Handing-off Liner Procurement

Big Red here with a question for all you M-1 helmet lovers.

Why was the M-1 helmet liner originally classified as a textile?

Today, as collectors and amateur historians, we handle helmets and liners in a way that to us, the two are synonymous. In our minds we can’t conceive of one without the other and if asked to classify it, would most probably not hesitate to refer to it as body armor. Things weren’t so clear and simple back in 1941.

The development of the M-1 helmet was a group effort between the Ordnance Department, the Quartermaster Corps and private industry. The liner was intended to act, not only as part of the protection provided by the helmet assembly, but individually as a hat. Behind the lines it was to be a safety helmet and a replacement for the garrison cap. Although there was no formal declaration, until January of 1944, the idea of the liner in a dual -helmet design appears to have been sold to the Army with the liner being an article of the uniform.

The Ordnance Department was charged with the development and procurement of the first dual-purpose helmet that would become known as the M-1. The Standards Division of the Office of the Under Secretary of War clearly spelled out that Ordnance would only be responsible for the entire helmet assembly for the initial contract however, after issue of this contract Ordnance would thereafter only retain responsibility for the helmet body and that responsibility for the liner body and suspension system would be transferred to the Quartermaster Corps.

When the Quartermaster Corps assumed responsibility over the liner, procurement was assigned to the Philadelphia Depot which oversaw textiles and the manufacture of uniforms. So, why the Philadelphia Depot? Because the liner was a new item with no previous classification, its sales pitch had sold it as a replacement for several articles of the uniform and, viewing the liner from the perspective of its individual parts, was predominately textile. 

Although the first liner body was formed out of paper fibre laminated together and pressed into shape, it was covered with an olive drab shade gabardine fabric and had fabric webbing in the form of a cradle and neckstrap attached directly to it. Headbands and neckbands were to be issued separately as sized items but were made of the same fabric as that of the internal suspension. Later plastic liners, both of low and high-pressure manufacture, continued with the use of fabric suspensions but replaced the paper fibre shell for that of one made from either resin impregnated cotton or duckcloth.

In the end, the Philadelphia Depot would only issue one contract for liners before procurement was “handed-off” to the Chicago Depot in February of 1942. The Chicago Quartermaster Depot took over the initial liner contract of December 15, 1941, issued by the Philadelphia Depot, and oversaw all aspects of the liner’s development and production for the duration of the war. 

No records have been found that specifically explain this change leaving the experts to speculate that because the helmet and liner were, in fact, a joint venture between Ordnance and the Quartermaster and because the design and manufacture of the liner was, at that time, in a state of constant change requiring close coordination with helmet production, that the move was made in order to have all those concerned in the liner’s development in closer proximity to helmet manufacturing in Detroit.


Now you know….


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  • phillip d marritt

    i love these deep dives into the origins of our favorite helmet!

  • Kevin Rowley

    So many questions I had asked myself over time, solved in one brilliant article!
    As you were trooper! Carry on !

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