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History of World War II Helmet Liners


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#1 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:12 AM

I have posted photos of some of my helmet liners in various threads, but I thought that I would begin a new thread to discuss the development of the M1 liner. Most of my information has come from an unpublished manuscript entitled THE HISTORY OF THE HELMET LINER written by Marion Massen in 1944. It is listed as C.Q.M.D. HISTORICAL STUDIES: Report No. 5 - History of the Helmet Liner. The office of origin was the Historical Branch, Technical Information Division, Chicago Quartermaster Depot. I obtained a photocopy from the National Archives in 1985 and used it to produce the article THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE M-1 HELMET LINER in the Winter 1991 issue of MILITARY COLLECTOR & HISTORIAN, the journal of the Company of Military historians.

The original version of the M1 liner was manufactured by the Hawley Products Company of St. Charles, Illinois. The Hawley Company, working with the McCord Radiator & Manufacturing Company of Detroit, and the Quartermaster Corps, designed this liner based on their prior experience in manufacturing tropical sun helmets for the Army. The liner was constructed of two rigid fiber shells, impregnated with water-repellant materials, securely cemented together and covered with olive drab twill.

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#2 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:18 AM

The suspension system was an adaptation of one developed by John T. Riddell for his plastic football helmet and was made of lightweight silver-grey rayon webbing. The headband was non-adjustable and was supplied in 13 sizes. The neckband was also non-adjustable and came in 3 sizes. The leather chinstrap was permanently attached. The initial purchase order for these liners was issued on 9 July 1941. By mid-November of 1942 when production was terminated, 3,900,000 of these fiber liners has been produced.

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Edited by Bugme, 05 November 2009 - 12:50 PM.


#3 tsellati

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:22 AM

I have posted photos of some of my helmet liners in various threads, but I thought that I would begin a new thread to discuss the development of the M1 liner. Most of my information has come from an unpublished manuscript entitled THE HISTORY OF THE HELMET LINER written by Marion Massen in 1944. It is listed as C.Q.M.D. HISTORICAL STUDIES: Report No. 5 - History of the Helmet Liner. The office of origin was the Historical Branch, Technical Information Division, Chicago Quartermaster Depot. I obtained a photocopy from the National Archives in 1985 and used it to produce the article THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE M-1 HELMET LINER in the Winter 1991 issue of MILITARY COLLECTOR & HISTORIAN, the journal of the Company of Military historians.

The original version of the M1 liner was manufactured by the Hawley Products Company of St. Charles, Illinois. The Hawley Company, working with the McCord Radiator & Manufacturing Company of Detroit, and the Quartermaster Corps, designed this liner based on their prior experience in manufacturing tropical sun helmets for the Army. The liner was constructed of two rigid fiber shells, impregnated with water-repellant materials, securely cemented together and covered with olive drab twill.


Fascinating, in reference to "olive drab twill" do you mean that the original liners had a fabric covering? It does appear in the liner photograph you provide that it is covered with what looks like a fine fabric (shiny like a rayon or something).

I look forward to reading and learning more.

Tim

#4 Bob Hudson

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:23 AM

Do the specs say what fiber was used? I had not realized that they were covered with twill (twill is a weaving style and there are several types of of twill fabric including denim and gabardine).

#5 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:23 AM

The suspension system was an adaptation of one developed by John T. Riddell for his plastic football helmet and was made of lightweight silver-grey rayon webbing. The headband was non-adjustable and was supplied in 13 sizes. The neckband was also non-adjustable and came in 3 sizes. The leather chinstrap was permanently attached. The initial purchase order for these liners was issued on 9 July 1941. By mid-November of 1942 when production was terminated, 3,900,000 of these fiber liners has been produced.


As improvements was developed, they were incorporated into the liners then in production. Generally there was some delay in the installation of the new parts as stocks of the older materials were used up first. Here is the improved Hawley liner.

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#6 tsellati

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:30 AM

Do the specs say what fiber was used? I had not realized that they were covered with twill (twill is a weaving style and there are several types of of twill fabric including denim and gabardine).



Yes, this will be interesting to learn. Looking at the shiny and stretched appearance of the twill cover you can almost imagine that the fabric used must have the elasticity one associates with a silk or nylon stocking.

