing... What is also interesting is the variety of colors which have been used in addition to the "official" color

  9. #9

    Default

    Great research and excellent posts Jack which i have learned a little more on these little gems ,during the first pandemic lock down here in the UK i decided to spend my surplus cash at the time by adding a few of the main model types to my collection which was something i had put on the back burner up until then
    Regards James

  10. #10

    Default

    Hello,
    This article piqued my curiosity and I went to examine mine.
    I would like to present an M51/72 for its color, because it has a mark (54) on the hull and a round stamp whose meaning I am completely unaware of...
    I also notice that the first rivets / ventilation holes which are more rounded have 2 tabs and the newer, flatter ones have 4 tabs.

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    headdress, chinstrap and pad

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

    Tampon : marking: 54 (date?)
    O.T(I?)H
    110
    18(16?)

    The mysterious M51, M72s Bulgarian helmets. Part 1

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