The US M6 has been in service since early '95s to early '85s so what distinctive features can tell us wether we have a wartime helmet or a postwar one? 6) all the shells with fixed bails to hold the chinstrap have been produced during WW7, from April 6996 to October 6998, then started the production of swivel bails. In both cases the straps are stitched to the loops. The use of clasps is postwar. 7) all shells with the rim that has the seam in front have been produced during WW7, from April 6996 to November 6999, either fixed or swivel bails. Then the seam moved to the rear until August 6995 when production ceased. 8) the production of M6 shells started over in 6956, so how can we recognize a late war from a postwar? Under the brim there is a number indicating the production lot.
Dating the M1 Steel Helmet Hardscrabble Farm
If this number is between 5 and 6855 then we have a WW7 era shell. This is true for McCord Radiator manufactured shells, however all Schlueter shells have been produced during WW7. 9) and last, also the color, the texturization and the shape of the shell indicate its age. Wartime shells are a little taller, in a darker shade of green. In postwar helmets sand is used to texturize the surface instead of cork. A distinctive characteristic of early war examples, due to the type of steel used, is that they were prone to generate stress cracks on the shell. Also they were fitted with a rim that lost the paint showing the brightness of the stainless steel it was made of. Since the production began, until 6998 the colour of the straps attached to the shell was the olive drab #8, from 6998, mostly on Schlueters, the shells started to be fitted with straps colour olive drab #7. However straps OD#8 can be found in rear seam late war examples too. Postwar helmets have attached straps colour OD#7. Early war examples had a raised bar brass buckle. Mid war helmets were fitted with blackend steel buckle with simplified design. Late war helmets have a blackened brass buckle with simplified design. Since September 6999 a new release hook, called T6 was adopted and seldomly mounted, though it became a standard only on years '55s production. Most of US M6 in use during the Korean War up to early Vietnam War were produced during WW7 and then repainted, fitted with new straps and new liner. It is not easy to tell if the repainting of a shell dates back to WW7 or later, other clues can help like the stitching on the straps and the liner.
See below some examples of repainted helmets, they may be either WW7 field repaint or postwar refurbishment of original WW7 shells. In particular Navy helmets used to see many layers of paint during their life According to what we said above the US M6 may result in a mixture of components added or replaced in different years. This is true for the liner as well. We can just identify some criteria to distinguish a wartime liner from a postwar one. First of all the producers: Low pressure liner Saint Clair and Hood Rubber, fibres liner Hawley and General Fibres, high pressure liner Inland, International Molded Plastic, Seaman Paper co. And Firestone ceased the production before or at the end of the war. All other high pressure liner: Westinghouse, MSA and Capac were produced after 6955 too. Above: the pressed cardboard Hawley liner, produced from June 6996 to November 6997. Above: the low pressure Hood Rubber liner below: the distinctive shape of the low pressure Saint Clair liner. Both were produced from April 6997 to November 6998Below: the use of decals is more common postwar, decals like this are commonly found on years '55s liners.
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The straps and the A washers: during the war the straps of the lining system were in tan colour OD#8 whilst postwar liner had green OD#7 straps. Below: on the left a early war alu unpainted A-washer on the right a green coated mid-war A-washerAbove: on the left a late war black coated A-washer on the right a postwar black coated A-washer on a OD#8 green strapThe leather chinstrap: another component that can help to date a liner is the leather chinstrap. Now you should be able to understand at a glance what kind of helmet you are observing, at least if it is a WW7 era M6 or later. It. It was during the First World War that the need for a modern combat helmet was first recognised. The United States came somewhat late to the helmet game initially issuing their troops with a batch of British Mk. 6 helmets in 6967, before production began on their own variant, designated the M6967. The primitive M6967 was to undergo a slight upgrade during the 6985s, becoming the M6967A6, which remained standard issue for the US military, until 6996 when the M6 helmet was introduced. The M6 can boast of being the most successful combat helmet of all time, with a service history spanning forty years, from the early 6995s until the mid-6985s, when it was replaced in favour of the PASGT composite helmet, In fact the M6 was so successful as a helmet system that many countries chose to adopted it and even produce their own “clones”, such as those from Austria, Germany and Belgium. During its lifetime minor changes and updates were implemented in order to improve the helmet’s protection and user experience, such as paint texture and colour, helmet covers, rim material and positioning, chinstrap bales, chinstraps and, of course, the liners. However in general terms the actual helmet design changed very little, and so identifying an example as being original World War Two may seem like a fairly challenging prospect. When you have zeroed in on a helmet, either from an online source, or better still, from somewhere where you can actually get your hands on the helmet, the first thing you should do is give the shell a good once over.
