Although not real popular with most folks, I’ve personally grown a liking to these old US Navy helmets. I don’t know if it’s from being former navy myself or maybe because the layers of paint and personal touches make it easy to imagine them in-service. What ever the case, I like them and the best part is, they are still pretty easy to find and inexpensive to collect. The one thing that you can pretty much be for certain about, with a shipboard used M-1, is if it is in pristine condition then it’s likely not original as these things were just not well taken care of and typically saw many many more years of service than a helmet used out in the field.
I tried to be as accurate as I could in describing these helmets however, I’m no expert so if anyone sees any blatant errors, please do not hesitate to point them out so that I can make the corrections. These descriptions will ultimately end up on my kids web site to describe his collection.
First is a classic example of a US Navy shipboard used helmet. A count of at least three layers of paint, over the original olive drab, are clearly visible. Stenciled on the front of this helmet is “REP’R 5” which indicates that this helmet was last assigned to Repair Locker 5. The shell is a WWII ear, front seam, swivel bale and has been mated with a Westinghouse high pressure liner, dated late 1943, the front of which is adorned with looks to be a Chief Petty Officer Machinist Mates rating badge. The shell was a swap meet find.
Next, although maybe not shipboard used, this yellow helmet is another classic example of a US Navy M-1. Yellow was often used to signify some type of construction environment possibly indicating that this helmet was used in a shipyard or ships repair facility. This WWII era helmet is a late war, rear seam and swivel bale shell produced by Schlueter and has its original late war sewn chin strap. The interior of this helmet retains the original olive drab paint with a single layer of yellow paint on the exterior, again giving indication that this helmet was likely shipyard or ships repair facility used. Hand drawn, on the front of this helmet, is a rough rendition of the US Navy Hull Maintenance Technician (HT) insignia along with the name J. R. Fisher. Mated to this helmet is an inner liner of slightly earlier origin. Manufactured by Mine Safety Appliances, there has been quite a bit of creative boot lace webbing repair performed, on the suspension, to extend the life if this heavily worn liner. The shell was an eBay find, not sure where we scrounged up this beat up old liner.
Red was a very common color of the M-1 shipboard helmet assigned to Damage Control lockers and firefighting teams. This helmet is a great example of a brush painted, McCord produced helmet of late war or maybe even post war period and has the less commonly found front seem and magnetic steel rim configuration. This example has been fitted with a helmet mounted, battery powered lamp, commonly used on these Damage Control helmets. The salty inner liner was produced by CAPAC and is an early 1943 to late 1944 configuration.
Not all red painted M-1 helmets were assigned to Damage Control and firefighting as is likely the case with this example. Some photos and file footage of manned shipboard gun mounts exist that show sailors wearing red colored M-1 helmets some of which have numbers stenciled on them similar to this helmet. The “189” stencil likely indicates a particular gun station or hull location although this is purely speculative. This helmet was produced by Schlueter and is a rear seam swivel bale configuration indicating late WWII production however, it is uncertain and to some degree unlikely that this helmet ever saw service during WWII. It can be assumed however, that this helmet was in-service late or post Vietnam War period as is indicated by the yellow primer that is showing through in spots, which began use in the early 1970s. Another eBay find!
Another great example of a US Navy ship’s paint locker handy work, the original olive drab paint of this low dome M-1 has been covered by two distinct shades of grey. A first, brush applied, lighter coat of grey covers the interior and exterior of this helmet. The “XO” stencil, on the front of the helmet, indicates that this helmet was assigned/worn by the Executive Officer of the command. The exterior of this helmet was, at some point, painted again with a darker shade of grey. For reasons unknown, the original “XO” stencil was left untouched leaving a very sloppy, but typical look to this US Navy M-1. Vintage; condition; crude manner to which it has been painted and bearing the “XO” stencil; these elements combined could indicate that this M-1 was used on small river boats during the Vietnam War but this is purely speculation. This helmet was found at a local militria show.
Russ & Son