Zuckerman helmet

Zuckerman Helmet with SFP markings

The Zuckerman helmet, officially designated the Civilian Protective Helmet,[1] was a British helmet designed for use by civil defence organisations and the general public during World War II. It was researched and designed by Solly Zuckerman, Derman Christopherson and Hugh Cairns.[2]


Zuckerman and Cairns first started looking into a design for a helmet to aid civil defence in the middle of 1940. The aim was to provide a helmet that could deal with impact from falling and flying masonry and provide more coverage for the head and neck area.

After the War Office accepted their design, the Civilian Protective Helmet went into circulation in December 1940 and then throughout 1941 (the vast majority are therefore dated 1941).


Helmets were made from pressed mild steel or manganese steel (known for its impact resistance) in two sizes only and sometimes marked with either M (medium) or L (large) on the inside of the brim. The design of the high dome was to allow the helmet to withstand impact and still protect the wearer. Many have two single holes opposite each other on the brim. This marking details the amount of resistance the helmet offered to ballistic impact (this being the lowest and therefore not for use as a frontline helmet). The helmet was available in a number of colours - white, black, grey and olive green.

A helmet liner made of leather and webbing was attached to the helmet with string, lace or leather thong threaded through 16 pre-drilled slightly angled holes around the helmet to hold it in place. Small loops were incorporated on the helmet for attaching a chinstrap but no official strap was issued, though many use the Mk II helmet chinstrap. Consequently, helmets can be found with numerous chin strap variations.

The helmet was manufactured by a number of companies, among them the Austin Motor Co. and Morris Motors.

Code Maker Location
AMC Austin Motors Co. Cowley
BMB Briggs Motor Bodies Ltd Dagenham
JSS Joseph Sankey Ltd Bilston
PCH Unknown Unknown
PSC Pressed Steel Company Oxford
ROCO Rubery Owen Co. Ltd Leeds


Zuckerman helmets were issued to Civil Defence personnel such as Fire Guards, Street Fire Parties and factory workers and were also on sale to the general public for 5 shillings and sixpence (5s 6d).

When used by Fire Guards and Street Fire Party personnel the helmets were marked accordingly with FG or SFP. Bands around the helmet (often in black) would denote seniority within the Fire Guard service.

The fire service declined to use the Zuckerman helmet, preferring the Mk II helmet.


  1. Peter Doyle. ARP and Civil Defence in the Second World War pg. 45.
  2. "Helmets 1940-1942". Retrieved 2011-01-25.
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