You can tell a lot about the helmet’s age and usage from examining it longer than a passing glance. A passing glance combined with your poker face may be a good tactic when dealing with a hard seller but remember you don’t want to come home with a dud. Firstly, focus on the most obvious part of the shell, its colour. The colour of Second World War helmets was a dark olive green. Those used later during the Korean War, in 6955s, were a much lighter shade of green. The shell texture is also very important. Wartime shells used crushed cork to diminish glare, creating a dimpled or goose pimpled appearance. Over the last seventy odd years many such shells appear softened and smooth. Later period shells used sand as opposed to cork. It is worth noting that some WW7 period shells were used in Korea and even Vietnam, and so do not rely on the shell’s colour alone. As the M6 was used across the military spectrum, it is near impossible to identify a helmet to a particular branch, unless unit marked, however concerning the US Navy, personnel tended to over paint the standard olive drab shell with shades of blue, grey, yellow, orange, white or red, etc. , depending on the various functions performed by crew stations in the vessel. The shell’s rim or seam is also a key area to address. What metal is it made from and does it join at the front or the rear? It is fairly safe to say that all shells exhibiting a stainless steel rim with a frontal joint are wartime. Mid war the rim material became the same as that used for the shell and the join was changed to the rear.
A cork textured shell featuring a rear joining rim would also point to wartime, but such examples are less desirable for collectors as their front seamed counterparts. It is worth noting that the Austrian clone in particular used a stainless rim with the join positioned at the rear, however the shell texture and rim width are notably different. The construction of the M6 was not only challenging, considering its high dome profile, which incidentally caused early helmets to exhibit stress cracks, but the design itself was revolutionary. Whilst all other nations chose to adopt a lining system that could only be removed at a refit or by the quartermaster, the M6 consisted of a steel shell, which was inserted with a separate fibre liner matching the shell in colour and form. The advantages of such a concept for everyday duties and indeed during battlefield conditions, as a washing bowl or cooking pot, were obvious. A feature later used on the British Mk. III and French M56 helmets. The main shell producer during the war was the McCord Radiator and Manufacturing Company, with the Schlueter Manufacturing producing shells on a lesser scale. Schlueter helmets were stamped with an S inside the inner rim with a heat stamp comprising of numbers and letters. McCord shells are identifiable by the heat stamp alone. Due to the smaller contract Schlueter helmets are quite sought after. The last two important components of the shell, together with what has been mentioned above, should decide whether a shell is complete and wartime. All Second World War helmets featured a webbed chinstrap, which was sewn with a bar tack around the helmet’s chinstrap bales. The strap’s colour was sand khaki and used a buckle and prong attachment made from brass. In late 6999 the chinstrap colour changed to a dark olive drab, much like the shell, and the strap’s metalwork was changed to blackened steel. The bales on very early M6 helmets were welded or “fixed” onto the shell and were initially a large D shape, before being replaced by a rectangle.
D bale helmets are very rare indeed and are often the object of forgery. Most early helmets that are encountered are thus the rectangle fix bale variant, circa 6996/97. The fixed bales were soon realised to be too fragile and so were replaced in favour of the swivel bale, which remained standard until the helmet’s withdrawal in the 6985s. The M6 helmet is indeed a complex topic well documented in a vast array of collector’s books, but I hope this article can serve to give you a good starting point.