Original WWII Hungarian M38 Steel Helmet with Finnish Infantry Regiment 46 Skull - Continuation War
Original Item: In another military antiques coup, IMA has just acquired the last of all the known WWII helmet stocks from the government of Finland. These helmets are 100% genuine WW2 issue Hungarian M38 shells.
While the helmets are totally genuine the painted skull and bones have been newly replicated. Be sure to see the period photograph of Finnish JR46 soldiers with the skull painted on their helmets.
This helmet was in use with the Finnish Infantry Regiment 46 during the Continuation War from 1941-1944. The skulls were noted known among the Finns that some sources claim the I/JR 46's unofficial nickname was "Pääkallopataljoona", skull battalion. This regiment was commanded by Major Alfons Aleksander Sundblad and the skull was it's unofficial insignia.
The use of the skull by the Finns on the M40 helmet can also be seen in a period photograph of the Finnish 4th Division, Kev Os. 4 (Light Unit Number 4) whose primary role was armed reconnaissance to protect the main infantry body. Kev Os.4 (4th Kevyt Osasto) rapidly acquired the nickname Belaya Smjert, or "White Death," from their Soviet opponents in the 1939–1940 Winter War between Finland and the USSR following a series of deadly hit and run attacks by the unit's highly mobile ski troops. The members of Kev Os. 4 enthusiastically adopted the nickname, with many painting a skull and bones on their helmet fronts to further terrify their enemies. Despite inflicting terrible losses on the invading Soviets, the Finns had lost the Winter War by March, 1940. The Finns would later join the Axis forces in their June, 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union, hoping to recover territory lost in the previous treaty with Moscow. The skull painted helmets went with...
The Continuation War was a conflict fought by Finland and Nazi Germany, as co-belligerents, against the Soviet Union (USSR) from 1941 to 1944, during World War II. In Russian historiography, the war is called the Soviet–Finnish Front of the Great Patriotic War.[Note 4] Germany regarded its operations in the region as part of its overall war efforts on the Eastern Front and provided Finland with critical material support and military assistance.
The Continuation War began 15 months after the end of the Winter War, also fought between Finland and the USSR. There have been numerous reasons proposed for the Finnish decision to invade, with regaining territory lost during the Winter War being regarded as the most common. Other justifications for the conflict included President Ryti's vision of a Greater Finland and Commander-in-Chief Mannerheim's desire to retake Karelia. Plans for the attack were developed jointly between the Wehrmacht and a faction of Finnish political and military leaders with the rest of the government remaining ignorant. Despite the co-operation in this conflict, Finland never formally signed the Tripartite Pact that had established the Axis powers and justified its alliance with Germany as self-defence.
In June 1941, with the start of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the Finnish Defence Forces launched their offensive following Soviet airstrikes. By September 1941, Finland had reversed its post–Winter War concessions to the Soviet Union by retaking the Karelian Isthmus and Ladoga Karelia. However, the Finnish Army continued the offensive past the pre-1939 border with the conquest of East Karelia, including Petrozavodsk, as well as halting only around 30–32 km (19–20 mi) from the centre of Leningrad, where they participated in besieging the city by cutting its northern supply routes and digging in until 1944.[Note 5] In Lapland, joint German–Finnish forces failed to capture Murmansk or cut the Kirov (Murmansk) Railway, a transit route for lend-lease equipment to the USSR. The conflict stabilised with only minor skirmishes until the tide of the war turned against the Germans and the Soviet Union's strategic Vyborg–Petrozavodsk Offensive in June 1944. The attack drove the Finns from most of the territories they had gained during the war, but the Finnish Army halted the offensive in August 1944.
Hostilities between Finland and the USSR ended with a ceasefire, which was called on 5 September 1944, formalised by the signing of the Moscow Armistice on 19 September 1944. One of the conditions of this agreement was the expulsion, or disarming, of any German troops in Finnish territory, which led to the Lapland War between the former co-belligerents. World War II was concluded formally for Finland and the minor Axis powers with the signing of the Paris Peace Treaties in 1947. The treaties resulted in the restoration of borders per the 1940 Moscow Peace Treaty, the ceding of the municipality of Petsamo (Russian: Pechengsky raion) and the leasing of Porkkala Peninsula to the USSR. Furthermore, Finland was required to pay $300 million in war reparations to the USSR.
