US M-1C

17th Airborne Division soldier with Westinghouse liner*

General Information: The M-1C, officially designated “Helmet, Steel, M-1C Parachutists,” was an improved version of the earlier M-2 paratrooper helmet. It addressed the main deficiency of the M-2, which was the tendency for the “D” shaped chinstrap loops to break. The M-1C had had the same flexible chinstrap attachment device as used on the mid to late-war versions of the standard M-1. Like the M2, however, it had chinstraps with an extension with a male snap that attached to a female snap on the liner. The purpose was to secure the steel shell to the liner in order to prevent the two sections from separating during jumps. The chinstraps on the early 1945 production M-1Cs were the more khaki colored OD3, but in later production, the darker green colored OD7 chinstraps were used.[1] There were two stitching patterns used on the OD3 chinstraps; the earlier of these had one row of stitching at the point where the strap attaches to the bale, while the later ones had a second row of stitching.[2] M-1C snaps were brass, whereas the M-2 snaps were nickel coated. Like other late-war helmets, the rim was made of magnesium rather than stainless steel. Initially the seam on the rim was on the front, but in later production the seam was moved to the rear. Another difference between early and later production M-1Cs was that the “J” hooks on the chinstraps were brass on the former, but steel on the latter. The McCord Radiator company produced all M-1Cs. Production ran from January 1945 to August 1945. McCord manufactured 392,000 of these helmets.[3]

The M-1Cs were fitted with special paratrooper liners made by Westinghouse. Westinghouse was contracted to make these liners in September of 1943, and production began well before the initiation of production of the M-1Cs in early 1945. The Westinghouse liners, therefore, were paired with other helmets, mainly regular M-1s. Unlike earlier paratrooper liners, these came from a dedicated line of production rather than being made from retrofitted standard M-1 helmet liners. The Westinghouse liners had several distinctive features. In period photos, the most prominent feature is the thick, cast iron buckle on the inverted “A” yokes used to secure the chin cups. The “A” yokes were made from OD7 webbing. On the M-2s the “A” yokes were made from OD3 webbing. As with the steel M-1C shells, there were subtle differences between early and later production Westinghouse liners. The earliest runs of the Westinghouse liners had ½” female snaps rather than the standard 3/8” snaps. This, apparently, was due to a production error.[4] The size difference prevented the parachutist helmet straps from attaching to the liners. Most Westinghouse liners, however, were fitted with correctly sized 3/8” brass snaps. Initially, green painted steel washers were used to attach the liner suspension, but black painted steel washers were used later. The small leather chinstrap garter studs had hollow tips early on, but later had solid tips.[5]

In 1943 a new, mechanically-stamped, leather chin cup was introduced. This was narrower and deeper in the chin section than the earlier type. In 1944 cotton web chin cups were introduced.[6] The purpose of the chin cup on the paratrooper helmets was to prevent strangulation during jumps by under-the-chin chinstraps.

Displayed Example: I purchased this helmet in 2005 from a collector of US Airborne memorabilia. He, in turn, had purchased the helmet from Michael de Trez, the WWII Airborne historian and author of American Paratrooper Helmets. The helmet is an example of an early-production M-1C with the features described above: OD3 chinstraps with single-row stitching and brass “J” hooks. The heat stamp on this one is difficult to read, but it may be “1048.”

As with all M-1Cs, it is paired with a Westinghouse paratrooper liner. As would be expected on an early M-1C, the liner is also an early production version, although not of the initial production run with the oversized female snaps. It has green washers for the liner suspension and hollow-tipped studs leather chinstrap studs which were features of Westinghouse liners from early 1945. The leather chin cup is the second type made from mechanically pressed leather with a deeper and narrower cup.

Interestingly, this helmet has a non-standard camouflage net made from netting for vehicle camouflage. This appears to be an original, period feature of this piece. The single strand of string that runs around the circumference of the helmet seems to form the double letters “AA” on the front. This might be a stretch, but I have wondered if the original owner deliberately fashioned the netting in this manner to represent the initials of the All American 82nd Airborne Division.

Collector Notes: There are few areas of militaria collecting fraught with as much fraud and misrepresentation as US paratrooper helmets of the Second World War. Proceed with caution! Standard advice applies: do your research, buy from reputable sellers, and buy from people who accept returns.


 

* A paratrooper of the 17th Airborne. “Allied Air Assault: The Guns of Operation Varsity.” American Rifleman. https://www.americanrifleman.org/content/allied-air-assault-the-guns-of-operation-varsity/ . Accessed June 28, 2022.

[1] Giard. 2007. pp27

[2] de Trez. 2010 pp17

[3] Raynosa. 1997. pp64

[4] Giard. 2007. pp22

[5] Giard. 2007. pp27

[6] Giard. 2007. pp23


Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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