OR-201

The OR-201, also designated Kasda OR-201 Model 76 or M-76 for short, is a combat helmet of Israeli origin. Developed in the 1970s, the OR-201 was one of the world's first ballistic helmets. It was subsequently exported on a large scale and has been used by many militaries worldwide.

History and development

The OR-201 helmet was developed in the early 1970s by the Israeli private firm Orlite Engineering Company (now Orlite Industries Ltd.) of Ness Ziona near Tel-Aviv, and is the direct result of experience acquired with the steel types – the British Brodie helmet Mark II/Mark III, RAC Mk II modified helmet with chin web jump harness (used by paratroopers and similar to the HSAT Mk II/Mk III paratrooper helmets),[1] US M1 helmet,[2] and French Modèle 1951 helmet – previously worn by Israeli infantry and airborne troops from the late 1940s to the mid-1970s and early 1980s.[3]

Model 76

The prototype presented in 1976 by Orlite consisted of one-piece, glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) round shell 8mm thick, made of fiberglass fibers placed in an ethyl cellulose resin under high pressure. It had a black rubber rim 10mm thick and seven metal rivets – one placed at the front, four at the sides, and two at the back – to secure a helmet liner of "cradle" type. As the name implies, it consists of three 25mm Khaki-green synthetic fabric crossed straps attached to a very light tan head-band (or sweat-band) that is fitted within a cushion of four inner black high-density neoprene foam pads – two side, one front, and one rear – that help to secure the helmet in the wearer's head, while providing an impact- and shock-absorbing capability. The liner suspension is adjustable from medium to large using a metal buckle in the rear.

Copied after the HSAT Mk II paratrooper helmet harness, the chin-strap system is fitted directly to the helmet shell at three points by rectangular metal rings; made of 20mm Khaki-green synthetic canvas web, the harness is equipped with two metal friction buckles at the chin-straps and is reinforced by an integral tan leather chin-cup.

With a weight of 1.65 kg, the OR-201 is light, comfortable, and sturdy, being capable of stopping a 9mm round at close range. Production helmets, including those made for the export market, usually came in a Khaki-brown or Khaki-green finish.

Model 76-85

This helmet, also designated OR 202-76 or OR-402, was introduced in 1985 as an improved variant of the earlier Model 76, which consists of one-piece, ballistic nylon or reinforced fiberglass and plastic Kevlar composite structure that weights 1.65 kg. In contrast to its predecessor, the Model 76-85 had its interior lined entirely by light tan fiberglass fabric and a shock-absorbing neoprene disc 60mm in diameter, is placed on the inside. The helmet is fitted with a new version of the "cradle"- type liner, now consisting of three 25mm black synthetic fabric crossed straps attached to a light tan sweat-band and features a new 20mm olive green nylon adjustable strap system provided with a black quick-release plastic buckle backed by a light tan triangular leather piece to protect the wearer's face. A set of light tan leather reinforcing strips is sewn around the chin-straps, since unlike its predecessor, the harness of the Model 76-85 is not reinforced by an integral leather chin-cup.

OR-404

An upgraded version of the OR-201 developed and manufactured by Hagor Industries Ltd. of Kiryat Aryeh, Petah Tikva, east of Tel Aviv, it was introduced in the mid-1990s and marketed as the Hagor IDF Ballistic Military Helmet (IIIA). Unlike its Model 76 and Model 76-85 composite predecessors, the OR-404 shell is entirely constructed from polyethylene plastic Kevlar capable of withstanding both shrapnel and small-arms fire, including assault rifle rounds and weights 1.10 kg. It is fitted with a black cushioned helmet liner of "cradle" type secured to the shell by seven rivets, and features an advanced black nylon adjustable strap system with black quick-release plastic buckle and a set of black leather reinforcing strips sewn around the joints and chin-straps in the harness.

RBH 100-series

Besides Orlite and Hagor, another Israeli private firm that manufactures its own variants of the OR-201 is Rabintex Industries Ltd. of Herzeliya near Tel Aviv, which is responsible for the "100-series" helmets – the RBH 101, RBH 102, and RBH 103 models. They are almost identical to the original Model 76 and Model 76-85 helmets, differing only in some minor details such as the strap system, whose harnesses lack an integral leather chin-cup, and contained a secondary set of synthetic canvas web or nylon reinforcing strips sewn around the joints and the chin-straps. The materiel used in their construction also varies according to the model – the lightweight RBH 101 is made of ballistic nylon and weights 750g, the RBH 102 is made of reinforced fiberglass (GRP) and weights 1.46 kg, and the heavier RBH 103 made entirely of Kevlar that weights 1.50 kg. All these "100-series" models are resistant to impact and shock, and offer protection against shrapnel.

Combat use

Israeli service

The OR-201 combat helmet made its operational début during the famous Entebbe raid in July 1976[4][5] and was introduced the following year into Israeli forces, though its massive use by Israeli troops came only during the June 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.[6]

Middle East

During the Lebanese Civil War, the pro-Israeli militias in Lebanon, the Christian Lebanese Forces (LF)[7][8][9] and the South Lebanon Army (SLA)[10] also began to receive the OR-201 helmet in substantial quantities to equip their troops at the late 1970s, with captured examples eventually finding their way into the hands of militiamen from other Lebanese factions throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Photographic evidence taken at the time do show the Israeli combat helmet being used by fighters from the Christian Marada Brigade, the Shia Amal Movement and Hezbollah,[11] the Druze People's Liberation Army (PLA), the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), and even the Lebanese Army.[12] The latter inherited a large stock of OR-201 helmets left behind by the LF and SLA militias after 1990 and 2000, and keeps them in service.

