M1 Helmet Definition Definitions for the Clothing & Textile Industry

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The M1 steel helmet was used by the United States military for over 40 years. It was introduced officially during the Second World War in 1941 to replace the M1917A brodie or doughboy helmet but saw little action until 1942. The M1 was phased out during the 1980s (1988) in favour of the PASGT Kevlar helmet. During its time in service it became one of the most iconic symbols of the American soldier.

The M1 is made from two separate parts, the "steel pot" and the liner. The "steel pot" or shell is the metal outer part of the helmet. The liner fits inside the shell. The liner contains the suspension that ensures the helmet fits comfortably to the wearer's head. Worn alone, the liner can look very much like a full helmet. The liner is much lighter in weight and more flimsy than the outer shell. During the service life of the M1 helmet, the steel pot changed in size and the liner was constantly evolving.

The design of the M1 led to some novel uses. When the pot was separated from the liner it became a useful cooking pot, washbasin, bucket, shovel, seat and even a latrine.

The M1 helmet is extremely popular with collectors, particularly WWII collectors, and helmets from this period are generally more valuable. Vast quantities of M1 helmets (approximately 22 million) were produced during the war though they are getting harder to find. Helmets with rare or unusual markings or some kind of documented history tend to be more expensive. This is particularly true of paratroopers' helmets, whose modified jump helmets are known as the M1C and M2 Helmet.

The shell

The shell or steel pot of the M1 changed very little during its time in service. The bulk of the helmet shell is constructed from a single piece of pressed steel. The rim edge of the shell has a crimped metal band running around it, which provides a clean edge. This is usually known as the "rim". The metal band of the rim material has a seam where the ends of the strip meet. On the earliest shells the seam meets at the front. This was moved to the back of the rim in 1944. On each side of the helmet shell there are rectangular, metal chinstrap loops known as "bales". The bales were originally fixed to the inside edge of the pot and could not move. These were replaced in 1943, by hinged or swivel bales, when the fixed bales were found to break off easily. Chinstraps were attached to the bales using a variety of methods, beginning in WWII with a simple sewn-on strap. Post-war chinstraps were attached using metal clips. During World War II,and later, soldiers wore the webbing chinstraps, preferring to loop them around the back of the helmet, and clip them together. The nape strap inside of the liner is intended to keep the helmet from falling off a man's head, although it was found to be mostly ineffective.

elements of the suspension system are rivetted inside it. The suspension is made from strips of webbing material stretching around and across the inside of the liner. A sweatband is mounted onto these, which is adjusted to fit around the head of the wearer. Liners also have their own chinstrap made from brown leather. The liner chinstrap is snapped or rivetted directly to the inside of the liner and does not have bales like the shell chinstrap. The liner chinstrap is usually seen looped over the brim of the shell and helps to keep the shell in place when its own chinstraps aren't in use. The first liners were made from compressed paper fibres. These proved much too fragile in combat and were replaced by plastic liners. During the same period the original silver Rayon suspension material was phased out in favour of khaki cotton. After WWII the cotton was changed from khaki or Olive Drab #3 to green known as Olive Drab #7. Much later, liners switched to using stronger synthetic webbing and had improved neck support.

The net

Some soldiers, specifically those taking part in an invasion, wore a helmet net, or a cover, stretched over the helmet. The net was usually khaki or olive drab in appearance, and was made of cotton. The infantry typically used 1/2 inch (13 mm) spaced netting, while the airborne forces typically wore 2 inch (51 mm) spaced netting, although, of course, this was not the rule, and different soldiers used different types. The net has some practical usages. When it is put on the helmet, it effectively reduces the glare and/or reflection that the helmet would give in broad daylight. As well, the net can be used by soldiers to attach small foliage onto the helmet, thus giving them some degree of camouflage when fighting in a forested area. The net had a tendency to wear through on the top, from being placed upon the ground, top down. Some sources say that this was the mark of an experienced soldier, but this comment is not to be taken as fact.

The cover

In the latter years of the war, the United States Marine Corps used a camouflage-patterned cover for their helmets. The cover was made from Herringbone Twill fabric. It had a "forest green" pattern on one side and a "brown coral island" pattern on the other. The United States Army performed unsuccessful field tests in the European Theatre of Operations where the camouflaged cover proved confusingly similar to the helmet colours of the Waffen-SS.

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The above article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/m1_helmet  6/12/05
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