Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Doughboys of Harvey Dunn

American painter, Harvey Dunn (March 8, 1884 – October 29, 1952) was an American illustrator and painter. His best known work is The Prairie is My Garden. He was primarily known for portraying scenes of the Great Plains, but he also made a name for himself
for his images of the Great War.
Do click for larger images, you'll be glad that you did.

A recurring theme for Dunn is the depiction of American soldiers
 fighting through ruined towns.

These doughboys are advancing across a no-man's-land illuminated by flares.

 This work is entitled The Machinegunner

American soldiers in rubber knee-boots perhaps returning from the trenches to a rear-area.

German prisoners as litter-bearers for wounded Americans returning from the front lines.

A Renault tank supports an advance through the wire.

A doughboy fighting through the wire of no-man's-land.

American artillerymen night-firing a 75mm field gun.

Wounded and stunned soldiers after the fight.

An advance through a ruined village.

Dunn's paintings and illustrations provide vivid documentation of American combat that he observed during the First World War

These army trucks trundling along have the look of covered wagons rolling across the American landscape...

not surprising, considering Dunn is best known for his painting The Prairie is My Garden.
(please do click to enlarge)

Dunn died in 1952 at the age of sixty-eight but left a memorable record of the American effort during the Great War.

Friday, May 13, 2016

United States m.1917 combat helmet (UK manufacture)

The "tin lid"

The m.1917 is the American version of the British mk.I "Brodie" helmet.  700,000 British Brodies were supplied to the American forces before production began in the United States.  This is one of those British-made American helmets utilized by
the "doughboy" of the Great War.

The dishpan-like Brodie served various nations well into the 1970s.

An identifying characteristic of this British-manufactured m.1917 is the lapped rim strip.

The American manufactured version of the Brodie
can be identified by the rim affixed with a butt joint.

The British-manufactured M1917 attaches the chinstrap bail with a split-pin...

the American-made helmet has a rivet attaching the bail.

The helmet on the left has the original factory finish of sawdust, and that on the right is a depot refurbished finish of coarse sand.  Both are American helmets.

 The chinstrap is adjusted with a robust iron buckle.

 The single copper rivet, which passes through the crown of the shell, is the only attachment point for the entire liner and chinstrap.  If the leather strap breaks, the helmet becomes worthless to the wearer.  This is not a particularly thoughtful piece of
engineering, in my opinion.

Here the top strap passes through the chinstrap bail and attaches,
by a separate connector, to the chinstrap. 

 A name is penciled on the chinstrap.

 The suspension of the Brodie-type helmet is not particularly elegant, in fact it is quite complicated and not as effective as later helmets.  The headband has uniform slits of which the alternate pairs secure an inch-long piece of tubular rubber, providing some spacing and perhaps shock absorption between the helmet shell and the head of the wearer.

This complex web of netting has a drawstring to tighten or loosen it to adjust the fit.  This seems to me to be an overly elaborate system.

The m.1917 design would soldier on well into the opening days of America's entry into the Second World War, though with a much improved liner and suspension, which I profiled in and earlier post which can be viewed here.

The manufacture's mark in the liner is legible enough to see that it was made in Brooklyn NY.

And now: a graphic salute to the American doughboy.

"The Machine Gunner" by Harvey Dunn

See you next time with another cool helmet from the collection.


Friday, May 6, 2016

British airborne forces mk.II combat helmet


Members of the British 16th Parachute Brigade during "Operation Musketeer", Suez, 1956.

The Luftwaffe was an early entrant to the airborne realm with their first operation against Denmark in April 1940.  It wasn't until October of 1941, a year and a half later that the British airborne arm was operational.
The design of the mk.II was clearly influenced of the German Fallschirmj√§ger helmet.
The mk.II airborne helmet was introduced in late 1942. 
Made of manganese steel it weighed just over three pounds.

 Ovoid in shape, it came in two sizes.
The mk.II shell was repurposed as a dispatch rider's helmet, and armored vehicle crewman's helmet, and was utilized by the Royal Navy well into the 1980s. 


 The three-point chinstrap provided a great deal of stability though it did not allow for a particularly quick release or wide range of adjustment of the chin cup.



 The rim is finished with a folded, non-magnetic strip.
This shell was produced by the British firm - Briggs Motor Bodies
and was manufactured in 1953.

 The ovoid shape is apparent from above.

 Thick sponge rubber provides a firm cushion between the shell and the wearer's head.

Anyone familiar with the US M1 helmet recognizes the Riddell-style suspension.  This simple method of adjustment could make the shell sit higher or lower on the head.

 The leather headband is of high quality, and in this example, manufactured by the
 London firm of Christy & Co. Ltd in 1953.

The liner, and chinstrap bails are attached by three screws.  Also visible is the rough, non-reflective, finish of the shell.

The bails are quite robust, as is the webbing of the chinstrap.

 Square brass ferrules are riveted to the ends of the straps.

 The intersecting web straps encompass a brown-dyed chin cup worn rough side in.

The sponge-rubber shock absorber is about an inch thick.

British paratroopers operating in the Suez, 1956.


The mk.II paratrooper helmet was also used by Israeli forces.


A British paratrooper of the Second World War.

An altogether handsome helmet and a welcome addition to the collection.
See you next time with another cool helmet!