General Information: The SSh-39 replaced the SSh-36. Together with the SSh-40 it was the main helmet used by the Soviet soldier during the Second World War. The liner design carried over from the SSh-40, although early-production versions of the helmet had a black oil cloth liner. The helmets initially had Red Army stars stenciled on the front, but this practice was eventually discontinued. The SSh-39 was produced in four sizes “POCT” 1-4. Externally the SSh-39 was identical to the SSh-40 but for the number and location of the rivets holding the liner in place. The earlier model had three rivets higher up on the helmet shell, while the later model had six rivets lower down. As with the SSh-36 black ink stamps indicated the year of production, the size “POCT,” the factory where it was produced, and a lot number.  

Displayed Example: This helmet was a battlefield souvenir that belonged to a Finnish army captain named Leo Wikman.  It was captured during the First Winter War with the Soviet Union. Wikman was later an attaché in Berlin during the war. A Swedish collector friend purchased the helmet from Leo Wikman’s son a few years ago. The son told my friend that when he was eight years old, he a attended a diplomatic reception where he shook Adolf Hitler’s hand. It is one of the few helmets in my collection with a known provenance dating back to the war. I had to give up a German M35 field police helmet in near mint condition, but I got this wonderful piece plus some money for my helmet fund.

The helmet is “Poct2” which corresponds to a size two, or medium size. It has the rare, early oil cloth liner.

Collector Notes: Soviet helmets have been surprisingly hard to find given that there were millions manufactured. Following the fall of the Soviet Union a lot of SSh-39s and SSh-40s hit the market, but those sources dried up. The Czechoslovakian vz53 (Model 1953) is a near exact copy of the SSh-39 in its external features and is often misidentified or misrepresented as a SSh-39. The innards of the two helmets are quite different, however. The liner of the vz53 is leather and similar in construction to German WWII helmets. The Czechoslovakian chinstraps are usually leather as well.

* Citation pending

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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