Sunday, January 18, 2009

U.S. Navy M1 Executive Officer's Helmet

"The exec is a prick!"
No offense is meant, that's just the way it was back in my Navy. Where the captain played the role of the aloof autocrat the exec was his second in command, his hatchet man, his ass-kicker, his...ahh...vice principal. Yikes!

Here's a surprisingly accurate Hollywood view of how the US Navy marked its M1 helmets. The executive officer ("XO") here, a cranky David Hedison (remember "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea"?), seems intent on the matter at hand in this still from the movie "The Enemy Below". A somewhat drowsy Robert Mitchum seems to have other things on his mind:







torpedos perhaps?  (Sorry moms and dads).








This helmet is the second from the "dumpster collection" series begun last week.


This beauty has seen some hard service as indicated by the multitude of stress cracks as well as the many layers of paint it sports.


This shell, as salvaged, was sans chinstrap.  I added this 1972-style chinstrap in later years.
 


What is it about the M1 that I never get tired of looking at them (sorry if you do).



Note the stress cracks as well as the subsequent rust leeching from below the paint.


More cracks on the side of the shell make it pretty obvious why this helmet was discarded.
Note the zinc chromate primer peeking out, typical of the mid-1970s.


Cracks viewed from the inside of the shell.  Also evident are the multiple layers, and hues of, gray paint applied to the shell, somewhat haphazardly.


The "heat of the steel" number appears on the inside front of this McCord manufactured shell.


The rear seam indicates this lid is of post 1944 manufacture.


Close-up of the swivel bail showing quite a bit of "saltiness" contrasted with the fairly ship-shape 1972 chinstrap.  Again, to be clear, I added this chinstrap later, merely so the lid would appear as the others in my collection (displayed with chinstraps).   Generally destroyer M1s suffered greatly from exposure to salt spray and corrosive gun ash, this pot is no exception.


Very little of the original texture remains, in this instance it appears to be sand which would further identify this shell as being from the very early 1960s as that is the period when sand replaced cork as the texturing material mixed into the paint.

Shipboard M1s carried a variety of markings.  Fortuantely (for the collector) for the most part Navy lids were free of mandated marking regulations.  Both of the destroyers I was on carried a wide palatte of custom-painted helmets from the staid to the sometimes zany.  Similar, I guess to the members of the crew.

Go here for a really cool Youtube featuring the U.S.S. Dehaven (DD-727) my first, and favorite, ship.


Humphrey Bogart and Robert Francis in one of my all-time favorites "The Caine Mutiny".

From destroyer, to dumpster, to Combat Helmets of the 2oth Century...

what a fine looking piece of Hadfield steel!


provenance:
accession number: MOAharmoldv2. 182.2
United States Navy Executive Officer's M1 Helmet
Acquired 1974, Naval Station Long Beach, California
Condition: good

Next week, another cool Navy lid!

Mannie

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ahhh You never grow tired looking on m1's... They are unique in design!!

- M55q