Yugoslavian M39


General Information: The Yugoslavian Model 1939 was a locally made copy of the Czechoslovakian vz.32. Very little documentation exists on this very rare helmet type and much of what we know about the M39 has been surmised by collectors. The helmets were produced, or at least assembled, in Yugoslavia, presumably under license from the Czechoslovakians. On the shells of the helmets there are ink stamps with six Cyrillic letters the last three of which correspond to VTZ in the Latin alphabet. These are the initials of the Vojno Techični Zavod factory in Čačak, which is a city in Serbia.[1] Collectors sometimes refer to this model as the “Čačak” helmet after the city where the helmets were made.

The features which distinguish the Yugoslavian M39 from the Czechoslovakian vz.32 are as follows:

  1. Grey vs. brown paint
  2. Serbian stamps
  3. Black vs. white drawstrings laced through the liner pads just below the paired tabs on each pad.
  4. No washer under the rivet holding the chinstrap loops
  5. Exterior rivet for chinstrap loops slightly smaller than on the vz.32
  6. Brass vs. painted black double-headed rivets for attaching the chinstraps to the chinstrap loops

We presume that manufacture of the M39 ceased after the German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1940, so the production run must have been very short. The Čačak helmet is certainly one of the most obscure and difficult to find of the World War II helmets.

Displayed Example: I purchased this helmet in 2019 indirectly from the wife of a US WWII vet. Unfortunately, that is all I know about the provenance of this piece. It would be interesting to know how such a thing got into the hands of an American GI. In addition to the factory identification stamp mentioned above, there are two sets of stamps in smaller font: one on one of the liner pads and one on the shell. These translate to something like “accepted commission” which would have been an inspection stamp from a military procurement authority. The original owner wrote his name on the interior, possibly “Egger.”

Collector Notes: The Čačak helmet in my collection is the only one I have ever seen in person. It is a very rare helmet type, but because of its obscurity, few collectors are aware the M39. A lucky person may be able to land one of these for a modest price, particularly if it is misidentified as a vz.32.

* citation sought

[1] “Yugoslavian M39 “Čačak” helmet.” German Helmet Wallhalla. June 20, 2013-January 30, 2019. https://www.ghw2.com/topic/40364-yugoslavian-m39-%C4%8Da%C4%8Dak-helmet/. Accessed June 6, 2022.

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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