Big Red here with a question from "T.J. Thyne"...
So, TAKE FIVE!
“Big Red, Josh told me that after helmets were made, they stuffed them in the closet to see how long it would take them to break. Is he telling me the truth?”
Hello T.J. good to hear from you.
Well, putting aside for a moment Joshua’s eloquent verbal communication skills, yes there is truth to his answer as fabricators did set aside percentages of their manufacturing totals for future inspection.
In 1943 two companies joined the helmet program, Sharon Steel Company, Sharon, Pennsylvania as a steel provider and Schlueter Manufacturing Company, St. Louis Missouri as a helmet fabricator. Sharon Steel’s production facility differed in equipment and process from Carnegie-Illinois Steel which resulted in unforeseen quality issues.
The steel provided by Sharon in 1943, to both fabricators, was covered in layers of brittle martensite which is not conducive to deep drawing because it is brittle and will crack. Unfortunately, this quality issue was not identified at the steel mill prior to the steel being delivered to the fabricators. Instead, the helmet discs were processed leaving the martensitic condition to be discovered in the form of production breakage or service cracking of helmets.
McCord did experience these issues but to a lessor extent as the lion share of their steel still came from Carnegie-Illinois. Schlueter on the other hand only received steel from Sharon and therefore experienced a dramatic age cracking problem. Age cracking occurs in helmets due to the residual stress left in the steel resulting from the severe cold-working required for the helmet’s shaping. This same condition was originally referred to as “service cracking” because the Ordnance Department was first made aware of the condition from helmets being returned from service with cracks that were not there when issued.
During the Summer of 1943 the Ordnance Department sought help from the metallurgical experts at Watertown Arsenal to investigate the breakage problem. In order to get a handle on the problem and gather data, both fabricators began the habit of setting aside a percentage of their production totals and submitting them to periodic inspection. An arsenal report from Schlueter indicates that the phenomenon of age cracking was affecting approximately 3% of the helmets set aside at their plant.