French Air Force M15/24

Jaunty looking air force soldier from the 1920s or 1930s*

General Information: Strictly speaking, this is not a First World War helmet. The helmet may have been used during the war, but the elegant air force badge was not issued until 1923 and was officially adopted in 1924.[1] The same badge was used on Model 1926 and Model 1937 helmets. On the official, statutory version of the helmet, the badge was the same color as the helmet, which was typically a dark greyish-blue. Unofficially, however, there was a tradition of painting the badges and they are often seen in painted gold or other colors.

Displayed Example: This is one of the last items from my father’s collection. I cannot remember where he got it, but I do remember the day it came to us. After coveting it for years, my father eventually relented and gave it to me.

It’s a size B, or medium sized helmet shell with a second pattern helmet liner. The helmet was repainted throughout, likely post-WWI at the time the air force badge was added. The paint, particularly on the left side, shows signs of having been touched up. This could conceivably have been done by the original owner, but with this kind of thing we generally assume it was a post-period collector-done enhancement.

French soldiers of the First World War were entitled to keep their helmets and all were authorized to adorn the helmet visors with a brass commemorative plate that read, “Soldat De La Grande Guerre 1914-1918.” Many veterans further embellished the plates with their name and sometimes rank or unit information. This particular specimen is nicely marked to Paul Canal. Monsieur Canal neatly penned his last name in the helmet liner as well.

Collector Notes: These helmets are scarce. They are findable, but it may take you some time to track one down, particularly if you are looking for a top-quality example. They are faked, of course, so proceed with caution.

* Private collection

[1] Hennequin. pp.79

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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