Thursday 24 February 2011

British Army Helmets in 1979: Part 2 Para & Marine Lids

Trying to find concrete information on post war British Para Helmets is difficult. Luckily with our focus being on 20mm miniatures not collecting militaria or 1/6th scale warriors, where the smaller detail of liners, straps and such matters far more.

In our 1979 time frame we are basically looking at two models of helmet in service at the same time. The classic WW2 era rimless steel MkII Para helmet which soldiered on with British airborne forces right up to the early-mid eighties and the M76 Parachute helmet, lightweight.

 3 Para going ashore, San Carlos, 1982
M76 GRP Para helmets

The MKII Paratrooper helmet was manufactured in 1944 and saw wide service with airborne troops by the time of Arnhem. There were at least two more post war manufacturing runs - 1953 and 1965. British Paratroops continued to wear the MKII into the mid-1980's where it saw service in the Falklands side by side with the M76. The MKII also saw active service with Israeli & Indian Parachute forces.
1 Para, Londonderry, 1972, 
Riot Visors attached to MKII Para Helmets

The M76 had a lightweight but durable Glass-Reinforced Plastic (GRP) shell. It appears to have been a development of the GRP Combat Helmet (Northern Ireland), which itself was the direct forerunner of the MK6 combat helmet (1987). It began replacing the MKII Parachute helmet from 1979 onwards.

M76 Parachute Helmet, Lightweight

The basic shell of the MKII Parachute Helmet was also used for the RAC (Royal Armoured Corps) 'tankers' helmet. With a new liner, this became the Marine Pattern Helmet.

Marine Pattern Helmet

Photos of Royals in the Falklands clearly show them carrying MKIV ("turtle") helmets. It's likely that the numbers of the Marine Pattern Helmet required for a large scale ground operation simply were not available.

Once camo cover is in place, netted and scrimmed up, there's only a subtle difference between the MKII Para, Para lightweight and  Marine Pattern helmets in 20mm, only then up close and you have to know what you are looking for. Rolf Hedges' FALK1 British infantry in camo helmets are dripping in scrim so can be taken for all three helmet models in a single stroke.

This Para GPMG No.1 snapped in the Falklands, could easily step back in time to stand beside Frost at Arnhem.



  1. The old '44 pattern helmet also survived until 1986 within Regular battalions until it was finally replaced by the newer polycarbonate version...I like many others spent their training and formative battalion lives scrimming their 'tin pots' like Tommy Atkins...deep joy...



  2. Hello

    First I apologize for my English-speaking. I am Jesus of Seville Spain.
    Years ago I collect British militaria from WWII to the present day.
    I am forced to ask for help with a question that I can not solve by myself.

    During the Falklands conflict in numerous photos show the new fiber lightweight helmets that were used by the Parachute Regiment. Some of them appear with a helmet cover DPM, under nets or black tape.
    I wanted to know if covers were handmade or manufactured in series for this model.

    I look forward to your response

    Thank you very much and greetings

    Jesus Viana

  3. they were issued with the helmets. the tape is to keep them on the helmet

  4. Hi, I also have a question about Falkland.
    They always said some MK6 was first issue to RM commando for field test in Falkland.
    Does it true?

    1. Not that I know of I joined the army in 1985 and was issued with a MK5 Turtle

    2. No, I'd say that's untrue. I joined up in early 1988 and I got a turtle tin lid as well then issued a Mk 6 a few months later.