General Fibre Liner Bodies – Ditto that!


Hey Big Red, you have talked about Hawley Fibre Liners in several blogs, but you haven’t said anything about General Fibre. What gives?

You are correct, good sir; I haven’t. However, I will be happy to discuss them now and provide my reasons.

So, listen up, Buttercup! Here is the rest of the story…

The short answer:

General Fibre is not identified by the Office of the Quartermaster General as an “official” liner producer. They were a sub-contractor to Hawley, and details of their participation are limited to an offhand comment made in a report noting a three percent contribution to Hawley’s total production of liner bodies.

Now for the long answer…

The fibre liner was a joint effort between McCord Radiator & Mfg. Co. as the prime contractor*, with the cooperation of the Army Ordnance Department, and Hawley Products Co. as a sub-contractor to McCord. Under Ordnance oversight, Hawley produced a fabric-covered fibre shell, a standard product of Hawley, modified to fit inside the M-1 steel helmet body. Hawley would then deliver completed shells to McCord, who sourced, assembled, and installed suspension systems in order to complete the liner assembly.

*Did you know: A prime contractor was the company directly contracted by the Quartermaster to provide liners. The prime contractor was responsible to either make or sub-contract for all the items necessary to fabricate a complete liner assembly.

Upon the issue of the initial contract for the M-1 helmet assembly, Hawley knew they would have to increase their current output in order to meet the terms of delivery. At their own expense, they purchased stage ovens, hydraulic drawing presses, trimming presses, conveyor ovens, and toggle presses with the intent of installing new assembly lines in a new building, which, unfortunately, they would have to construct first. Herein lies the issue: the time required for construction and staging of equipment in this new building would take approximately five months to complete.

Although records referencing the early development of the liner are focused on the liner as an object and not on the specific reasons or details behind decisions like those involving General Fibre, I believe it is safe, based on the information that is there, to make the following deduction: Hawley needed to increase their production capacity and couldn’t wait five months to do so. General Fibre had production space available, so Hawley worked out terms of a sub-contract with them for that space in order to establish the assembly lines necessary to increase their odds of meeting production need.

Quartermaster records, which are generally vague in regard to General Fibre, are quite clear on the point that although the liner bodies were produced at their facility in St. Louis, they were made on Hawley-provided equipment and tooling that Hawley installed, provided training for General Fibre employees, and maintained on-site Hawley supervisors to oversee production. In addition, we know that Hawley designed and manufactured the tooling necessary to make the liner without standardized drawings or specifications, as these were developed and drafted by both McCord and the Ordnance Department several months after the start of production


 Why General Fibre?

Hawley and General Fibre were two companies in the same pre-war marketplace, both making similar products with the same types of equipment. The production space available at General Fibre would have been ideal as it would already have had access to the utilities necessary to install additional production equipment, and their employees, already having experience pressing fiberboard products, would only require minimal training specific to the new liner.

General Fibre production totals?

The aforementioned “side note,"  which is where collectors glean the production totals for General Fibre, comes from a short summary paragraph in CQMD Historical Studies No. 5, where, in an offhanded way, it is mentioned that about three percent of the total of fibre liner bodies were formed at the General Fibre facility in St. Louis. The issue that arises here is: three percent of which total?

In a summary of activities letter dated August 1945 to the Detroit Ordnance District, McCord claims 3,977,000 fibre liners were produced. QMC publications on the history of the M-1 liner indicate the number procured was 3,900,000, while the published contract quantities in the same QMC sources only account for 3,258,474 liners. There can be no doubt that the difference in these numbers comes down to how many were ordered compared to how many were delivered, as well as how you choose to count. For example, do these numbers account for defects discarded or converted to toys for the civilian market? Are they actual production totals to include overruns, or are they contract quantities?

Keeping this in mind, we can calculate three percent counts for each of these three possible quantities, add them up, and average them to get a count of 111,355. Based on this, a safe conservative estimate can be made by saying there must have been at least 100,000 fibre liner bodies produced by Hawley at the General Fibre facility.

Based on Quartermaster records of General Fibres involvement during the first fibre liner contract and empirical evidence in the form of General Fibre liner bodies outfitted with herringbone twill, HBT, suspensions and parts, a transition that coincides with the final 1,000,000 fibre liners contracted, clearly demonstrates that General Fibre’s three percent contribution spanned the entire time line of fibre liner production.

An overall review of the information available regarding General Fibre’s participation in liner development, as vague as it is, makes it is easy to conclude that, the “General Fibre” liner was just a Hawley liner made on Hawley equipment, under Hawley supervision pressed at a satellite location. 

The only discernable difference between a Hawley and General Fibre shell is the presence of a small upper case letter “G” stamped in concert with, but not necessarily in proximity to, the Hawley bodies "LINER - FIBRE - M1" black indelible ink stamp.

This stamp appears to have been an individual stamp, separate from the liner identification stamp, which was most probably added by Hawley in order to trace any potential issues with liner body’s back to their plant of origin.

This hypothesis is supported by examples of surviving liner bodies marked with the letter "G" stamp displaying the letter G, at times by itself or, in close proximity to the "LINER - FIBRE - M1" stamp in varying position and orientation to that of the identification stamp.


Now you know….


if your friends want to know how you gained your intel, tell em
Big Red Says!


  • LeRoy CARON

    During my 70 years of collecting , I can honestly say I only came across probably 20 fiber liners. Evan in the late 40s and early 50s, they just had disappeared. This is a great article for all of us collectors and well written.
    Thanks Joshua
    Keepum coming!

  • Mary Murray

    Excellent writing/explanation.

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