North Vietnamese Army 2nd Generation Cardboard Khaki Sun Helmet

$599.00

Excellent Condition

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Khaki sun helmets were worn throughout the 1950s and 1960s by the NVA but were slowly phased out in favor of the reed green helmet. By 1975 they were not being made anymore as the PAVN standardized their sun helmets in Reed Green.

This is an early to mid 1960s transitional NVA Sun Helmet.

This helmet predates the common reed green NVA Sun Helmet worn from 1965 and after.

EARLY CORK NVA SUN HELMETS

Very early NVA sun helmets, from the late 1950s and early 1960s, were made with a cork body. The cork bodies were covered inside and out with khaki cotton and sometimes green cotton.

These early cork sun helmets had non-adjustable bamboo sweatbands made of thin strips of interwoven bamboo. A thin layer of plastic sheeting covered the bamboo. The plastic sheeting came in various colors like green, cream, maroon and blue. The plastic sheeting covers the bamboo so the wearer’s skin is not rubbed and chafed by the hard bamboo underneath.

FIRST GENERATION CARDBOARD SUN HELMETS

The ChiComs, who made sun helmets to Hanoi’s order, elected to make the sun helmet a bit less expensive as they were supplying the NVA with material for the coming war.

They eliminated the cork body, substituting cardboard impregnated with resin instead.

These first generation cardboard helmets retained the non-adjustable bamboo sweatband.

The exterior of these early sun helmets was cotton twill. Khaki was most common but many green ones do exist.

The interior of these early helmets remained covered in cloth like the cork helmet. There are sub-variants with bamboo sweatbands that do not have the interior lining.

SECOND GENERATION CARDBOARD NVA SUN HELMETS

Bamboo sweatbands, which are found in all the early NVA helmets, take time to weave to specification. They then take more time to sew on the plastic sheeting over the woven bamboo. Because the War was coming and production had to increase, the bamboo sweatband was eliminated.

Instead of a bamboo sweatband, an inexpensive green rubberized sweatband with matching crown suspension was riveted directly into the helmet body in four places. The backing of the sweatband and crown suspension was a white cotton.

In this example, you can see how the green suspension and headband have curled slightly with age. They remain very supple.

The suspension system was riveted to the cardboard body through two cardboard spacers, one on each side, shaped like a very elongated letter “M.” This M shaped spacer/washer was not painted in this generation. Later versions of this M washer were pink cardboard painted green.

A purple color tie string was used to connect and adjust the green sweatband. Another purple tie string connected the four green crown straps.

Like the early sun helmets, this generation retained a leather chinstrap with aluminum buckle.

In the first photo here, you can see the NVA Corporal is holding a PPSH-41 or Chinese Type 50 sub machine gun. You can see he, like the other NVA with the blade type SKS, is wearing a khaki uniform. Most importantly, you can see he has on a khaki sun helmet that is made of cardboard. This is evident in that the brim of his helmet is not fat like the early cork helmets. The brim of the sun helmet is folded inward. The interior of his helmet is clearly darker than the exterior, like this one. You can also see the aluminum chinstrap buckle. His helmet has the NVA badge on the front.

Like in all wartime helmets this one has all aluminum hardware including the grommets, vent and chinstrap buckle. Naturally, the aluminum has oxidized. The chinstraps brad is brass.

THIRD GENERATION CARDBOARD GREEN NVA SUN HELMETS

The last and most common ChiCom made NVA sun helmet was made of cardboard impregnated with resin with a reed green cotton twill covering glued to the exterior. Instead of covering the interior with cloth, which cost money and skilled labor, the ChiComs used paint on the interior. The ChiComs forever eliminated the interior cotton.

The North Vietnamese also wore other types of sun helmets in the North and South. Many were cottage industry made. We have seen pith (cork), plastic and cardboard with various colors on the exterior.

With all NVA gear they, and their suppliers, learned as they went along and changed styles and manufacturing techniques to make things cheaper to manufacture.

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