Bulgarian WWII M36/A Steel Combat Helmet

Item Description

Original Item: Original Item: This is the Bulgarian Model 36/A steel helmet with a rolled edge; two vent holes and six rivets. This model was the first type of the Model 36 ever produced. This first of three patterns of helmets produced for the Bulgarian army before World War II. We believe that our helmets were German produced and remained in use until the 1950s, so the liners are probably postwar in most cases.

History of the Bulgarian M36 helmet (in Bulgarian: Каска М36): During World War I Bulgarian soldiers were equipped with the German Stahlhelm M1916, which remained in service up to the end of 1930s. The restrictions imposed on the Bulgarian Army by the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine of 1919 were overcome in the mid 1930s and in 1935 the High Command ordered the design of a new army helmet. At the end of 1935 the prototype was ready and subsequently approved in 1936.

The general design was distantly reminiscent of the Stahlhelm, but with some considerable alterations. The general structure and depth were similar, but the brim was shortened, opened wider and more gradually turned. The ventilation apertures were retained, but set in smaller rounded fittings. The angles of the side and upper surfaces were conically increased with aim to cause hits of over 90o to ricochet. From mid-front to mid-rear a well-pronounced projecting rib was shaped. As result the helmet received a very distinctive outline with only a distant likeness to the Stahlhelm. It was made of steel with only a small quantity of the first model made of lighter laminated iron, exclusively as officers' dress gear. The edges of the shell were rolled over in the earliest type known as A, while on the later type known as B these were straight cut. In 1939 a new redesigned version with shallowed shell and shortened brim, known as type C, was brought into service. An estimated 70% of all production was of this third model. Factory-issued helmets were initially dark greyish-green in color with a small shield in Bulgarian flag colors on the right. Later new brighter pea-green shade was introduced. The leather suspension, or liner, were produced in several different variants. The M36 helmet design became lighter, more compact, and more comfortable than the First World War-era designs and provided excellent protection.

It was introduced in regular service in 1936. Initially, production began outside Bulgaria in three foreign factories: Sandrik in Dolne Hamre and Bruder Gottlieb und Brauchbar in Brun, Moravia (Bratri G&B - Brno) in Czechoslovakia and Eisenhuttenwerk Thale in Thale, Harz, Germany. In the end of 1935 a punching press was imported from Germany to Bulgaria and installed at the Military Works in the town of Kazanlak, and subsequently production continued in Bulgaria as well. The earlier bigger and heavier types A and B were phased out in the early 1950s.

Emblems are no longer present/visible in most cases.


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