Big Red here at me favorite waterin hole, Cohan's Pub.
Pull up a chair, have a pint.
Today Mick Dundee stopped in with a question,
“Big Red, I heard some collectors talking about a brown buckle chin strap. What can you tell us about it?”
Great question Mick,
One variation of the removable chin strap, which does not fit in with the standard, has intrigued M-1 collectors for years, the “brown buckle” chin strap.
This removable chin strap assembly was of early manufacture and matches all the features of a 1942-1943 manufactured right-angle cam lever flip chin strap with only one exception, the wedge buckle hardware has been painted brown as opposed to the standard olive drab green.
How could this happen? Olive drab paint shortage, mistake, request approved to use an on-hand paint color. There can be no doubt that a variation in paint color like this would have been viewed as a negligible defect by the Chicago Quartermaster Depot who would have issued a variance without much thought but, where did these come from?
Although the Chicago Quartermaster Depot was responsible for contracting replacements, the leather chin strap was considered part of the liner assembly and its procurement and installation were the responsibility of the prime liner contractor.
This meant that every liner manufacturer was responsible for the procurement and installation of all the components necessary to assemble a complete liner, excluding head bands and neck bands as they were considered inserts, which includes all the parts and assembly of the leather liner chin strap.
Empirical evidence shows that the construction and design place the manufacture of this chin strap between 1942 and 1943. Observation indicates that examples of this variant chin strap were first noted by collectors on General Fibre and Hawley liners. Sometime later examples were found on Inland parachutist modified liners and on early St. Clair liners. In order to determine what St. Clair, Hawley, General Fibre, and Inland parachutist modified liners might have in common, we need to look at the liner manufacturing activities of 1942 leading into 1943.
First, we must understand that McCord was the prime liner contractor for the first Ordnance contracts, which means they were responsible for providing complete liners. Not having the ability to manufacture the liner body, they partnered with Hawley Fibre Products and sub-contracted them to produce the bodies. Hawley, not having the facility or personnel to put the parts into the liners, sub-contracted back to McCord who, in turn, procured all the necessary parts, assembled the liner suspensions and installed them in the liner bodies at their plant.
By April of 1942 helmet body production progressed well ahead of completed liners, which is when Hawley sub-contracted General fibre for additional liner bodies. Late in July 1942 St. Clair had fallen so far behind in their assembly activities that by the fall the QMC moved all St. Clair liner bodies to the McCord plant and issued a contract to McCord to install all suspension parts.
Collectors Note: This is why St. Clair liners can be found with such wonderful variations of internal suspension components.
On September 30, 1942, the QMC received 75,000 high-pressure liners over the required delivery commitment from the Inland Manufacturing Co. The Army made the decision to have these extra high-pressure liners modified to parachutist configuration and on October 8, 1942 the QMC issued a contract to McCord to perform the modification at their plant.
By mid-November 1942 all liner activities were concluded at McCord and by December Ordnance was discussing the possibility of re-tasking the space used for liner assembly to double helmet body manufacture.
Finally, the QMC records four companies as sub-contractors for wedge buckles during this time period, Dowst Mfg. Co., North & Judd, Scoville Mfg. Co., and the Oakville Co. Although McCord had previous hardware dealings with North & Judd, the lack of an anchor stamp inside the flip might exclude them leaving Dowst, Scoville and Oakville as possible sources.
If we put together what we “think” we know with our best guesses, we can assert that the “brown buckle” was sub-contracted from either Dowst Mfg. Co., Scoville Mfg. Co., or Oakville Co. by McCord as the primary liner contractor. That, for reasons unknown, the hardware was painted brown in color instead of olive drab and that the Chicago Quartermaster Depot either gave permission or issued a variance for these buckles. Then, sometime between mid-October and mid-November 1942 McCord outfitted liner bodies from General Fibre, Hawley, St. Clair and Inland Mfg. with this chin strap variant.
This is my story and I am sticking with it until documentation is found to prove different. Now, all this thinking has my head thumping, so I am going to start some serious drinking……