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post-170440-0-31279000-1556679889_thumb.jpgNeed some help identifying this US AEF WWI tanker helmet! I have several photos which feature this helmet- stumped so far. Thank you!

 

Dr. Erik Villard, US Army Center of Military History

 

 

Dr. Erik B. Villard

Founder and Director of VietnamWarHistoryOrg on FB

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Very little is known about this model, they were only used by Patton's 304th Tank Brigade, it is believed they were made in France, and no examples are know to still exist.

 

In 1917 after observing training at the AEF Light Tank School in Langres France Patton decided a "Helmet or head guard" was needed (#13 in the picture below).

 

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Leaves from Old Notebook, Tanks & Tactics, France 1917-1918 Patten Papers, Box 54, Folder 2, MS Div., Library of Congress

 

 

 

 

Mr Larry Munnikhuysen III of the Virginia War Museum says on 12 Dec 1917 Patton wrote to the Chief of Tank Services that "Leather helmets like those worn by football players or aviators, but without ear pieces, must be provided for the crews to prevent their being knocked unconscious when going over rough ground.", however, as far as I can find the first Chief of the Tank Services Samuel D. Rockenbach, was not appointed to Chief of Tank Services until 22 Dec 1917.

He cites Capt. George S. Patton, Jr., ‘To: The Chief of the Tank Service,” 12 December 1917, p.16. Patton Papers, Box 54, Folder 2, MS Div., Library of Congress.

 

 

 

 

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a thousand pictures!

"I read that in war bad things happen, Ain't that the ************* truth" -1st Lt Mike Scotti

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Page from the book titled, "I Was There with the Yanks in France", published in 1919. The book is comprised of artwork and sketches drawn and painted by Private Cyrus Leroy Baldridge who served as a volunteer camion driver in the French Army in and later as an infantry private on special duty with the "Stars and Stripes newspaper in the AEF. All of the artwork were drawn from real life. They depict scenes and people he observed while serving with the French Army and with the AEF.

 

This montage of sketches, titled "The Lids We Wear", is clearly of the various types of headgear worn by the men and women who served in the AEF. One of which is the U.S. Army tanker's helmet shown in the above photograph.

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Larry Munnikhuysen III has been chasing this Yeti for years...he will be your best source for getting closer. WWI Nerd has been instrumental in discovering many depictions. I have been funneling images to both of them as I encounter them.

This is probably the closest view showing details (a Signal Corps photo)

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In subsequent posts, I will share a few more views.

 

Treat 'em Rough!

 

JAG

 

 

Top dollar paid for WWI AEF Tank Corps uniforms, medal groups, equipment and photos,
unit histories and rosters...especially anything associated with

301st (Heavy) Tank Bn
Drop me an email and let me know what you have.

 

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This image came out of a group of photos from a 90th Division soldier

 

 

 

post-949-0-23907600-1556715701.jpg

Top dollar paid for WWI AEF Tank Corps uniforms, medal groups, equipment and photos,
unit histories and rosters...especially anything associated with

301st (Heavy) Tank Bn
Drop me an email and let me know what you have.

 

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This is probably the most famous view of the helmet (detail from a Signal Corps photo)

post-949-0-02701900-1556715845.jpg

Top dollar paid for WWI AEF Tank Corps uniforms, medal groups, equipment and photos,
unit histories and rosters...especially anything associated with

301st (Heavy) Tank Bn
Drop me an email and let me know what you have.

 

donation2015.gifdonation2016.gif

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Another good view of the helmets (National Archives) that shows at least two (possibly three) of the helmets. This image has another mystery--what exactly is the insignia on the turret? It doesn't conform with the known US insignia on Renaults in France.


post-949-0-25847200-1556716117.jpg

Top dollar paid for WWI AEF Tank Corps uniforms, medal groups, equipment and photos,
unit histories and rosters...especially anything associated with

301st (Heavy) Tank Bn
Drop me an email and let me know what you have.

 

donation2015.gifdonation2016.gif

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Both Larry and I wanted to believe this was one of the tank helmets (IT IS NOT--it is an aviator / motorcycle helmet that shows up in Italian and Austrian collections). It is one of many red herrings we have chased.

 

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I wish you success in your hunt! It would be VERY exciting to learn what these helmets were and from where they were procured.

 

 

 

 

Treat em rough!

 

John

Top dollar paid for WWI AEF Tank Corps uniforms, medal groups, equipment and photos,
unit histories and rosters...especially anything associated with

301st (Heavy) Tank Bn
Drop me an email and let me know what you have.

 

donation2015.gifdonation2016.gif

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Larry and John are the two best. If they haven't found it yet... they will. ;)

"There is no such thing as an expert, only students with different levels of education."
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To be clear, Larry is the primary researcher on this...I pick up crumbs and nuggets that I pass to him. And to be sure, I lay awake some nights with two thoughts:

a. "There is a Tank Corps grouping out there somewhere with some sort of "unknown helmet" in it. But WHERE?"

b. "That Italian helmet sure looks CLOSE to the photos...maybe that IS the missing tank helmet!"

