Although there has been diving, of some form, well prior to the development of the "conventional" diving helmet/rig. This section will focus on gear that revolutionized the diving industry, starting back in the mid to late 1800's. Augustus Siebe is known as the "father" of the closed-dressed and helmet diving revolution, having taking earlier ideas from other "primitive" systems. The design Siebe came up with stayed in use for well over a century and a quarter, before the invention of a lighter, more practical "Superlight" design. Even with the advent of the superlights and their predecessors, the big, heavy, bulky design of the Navy Mk. V and other "hardhats" are still being used by collectors and "old-school" divers alike.
Below are a collection of diving helmets and gear from around the World. Please feel free to send in your photos of your gear: firstname.lastname@example.org
Some of these photos were taken from the internet and had no photo credit with them. If one of them belong to you please contact me and advise you do not wish to have it published. Or, id the photo that belongs to you and I will give proper photo credit.
Thanks to Mike Giltzow for allowing me to use helmets from his outstanding collection for use on this site. To see his complete collection, visit Mikes site at
U/W Photography & Diving Helmets website
Vintage bolt-style helmets
Navy & Commercial mk v - The Navy MKV was/is a 12-bolt type, surface air fed helmet. It was produced by Mores, Schrader, Miller-Dunn and Desco. It was widely used during WWII by Naval and commercial diving industry salvage crews, although it was originally adopted by the US Navy during the early 1900's. Navy divers were also used to clear debris and mines from landing zones during D-Day and other notable troop landings. Like all "bolt-style" helmets, it's heavy. The helmet and it's complete rig weigh nearly 300 pounds and only the fittest and most daring men were tasked with the job of naval salvage. With the exception of advanced communications and mixed gas capabilities, the MkV's have changed very little since the early 1900's.
2 of my favorite helmets from the Mike Giltzow collection.
Morse Commercial 1914. 12 bolt - 4 light. Schrader 12 - 3 light helmet from circa 1930.
A good looking helmet from Brazil sold on Ebay in 2006. Manufactured by Charles Person/Industria Brasileira (???). To date, I haven't been able to find out much of any history on these South American helmets.
This odd little helmet was being sold on ebay in 2006. It was coming from Chili, but don't know if it was Chilian made. There was no manufactures plate or serial numbers.
A highly polished and restored Korean 12 bolt from the Mike Giltzow collection. Photo by Mike Giltzow.
russian/soviet - The Russians / Soviet Union produced 4 types of helmets. They were the 3-bolt, 12-bolt, 3-bolt / 12-bolt (for use with both 3-bolt and 12-bolt suits) and a "helium" helmet which was used for super deep dives.
Russian 12-bolt, 4-window being sold on ebay in 2006. Made in 1978 it was an unused helmet.
Russian 3 bolt from 1986. Photo by Mike Giltzow
Russian 12- 3 bolt from 1992. Soon to be in my own collection - thanks Mike! Photo by Mike Giltzow
ShVk model. 12-3 bolt 4 windows. It is from an ebay auction in 2006. Helmet was made in 1976 with serial #334. This one was/is a very nice piece of gear - inside and out!
40's era Siebe Gorman 12-bolt. Being sold on ebay in 2006.
Modern superlights & Metal
Kirby Morgan Superlites - The KMS helmets are a light and hi-impact resistant helmet. They are the staple of the commercial diving industry today and come in several models - 17 superlite series, KM57, KM47, KM37 and Superlite 27B. They are made of a tough carbon fiber and fiberglass shell with a inner cushion for comfort and thermal protection. Visit the Kirby Morgan website on our links page for more detailed info on these helmets.
Superlite 17 Superlite 27 KM37 KM47
Miller 400 - A popular and beloved helmet in oil fields of the Gulf. These are handcrafted, rugged, solid bronze shelled helmets. They weight about 27 lbs and are capable handling the harsh environment of the Gulf of Mexico oil fields. The Miller 400 comes in the polished bronze and black epoxy finish.
Polished Bronze Black Epoxy
US Navy Gear - The US Navy replaced the bulky and heavy MK 5's with a design based on the KM 17 Superlites. The MK12 was the first design to replace the MK 5 in 1980. Later it was the MK 21 which replaced the MK12 in 1993, and is in use today by Navy divers.
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