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Americans in Pickelhaubes

I know the list of hopes and wants for future sets in this hobby is ever expanding and has no end... but I was reading a book yesterday and I stumbled across these images. During the late 19th century the United States Army had adopted the pickelhaube as part of their official uniforms. I found this quite odd but also incredibly fascinating at the same time. If you didn't look twice you might thing you were looking at uniform plates for the Prussian army. The other image is of some cavalrymen in the western frontier. I also thought their uniforms consisting of buffalo robes, mittens, and muskrat hats to also be rather fascinating. Anyways, I wouldn't call a set of troops such as these a "want" but definitely something that would be cool to see at some point in the future. I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures, I can't figure out how to simply post them without the link.

Re: Americans in Pickelhaubes

Asher, none of the links worked for me it said "Forbidden."

This book:

has many of those kinds of photos and may even be where you got your data from.

There are many very cool US Army uniforms from the period of the end of the ACW in 1865 to the beginning of World War Two in 1941.

The US Army used at least four different steel helmets in WWI, but most only know the M1917 flat British style helmet because it was the most common.

Many of those uniforms you mentioned can be done by conversion, I plan to take some ACW US Army troops and swap head with Airfix World War One Germans to get the picklhaulbe figures.

I would also love Strelets to make those kinds of figures, but I suspect they would not sell well enough to make it worth their while.

Mike Bunkermeister Creek
Bunker Talk blog

Re: Americans in Pickelhaubes...and the height of military fashion in the late 19th century

It's not just the American army.....

The British army had adopted a spiked hemet as 'standard' dress for line infantry regiments in the late 19th century (ie: around 1890), for example....

Which, incidentally, made/makes it relatively easy using the 'old' (and really excellent) Airfix WW1 German infantry set, to model something that looked/looks like British infantry circa 1890...if you were/are that way inclined.

Re: Americans in Pickelhaubes

I apologize that the links won't work, but I saw the prints in a book about the US army and all its battles and operations in the old west. It's titled something like "Old West: The Soldiers." That is an interesting idea though Mike. I'll have to add that to a list of future projects. Also as you mention Minuteman it wasn't just the Americans. After doing some more research I've found that many South American countries adopted a pickelhaube style of helmet as well, some of which still use it today for ceremonial purposes.

Re: Americans in Pickelhaubes

Dear Asher,

Here is one link showing U.S. Cavalry (Buffalo Soldiers) on parade at Fort Davis, Texas 1875. Make sure you click on the little squares at the bottom of one of them to see all the photos. There is a great dismounted, group, close-up photo:

Here is another link, Wikipedia, so just scroll down to the middle and you'll see a nice illustration showing the same:

I would call these helmets Sun Helmets made of pressed felt or cork. Pickelhaubes were made of leather, and typically as we think of them in the German Army of WWI, had a much lower top fitting closely to the head. The Russians did have them taller during the Crimean War. Strelets makes these Infantry and Cavalry sets. These (I believe) would be made of leather:

U.S. Cavalry during the Indian Wars quickly adopted the Slouch Hat, like Strelet's Wild West set for field duty. The british mostly swapped-out the tall spike for an air vent for their Foreign Service Helmet or Pith Helmet or Sun Helmet. Hat covers these helmets in their Zulu Wars range pretty well, but none have the spike even though some Carabiners did leave the spike.

Bottom line, I think the U.S. Cavalry adopted the cork pith helmets similar to the British. The Pickelhaube was worn by the Russians (in a tall design of leather - Strelets) in the Crimea, Germans in the low design during WWI (Airfix), and also as you mention South America.

Have fun with any conversions you do and be sure to share them!

Re: Americans in Pickelhaubes

Thank you for the information Garrison! I appreciated the photos you shared as well, and the one of the Buffalo soldiers shot up close is especially nice.