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A modern French combat helmet
A late fifteenth century sallet.
A combat helmet is a type of personal armor designed specifically for use during conflict. Helmets are among the oldest forms of personal protective equipment, and are known to have been worn by the Assyrians around 900BC, followed by the ancient Greeks and Romans, throughout the Middle Ages, and up to the end of the 1600s by many combatants. Their materials and construction became more advanced as weapons became more and more powerful. Initially constructed from leather and brass, and then bronze and iron during the Bronze and Iron Ages, they soon came to be made entirely from forged steel in many societies after about 950AD. At that time, they were purely military equipment, protecting the head from cutting blows with swords, flying arrows, and low-velocity musketry.

Military use of helmets declined after 1670, and rifled firearms ended their use by foot soldiers after 1700. By the 18th century, cavalry units often wore steel body cuirasses, and frequently metal skull protectors under their hats, called "secrets". The Prussian leather spiked helmet, or Pickelhaube, offered almost no protection from the increased use of heavy artillery during World War I, and in 1916 was replaced by the German steel helmet, or Stahlhelm, and afterwards it was worn merely for tradition.

The Napoleonic era saw ornate cavalry helmets reintroduced for cuirassiers and dragoons in some armies; they continued to be used by French forces during World War I as late as 1915, when they were replaced by the new French Adrian helmet. It was soon followed by the adoption of similar steel helmets by the other warring nations.World War I and its increased use of heavy artillery had renewed the need for steel helmets, which were quickly introduced by all the combatant nations for their foot soldiers. In the 20th century, such helmets offered protection for the head from shrapnel and spent, or glancing bullets.

Today's militaries often use high-quality helmets made of ballistic materials such as Kevlar and Aramid, which have excellent bullet and fragmentation stopping power. Some helmets also have good non-ballistic protective qualities, though many do not. Non-ballistic injuries may be caused by many things, such as concussive shockwaves from explosions, physical attacks, motor vehicle accidents, or falls.



A side view of a Vietnam-era M1 helmet
6th century Spangenhelm

Model Origins Users Notes
SPECTRA helmet used by the French Army, Danish Army, United Nations peacekeeping forces
MICH Combat Helmet developed for use by Special Operations Forces by the United States Army and became the basis of the Advanced Combat Helmet (ACH)
Lightweight Helmet used by United States Marine Corps
Mk. 6 Helmet used by British Armed Forces (British Army)
BK-6 Helmet used by the Croatian Army
Enhanced Combat Helmet
CG634 Used by the Canadian Forces since 1998.
PASGT Used by the USAF, but is being replaced by the ACH US Air Force
GOLFO Military of Chile ( ) PASGT variant
SSh68 Steel helmet Russian Army Russiamarker
6B7-1L Kevlar helmet Russian army and Naval Infantry Russiamarker
STSh-81 Titanium helmet Russian Special Forces Russiamarker
Kolpak 2 Kevlar helmet Russian army
OR 201 Kevlar helmet Israel Defense Forces
KASDA Kevlar helmet Israel Defense Forces
Gefechtshelm Schuberth B826 used by the Bundeswehr, Swiss Army, Dutch Army and other countries - PASGT type helmet
MARTE Protec type helmet replacing PASGT type helmets
Sistema Compositi SEPT-2 PLUS used by the Italian Armed Forces
Sistema Compositi SUPERUBOTT used by Special Units (particularly GIS) of the Italian Law Enforcement community
Tecnoplast TD-71 used by the Italian Law Enforcement community for riot control
Type 88 Helmet used by the JSDF - PASGT type helmet
M80 Helmet Plastic and cloth helmet, limited use
MKU helmets used by over 40 countries
M87 Kevlar helmet South African Army
Hjälm 90 used by the Swedish Armed Forces

Modern, no longer in general U.S. use, but is issued when new helmets are not available

Model Origins Users Notes
PASGT helmet Army and Navy, Australian Army

World War I - Vietnam

Model Origins Users Notes
Adrian helmet used in , , , , , , ,
Brodie helmet used in , , ,
Mk III Turtle helmet ,
Bulgarian M36 Helmet Bulgariamarker
M1 helmet Army, Marine Corps;
Soviet helmets during World War II Soviet Unionmarker
Stahlhelm Chile
Hełm wz. 31 Polandmarker

Medieval and early modern period military

Model Origins Users Notes
Capeline a steel skullcap worn by archers
Great helm
Kabuto Samurai helmet

Ancient military

Model Origins Notes
Attic helmet ancient Greek military helmet
Boeotian helmet ancient Greek cavalry helmet
Chalcidian helmet ancient Greek military helmet
Corinthian helmet ancient Greek military helmet
Disc and stud helmet Ancient Illyrian military helmet
Galea ancient Roman military helmet
Horned helmet
Illyrian type helmet ancient Greek military helmet
Kegelhelm ancient Greek military helmet
Negau helmet ancient Etruscan helmets unearthed in Negau, Slovenia
Pilos ancient Greek military helmet
Pot helmet Ancient Illyrian military helmet
Thracian helmet ancient Thracian military helmet

Various periods

Model Origins Users Notes
Kettle hat


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