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


Anonymous said...

Hi, I inherited an M-3 helmet which has what appear to be swastikas on the ear flaps. I've seen some on the internet too with the swastikas. Do you know anything about the background of why swastikas were added?

Matty's blog said...

They put these swastikas to show the number of enemy aircraft downed