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Type 90 Helmet, Civilian Version Untouched & Complete

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    Type 90 Helmet, Civilian Version Untouched & Complete

    I recently purchased this Japanese Type 90 helmet directly from a seller in Osaka, Japan. He told me that he found it in South Osaka.

    The helmet is in untouched condition, and appears to have been sitting since it's last use during the war. No signs of repainting, or reissue, post-war.

    I have a few questions about these civilian helmets, and this one in particular. The more "common" civilian civil defense style helmets seem to be cruder, and of a different shape than the military Type 90 helmets. The liners on the civilian CD helmets tend to be cruder, and often are a "sock" style. Who would have used these civilian copies of the Type 90 (like mine)?

    The helmet that I have, appears to be made to the same shape as the military Type 90 helmets, and the liner is sewn out of the typical war-time fabric, to the military liner style. The liner even includes the sewn in pockets behind each pad-flap. The paint is military brown-green.
    It has kanji characters painted on one side, that I am told, translate to Ueshima, the owner's name. The interesting thing about the writing style, is that it is very carefully applied, crisp and smaller. It often seems like the characters that are hand painted on the normal civil defense helmets are much cruder. I get the impression that this helmet was used by someone a bit more educated and "precise", maybe someone with some authority, although that is just my initial impression.

    My hunch is that this must have been a helmet that was made for someone who was something more important that a regular civil defense volunteer. The fact that it is quite literally, the civilian version of the Type 90 helmet makes me wonder if there is more to the helmet than just another civil defense helmet.

    I am hoping that the folks on this side of the forum have ideas, facts or speculation that they could share with me. The WW2 Japanese field is a new area that I am expanding my collection into, so I have a lot to learn!




      In my quest to research the use of Type 90 helmets, by non-military departments or organizations, I ran across this over on another forum.

      Here is a quote from that page:

      "1939: Other users of the type 90 helmet (War Correspondents and Export)

      The Army design helmets were strictly military and were not available to civilians, but there were a handful of cases where Type 90s were produced without the Army star insignia in front for use outside the Japanese Army.

      One of these exceptions was helmets for war correspondents requested by Asahi Newspaper and Domei News Agency issued in 1939.

      A letter from Asahi to the Minister of the Army, dated June 17, 1939 explains, “In light of the fact that our correspondents, photographers and messengers, who have nobly given their lives to the current China Incident have all fallen due to being shot in the head…” and requested permission to procure 100 helmets for the use by such staff. In August, the other major media company, Domei News Agency made a similar request for its 50 front line newspapermen. The Army’s production order for these helmets specifies omission of the Star Insignia.

      Also, in the early days of the Type 90 helmet, frequent requisitions for Army helmets without insignia can be found coming from an organization named “The Taihei Association (World Peace Association泰平組合)”. The irony of the name is that they were an exporter of Japanese surplus weapons.

      After the Russo-Japanese War, Japan’s active weapons development rendered many weapons obsolete and the trading houses Mitsui, Okura and Takada were competing with each other in buying them up and exporting them to countries such as China, England and Russia. When Lt. General Nambu of the Type 14 pistol fame noticed the three companies bidding against each other only to benefit the foreign buyers, he suggested that they should rather team up than compete, which took the form of the Taihei Association.

      They changed names in 1939 April to Showa Trading when Takada dropped out and was replaced by Mitsubishi.
      They are shown to have shipped regular steel versions of the type 90 prototype samples to Chiang Kai-shek in 1930, samples to Mexico in 1935 and 1939, to Peru in 1936 and 1,000 helmets to Mongolia in 1940. These were normally supplied with other weapons. These helmets, too, were devoid of any star insignia. "

      So it would seem, that at least there is the possibility that these Type 90 styled civilian helmets may have been made for the use of select, official, and professional organizations. As I highlighted in the quote above, it seems that there were 100, modified Type 90's made for war correspondents.

      The fact that nearly all of the "civil defense" helmets are crude and seem to have made for issue to the lowest level of volunteer service, something like "peasant class", for want of a better descriptive term, would seem to indicate that these Type 90 Civil Defense helmets may have been a different class altogether.

      I may be way off course on my speculation, but it does cause one to pause and rethink who may have been issued what...........

      Last edited by Marksharky; 08-25-2019, 12:56 PM. Reason: spelling


        I ran across this informational bit that Nick Komiya posted about the history of the IJA helmets. This bit is posted over on the War Relics fourm (it may also be posted on this forum, but I haven't been able to locate it).

        In one portion of the history, Nick discusses one of the last versions of the Cherry Blossom helmets, and shows the liner of this helemt. Here is a quick quote from that page, with the photo I am referencing:

        "Such late cherry blossom helmets represent a third and last variant configuration of the 1922 design by stealing features from the type 90 helmets, namely the 3-point chinstrap suspension system (versus the 4-point system of the star vented helmets and earlier cherry-blossomed helmets) and the four ventilation holes on top. This last version has also been observed with a canvas liner instead of leather, but how common this practice was at that time is not known. "

        [IMG]<a href="https://ibb.co/T4W1wF4"><img src="https://i.ibb.co/WkV0HYk/16-Last-Cherry-1.jpg" alt="16-Last-Cherry-1" border="0"></a>[/IMG]

        Here is the interesting part........ When I compare the photo of the liner in the last-model Cherry Blossom helmet, to the liner in my "Civilian Type 90" helmet, they seem to be the same. The fabric matches, the liner pattern, even the grommet colors. Here is the photo of my helmet's liner:

        <a href="https://ibb.co/1nfyqvt"><img src="https://i.ibb.co/n0sdcgN/DSC01775.jpg" alt="DSC01775" border="0"></a>

        It seems that the Cherry Blossom helmets were phased out in 1932, and the Type 90 was the new helmet in full use. I wonder if it is possible that the liners used in the last model Cherry Blossom helmets may have been used on some of the early Type 90 style civilian helmets, or if there was a line of civilian helmets that were made for some of the professional organizations, like the newspapers, that were referenced previously.

