Hungarian M38

Hungarian soldier occupying Czechoslovakia autumn 1938*

General Information: Two factories manufactured the Hungarian Model 1938 helmet: MÁVAG (Magyar Királyi Vas, Acél és Gépgyárak) in Budapest and Magyar Waggon és Gépgyár in Győr.[1] The latter is sometimes referred to as simply “Győr.”  There has been confusion in collector circles as to the number and names of factories that produced the M38. This is likely due to fact that four different manufacturer codes can be found on these helmets. An additional problem has been that references to the factory names use different formulations and appear differently when translated in different ways to English or German. The domestically used helmets manufactured by MÁVAG and Győr were marked “MÁVAG” or “GY” respectively along with the size code in style of the German helmets of the period. The ones produced for export to Finland were marked “DM” if produced by MÁVAG or “DR” if produced by Győr. The helmets destined for use by Hungarian armed forces had a Hungarian coat of arms topped by a crown above the manufacturer and size stamp, but the export versions lacked this feature.

The liners on the Hungarian army helmets closely followed the pattern used on some German reissued First World War helmets during the Weimar and early Third Reich periods. On German helmets, collectors refer to this as the Model 1927 liner,[2] although apparently there was never an official designation for the type.[3] These were cut from one piece of leather and formed three pads with three voided sections between the pads adjacent to the liner bands. The M38s used by the Hungarian army were painted greenish-brown to more of a brownish color sometimes characterized as “mustard brown.” I have seen two examples that were painted a garish lime green color, so there must have been at least one production run with this type of paint.  The Finnish export helmets had a purer green to olive color that was distinct from the color used on Hungarian army helmets. The M38s destined for civic use by air raid wardens and firemen were painted blue and had liners that lacked the three-pad/three-void M27 feature.

Displayed Example: I purchased this helmet from an Austrian collector. It is marked “GY64” for the Győr and the head size: 64cm. It is in its original, WWII configuration. The chinstrap was shortened, most likely by the original owner during the period.

Collector Notes: The Hungarian M38 is not a very expensive or difficult helmet to find. The Finns used the M38s for many years after the WWII and recently a large cache of Finnish surplus helmets, including M38s, hit the collector market. The M38s were also used by Hungarian armed forces for a short period after WWII and these sometimes pop up on eBay and elsewhere. These post-war used helmets were refurbished with leather liner bands and three separate, two tongued liner pads similar in style to the German WWI pattern. Finding a M38 in its original WWII configuration, however, can be a challenging proposition. I met a collector at the last Show of Shows that I attended who had assembled a nearly complete Hungarian WWII uniform, but lacked a M38 to complete the project. He had been looking at the show, without success, for one of these things.

* Hungarian soldier wearing flowers in helmet after being welcomed by peasant people. October, 1938. TimeLife. Life Photo Collection. TimeLife_image_883024. . Accessed July 4. 2022.

[1] “WWII Hungarian Maker Marks.” German Helmet Wallhalla II. Post #10. December 27, 2011. . Accessed May 3, 2022.

[2] Marzetti. 2003. pp150

[3] Nieriarowicz. 2009. pp415

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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