10 other uses for military helmets by Dorrell. April 2015.
First introduced in 1915 the modern military helmet has seen many advances and developments over its long life, both minor and significant, but perhaps the most significant was the change over from anti-magnetic steel to ballistic composite materials during the 1980s. Within the military the humble helmet has assumed many roles, from the front line to civil defence, however, perhaps this list of 10 alternative uses might surprise you.
Number 1 At number one we have perhaps the most iconic use of military helmets, outside the military of course. What self respecting 1960s biker gang would be complete without their German Stahlhelm, with or without iron cross decals and dare I say Viking horns.
Number 2 OK, I admit that I may be scrapping the barrel a little. With the increased interest in airsoft over the last decade, ex-army and even market ready Navy Seal styled compo helmets have been flooding the market aimed at your average airsofter or paintballer.
Number 3 With the introduction of a new helmet model or improved materials it has been known for old helmets, or in the case of the M1 helmet, liners to be refurbished and sold as kids toys, this was especially obvious during the Second World War.
Number 4 At the end of the Second World War with the mass devastation of cities and industry across Western Europe and the obvious lack of raw metal, basis necessities such as cooking pots and colanders were in short supply. With the vast amount of German helmets suddenly surplus to requirement combined with the resourcefulness of a few a solution to this problem was soon realised.
All manner of German helmets from standard M40s to Gladiator helmets and the now prized helmet M38 Fallschirmjäger were transformed into cookware. It is interesting to note that such pieces were either refurbished in their existing military form or clipped and repressed to offer a more uniformed look. Videos circulated on YouTube show this happening in Holland, while the German company BÖWE Textile Cleaning can trace it routes back to 1945, when they produced cooking pots from old helmets.
Number 5 Similarly to re-using surplus helmet stocks as kitchen equipment, although not on such a large scale, farmers and the like would often block up airvents and liner attaching holes on discarded helmets, add a crude handle and use the helmet for all manner of things, as can be observed on this example which was used as a pig food scoop by a French farmer.
No.3) A Hood M1 helmet liner converted into a kids toy.
No.5) A German M1942 fashioned into a pig scoop by a French farmer.
Number 6 It has been known for a number of old military helmets to be used as flower pots or hanging baskets. Again this was more down to individual resourcefulness than as a commercial venture.
Number 7 Another resourceful solution, which may also be seen as war-art along the likes of re-worked WW1 shell casings, may have its merits when displayed in the War Room or Bunker next to your prized collection, are those lamps which feature an old helmet shell as the lampshade. Again it appears to be less of a commercial venture and more individual inventiveness.
Number 8 Love them or hate them, art installations are not just about being pleasing to the eye but often make a bold or controversial statement. When such an artwork uses old, collectable and in some cases valuable helmets then it might be seen as a step too far for the dedicated collector. Cindy Kane's Helmet Projectis one such example which uses a variety of suspended US M1 helmets, including examples from World War Two and Vietnam. Her installation aims to draw attention to the work and sacrifices of war correspondents.
Number 9 Movie props! Modern war movies aside, which tend to use fibre glass helmets that look the part, rather than surplus or originals. Many postwar films and TV series used surplus helmets in one form or another, regardless of genre. Although the costume designers of Star Wars developed their characters' helmets from scratch, (which can be read at the Star Wars Helmets website), the appearance of certain helmets in the production have a distinct military appearance, particularly in the case of the German WW1 Stahlhelm and Darth Vader's helmet.
Number 10 Last but by no means least, museums and collections. Military themed museums serve a vital purpose of not only recognising our past history and importantly the sacrifices made by those that fought, and in most cases died, but also on social aspects regarding how times, fashion, technology and attitudes have changed. Technically speaking this is not necessary another use of the military helmet considering they are remaining in their original forms, but the helmet's new role is to visualise the past with tangible objects. Whilst most helmet collecting is primarily a private past time, perhaps exhibited to only but a few trusted individuals outside the collector's personal circle, it is indeed a preservations of history as with a museum, however, being passionate about their field, private collectors often seek to preserve the personal history of the object, which museums often do not.
This list gives ten of the most obvious alternate uses for military helmets and is by no means concise. I am sure others do usage exist and would be very happy to hear of them. I should also add that I have only chosen to cover the “pot” variety of military helmet, although leather pilot and tanker helmets are indeed a class of military helmet.
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