1963. Military 3 bolt UVS50m helmet made at ‘Factory Number 28’ in Leningrad

Helmet 'UVS50m' was manufactured from 1963/1964 until the year 2000 at ‘Factory Number 28’ in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). This helmet is still identical to the 'Sja-3' helmet of 1942-1950 and also to the 'UVS50' helmet of 1950-1963. However the ‘m’ in its name indicates it has been modified. Modifications were nothing new: the handle-grip on top of this helmet was first introduced in the early 1950's on the GKS3 helium-oxygen mix gas helmet. Other earlier modifications included a recess for the microphone next to the face plate (this was first introduced in 1957 on the VKS57 air-oxygen mixed gas helmet). In fact this UVS50m helmet is nearly identical to the VKS57 helmet except for the injector ring which was placed between the flanges of the bonnet and breastplate on the VKS57 helmet. The UVS50m helmet was still in production at Factory Number 28 (St. Petersburg) during the 1990's but again due to important contracts with the Russian government (e.g. the St. Petersburg harbour modernization) the production of this diving apparatus was also stopped in about 2000. Currently these helmets are also manufactured by a private company near Moscow. Photographs David L.Dekker

1963. The ‘GKS3m’ Mix Gas helmet made at ‘Factory Number 28’ in Leningrad

Helmet 'GKS3m' was introduced in 1962 and was initially built at Factory No.3 ( for a full description see chapter: ‘Russian Factory Number 3, 1943-1963’ ) However the production of this helmet was taken over by Factory No. 28 in 1963 and continued until the 1990's ( the most recent 'GKS3m' helmet found, was dated 1982 ) Photographs David L.Dekker.

1963. Military 3 bolt ‘UVS50’ helmet made at ‘Factory number 28’ in Leningrad

Helmet 'UVS50' was manufactured around 1963/1964 at ‘Factory Number 28’ in Leningrad ( St. Petersburg ) This helmet is mostly identical to the 'Sja-3' helmet (of 1943-1950) and is exactly identical to the 'UVS50' helmet of 1950-1963 ( as manufactured by Factory No.3 ) The helmet in the above photos has matching serial numbers 741 and was built in 1963; the year Factory No.28 started producing diving helmets. The breastplate badge reads: ‘FACTORY N28 VMF (VMF stands for VOISKOYE MORSKOYE FLOT / War Sea Fleet); The second line reads: SJLEM Nr 741 MANUF. 1963 (SJLEM is Russian for 'helmet').

Back in the 1960's this helmet was taken out of production as soon as the modified version was introduced ( the helmet shown below ) However, it was then put back in production during the 1990's when foreign dealers ordered them from ‘Factory Number 28’ in St. Petersburg. But due to important contract work of Factory No.28 with the Russian government ( e.g. modernization of the of the St. Petersburg harbour complex ) production of diving equipment was stopped in about 2000. Currently these helmets are being manufactured by a private company near Moscow. Photographs David L.Dekker

1963. ‘Factory Number 28’ in Leningrad starts producing Diving Apparatus

Accurate information about the factories, the designers and the specific reasons for the construction of certain models of diving apparatus is hard to find. The 100 or so Soviet Russian diving manuals and books in my library may explain about the techniques of diving but reveal little about the factories where the apparatus was designed and built. This chapter shows the diving equipment manufactured at Factory No.28. The books only indicate that Factory No.28 is large, it makes all sorts of nautical and harbour equipment, and that since 1963 it has also manufactured diving equipment. When I started diving at 15 years of age, I could not afford to collect helmets but I did collect diving books and divers enamel lapel badges and classifications. The books I collected in those early years have been an invaluable source of information for this website. Small diving items collected over the years often end up providing clues as well. From my Soviet divers pin badge collection I have three variations of an identical badge which was made to celebrate the 50 years anniversary of Factory No.28. Having bought the pins in 1995 I immediately learned that Factory No.28 existed in 1945, but looking at the back of the pins reveals the year the pins were made (1980). Therefore I can state here that factory 28 exists since 1930 ...

1967. GKS3m BR Mix Gas helmet made at ‘Factory number 28’ in Leningrad

The above photographs show an extremely rare 'GKS3m BR' helmet manufactured in 1967. The badge indicates that it was built as helmet number 256 at Factory No.28 for the Soviet Russian Navy. The design of this helmets dates from 1960 and at that time factory 28 did not yet manufacture diving helmets. The first helmets of this type were most likely made at factory 3,  but since this is the only example known to exist I listed it in the factory 28 chapter only.

The Russian deep divers dived in paired teams ( two divers at a time ) and their descent and ascent was undertaken in a diving bell. The 3-bolt system of the standard 'GKS3' and 'GKS3m' helmets could cause difficulties if there was a problem with one of the divers as they were both required to help each remove their equipment following entry into the diving bell. Usually the divers would enter the bell standing up and the helmet was then secured to a hook hanging from the bell's interior. The second diver would then unscrew the 3-bolts of the helmet: two at the front and one at the rear of the helmet, just far enough so that the suit was not clamped tight any longer. The suit had a rubber collar where the three holes for the bolts pass through and were angled towards the outside. The 3 bolt-holes in the rubber collar were cut open towards the outside so the diver could just bend his knees and step out of the helmet, still wearing his suit. He could then help his buddy diver in the same way, disconnect the umbilicals and close the hatch of the diving bell, ready for the ascent.

The 'BR' helmet shown above is equipped with a gear system which allows the diver to unlock the helmet by himself using a wrench on the hexagonal bolt protruding from the front of the breastplate. The locking ring would then turn and the helmet would become unlocked all round at the same time. Considering the fact that only one such helmet is known to exist it is unlikely that this helmet was built in any number. Helmet Leon Lyons collection, St Augustine, Florida. Photographs David L.Dekker.


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