M-1 Liner Suspension System “From Football to M-1”


Big Red Says:

Listen up Buttercup! Here's an interesting fact.



We spoke some time ago about changes made to the liner suspension system during the initial design process to prevent the entire helmet assembly from exceeding a weight of 3-pounds, but do you know who was responsible for “first” adapting the Riddell football helmet’s suspension to work in the first M-1 helmet liner?

On February 6, 1941 two Army Ordnance officers arrived at McCord Radiator and Manufacturing Company, Detroit Michigan with a sample they desired to discuss the possibilities of manufacture with the company’s engineers. The sample was a hand hammered metal pot containing a handmade Vinylite plastic liner molded to fit inside which could be fitted to the head of a wearer by use of a suspension system taken from a Riddell football helmet. Upon McCord’s determination that the design was feasible, the officers negotiated an agreement for McCord to provide 200 prototypes of the new helmet assembly for testing.
The next day, arrangements were made to begin developing tooling for the pot style helmet while McCord explored potential avenues for making a liner, all of which resulted in solutions that were excessively heavy. With helmet production moving forward the pressure was on for a liner which without, the helmet could not be worn.
McCord approached the Hawley Products Company of St. Charles Illinois, currently in contract to provide fibre sun helmets to the military, to discuss the possibility of making a similar product that would telescope into the new pot style helmet. Based on the opportunity at a sub-contract from McCord for the liner body, Hawley agreed to take on the project and proceeded to tool up in order to manufacture the 200 samples the Army desired.

At this stage the only missing component was the fabric suspension system. Although the Army had already elected to use Riddell’s system and were working out the details of permission for its use on a license basis, the system, as it came right out of the football helmet was sized, meaning non-adjustable, and robust, meaning heavy.

Personnel from both McCord and Hawley reached out to private industry in the Detroit area in order to find someone who could help come up with a way to successfully modify the Riddell solution to the needs of the new liner. The help they needed came from the Lilley Company working in conjunction with the George R. Carter Company, both in the Detroit area, who engineered a modified version of Riddell’s suspension from lightweight Rayon webbing.

Empirical evidence in the form of photographs and the few surviving samples of the 200 liners provided to the Army indicate that several variations of the modified suspension were fabricated and tested. It is probable that some of these variants are due to the investigation into “options” to choose from while others are no doubt modifications to reduce the designs weight and to make the overall assembly more large-scale production friendly.


Now you know….



if your friends want to know how you gained your intel, tell em

Big Red Says!



  • Lucas

    Great article…Thanks
    Greetings from switzerland ✌️

  • Adam C Pillar

    We need more pics & info on that Vinylite Prototype liner, I can safely say I’ve never seen that one before.

  • Kevin Rowley

    Top notch gen,as usual, Josh .
    Thank you

  • LeRoy CARON

    Great article Joshua. So much of the time, we miss the small developments that made the famous M-1 helmet what we know today.

  • nick barba

    great artical learn something new all the time. thanks.

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