I spend more time swirling those two fantasies in my brain than I do researching. Larry, on the other hand, keeps his nose in the records looking for further documentation.

Two recent crumbs on the helmets that I have include these primary accounts:

 

“The gunner [on an FT] was equipped with a heavy leather helmet, padded thickly throughout. This was necessary Lt. Younglove explained to keep one’s head intact as the shells from the 37mm gun were extricated from the magazine inside the turret, invariable striking the operator’s neck.” --Gloversville Morning Herald, Sept 12, 1935, page 11

 

“It was during one of these lulls that a Tank Lt. with me now, got a glimpse of one of our tank commanders – a sergeant – coming back. Gosh, but he was ashen white. Especially against the black leather football-helmet--like we wore in tanks, which he was wearing.” --The War as I Saw It, 1918 letters of a Tank Corps Lieutenant, by Harvey L. Harris (345th Tank Bn.) page 135

Top dollar paid for WWI AEF Tank Corps uniforms, medal groups, equipment and photos,
unit histories and rosters...especially anything associated with

301st (Heavy) Tank Bn
Drop me an email and let me know what you have.

 

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The Italian or Austrian motorcycle really looks like it, what makes you think it is not?

 

 

It really doesn't look like it...notice the point at the top. But, more importantly, because the Italian helmet appeared in an Italian uniform group.

 

Believe me, if I thought it was even close, I would have picked it up. The WILL to Believe is a pretty hard urge to overcome.

Top dollar paid for WWI AEF Tank Corps uniforms, medal groups, equipment and photos,
unit histories and rosters...especially anything associated with

301st (Heavy) Tank Bn
Drop me an email and let me know what you have.

 

donation2015.gifdonation2016.gif

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It wouldn't be completely outlandish to have a piece of equipment from Italy. AEF Ordnance documents show that there were offers of supply of steel helmets (of experimental design) from Italian firms.

 

I looked through my AEF helmet files, and found no mention of tank helmets, so it doesn't seem like they went through the normal Ordnance procurement process.

 

The only leather tanker helmet developed stateside that I'm aware of never made it past the prototype stage.

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It really doesn't look like it...notice the point at the top. But, more importantly, because the Italian helmet appeared in an Italian uniform group.

 

Believe me, if I thought it was even close, I would have picked it up. The WILL to Believe is a pretty hard urge to overcome.

I disagree, granted I only have the one picture you provided to go off of.

 

Baldridge's sketch depicts a helmet with ridges 90 degrees from each other meeting in a point. The slope of the top of the helmet looks very close to the 90th Div Soldier's photo.

 

The signal Corps photo in post #6 and Baldridge's sketch show a rectangular piece on the brow with a rounded bottom and a portion of the base protruding below it. The 90th Div photo seems to show the helmet with the brow piece folded down as a visor, and Baldrige's sketch suggest a strap coming from the corner of the visor down to the neck skirt.

 

The signal corps photo in #6 shows the neck skirt is flexible enough to be folded, the signal corps photo in #8 shows the skirt is light enough to be blown in the wind, and Baldrige's sketch depicts wrinkles in it. This all leads me to believe the skirt is made of cloth.

 

Baldridge's sketch and the Signal Corps photo in #8 show a chinstrap coming from the neck skirt, where the leather rectangle is on the Italian helmet, I believe this is where the chinstrap is attached.

 

The 90th Division photo shows a rib running horizontally around the brim. Granted this ridge appears to be more equidistant to to the beginning of the dome and the brim of the helmet, while on the Italian helmet the ridge is lower.

 

But you have studied this for far longer than me and you are right, the will to believe is pretty strong.

 

post-153751-0-11247900-1556751671.jpg

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a thousand pictures!

"I read that in war bad things happen, Ain't that the ************* truth" -1st Lt Mike Scotti

 

 

 

 

 

 

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This is probably the most famous view of the helmet (detail from a Signal Corps photo)

attachicon.gifArmorSoldierWWIred.jpg

In the uncropped version of this image a second view of the helmet can be seen, notice the horizontal rib, which is closer to the bottom edge than the start of the dome,the diagonal strap connecting the brow piece/visor to the skirt, and the chinstrap attached to the skirt.

 

post-153751-0-24108000-1556753081_thumb.jpeg

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here's a thousand pictures!

"I read that in war bad things happen, Ain't that the ************* truth" -1st Lt Mike Scotti

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Other than to rule it out, this series of images of "Armored Tank Helmet model 15" aren't really germain to this discussion, but they are worth taking a look at and including in this topic. The attached caption was the same on all four images.

Photos courtesy of the National Archives

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post-5143-0-49824500-1556756564.jpg

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Great photos, Im guessing the mask type cover with the draw string was meant for chemical attacks

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Please check out my web page as well for more items for sale

 

https://fitzkeemilitaria.com/

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