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Republic of Vietnam Biet Dong Quan Ranger Helmet

Dated: 1960s

Description: Steel US made M1 Helmet with painted camouflage and Ranger insignia. Arguably the most iconic symbol of South Vietnamese military headgear, original ARVN Ranger helmets are very rare to come by. There are many stories of how these helmets were painted, but the basic synopsis is they were hand painted by numerous individuals (chosen men in a company, local painters, soldiers' wives, etc), and as a result a variety of variations exist. Some had elaborate camouflage aesthetics painted around the helmet, others had only the panther's head and star, while some were covered in yellow with swirling black tigerstripes, and many were stencil painted and many were done by hand or some mixture of the two. The basic tenant of the panther head insignia also varied in size and dimension between different artists' hands. Many replicas-fakes exist of these today. The original helmet shown here has strong provenance, and displays marks of prolonged use with oxidation of the paint and metal in unison, as well as faint outlines of earlier painting versus later strokes.

A Ranger in the streets of Saigon during the Tet Offensive, 1968.

All Text on this site and All Photographs featuring an RVNHS watermark are the Copyrighted Intellectual Property of RVNHS. Copying or use of this material is not permitted without written permission from the Republic of Vietnam Historical Society.