Sunday, June 23, 2013

American Legion M1 Liner

More, or less, than meets the eye

Found on Ebay a few years ago, these liners frequently turn up, this caught my eye.  Although it certainly not a combat helmet it does fit in nicely with the collection, if only as an oddity.  All will be revealed.

This American Legion color guard helmet (liner) looks like the typical M1 liner.

For the pre-WWII version of the Legion helmet, go here.

Emblazoned with the American Legion insignia, this lid is ready for a parade.

Here's where we start to notice some differences.  Compare the rivet placement with the conventional M1 liner.

Hey, what gives?  Not only is the rivet placement different but the number and type of rivets is different.  

This heavily dimpled rivet is unlike anything on any M1 liner.

This is a Westinghouse liner, 

but check out the suspension:

American Legion suspension

M1 suspension.  All completely different.

The chinstrap is a pretty cheap  affair, fabric with a blackened slider buckle

This close up shows what almost appear to be button holes, though their purpose is unclear.

The fasteners for the chinstrap are unique to this liner.

Its a mysterious liner, so familiar yet so different

It's interesting how the venerable M1 lives on in various organizations, though as a front-line helmet its day is long bygone;  perhaps a tribute to a reliable old mainstay of the American GI.

American Legion Doughboy Helmet

Old soldiers never die, they just end up on ebay.  Following the Great War two veterans organizations were established; the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the American Legion.  This is a Legion honor guard helmet from the inter-war period.

Made of buffed aluminum with a very showy Legion insignia this must have cut quite a handsome image at parades and such - "Hey look its uncle Lou!"

Its similar in many respects to the M1917 save for the lack of a rim and an entirely different suspension system.

The showy insignia is quite a piece of confection.

The oil colth liner is slightly adjustable and suspended by a rivet in the skull of the lid, just like the M1917.

The chinstrap, and wire buckle are pretty cheap but ideally suited for an Armistice Day parade.

There goes Uncle Lou with his buddies to the Legion Hall.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

USAAF M4A2 Flak Helmet

From the M3 to the M4, and lots of intermediate steps, the M4A2 was not quite the apex of American flak helmet but it led directly to the M5

Introduced in 1944 is the M4A2 aircrewman's helmet.

Made of plates of Hadefield manganese steel this low-profile helmet provided head protection as well as accommodation for headsets.

It is covered over all with olive drab fabric

Keepers at the back secure goggle straps.

The label on this helmet is very much intact and readable.

Of interest is the fact that this helmet, unlike nearly any other, has no suspension but fits snugly over the leather flyers helmet.

This specimen in my collection is in very fine condition save for one small hole in the interior fabric and...

a particularly cracked and dry chinstrap.

The ear cups are fastened by fabric, rather than metal, hinges with heavy-duty stitching.

The M4A2 in action.

Photos can be found of the M3, M4,  and M4A2 being utilized by tank crews, and these helmets are often misidentified as primarily armored vehicle crewmen helmets.

Note that at the beginning of this post I said that the M4A2 represented the "apex" rather than saying the "acme".  The two words mean the same thing; I just didn't want to conjure up this image:

And just where is Wiley Cayote's trusty M4A2 in this picture?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

USAAF Mk3 Flak Helmet

World War Two American bomber crews in the skies over Europe needed something more than their leather flying helmets to provide them with shrapnel injuries, however it took a surprisingly long time for a new helmet to be developed and deployed to meet that need.  Not until December of 1943 did the M3 reach the ETO, it was a the first of three versions of the American flak helmet.

One of the cool things about the M3 is its M1 profile, its like the steel pot but with hinged armored earcups.

The  earcups accommodated the headsets worn by the aircrews.

The profile of the M3 is very similar to that of the M1.

It utilized a pretty straightforward hinge not unlike what you find on an old-school kitchen cabinet.

The surface of the helmet  is flocked with a velvety surface to help prevent the build up of ice and to prevent bare flesh from sticking to the chilled steel shell (think tongue on a sub zero flagpole).

The chinstrap is altogether different than that of the M1.

The chinstrap fastens with a heavy-duty snap rather than the "hook and arrow" of the M1.

The bales however are identical to the M1

The suspension is very much like the M1 except its attached directly to the shell without a separate liner.

Interior of the earcup displays felt padding for the earphones.

Headband clips are identical to the M1 as is the herringbone fabric.

Similarly the size adjustment is the same as the M1 though the arrow washers are quite different.

Unlike the WWII M1 which has the rim-seam on the front, the M3s rim is joined on the side by one of the ear cut-outs

An M3 ready for action.

The M3 led to a series of Flak helmets including the experimental model below which never saw service.

The venerable M1 takes to the skies as the M3