The Second World War is arguably one of the most unforgettable events in history. This period also gave rise to the popularity of combat gear used specifically by the US troops. One of them was the iconic M1 helmet, which is still revered today as one of the best pieces of military equipment that enabled the Allied forces to reign victorious on the battlefield. Its exceptional design and robust construction inspired other militaries worldwide.
It’s with noting that M1 helmets were first used by the American troops in WW2. In WW1, they didn't have a dedicated combat helmet until they were issued with British Mk I helmets and French M15 helmets upon their arrival in Europe. Thus, the US rapidly instigated the production of an Mk I version–the M1917. However, it came with shortcomings. As a result, they took on a project to manufacture a better helmet that would have a uniquely American look. Through the years, the Infantry Board tested several new helmet designs. The helmet Number 5A was chosen for further study, but it was found to be penetrated easily from above.
In 1940, the Infantry Board revived the pursuit of searching for a better and more capable type of helmet. They used the shell of the M1917 as a basis of the fresh prototype, and this gave rise to the M1 helmet.
Commonly, M1 helmets had shell-like structures. They were also called steel pots due to their one-size-fits-all design. Meaning to say, any soldier at the time could wear them without prior head measurement. The M1 was also designed ergonomically in that it could be carried easily, especially during sudden attacks. It could be compared to a hard hat, which has a typical liner inside, as well as an adjustable suspension system. Moreover, it came with netting to cover the materials tucked inside and secure the liner inserts.
The M1 helmet was army green in color to uniformly accentuate other military uniforms and combat gear.
What’s notable about the M1 helmet was its durable construction. It was resistant to .45 ACP pistol bullets fired at point-blank range and other debris at the place of combat. By September 1945, more than 22 million M1 steel helmets were produced by Schlueter Manufacturing Company and McCord Radiator and Manufacturing Company. The latter devised a method of creating an almost 18-centimeter deep bowl in just one pressing, which was considered an engineering achievement at the time.
The M1 helmet proved to be a military equipment marvel in WW2. Featuring the highest engineering standards in all aspects, it served its purpose well in the lives of US soldiers.
Another piece of equipment that was critical to the US war effort is the A-11 Watch. At Praesidus, we've set out to pay hommage to this incredible design by launching our own re-edition A-11 Automatics in collaboration with actual WW2 veterans. You can check it out here