Asia

The Sri Lanka Army adopted in the 1980s-1990s the OR-201 helmet for its infantry, commando and special forces units fighting the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) insurgency during the Sri Lankan Civil War (1983-2009).

Africa

Latin America

Europe

The Irish Army adopted in the early 1980s the OR-201 Model 85-76 in ballistic nylon and issued it to infantry units in-country deployed on counter-insurgency operations along the border areas with Northern Ireland or abroad, including those serving with the Irish contingent of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peace-keeping mission in southern Lebanon. With the adoption of the Modern Irish Army camouflage uniform in the early 2000s, the Model 85-76 began to be phased out of service and in 2012 it was finally removed from issue, replaced by another Israeli model, the Rabintex RBH 303IE combat helmet in Kevlar plastic.

The Portuguese Marine Corps adopted the Rabintex RBH 103 model in the early 1990s, which remains in use.

The Romanian Land Forces also adopted the OR-201 combat helmet around the mid-1990s, replacing the older steel types dating back to the World War II and Cold War periods.

Operators

Non-state operators

Civilian operators

Former operators

See also

Notes

  1. Katz & Volstad, Israeli Elite Units since 1948 (1988), pp. 53-54; 56.
  2. Katz & Volstad, Israeli Elite Units since 1948 (1988), pp. 54-55; 57-59.
  3. Katz & Volstad, Israeli Elite Units since 1948 (1988), p. 60.
  4. Katz & Volstad, Israeli Elite Units since 1948 (1988), p. 60.
  5. Dunstan, Israel's Lighting Strike, The raid on Entebbe 1976 (2009), p. 33.
  6. Katz & Volstad, Israeli Elite Units since 1948 (1988), p. 60.
  7. Katz & Volstad, Armies in Lebanon 1982-84 (1985), p. 17.
  8. Katz & Volstad, Arab Armies of the Middle East Wars 2 (1988), p. 46.
  9. Micheletti and Debay, Liban – dix jours aux cœur des combats (1989), p. 35.
  10. Katz & Volstad, Arab Armies of the Middle East Wars 2 (1988), p. 38.
  11. Micheletti and Palmade, Israel-Palestine: L'appel aux armes (2000), pp. 69-73.
  12. Micheletti and Debay, Liban – dix jours aux cœur des combats (1989), pp. 26-31.
  13. Caballero Jurado & Thomas, Central American Wars 1959–89 (1990), pp. 9; 40.
  14. Caballero Jurado & Thomas, Central American Wars 1959–89 (1990), p. 43.
  15. Katz & Volstad, Israeli Elite Units since 1948 (1988), p. 60.
  16. Nicaragua 201 israelí. Cascoscoleccion.com. Retrieved on 2010-10-19.
  17. Caballero Jurado & Thomas, Central American Wars 1959–89 (1990), p. 44.

References

  • Carlos Caballero Jurado & Nigel Thomas, Central American Wars 1959–89, Men-at-Arms series 221, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1990. ISBN 978-0-85045-945-6
  • David Campbell & Peter Dennis, Israeli Paratroopers 1954-2016, Elite series 224, Osprey Publishing Ltd, Oxford 2018. ISBN 9781472827715
  • Éric Micheletti and Yves Debay, Liban – dix jours aux cœur des combats, RAIDS magazine n.º41, October 1989 issue. ISSN 0769-4814 (in French)
  • Éric Micheletti and Jérôme Palmade, Israel-Palestine: L'appel aux armes, RAIDS magazine hors-serie nº2, Histoire & Collections, Paris 2000. (in French)
  • Lee Russel & Sam Katz, Israeli Defense Forces – 1948 to the present, Uniforms Illustrated No 12, Arms and Armour Press Ltd, London 1985. ISBN 0-85368-755-2
  • Samuel M. Katz & Ron Volstad, Armies in Lebanon 1982-84, Men-at-Arms series 165, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1985. ISBN 0-85045-602-9
  • Samuel M. Katz & Ron Volstad, Arab Armies of the Middle East Wars 2, Men-at-Arms series 194, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1988. ISBN 0-85045-800-5
  • Samuel M. Katz & Ron Volstad, Israeli Elite Forces since 1948, Elite series 18, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1988. ISBN 0-85045-837-4
  • Samuel M. Katz & Ron Volstad, Israeli Defense Forces since 1973, Elite series 8, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1990. ISBN 0-85045-687-8
  • Samuel M. Katz & Ron Volstad, Battleground Lebanon, Concord Publications, Hong Kong 1990. ISBN 962-361-003-3
  • Samuel M. Katz & Ron Volstad, Israel's Cutting Edge (1005), Concord Publications, Hong Kong 1990. ISBN 962-361-005-X
  • Samuel M. Katz & Ron Volstad, Tools of the Trade – The Weapons, Gear & Uniforms of the IDF (1016), Concord Publications, Hong Kong 1991. OCLC 500060221
  • Simon Dunstan, Israel's Lighting Strike, The raid on Entebbe 1976, Raid series 2, Osprey Publishing Ltd, Oxford 2009. ISBN 978-1-84603-397-1
  • Tim Ripley & Mike Chappell, Security Forces in Northern Ireland 1969–92, Elite series 44, Osprey Publishing Ltd, London 1993. ISBN 9781855322783
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