Original WWII Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces (SNLF) Tetsubo Helmet Shell with Blue Paint
Original Item: Only One Available. This is an exceptionally rare Special Naval Landing Forces (SNLF) helmet shell. The SNLF (海軍特別陸戦隊 Kaigun Tokubetsu Rikusentai) were the marine troops of the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) and were a part of the IJN Land Forces. They saw extensive service in the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Pacific theatre of World War II. These are the forces that fought the USMC on Guadalcanal, Palau, and Iwo Jima.
This is a very nice example of the classic of the Tetsubo (鉄帽 - "steel cap"), also colloquially called the tetsukabuto ( 鉄 冑 "steel helmet") by troops. The entire rigging is missing, but the shell still retains much of the original blue paint, with an original brass SNLF insignia on front of helmet shell. There is some rusting on the interior, and paint loss on the exterior from rust and wear.
We would surmise that this shell spent some time on the battlefield before being recovered and brought home, which would explain the condition.
The Adrian helmet was replaced by the Navy Type 2 and later the Type 3. Both were very similar to the IJA Type 92 (1932). It was officially called tetsubo (steel cap) but was called tetsukabuto ("steel helmet") by troops. It was made in the shape of a dome with a short protruding rim all the way around it the IJN's Type 2 had a less flared rim. This helmet was made of thin inferior chrome-molybdenum steel with many proving to be very fragile, being easily pierced by shrapnel and/or gunfire. The IJN Type 3 was even thinner and made cheaper than the Type 2. An anchor for the IJN was fixed to the front with two bendable prongs attached to the back of the badge. They passed through a slit in the front of the shell and were then bent over to secure the badge to the helmet. The helmet and anchor were then painted one of many shades of green. They were sometimes whitewashed in the winter. A tan cover known as a first pattern was a two layer, fiber reinforced linen cover with a wool/felt two piece anchor sewn on the front. The second pattern cover was a shade of green. It had a one piece bevo woven anchor insignia sewn onto its front. Nets were then used to add a camo effect. The helmet was secured to the head by an elaborate set of straps descended from those of the Kabuto samurai helmet, although IJN helmet tapes were tied differently from the way the IJA tied them. It was also able to be worn over a field cap. Camouflage nets were widely worn over the helmet especially in the Southern theatre and Pacific island campaign.
History of the SNLF:
Before the late 1920s the IJN did not have a separate marine force, instead it used naval landing forces or rikusentai formed from individual ships's crews, who received infantry training as part of their basic training, for special and/or temporary missions.
In the late 1920s the navy began to form Special Naval Landing Forces as standing regiments (albeit of battalion size). These forces were raised at - and took their names from - the four main naval districts/bases in Japan: Kure, Maizuru, Sasebo, and Yokosuka. These SNLF units saw action in China from 1932 in the January 28 Incident and at the Battle of Shanghai in naval operations along the China coast and up the Yangtze River and its tributaries during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Soon, they became involved in successful Japanese seaborne assaults throughout South East Asia.
Other SNLF were later raised from IJN personnel in China, at Hankow, and Shanghai, for service in Canton and on the Yangtze River. On 7 December 1941 there were 16 SNLF units, this increased to 21 units during the war. The strengths of each SNLF ranged from the prewar peak of 1,200 to a later 650 personnel. There was also a special detachment in the Kwantung area, garrisoning the ports of Dairen and Ryojun.
Initially, the SNLF were not a marine force, but was instead sailors who had basic infantry training and were employed in landings during the Russo-Japanese War and the Boxer Rebellion. Soon their training and equipment were improved upon drastically, and their forces were given a variety of other operations as well. In 1941, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Yokosuka SNLF were converted to parachute units. They conducted more combat drops than Japanese Army parachute units during World War II. The SNLF paratroopers were used during the attack on Celebes and the Battle of Manado, to much lauded success by the Imperial government. Aside from the paratroopers, there were also elite squads who conducted reconnaissance and raid operations.
Since then, the Landing Forces has been influential in Japan's expansion of territories, and their tactics of surprising their enemies through sea invasions proved effective. The original SNLF personnel were well-trained, high quality troops with good morale and they performed well against opposition across Southeast Asia. However, like all landing forces they often experienced heavy casualties when faced with determined resistance, such as at the invasion of Timor and the Battle of Milne Bay. This is due to their unwillingness to surrender, and when completely out of ammunition, they would often resort to hand-to-hand fighting with their swords and bayonets. To combat highly defended positions in the Pacific, the Landing Forces created new tactics and techniques in order to overcome them that would later be adopted by the Allied in their sea-borne invasions.
In a well known last stand in 1943, 2,619 men of the 7th Sasebo SNLF and 2,000 base personnel at the Battle of Tarawa accounted for over 3,000 U.S. Marine Corps casualties.
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