Spanish M38

Guardias de Asalto*

General Information: The nomenclature for this model is not well established. It is most commonly referred to as the Model 1938, but is sometimes also called a Model 1934, or a “Eibar” or “Trubia” helmet. It was manufactured by the National Arsenal of Artillery at Trubia, hence the name “Trubia” for this model. The M38s are sometimes referred to as the “Eibar” helmet apparently due to the mistaken belief that they were made in this city. Joseba Revuelta, who wrote about these helmets on his excellent website, speculates that it is possible that the shells were finished with liners and chinstraps in Eibar and then delivered from that city, thus leading to the perception that they were made in Eibar. Apparently, production of these helmets began in 1934 although they were not widely distributed until 1938. The reasons for this are unknown. The M38 was designed for the Guardia de Asalto de la República which was a para-military police force intended to augment the Guardia Civil to suppress revolutionary and anarchist elements within the Republic. They were intended to be used for street fighting rather than for regular army combat. This is the reason they are ballistically inferior to the M26 and other helmets of the Civil War era. They were not designed to be a combat helmet. Despite this limitation, the M38s were pressed into service by regular Republican army troops particularly during the latter part of the war.[1]

The M38 strongly resembles the M26, but is longer and more flared out. A quick visual differentiator is the lack of attachment rivets for the liner band and vents. Instead, there is one hollow rivet that holds the liner assembly at the top of the helmet. In addition, the liner is quite different from the M26 in that it is made from four sections that form long tongues that are tied together at the apex.

A sad end note to the story of the M38 is that after the capture of the National Arsenal of Artillery at Trubia where the helmet was produced, on the morning of November 14, 1937 Francos troops murdered the arsenal’s commander, José Franco Mussió and all the other officers at the facility.[2]

Displayed Example: I was delighted to pick up this great example of the type on a trip to Barcelona. I was able to visit a Catalan collector friend there who I had been corresponding with for several years. He knew that I was looking for one of these and was aware of my collector aesthetic (helmets in their original factory condition) and had set this one aside to sell at a friendly price on my visit.

This helmet has its original factory paint and is complete with its original chinstrap and liner. Unlike most helmets of the Spanish Civil War era, this one lacks the metal bracket to attach the Nationalist eagle badge. These were installed on helmets post-Civil War starting during World War Two.

Collector Notes: These helmets are less common than their M26 counterparts. They can be relatively difficult to find, but are not very expensive. As with all Spanish Civil War helmets, finding one in factory original condition is challenging, but there is not a great price differential between the factory original specimens and the post-Civil War modified ones.

[1] Revuelta, J.


*Centelles, Agustí. Barricada de caballos muertos en la calle Diputació. Barcelona, 1936. Guardia de Asalto. June 1936. Accessed March 2, 2022. Note: The helmet in the photos is most likely an M26.

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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