During America's darkest days in World War Two the M1917-A1 was the helmet used by US forces. Morale boosting movies like "Wake Island" and "Bataan" Featured big names like Brian Donlevey, Robert Preston, and Robert Taylor, with strong supporting roles provided by the M1917-A1
The lighting was always so perfect in the Pacific theater
However, one didn't need to look to Hollywood for inspiration. Real heroes in M1917-A1s were out there fighting and winning. These sailors of the USS Ward pose for cameras after sinking a Japanese mini sub during the Pearl Harbor attack.
An American GI and his Phillippine counterpart, armed for bear and sporting the M1917-A1, will be eventually succumb to Japanese gunfire, disease, and near starvation.
Sadly their efforts to hold the line against the Japanese juggernaut in the Pacific ended at best like this:
The shell is that of the M1917. No big surprises there. The difference is revealed when one looks under the lid...
and beholds this effective, and elegant suspension and liner, a marvel of steel, leather, and canvas webbing.
The top view demonstrates the new Olive Drab color that became standard for U.S. ground forces.
The handsome blackened nut secures the suspension to the shell. The sawdust-textured paint is also shown to good effect in this picture.
The number is a reminder of a much tinier U.S. military, the pre-war forces, when materiel was a precious and limited commodity, always to be inventoried, accounted for, and returned to the proper hook, slot, or rack.
The rim is joined more in the British-style rather than the American that characterized the WWI versions of this lid.
Close-up of simple, though, vast improvements over the old M1917. The bail affixed to the shell has the same function as that of the M1917 in that the chinstrap merely passes through it rather than attaches to it, but we get our first hint of the engineering and materials that will make this suspension so superior to it's WWI uncle.
High-grade leather in four leaves comprises the contact area for the wearer's head, depth adjustable with grommets and a leather thong.
The liner is suspended on steel bands which are lightweight but sturdy, unlike the fragile single leather strap that the entire chinstrap and liner of the M1917 depended upon. In the very dome is a padded leather pillow. This is a very comfortable, effective, and adjustable liner, providing excellent padding and the crucial spacing between the shell of the helmet and the head of the wearer.
This nice, crisp ordnance marking resides under the front leaf of the liner.
The high quality of the materials and manufacture is evident in this view.
Untying the crown pad reveals another ordnance stamp as well as the intersection of the steel supension bands and the securing screw.
As one examines the fine leather work of this liner the expense becomes apparent.
This marking, the number 20, is the only stamping I've found on the shell.
The attractive blackened brass "hook and arrow" fastener will survive this model helmet and campaign on with the M1.
As in its pre-war days, this helmet has a number once again, though this time it's for purposes of cataloging and curating.
And when is a curator a bad role model?
accession number: MOA hmar282.78.27
United States M1917-A1 steel helmet
Acquired 1984, Lansing Michigan
Purchase price :$30.00