63,200 Finns and 23,200 Germans died or went missing during the war in addition to 158,000 and 60,400 wounded, respectively. Estimates of dead or missing Soviets range from 250,000 to 305,000 while 575,000 have been estimated to have been wounded or fallen sick.
In world war two Hungary was an ally of Germany. The Germans allowed and assisted the Hungarians in copying their design of the M35 steel helmet. Therefore, the WWII produced M38 Hungarian steel helmet is nearly identical to the German WWII M35. Both have the same shape, riveted ventilation holes, and the classic rolled edge. The minor differences between the M38 helmet and the German M35 was the liner system, liner pin position, as well as the addition of a small horizontal rectangular carrying hook above the back brim of the Hungarian helmet used to attach the helmet to a backpack when on the move.
The Model 1938 Hungarian helmet was one of the most common types used by the Finnish Army during the Continuation War of 1941-44. The Finns originally wanted to acquire the German M35 during the Winter War of 1939-40 to supplement their old stock of German WWI M17 & M18 helmets however, the German government refused the order and sent it to the Hungarians instead. Apparently this was done for political reasons as the Germans were technically still "allied" to the Soviets (who the Finns were fighting) during the Winter War of 1939-40. Though the order was placed in December 1939, the first helmet wasn't shipped until after the end of the Winter War in March 1940, which is why they were used extensively during the Continuation War of 1941-44.
Styles and colors (Field Grey, Field Green) may vary slightly so please see photos for variation examples. Each helmet is offered in good to very good condition, but will show storage wear, minor paint chips and scratches, and occasionally a small ding but all are free of major dents or imperfections. After all, these are real WWII manufactured and issued military helmets that were used by actual soldiers in the defense of their country. Additionally the Finnish Army used some of these helmets from WWII up until the early 1970s. Lead time on these helmets is variable, as they are all hand-painted, and during times of peak demand may take over a week to ship.
The companies that manufactured the M38 were Mavag of Budapest, Weiss of Csepel, and Gyori Vaggon-es Gepgyar. We believe that all these shells have maker and shell size markings stamped to the inside of the brim. However, because these helmets have been painted and repainted, in some cases, multiple times, it is impossible for us to see if each one is marked without using paint stripper or a wire wheel. So, if you absolutely must have a visible marking then please request it by choosing the special hand select option and accept that we will have to remove the paint in order to do so, which may effect the aesthetic appeal of the helmet.
The leather liners and chinstraps are a mix, most were made in Finland for the Finnish army after WWII. Some may have the original Hungarian made leather liner, however these are extremely rare and often in poor condition, so are unable to accept any requests for these. Liners also vary in form from a Finnish M55 style to a German M35 style to a WWI style three sided type.
Sizing- we offer a range of sizes, but we sell these helmets based on the interior liner size, not shell size. However, a general rule of thumb is; size 55/56cm liners are usually inside size 62 shells, size 57/58cm liners are usually inside size 64/66 shells, and size 59cm and above liners are 66/68 shells. We cannot honor requests for specific shell sizes; we only honor requests for liner size.
This is a rare chance to own a genuine WWII M38 Hungarian made German type M35 WWII helmet at far less than half the price of a German manufactured wartime one.
History of the German & Finnish Alliance-
In 1938 Finland became very concerned with Stalin's Soviet expansionism and turned to Great Britain and France for support. Both Countries were under supplied themselves so Finland, perhaps reluctantly turned to Nazi Germany for aid. Hitler was swift to assist supplying great quantities of materiel including thousands of German Battle Helmets.
The Russians invaded Finland in 1939 driving deep into the country. The Finns resisted with amazing tenacity that has been the subject of legend and the wonderful WW2 Movie "THE WINTER WAR" (offered by IMA). The Russians paid a very heavy price and sued for peace in early 1940 keeping the invaded areas of Finland. Finland totally exhausted agreed with great regret.
In the summer of 1941 Hitler’s Nazi War Machine invaded the Soviet Union driving everything before them. Finland whom had received so much help from Germany then rose up and drove the Soviet presence out of Finland. However Finland would not "invade" the Soviet Union, they declared themselves not to be aggressors.
It is true however that the Germans recruited great numbers of Finnish "Volunteers" for their "SS UNITS" that did invade Mother Russia but that was true of all the overrun European Countries and even some others, still independent including apparently England and the United States, although these number were said to be very low.
At the close of WW2 with Germany defeated Finland was highly penalized by the Soviet Union, again gave up the lost territory of 1939/40 but did manage to retain it's independence unlike so much of Eastern Europe.
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