Identification of the Helmet Steel M-1
Do you collect M1 helmets? This guide is packed with tips and advice to help you avoid some common mistakes when identifying and buying original World War II-era M-1 helmets.
How many times have you come across an M1 case wondering:
When the United States entered the war in 1917, the American army did not have its own combat helmet. Troops arriving in Europe receive British Mk I Brodie helmets (and troops integrated into French units receive French M15 Adrian helmets). In 1918, in order to standardize the troops, the United States began to manufacture a version of the Mk I, designated M-1917, producing more than 2,700,000 copies before the end of hostilities.
In 1940, as World War II rages in Europe and Asia, the United States prepares. The army then decided to relaunch research to develop a new type of helmet from the beginning of 1941. Indeed, the M-1917 model showed shortcomings in terms of protection: with its plate shape it had been thought to protect soldiers standing in trenches from shrapnel and falling debris. This helmet therefore no longer corresponded to the needs of modern mobile warfare where shrapnel and projectiles could come from all sides, and not only from above. It was then that the "Helmet, Steel, M1" was developed, a helmet that covered the head more.
The Helmet, Steel, M1
At the time, two companies manufactured the majority of M1 helmets distributed during World War II - McCord Radiator & Manufacturing Co., located in Detroit, Michigan and Schlueter Manufacturing Co., based in St. Louis, Missouri. .
McCord began production in June 1941 and produced twenty million hulls until the end of the conflict. From January 1943, Schlueter in turn began manufacturing to reach nearly two million copies. The hulls of these two firms are officially identical, but they actually have very different characteristics.
At first, the shape of the helmets coming out of the factories of these two manufacturers is not quite the same. more homogeneous and maintain a more constant angle on the sides and in front. Helmets from both manufacturers come with a drab olive paint job embellished with a cork texture as well as a pair of strong canvas chinstraps.
Over time, many specification changes appear. Keep in mind that as new specs come in, older models must have arrived out of stock. Regardless of the modification made to the famous helmet.
The precise dating of the shell is generally done by identifying the stamps struck on the internal face of the visor. They generally comprise 2 to 4 digits as well as a letter. We'll get to what they mean a bit later, but know that if you find numbers and letters, you're on the right track to identifying your helmet shell.
These numbers and letters are sometimes difficult to read since these objects are over 75 years old now.
A little tip if you have trouble distinguishing the traces left by this tampon but you feel that they are indeed there, pour a small amount of flour on the area and remove the excess by rubbing it with your finger. The flour should collect in the stamp tracks and allow you to decipher the numbers more easily.
Difference Between McCord and Schlueter Weld
There are two other methods to differentiate a helmet manufactured by the McCord firm from a Schlueter. Steel strapping (stainless on early examples and later manganese) is applied around the rim of the helmet and joins at the front in what collectors often refer to as the "front ring" or "front join".
Most wartime M1 helmets had a front knuckle, but this knuckle was moved to the rear from November 1944 until the end of M1 helmet production. Helmets made by the McCord firm feature oval-shaped welds at the knuckle, while Schlueters helmets are round. In addition, Schlueter affixes the letter "S" under the "Heat Stap" or the famous stamp corresponding to the lot number.
Fixed Bridges VS Mobile Bridges
Early production helmets feature a pair of fixed, rectangular shaped saddles, welded directly to the helmet, to which the chinstraps are sewn.
Difference between the McCord and Schlueter firm trigger guards
The McCord company used a multitude of fixed buckles throughout the conflict, while the shape of the Schlueter firm's saddles remained identical throughout production. McCord buckles generally have a more "rectangular" shape while those from the firm Schlueter are more flared.
In November 1943, a new type of pivot buckle was introduced, providing more movement to the wearer and also reducing the risk of breakage at the welds.
Although many nations have copied the famous M1 helmet, there are several elements to certify that a helmet is American-made and dates from World War II. The seam of the strapping, the chinstrap loops, the batch number "stamp" and many other aspects are to be taken into consideration.
If you have any doubts, do not hesitate to send us photos of your helmet, we will be happy to help you identify it.