From Brass Goggles

Overview: The Pithelhaube is a type of sun-helmet worn by the Prussian Empire and the Vectis Empire. Originally conceived as an item of tropical military dress, it is now in service throughout the two empires in the naval services.

Construction: The headress is typically made of pith, or straw in some of the mass-produced versions. It is characterised by a brass or iron or copper spike on the top of the helmet, and a large brass or iron badge on the front. The helmet is finished in linen, which may be either white or khaki in colour (usually where servicemen have dyed their helmets with tea).

Prussian Empire use: The Prussians conceived the helmet in 1830 as an item of tropical dress for sailors serving in desert or tropical climates. Prussian helmets often feature iron spikes and badges, in stark contrast to the white of the rest of the helmet. Officers have been known to colour their helmets in various shades, depending on personal taste.

Vectis Empire use: The Vectis Empire adopted the Pithelhaube shortly after the Prussians in 1831. Unlike the Prussians, the Pithelhaube is used by all 3 services (Royal Vectis Navy, Vectis Guards). The Vectis version is distinguished by it's brass or copper fittings.

Problems: Early experiments by the Prussians resulted in two tragic accidents. In both cases, the sharp iron spike surmounting the helmet penetrated the envelope of the Zeppelins as the troops wearing them snapped to attention. Following this, all Pithelhaube's used on Zeppelins by both nations have blunted spikes.

An RVN version can be seen here, belonging to Engineer Matthias Gladstone: hpim3761uf9.jpg

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