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Adopted shortly before the United States entry into WWII, the first production M1 helmet shell was made of manganese steel coated in cork aggregate and dark olive drab paint. This combination gave the helmet a dark, coarse, appearance and texture. The stamp can be hard to see but can identify maker and approximate year of manufacture. These features are common to all WWII helmets and were never changed during the course of the war. Initial production helmets in to late had their rims seemed in the front.
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From to late , the seam met in the front center edge of the steel helmet. The rim was made of stainless steel which did not rust but shined excessively when exposed, as the paint normally did not hold up well under constant contact with hard surfaces. At that time, the seam moved degrees to the center rear edge of the helmet.
Originally, the chin straps were sewn onto fixed loops. This feature was installed on all front and early rear seamed helmets. The fixed loops were a weak point in the helmets design because the loops were in constant contact with the surface. Enough became broken off that they were superseded by the swivel loop type chinstrap attachments in From to late , these loops were welded directly to the left and right side of the helmet. The airborne used a fixed loop in the shape of a half circle for most of the war but also used the standard swivel loop by the end of the war.
US M1 helmet: date of manufacture
From to late , chin straps were constructed of cotton webbing in olive drab shade number three top. It was produced in different shades from khaki to light green. Although officially phased out in , the number three shade was used passed , until supplies were exhausted. The decision to adopt the shade of field gear material to the darker olive drab number seven bottom was made by the end of It is usually found sewn on to rear seamed helmet shells. Initially they were dyed olive drab number three which was technically a greenish khaki, but in practice was produced in varying shades from khaki to greenish khaki.
In , a decision was made to phase out olive drab number three in favor of olive drab number seven, or dark olive drab. By the end of , the new color change was implemented. This change was not completed over night by all manufacturers as the old number three material was normally used until exhausted. From to late , the chin strap buckle was made from a brass casting that can be readily distinguished by its brass construction and the raised bar cast into the top of the buckle. After , a simplified buckle was developed to ease construction and conserve brass. The new buckle, stamped out of steel and painted black would remain unchanged for the rest of WWII.
- Dating the M1 Steel Helmet?
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The adjustment keeper was placed at the end of the chinstrap to secure the extra webbing after adjustment. The manufacturing processes tabs used were the same as the buckle. On the underside of the buckle were two rounded tabs. These tabs were be replaced by square tabs in These parts are located on the right chin strap. Early adjustment buckles were cast in brass with a distinctive raised bar in the center and finished black. The end cap was used to secure the free end of the chin strap once it had been adjusted to the wearers chin.
In , in order to ease production and save brass, a new blackened steel stamped buckle was approved along with a steel end cap. Late saw the resumption of brass in the production in metal hardware. This was the last WWII specification regarding the chin strap assembly. This piece is located on the left chin strap and is used in conjunction with the buckle on the right side to secure the chin strap assembly under the wearers chin.
The steel shells or ''pots'' as they were better known were produced by two companies. McCord Radiator and manufacturing company, Detroit Michigan.
McCord helmets were the greater produced of the two companies - Approx 20,, made. A unique feature of the M1 was its suspended liner system. In place to support the weight of the steel 'pot' and developed by a number of US manufacturers of the time. Posted February 1, How to date the US M1. Knowing what to look out for with most things militaria these days is never an easy task. Fortunately the history of the M1 is well documented.
There are many tell tale signs that can help when trying to date a particular M1. Firstly we can look at the shell itself for any distinguishable or identifying marks as to the helmet's origins. It is important to note that some marks can be a little harder to differentiate from and some things can be overlooked. Nevertheless there are always other aspects to pick up on when trying to date the M1 which with a little work and patience usually pays off.
World War 2 saw millions produced of this unique for its time' helmet. On both pictures shown above we can see that the straps' are stitched in place. Posted February 2, The M1 has a noticeable seam that is found on the attached helmet rim.
On early WW2 models this seam is found to the front of the helmet: July to October This was later changed to a rear seam configuration: November to Posted February 3, Another feature of the WW2 M1 we can look to for dating purposes is the helmets colour and paint texture.
Earlier models were painted dark green OD and used a cork texture.
Left is the postwar helmet - Right the WW2 model still with some of its cork texture visible and its darker green paint. The colour for earlier M1 chinstraps was OD 3. This would change to OD 7 a little later in the war: It is important to remember that a lot of WW2 shells were reissued for use in the Korean war: These helmets would have undergone a refit at some stage. New straps and buckles may have been added along with new liners and a repaint all the way up to and through the Vietnam war.
Each M-1 helmet shell was stamped from a single sheet of manganese steel. The helmet either McCord or Schlueter would also contain usually the brim area a heat stamp. Posted February 4, Differences in the appearance of each makers helmet can be found also. You can see this better in the shots below. There are also some slight differences in the paint cork texture of the two models. The Schlueter also being slightly slimmer in shape compared to the McCord.
Posted February 5, We know the M1-helmet to be an essential piece of the US infantry soldiers kit. But from its outset it was probably designed with a little more in mind than just saving the lives of military service personnel from fragmented explosions, falling and flying debris of all descriptions impacting on that most vulnerable part of the human frame. Its shape was also to be a good retainer for many things liquid. A perfect tool out in the field for boiling up water that would have been used for shaving or cooking. Even as a intrenching tool should it be needed the helmet was useful.
The liner was a simple enough device to remove should any other task be required of the shell and just as easy to replace when finished. It was easily adjustable and could be made to fit comfortably. It is often we see old footage of US soldiers running for cover with the straps of their M1's left unfastened and dangling to the sides or indeed simply fastened above and to the rear of the helmet brim.
How to date WWII and Later US M1 Helmets
One hand balancing the helmet while the other holding a rifle. Although this was probably deemed to be foolish by some, it was in most cases more than likely that the soldier was quite happy with the excellent fit of his liner and so felt that his M1 would remain in place for most of the time despite the straps. There was also the extra worry of having your head suddenly jerked to the rear in the event of a blast causing any number of injuries to the neck area should the straps be fastened around the chin.
Working in tandem with McCord Radiator and Manufacturing they drew upon their own experience of developing tropical helmets for the Army. The suspension system of this particular early liner was non-adjustable.
Later WW2 produced non Hawley liners would have an adjustable suspension system. Also there was now a hole punched to the front which would hold rank insignia when the liner was worn outside of the steel pot. Posted February 7, The above symbols can be found in the crown area of the liner.
WWII-Era M1 Helmets: A Beginner’s Guide
Hawley liners had the words 'Liner Fiber M-1' marked inside. Posted February 8, Below is a quick M1 dating reference I was able to find and my thanks go to Hardscrabblefarm for the use of. Posted May 25, I have been attempting to find info on the stamps on the M1 steel pots. I have a helmet stamped MWA 16 and was wondering what that denoted.
The M1 went back into production - Posted May 26, Posted April 13, Will get around to putting a WW2 liner in it eventually. Helmet net is US or British. Posted April 14, Thanks for showing it here. Posted June 2, If you have a minute to look this over, do any discrepancies jump out at you when comparing the description below to the two pics?
I will be back to this one. Posted June 7, I can't tell from those pics whether the bales are fixed or not. One looks fixed - the other swivel. Posted June 8, Posted June 9, Can I ask if you are sure that '' is a Schlueter produced M1. Any S stamp you can see? Looks to be a much later M1 fixed with clip on straps. As you say, post war. Posted June 11, Couldn't find an "S" stamped anywhere near the number. That helmet came with a liner so its most likely post-war, too. Got it before I knew better. I like the crushed cork texture on it, though.
Do you know if that, or sawdust, was used on helmets during WW2? Posted June 13,