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Research onthe m-1938 Tank Helmet


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All,

I must confess that as a jet age aviation collector my motives are in that arena but I think there may be more to M1938 tank helmet history than is currently understood. I am requesting assistance from those who no doubt are better informed than I. I am posting this where the tank guys can see it as they may have more insight into this than the aviation guys but I intend to reach out to them also.

So here goes: Not too many years ago, Jet Helmet collectors discovered that tank helmets were pressed into service circa 1945 in the USAAF for the P-80 (jet) aircraft. At the time (late 1990s) it appeared the tank helmet "earflaps" were simply cut off and snaps were installed to allow the A-11 leather flyers helmet to be used with the tank helmet sans earflaps. Since then, other photos have emerged indicating a number of distinct variations were used.

Nearly all the evidence at this point pertaining to tank helmets used in jets is photographic and much is from wonderful photos that appeared in LIFE Magazine. In addition to the number of variations used in jets, there is evidence that tank helmets were used in F-51s in Korea and may have been used in other aircraft during the Korean War.

This got me thinking the conventional wisdom is that tank helmets were sold on the surplus market and while some tank helmets were painted, those painted helmets that pop up are often identified as surplus helmets that were used as football helmets. But what if they were used in aviation?

Questions I have:

1- Does anyone have photos of the tank helmets in use as football helmets? I couldnt find anything in my web searches and to be honest, football helmet design changed radically from 1938 to say 1946 when the helmets would have hit the surplus market.

2- Anyone have photos of the M38 in use as a jet helmet? I have some of these but would love to find others.

3- Did the M1938 design change or was it modified during its life?

4- I could find no literature indicating the M1938 design was ever marketed by Rawlings as a football helmet. Some elements of the M1938 appear on Rawlings helmets circa 1940 but I could not find any ads listing a helmet that looked like the M38.

One of the reasons for this interest is that I find two distinct designs of the M38 helmet shell adopted for aviation use. It may also be possible that one of these designs was purpose built for aviation and hence the mods to the original helmet shell.

Sure appreciate all the help!

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