I've been reading the posts on the board in regard to USN helmets and thought I'd share my own unsolicited opinions on a few questions. There are several posts asking "is this a real USN helmet", or "is this the right liner, suspension, grey/red/blue/yellow paint color," blah blah blah. Well, I'm not an expert on helmets at all, but I do know something about USN helmets, because I wore them and maintained them on several USN ships.
First off, I'm not even going to delve into what's a WWII, Korean, Vietnam era M1 helmet at all. If it was in the ready racks, it was a USN.
Paint? Whatever was in the paint locker at the time. Haze grey, deck grey, fire engine red (all with lead btw) - that's what we used. Multiple coats sloshed on by hand. We also did not keep them painted and shined up all the time. This was only done after coming out of a ROH (regular overhaul) before our INSERV inspections or REFTRA (Refresher training) drills. Even then, it was only the CO/XO/NAV etc helmets that were worn on the bridge that got gussied up. These officers usually kept their nice & clean helmets in their staterooms. We swabbies just grabbed whatever was on the racks when GQ sounded.
Now, about those racks.....they were open to the sea, rain, GU-11 bombers, and whatever else was flying about. They were about as clean as the Mae-West and orange Kapok life preservers in the lifejacket boxes next to the racks (but that's a topic for another thread). The racks were either stack-em-up types or lockers (think dumpster with no wheels or lid, just a triced down tarp).
All of the helmets were jumbled up in a pile atop each other. Many had no straps, one strap, broken clasps, etc. They all were scraped up, rusty under the liners, and 'salty'. No really, salty - encrusted with salt spray like a glazed donut - and corroded, just what a collector would expect on Ebay
The only 'nice' helmets were the MK 2 Talker helmets and they never, - never - had the nice chin straps on them that you see on Ebay - Just holes where they used to be, many, many moons before our time. The MK 2's were nice simply because they didn't have a rusty crappy suspension in them like the M1's did. They weathered better in the lockers.
So, would you like to see what 'real' USN helmets looked like circa 1960's 1970's ?
Here ya go.....
These came off of the USS GRASP (ARS-24) on March 31st, 1978. I know because I, uh, borrowed them, when we were decommissioned and the ship given to the ROK Navy.
Edited by Salvage Sailor, 06 June 2015 - 11:59 AM.