Tim

#7 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:30 AM

As improvements was developed, they were incorporated into the liners then in production. Generally there was some delay in the installation of the new parts as stocks of the older materials were used up first. Here is the improved Hawley liner.


By late Spring of 1942 an improved suspension system had been designed. It was made of light olive drab (Shade No. 3) cotton single herringbone twill webbing. The rectangular metal washers which had held the rayon suspension system to the original fiber liner were changed to an A-shape. The headband was now adjustable which eliminated the need to stock 13 sizes. It was also now covered with leather entirely except in the adjustment area, which added to the comfort. The leather chinstrap was now removable and was more substantial. This fiber liner was made sometime between June and November of 1942.

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#8 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:42 AM

By late Spring of 1942 an improved suspension system had been designed. It was made of light olive drab (Shade No. 3) cotton single herringbone twill webbing. The rectangular metal washers which had held the rayon suspension system to the original fiber liner were changed to an A-shape. The headband was now adjustable which eliminated the need to stock 13 sizes. It was also now covered with leather entirely except in the adjustment area, which added to the comfort. The leather chinstrap was now removable and was more substantial. This fiber liner was made sometime between June and November of 1942.


The cloth-covered fiber liner was considered from the beginning to be only an interim expedient. It provided the means to make the new steel helmet shell usable until a plastic liner could be developed. The second half of 1941 was spent in plastic liner research. By November it had been determined that a liner made of plastic laminated by high pressure was the best. During comparison testing done in late 1941 and early 1942, liners made by different processes were studied. One of the competitors was this low-pressure plastic liner made by the St. Clair Rubber Company of Marysville, Michigan. Even though their product did not fare as well as the high-pressure liners, the St. Clair Company was given contracts for 1,300,000 liners.

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#9 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:45 AM

The cloth-covered fiber liner was considered from the beginning to be only an interim expedient. It provided the means to make the new steel helmet shell usable until a plastic liner could be developed. The second half of 1941 was spent in plastic liner research. By November it had been determined that a liner made of plastic laminated by high pressure was the best. During comparison testing done in late 1941 and early 1942, liners made by different processes were studied. One of the competitors was this low-pressure plastic liner made by the St. Clair Rubber Company of Marysville, Michigan. Even though their product did not fare as well as the high-pressure liners, the St. Clair Company was given contracts for 1,300,000 liners.


This liner was probably produced in June or July of 1942 as it has the improved suspension and removable chinstrap but the old style non-adjustable headband.

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#10 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 10:57 AM

This liner was probably produced in June or July of 1942 as it has the improved suspension and removable chinstrap but the old style non-adjustable headband.


This liner is identical to the transition St. Clair model except for the improved adjustable headband. The supply of the older style headbands had been depleted by the time this liner was made. These low-pressure plastic liners, as well as those made by the Hood Rubber Company, were utilized to give the high-pressure liner manufacturers time to work out the difficulties in their production processes. These St. Clair liners were made of resin-impregnated duckcloth cured under 110 pounds of steam pressure. Note the insignia eyelet in the front of the liner. This eyelet was found on all plastic liners manufactured up to approximately 1956.

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#11 Bob Hudson

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:06 AM

These St. Clair liners were made of resin-impregnated duckcloth cured under 110 pounds of steam pressure.


Duckcloth or "cotton duck" is a kind of tightly woven lightweight canvas - it can be light enough to be used for shower curtains or heavy enough for seabags and hammocks.

#12 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:06 AM

This liner is identical to the transition St. Clair model except for the improved adjustable headband. The supply of the older style headbands had been depleted by the time this liner was made. These low-pressure plastic liners, as well as those made by the Hood Rubber Company, were utilized to give the high-pressure liner manufacturers time to work out the difficulties in their production processes. These St. Clair liners were made of resin-impregnated duckcloth cured under 110 pounds of steam pressure. Note the insignia eyelet in the front of the liner. This eyelet was found on all plastic liners manufactured up to approximately 1956.


The Hood Rubber Company of Watertown, Massachusetts attempted to make their liners as simply as possible. They utilized materials which were not critically needed for the war effort. Instead of resin-impregnated duckcloth used in other plastic liners, the Hood liner was made of high-count cotton sheeting impregnated with resin. This product was cured with hot water under 250 pounds pressure. The Hood engineers believed that they had a liner superior to those made by other methods but the Army did not concur, and contracted for only 206,000. This particular specimen has been repainted sometime in the past.

