From the October issue, pages 264 - 267.



Jareth Holub

Original, early vented helmets are extremely rare and expensive. Nakata of Japan has reproduced two variations of early cherry blossom vented helmets (army with star, navy with anchor and cherry blossom). These were sold in the United States and are being offered as originals at some shows. A few have been artificially aged to appear older. I recently examined a repro army cherry blossom helmet, a very well made replica. The metal gauge is similar and the edges are rolled over and pressed identical to the originals. I compared it to the original examples in my collection and have observed the following differences.




                                                                    Repro on left; original on right

I) STAMPS/MARKS. Originals will have Tokyo (most often) arsenal marks stamped on rear of interior rim. Other stamps may be encountered. Sometimes this mark has been painted over, but one should check carefully. The reproduction has no identifying stamps or marks (Photo at left).

2) PAINT. The reproductions are thinly painted a dark olive drab color that is unlike most found on Japanese helmets. Original early army helmets are painted a more yellow ocher/brown color. You will often find originals have been repainted numerous times. Original navy helmets were usually painted grey. The exteriors were later painted brown for land-based troops, the interiors were left grey. The repro navy helmets are olive drab inside and out.

3) CHINSTRAPS. Chinstraps for the early helmet were unique. They were "Y" shaped. This style chinstrap was only used on the early-vented helmets and the later navy paratrooper helmet. They measure 1 1/16" wide, and were made in two sections, the fabric joined at the junction with a diamond-shaped stitch pattern (Photo 2.) Repro chin straps are 11/16" wide and stitched with a square design (Photo 3). Original strap ends are usually found cut/sewn straight across and the repro chin strap ends are incorrectly sewn pointed. The fabric on original chin straps are thicker and made from a chevron pattern weave (Photo 4) where as repro chinstrap material has a horizontal linear weave pattern.




                    Photo 2                                                                                    Photo 3                                                                                    Photo 4

4) LINER BAND. Liners on the repros are well made and very similar to the originals. Intact liners on original examples are thinner grade/gauge leather and are usually very brittle from age. Main difference between repro and original liners is the leather liner band in the rear of the helmet interior. Original liner bands were joined with straight parallel stitches (photo 5) while repros have liner bands attached with a rig-zag stitch (Photo 6).

                                                    Photo 5                                                                                                                    Photo 6

5) VENT VARIATIONS. There are two known vent variations on the early helmets (only one which is being reproduced) It is still unclear which variation came first.


                    A. Cherry blossom vents                                                                                                             B. Star pattern of drilled holes

Both army and navy variations exist of these patterns. As far as I know only the cherry blossom vented helmets are being reproduced.

                                                                                Army insignia                                                                    Navy insignia


I hope these observations will help a collector to tell the difference between a reproduction and an original early vented helmet.

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