Big Red here with a question from "Edward Platt"...
So, TAKE FIVE!
“Big Red, I wanted to see if you can clarify a M-1 helmet reference I keep coming across on the internet, “low dome”. I found several online references to the Army making M-1 helmets with a “lower profile” to gain maximum concealment. They stated that after WWII helmets were reduced by ½-inch. Is this true?
Not exactly Ed,
- Did the army pursue M-1 helmet designs with a lower profile? - Yes
- Was this done to better conceal soldiers in the field? - No
- Was the post WWII version of the M-1 helmet reduced by ½-inch in depth of draw? - No
It should be stated initially that when a collector makes reference to a “low dome” helmet, it is normally done to call to mind the visual difference in size of an early WWII manufactured helmet side by side on a table top with a 1960’s or 70’s era M-1 helmet. However, “low dome” helmets began their military service toward the end of WWII.
The M-1 helmet was initially manufactured with a 7-inch deep draw, not because it had to be that deep but because the Ordnance sample provided to McCord had a depth of 7 inches. The Ordnance Department had reasons behind the expectations and limitations issued for the new helmet, in the form of requirements, but these were based more on desires not scientific evaluations.
The M-1 helmet having been a product of experimentation, innovation and manufacturing occurring simultaneously meant that it was not until serious issues with production loss and service cracking reached critical levels that the design and technique of manufacture was scrutinized from a scientific perspective.
In 1943 Abraham Hurlich, a Metallurgist at the Watertown Arsenal Laboratories, was assigned to investigate and solve production loss issues related to the manufacture of the M-1. The series of investigations at Watertown and other Ordnance arsenals were the first serious scientific and performance-based analysis of the new helmet. Reduction in the depth of draw of the M-1 helmet resulted from investigations into two different aspects of its performance, ballistics and service cracking.
Ballistic considerations stem from investigations of captured German helmets. These examinations revealed that the German Stahlhelm had superior ballistic resistance over that of the M-1 for no reason other than it was thicker.
Analysis of breakage and service cracking looked at the severity of the cold-working involved in the shaping the helmet and theorized that reducing both the depth of draw and the angle of the visor spanking would reduce some of the residual stress left in the finished helmet and therefore reduce the potential for cracking.
Work performed at in the Offices of the Detroit Ordnance District determined that the draw depth of the helmet body could be reduced to 6 ¾-inch, a maximum of ¼ of an inch, and still accept the liner bodies in service.
Experimentation with “low dome” or reduced draw helmets began shortly thereafter, and a series of runs were made. The resultant helmets demonstrated a lower tendency to crack over time and ballistic zones 4 and 8, the thinnest zones of the helmet, showed an increased resistance to impact of 25%.
These less severe visor spanked, reduced draw helmets afforded the American GI greater ballistic protection at the same weight. These changes were embraced at Schlueter early on, due largely to Schlueter's desire to overcome breakage issues, but seem to have been phased in at McCord more slowly as the presence of these physical traits only appear in helmets of their manufacture with attributes of final war production.
The final adaptation of the M-1 helmet, especially those manufactured by Schlueter, “visually” appear smaller with a straight blocky front and minor down angle to the visor. Although the Army favored the decrease in service cracking as well as significant increase in ballistic resistance of these reduced draw helmets, they failed to take into consideration the “romantic flare” of the earlier McCord helmet bodies profile that would be coveted by collectors over 75 years later.
Notwithstanding the personal feelings of future, not yet borne collectors, the Army incorporated all the changes and recommendations from the experience gained during WWII into the M-1 helmets that would be produced after the war.
Big Red Says!
FIVE'S OVER - MOVE OUT!
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