Czechoslovakian vz.30

Republican soldiers wearing vz.30 helmets*

General Information: The Czechoslovakian vz.30 was produced for export and mainly used by Republican forces during the Spanish Civil War, particularly the International Brigades. The vz.30 was also used by the Ethiopian Imperial Guard between 1935 and 1936.[1] This helmet has clear lineage from the Austro-Hungarian M17 and the vz30 can be thought of as a cheap version its WWI predecessor. They were made in factories that were located in what was formerly part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, but that became part of the newly created state of Czechoslovakia. These were the same factories that had produced M17s during the war. Post-WWI the presses and other equipment at these factories were modified to produce the vz.30 export helmet[2] Like the M17, the vz.30 has side lugs, apparently to accommodate a metal front plate, although there is no record of front plates actually being produced for this model. The intention was for the front part of the helmets to be the side where the lugs were in a forward position. In practice, however, the helmets were worn with the side lugs either way: forward or towards the rear (see photo above). The vz30s were painted either with the same brown paint used on WWI vintage M17s, or they were painted green similar to some of the interwar produced M17s. They were equipped with chinstraps that followed the pattern used on WWI Berndorfer helmets (description pending), with a clip attaching device, or they had the type of chinstrap used on the vz.32 which were made of leather, used roller buckles as the attachment mechanism, and had split sections in the middle to fit over the chin.

Most surviving examples of the vz.30 were modified post-Civil War. Typically, they were refurbished with Spanish-style three pad leather liners and Spanish-made leather chinstraps. Like other post-Civil War helmets used in Spain, they had brackets soldered on the front to accommodate a Spanish army badge (Imperial eagle with a red cross).

Vz, by the way, is an abbreviation of the Czech and Slovak term “vzor” meaning model. The helmet is sometimes referred to as the Model 1930, or M30.

Displayed Example: I bought this piece from one of my helmet collecting buddies who shares my enthusiasm for Spanish Civil War helmets. This helmet is painted brown just like the WWI produced Austro-Hungarian M17s and the inter-war Czechoslovakian M17s and vz.20s. It has its original factory liner and the same type of chinstrap as used on the Czechoslovakian army vz.32s. Based on the condition, it seems possible that this helmet never made it to Spain. Most of the vz.30s used Spanish Civil War are in rough shape. There was a large cache of surplus Spanish Civil War helmets that hit American market in the early 1970s. These were available at modest prices. I bought a vz.30 for $5 from this source when I was a kid by responding to an ad in Shotgun News. I still have that stored in a box somewhere. I had another green painted vz.30 that I got from a guy who purchased it from an antique dealer in Brooklyn, NY. The antique dealer said that he bought it from an Abraham Lincoln Brigade veteran who showed up in his shop with the thing. Such an amazing provenance… I should never have let that one go, but I did.

Collector Notes: In my opinion, the vz.30 is one of the most interesting combat helmets of the tumultuous first half of the 20th century. Apparently, market forces disagree, however, and these helmets can be purchased for relatively modest prices. There is some fakery with pieces painted with Republican imagery so beware.

* citation sought

[1] Marzetti, 2003, pp69

[2] I am confident that this is correct, but at the time of writing I cannot find a reference to support what I have written here.

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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