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#13 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:10 AM

The Hood Rubber Company of Watertown, Massachusetts attempted to make their liners as simply as possible. They utilized materials which were not critically needed for the war effort. Instead of resin-impregnated duckcloth used in other plastic liners, the Hood liner was made of high-count cotton sheeting impregnated with resin. This product was cured with hot water under 250 pounds pressure. The Hood engineers believed that they had a liner superior to those made by other methods but the Army did not concur, and contracted for only 206,000. This particular specimen has been repainted sometime in the past.


This liner has the improved suspension, adjustable headband and removable chinstrap. Note the fine weave of the liner material as compared to those made from the duckcloth.

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#14 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:13 AM

This liner has the improved suspension, adjustable headband and removable chinstrap. Note the fine weave of the liner material as compared to those made from the duckcloth.


The Hood liner had additional cotton sheeting material added at right angles in the front and the back for reinforcing. This additional material can be seen in this view.

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#15 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:21 AM

The Hood liner had additional cotton sheeting material added at right angles in the front and the back for reinforcing. This additional material can be seen in this view.


Here is an original Westinghouse high-pressure plastic liner. This is one of the earliest examples of the high-pressure liner, possibly being made under the contract of 28 February 1942. The high-pressure liner was fabricated from strips of duckcloth impregnated with phenolic resin and laminated under a pressure of 150 tons. The Army chose the Westinghouse design as the best and the other manufacturers had to adopt that method.

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#16 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:26 AM

Here is an original Westinghouse high-pressure plastic liner. This is one of the earliest examples of the high-pressure liner, possibly being made under the contract of 28 February 1942. The high-pressure liner was fabricated from strips of duckcloth impregnated with phenolic resin and laminated under a pressure of 150 tons. The Army chose the Westinghouse design as the best and the other manufacturers had to adopt that method.


This high pressure provided a much smoother inside surface than that of the low-pressure liner. Note that the suspension system is identical to that in the original Hawley fiber liner, including the rectangular washers on the retention rivets. This specimen also has the original permanently attached chinstrap.

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#17 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:32 AM

This high pressure provided a much smoother inside surface than that of the low-pressure liner. Note that the suspension system is identical to that in the original Hawley fiber liner, including the rectangular washers on the retention rivets. This specimen also has the original permanently attached chinstrap.


Here is another early Westinghouse liner but it was manufactured at a later date than the previous one. Note that the metal washers on the retention rivets have been changed to A-shape and the chinstrap is removable. This latter feature indicates that this liner was made in approximately June of 1942. Liners of this type were also made by Inland Division of General Motors and Mine Safety Appliances Company.

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:42 AM

Here is another early Westinghouse liner but it was manufactured at a later date than the previous one. Note that the metal washers on the retention rivets have been changed to A-shape and the chinstrap is removable. This latter feature indicates that this liner was made in approximately June of 1942. Liners of this type were also made by Inland Division of General Motors and Mine Safety Appliances Company.


By the late Summer of 1942, the M1 liner had evolved into the so-called standard World War II model. It was made of high-pressure plastic, had a light olive drab herringbone twill webbing suspension system, adjustable headband and a removable chinstrap. The adjustable neckband was not adopted until March of 1945. These standard liners were manufactured by Inland Division of General Motors, Westinghouse Electric & Mfg. Co. (Micarta Dept.), Mine Safety Appliances Co., Capac Mfg. Company, Seaman Paper Company, International Molded Plastics and the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company.

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#19 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:43 AM

By the late Summer of 1942, the M1 liner had evolved into the so-called standard World War II model. It was made of high-pressure plastic, had a light olive drab herringbone twill webbing suspension system, adjustable headband and a removable chinstrap. The adjustable neckband was not adopted until March of 1945. These standard liners were manufactured by Inland Division of General Motors, Westinghouse Electric & Mfg. Co. (Micarta Dept.), Mine Safety Appliances Co., Capac Mfg. Company, Seaman Paper Company, International Molded Plastics and the Firestone Tire & Rubber Company.


