First World War & Inter-war period:
WW1 US M1917 Steel helmet.
The M1917 was the first steel combat helmet to be made by the US. When the United States joined the the Great War in 1917 they initially adopted the British Mk.1 helmet, before manufacture started on their own version. The M1917 is nearly identical to its British cousin, albeit for a difference in the lining detail, such as a rubber ring on certain British examples.
This particular helmet, showing its age, is one from the British made contract and is named to C. B. Graham of A Battery, 150th Field Artillery. An artillery regiment which formed part of the 42nd "Rainbow" Division.
More information on such helmets can be found at the Brodie Helmet website and Mannie Gentile: Combat Helmets of the 20th Century.
Inter-war / WW2 US M1917A1 Steel helmet.
The M1917A1 was a development of the M1917 helmet. Early examples used WW1 surplus shells while later versions were manufactured outright. The early examples were stripped, repainted and relined, (as is the case with this exhibit, stamped ZD). The M1917A1 was used from the late 1930s and early into the Second World War, being replaced by the M1 helmet sometime in 1941.
The lining is leather with a leather crown cushion while the chinstrap is as that used on the early M1 helmets, being of made of webbing as opposed to leather. It would appear that the heavy textured shell was unusual for M1917A1s, as can be noted on this excellent website of American Helmets (1915 - 1939).
Second World War:
WW2 US Medical Corps. Officer's service visor cap.
Unlike on British peak caps there is no distinctive badge for officers of the various branches. The cap badge and chinstrap are also consistent to all officer grades. The badge and side buttons are made from gilt, while the chinstrap and peak are russet brown leather. The woven band is the same colour as the cap being olive drab. The cap maker is Bancroft Uniform Headwear. Interestingly the cap still retains its original price tag of $7.50. Attributed to a 1st Lieutenant of the Medical Corps, specialised in the research of tropical diseases, Washington D.C.
Compare with the USN Officer's service visor cap.
WW2 USAAF Officer's service visor cap.
Quartermaster Depot felt cap with woven band, dated to 1945. The top stiffener has been removed giving it the "crusher" styled look, as has the cap's lining. The badge and side buttons are as above, while the chinstrap and peak are also made from russet brown leather. An interesting feature of this cap is the addition of a rear chinstrap, a feature more commonly encountered on USAAF caps, although its particular relevance is unclear.
WW2 USAAF Enlisted man's Class A uniform.
Olive drab serge tunic, overseas cap and matching trousers, named to a Technician 5th Grade, from the Boston area of Massachusetts. The US Army Air Force patch is worn on the left shoulder, while on the lower sleeve are gold bullion embroidered overseas bars, each bar denoting one years service. The buttons are gilt as would have been the collar disks, which have been removed. The overseas cap, or garrison cap, has buff piping, for the Quartermaster Corps. The grouping, including shirts, ties and the Ike jacket below was an attic find.
WW2 USAAF Enlisted man's cut down M44 jacket.
An early example of an "Ike" jacket. The jacket itself originated as a Class A Blouse and was no doubt cut down in late 1944, to make an M1944 pattern. Telling a "cut-down" from standard a "Ike" is fairly straight forward. A standard M1944 lack gilt buttons and have the addition of pocket pleats. This jacket, missing its rank and branch insignia, as well as its collar disk, is part of the above grouping.
WW2 US M1 Steel helmet, in hessian camo net.
An early example of the US M1 helmet, this example features a front joining seam and the rectangular shaped fixed chinstrap bales. The chinstrap buckle is also brass and features a raised bar, as was common on early examples. As with the vast majority of WW2 M1s, the webbing chinstrap has been bar tacked sewn onto the bales. The helmet display nicely in its hessian camouflage helmet net.
WW2 US M1 Steel helmet.
This is an interesting exhibit indeed given its painted markings and St. Clair liner. Sadly the helmet is missing its webbing chinstrap although the liner still retains its leather chinstrap. The chinstrap bales are the swivel pattern and were used mid-war onwards. The markings suggest the soldier, ranked to Staff Sergeant 3rd Grade, was from Texas, perhaps nicknamed Tex, and was a part of DUKW crew, as the helmet also displays a painted duck at the rear. The dimpled pattern of the cork paint texture is quite visible in this photograph.
Korea and Vietnam Era:
Korean War Era US M1 Medic's helmet.
This Medic's helmet shell is a typical example of a later era M1 steel helmet, finished in brighter green sand textured paint than that used during World War Two, as well as having rear joining rear seam. The medic insignia appears to be non regulation.
Korean War Era US M1 4 panel Medic's helmet.
Complementing the example above, this helmet is slighty darker green and features a match dual stamped liner. After WW2 chinstraps were connected to the bales using clips, however this example appears to have been field mended and sewn on. You will also notice that the liner webbing is darker green that those of WWII.
Vietnam War Era US M1C Steel helmet.
A mid-war period Air Cavalry Division's helmet, which came together with a subdued 1st Cavalry Division shoulder patch. Dating to the late 1960s. Vietnam Era helmets used a thicker orange coloured fibre liner than the WW2 versions and featured a developed lining system. The "Mitchell" jungle and sand reversible camo cover was also iconic of this specific period. (Not to be confused with the Woodland camo cover of the 1980s).
The M1C was developed during the Second World War for use with the newly formed Airborne divisions. Helmets were distinguished by their Y straps and additional short straps to their standard helmet chinstraps. During the Vietnam War (1965 - 1975) the M1C was primarily used by US Airborne units, but period photographs also show it being worn by the Marine Corps.
In some case WW2 vintage helmet shells were used well into the Vietnam War period. An example of such a WW2 re-issued helmet used by the 78th Infantry Division can be view at the link below.
More more information on how to identify and date a US M1 helmet and its components, please read our article on The M1 Helmet of World War Two.