Helmets are among the oldest forms of personal protective equipment and are known to have been worn by the Akkadians/Sumerians in the 23rd century BCE, Mycenaean Greeks since the 17th century BCE, the Assyrians around 900 BCE, ancient Greeks and Romans, throughout the Middle Ages, and up to the end of the 17th century 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 950 CE. 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 but the Napoleonic era saw ornate cavalry helmets reintroduced for cuirassiers and dragoons in some armies which continued to be used by French forces during World War I as late as 1915.
World War I and its increased use of artillery had renewed the need for steel helmets, with the French Adrian helmet and the British Brodie helmet being the first modern steel helmets used on the battlefield, soon followed by the adoption of similar steel helmets, such as the Stahlhelm by the other warring nations. In the 20th century, such helmets offered protection for the head from shrapnel and fragments as well as for specialist roles such as Paratrooper helmets.
Today's militaries often use high quality helmets made of ballistic materials such as Kevlar and Aramid, which offer improved protection. Some helmets also have good non-ballistic protective qualities, against threats such as concussive shock waves from explosions.
Many of today’s combat helmets have been adapted for modern warfare requirements and upgraded with STANAG rails to act as a platform for mounting cameras, video cameras and VAS Shrouds for the mounting of Night Vision Goggles (NVG) and monocular Night Vision Devices (NVD).
Beginning in the early 20th century, combat helmets have often been equipped with helmet covers to offer greater camouflage. There have been two main types of covers, mesh nets were earlier widely used, but most modern combat helmets use camouflage cloth covers instead of the earlier net covers.
A modern German Army Gefechtshelm
World War I–Vietnam
The French infantry M15 Adrian helmet was the first modern steel helmet.
Medieval and early Modern
|Bascinet||circa 1300||Europeans during the Hundred Years' War(1337 to 1453) amid the kingdoms of France, Aquitaine, Burgundy and England|
|Burgonet||circa 1600||Europeans, especially by militias of Poland & Switzerland|
|Capeline||late 16th century||Europeans during the 17th century, including the English Civil War in England & Thirty Years' War across the Holy Roman Empire|
|Cervelliere||late 13th century||Christian Europeans in Crusades during the 14th century|
|Great helm||1189||Christian Europeans in Third Crusade; other Europeans until 1540|
|Kabuto||circa 1600||Samurai especially during the 17th century of the Edo Period Tokugawa shogunate in Medieval Japan.|
|Morion||16th and early 17th centuries||Europeans (esp. associated with Spanish Conquistadores)|
|Pickelhaube||1842||especially by Prussia & German Empire and other Europeans until 1918; revived for 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany|
|Raupenhelm||circa 1800-1870||High crested leather helmet used primarily by Kingdom of Bavaria and Württemberg|
|Sallet||circa 1450||used in Northern Europe & Hungary until the mid-16th century|
|Spangenhelm||5th century||Central Asia, Near East & Europe; espec. by Scythians, Sarmatians, Persians, & Germans until 1000|
|Tarleton||circa 1770-1800||Crested, peaked leather helmet used by cavalry and light infantry by Great Britain, France and USA in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.|
|Qing parade helmet||after 1655 till 1911||China|
See also headgear listing within Components of medieval armour.
|Attic helmet||ancient Greeks|
|Boar's tusk helmet||17th century BCE||Mycenaean Greeks until 10th century BCE|
|Boeotian helmet||ancient Greek cavalry|
|Chalcidian helmet||ancient Greeks|
|Corinthian helmet||ancient Greeks|
|Disc and stud helmet||circa 400 BCE||ancient Illyrians & Adriatic Veneti until 167 BCE|
|Galea (helmet)||ancient Romans|
|Horned helmet||circa 1000 BCE||Celtic Europeans until 700 CE|
|Illyrian type helmet||ancient Greeks|
|Negau helmet||ancient Etruscans in Negau, Slovenia|
|Montefortino helmet||ancient Romans|
|Pot helmet||ancient Illyrians|
|Phrygian/Thracian helmet||400s BCE||ancient Greeks in Thrace, Dacia, Italia & Hellenistic Europe until circa 200 CE|
Cushioning is used to negate concussive injuries. Researchers at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory published a study in 2011 that concluded that the addition of an eighth of an inch of cushion decreased the impact force to the skull by 24%.
- Shaft Graves, Mycenae
- Nobuo Komita, The Grave Circles at Mycenae and the Early Indo-Europeans
- Heaumes Page
- Military Trader
- Military headgears
- Axis History Factbook: A brief history of the German Stahlhelm
- German Pickelhaube Spiked Helmet Evolution Guide
- Index CEF Helmets
- Kevlar Pasgt Helmet
- MSA: Casques Militaires
- Advanced Combat Helmet ( ACH )
- US Military Taking Delivery of Advanced Combat Helmets
- The Warrior
- PLCE and Body Armour
- Šestan - Busch d.o.o. (Ltd)
- Canadian Military Police Virtual Museum
- Department Of The Air Force
- Sistema Compositi SEPT-2 PLUS helmet
- Sistema Compositi SUPERUBOTT helmet
- Tecnoplast TD-71 riot control helmet
- pl:Hełm wz. 93
- Mile Dragić Production M-97S/P
- Mile Dragić Production M-05S/P
- Българските Военни Каски
- Home of the M-1 Helmet
- myArmoury.com: The Burgonet
- 75years - Great Helms
- Simon Coupland, "Carolingian Arms and Armor in the Ninth Century", (accessed 10 March 2006).
- lookup=Hdt.+4.180.1 Herodotus, The Histories (ed. A. D. Godley)
- regg Zoroya (17 April 2911). "Larger helmet could guard against brain injury to troops". USA TODAY. Retrieved 17 April 2011.
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