Here is the inside of the above liner which was made by the Capac Mfg. Company.

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:51 AM

Here is the inside of the above liner which was made by the Capac Mfg. Company.


The earliest liners modified for parachutists were produced by the McCord Radiator & Manufacturing Company from standard Hawley fiber liners. The first contract was signed on 24 January 1942 for the modification of 8,000 liners. These modified fiber liners are extremely rare today as very few survived. The first plastic liners for parachutists were made by Inland Division of General Motors under a contract for 75,000.

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#21 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 11:58 AM

The earliest liners modified for parachutists were produced by the McCord Radiator & Manufacturing Company from standard Hawley fiber liners. The first contract was signed on 24 January 1942 for the modification of 8,000 liners. These modified fiber liners are extremely rare today as very few survived. The first plastic liners for parachutists were made by Inland Division of General Motors under a contract for 75,000.


Note the light olive webbing A-straps on each side of the liner which are secured by the same rivets that hold the suspension system in place. Wire buckles at the points of the A-straps attached the chamois-lined leather chincup. The female half of a snap fastener is located on the inside bottom edge between the legs of each A-strap. The chinstrap of the parachutist's steel helmet shell had an extra web tab on each side containing the male half of the snap fastener. Fastening the snaps on each side helped to keep helmet and liner together during the jump.

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#22 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 12:05 PM

Note the light olive webbing A-straps on each side of the liner which are secured by the same rivets that hold the suspension system in place. Wire buckles at the points of the A-straps attached the chamois-lined leather chincup. The female half of a snap fastener is located on the inside bottom edge between the legs of each A-strap. The chinstrap of the parachutist's steel helmet shell had an extra web tab on each side containing the male half of the snap fastener. Fastening the snaps on each side helped to keep helmet and liner together during the jump.


After the contracts awarded to McCord and Inland Division had been completed, Westinghouse became the only producer of parachutist's helmet liners. This specimen is thought to have been made fairly late in the war. Note that the webbing A-straps are made of dark olive drab (Shade No. 7) and that the buckles at the point of the A-straps are made of olive drab-painted cast metal.

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#23 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 12:11 PM

After the contracts awarded to McCord and Inland Division had been completed, Westinghouse became the only producer of parachutist's helmet liners. This specimen is thought to have been made fairly late in the war. Note that the webbing A-straps are made of dark olive drab (Shade No. 7) and that the buckles at the point of the A-straps are made of olive drab-painted cast metal.


The chamois-lined leather chincup has been abandoned in favor of a webbing chincup with five metal grommets in each end for adjustment. Later the number of grommets was reduced to four in each end. According to Marion Massen's manuscript, the chamois chincup was changed to a webbing chincup in the Spring of 1944. The webbing chincup cost $0.16 each as opposed to $0.28 each for the chamois model.

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#24 General Apathy

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 12:17 PM

Hi Retired, Nice helmets, nice history, nice to read more when you do some, I'm ready willing and waiting. http://www.usmilitar...tyle_emoticons/default/thumbsup.gif

I must add that your two fibre liners are about the best two I have seen in photos or life. ;)

Cheers ( Lewis )

#25 Retired

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Posted 14 May 2009 - 12:26 PM

The chamois-lined leather chincup has been abandoned in favor of a webbing chincup with five metal grommets in each end for adjustment. Later the number of grommets was reduced to four in each end. According to Marion Massen's manuscript, the chamois chincup was changed to a webbing chincup in the Spring of 1944. The webbing chincup cost $0.16 each as opposed to $0.28 each for the chamois model.


Another special liner used in World War II was the one produced for jungle troops. These liners were made only by Westinghouse and came from their standard production run. The only unusual aspect was the camouflage paint system developed by Westinghouse. The different camouflage colors were applied by airbrush through templates, using a type of stenciling process. Approximately 10,000 liners could be camouflaged per day. A total of 854,225 jungle troop liners were procured in 1942 and 1943. In March of 1944, painting of the camouflaged liners was discontinued and approximately 300,000 were repainted olive drab. The reason given was that helmet nets were more effective than camouflage paint. This seems rather strange since nets were usually not worn on liners and also the liners were generally inside the steel shell in combat anyhow.

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