        I find it quite interesting that the two liners match so perfectly. Has anyone else noticed this? I am also wondering if anyone else has a "Civilian Type 90" helmet that has one of these early style cloth liners. If so, maybe we could see a few photos.


          Here is another bit of information that seens to indicate that canvas liners were indeed official in at least some of the military issued Type 90's. Again, this is taken from the posting by Nick Komiya in the link provided in the previous posting.

          Helmet lining was most commonly in leather, having a thickness of 1.5 to 2mm for the main part, and thinner 0.8mm leather for the rear bag for the padding. The spec sheet from August 1939 allows for 6 different types of leather quality for the main body, which included pigskin and joined scrap leather. Towards the end of the war pigskin seemed to be the predominant choice for army helmet liners. Pigskin was particularly favored in the tropics for shoes, as the pores allowed for better ventilation to reduce clamminess. A similar benefit must have been there also in the case of helmet lining material.
          An all canvass version was also available from mid December 1939 as is shown in the following spec diagram. "

          [IMG]<a href="https://ibb.co/mvtQyxV"><img src="https://i.ibb.co/db6nphw/34.jpg" alt="34" border="0"></a>[/IMG]

          So it would seem that canvas liners, although not common, must have been issued from at least 1939, in the Type 90 helmets (obviously not a common liner). Since the cloth liners were available, it is quite possible that this is how a military styled, and specified, cloth liner could have found its way into these "Civilian Type 90" helmets.


            Well this has been an interesting bit of investigation, speculation, and observation, but it looks like it's at a dead end for now. I was hoping that others on the forum may have had some ideas on this, or may have some bits of information, or their own observations, that would contribute to this. I have found that a strong initial "hunch" or "feeling" about historical items, even if they are contrary to the mainstream narrative, are often worth pursuing. I have found through the years, that more often than not, "Where there is smoke, there is fire". There may only be a very small smouldering ember, but there is usually something there at least. By investigating and reexamining the the things that are just accepted, and taken for granted, in the collecting and historical texts, we often discover new things, and sometimes have to revise long held "truths" (and sometime it just proves we were right all along!). I can't shake the feeling that there is more to this "Type 90 Civilian Helmet", as I will call them, than just another "civil defense helmet". At this point on the collecting timeline, it seems that there is so little left to discover or learn about many of these popular collecting genres. When an observation as simple as the one I made with these "Type 90 Civilian" helmets, just sits there with no academic debate or discussion, it makes one wonder if we, as collectors and historians, know everything there is to know on a particular subject. I hope that is not the case! A big part of collecting, at least to me, is the intellectual detective work and discussions that go into learning and investigating these physical artifacts of history. By digging into the "what if's", we often learn so much more than just the little detail we initially set out to document.
            So, with that said, one last call........... does anyone have any information that definitively puts this hunch about the "Type 90 Civilian Helmets" to rest? I would love to see some information that puts this hunch to rest, or inspires us to investigate a possible new angle on these helmets. There are some amazing, and VERY informed collector-historians out there, who have treasure troves of information that we may never see published. I hope there are a few who may be reading this thread, who may have a few crumbs to toss out!

            I hope that this short thread has at least blown some dust off an old subject.


              Thanks for sharing that information on this type of civil defense helmet. I’m also curious who wore them as I have one too. There are no vent holes at the top and has a higher ridgeline also 5 tabs w/holes around the back to hang some kind of neck protector. My helmet is in storage so I can’t comment on the weight but I think it was lighter then the Army Type90. Could they have been worn by army/navy airfield firefighters because they could have neck protectors added?

              Here’s my CD helmet (http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/foru...+helmet&page=2).


                It's just another civilian defense/last ditch helmet & liner variation. There are sooo many different varieties! Nothing rare or unusual


                  Originally posted by Jareth View Post
                  It's just another civilian defense/last ditch helmet & liner variation. There are sooo many different varieties! Nothing rare or unusual
                  +1 - I know its new and exciting to you and the condition is good but these are as common as dirt to a Japanese helmet collector. It's like offering a Luftschutz helmet to a SS helmet collector. As stated above - just another CD pot


                    Thanks for the replies and opinions on the helmet! I have no illusions that it is any thing more than a "domestic defense helmet", not military.
                    The details that strike me as unique, and that lead me to believe that it is not a "common grade" civil defense style, are its distinct Type 90 style, and the duplication of the liner in cloth. Why make a copy that is so close to the military Type 90, and at the same time make truck loads of the lower quality civil defense helmet styles with the sock liners?

                    If these helmets were just for mass issue, for civil defense, as an emergency use helmet, and so many were of a crude quality, with shapes much different from the Type 90 military helmets, then why were some made to so closely resemble the Type 90's? It seems odd to copy the military helmets so closely, in a country where that may not be acceptable to the military and government establishment.

                    It seems that the helmets, like the one I have, are of a much more refined style, with more detailed liners. I wonder if they were a "private personal purchase" helmet that would appeal to a higher level civil official or meant to be used for upper level "volunteers" possibly in factory management, or in a more well-to-do segment of industry, or part of the city?

                    Anyway, it is just a cursory observation and and hunch, after looking at so many of these civil defense helmets, nothing more.

                    Has anyone done any sort of research into these civil defense helmets? There must be a plan and system that applied to them during the war.

                    I primarily collect civil defense, police and fire helmets, and gear, from the WW2 and early post-war era, so this helmet is exactly what I was looking for . It displays quite well with my other WW2 era Japanese items!


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