The M-1 helmet was well under production before December 7th 1941.The first production batch started on June 26 and resulted with over 323,510 M-1 helmets before the war had even began.
The Ordnance Department selected McCord Radiator and Manufacturing Company ofDetroitMichiganto produce the steel M-1 helmet bodies.These bodies were made from a single piece of Hadfield Manganese steel that was produced by the Carnegie-Illinois & Sharon Steel Corporations. Each completed raw M-1 helmet shell weighed 2.25 lbs each.
M-1 Fixed Bale Helmet
The early M-1 helmet shells had a set of fixed (non-moveable) chinstrap loops anda stainless steel rim. These rims were both rust resistant and had "non-magnetic qualities" that reduced the chance of error readings when placed around certain sensitive equipment (like a compass).
The problem was that this stainless steel rim did not retain paint and caused parts of the M-1 helmet to shine brightly when exposed to light or the sun. Coupled with the fact that early M-1 helmet shell bodies initially used poor quality steel led to many of the early M-1 helmet shells to have both bright rims and multiple cracks in them. These problems, though unsightly to the modern collector, were evidently just fine with the QMC because they issued them anyway.
July 1941 - October 1943
US WWII M-2 D BALE HELMET
M-2 Helmet (1942 - 1944)
A special helmet shell was needed for the US WWII paratroopers. Rather than design an entirely new helmet, the US Army modified the existing M-1 helmet shell. This helmet modification was given the designation M-2 (through official proclamation by the QMC) on 23 June 1942. This is in spite of the fact that production had started quite sometime earlier in January 1942. The M-2 helmet shell was produced until December 1944 when it was officially replaced by the M-1C.
Note: The M-2 helmet was only made by McCord and only 148,000 M-2 helmet shells were ever produced.
M-2 D Bale Helmet
The difference between the M-1 and M-2 helmet shell were the chinstrap loops. The standard M-1 helmet's rectangular “fixed” chinstrap loops were replaced with a new curved "D" bale chinstrap loop.
The intention was to help chinstrap movement. (Airborne cloth chinstraps were different from infantry models in that they were fitted with a short tab that snapped inside the M-1 paratrooper helmet liner).
Note: Original M-2 helmets are extremely rare and just about impossible to find. (I own two)
January 1942 - Spring 1943
US WWII SWIVEL BALE HELMET
M-1 Helmet (1943 - 1944)
In October 1943, the QMC decided to modify the chinstraps loops on the M-1 helmet to a hinged “swivel” bale variety.Production of this type of shell began in 1943. Due to this fact, it most certainly was issued to many of the ground and support troops en route to the UK prior to the Normandy Campaign.
M-1 Swivel Bale Helmet (front seam)
As far as airborne troops, there has been much debate concerning when the swivel bale paratrooper helmet became widely used. Because official QMC catalogue designation does not officially list "Airborne M-1C" until January 1945 some feel that this type of helmet was not used in theNormandyCampaign(photographic evidence seems to back this statement).
Physical evidence (in the form of original pieces) shows that airborne modified helmets with both fixed and swivel chinstrap loops were certainly in circulation towards the end of 1944. I believe that it was theTERM"M-1C" that was not in use and not the helmet style.
October 1943 - November 1944
HELMET SHELL DATING
Contrary to the information produced by some book authors, a production date can be determined when examining a WWII helmet shell. This can be done by examining the number (pictured to the right) found in the inner front of any US M-1 McCord manufactured helmet shell. McCord manufactured the majority of M-1 helmet shells (making 20,000,000 helmets) and they did not place any other identification marks.
McCord Heat Treatment Stamp
SCHLUETER M-1 HELMET SHELLS
M-1 Helmet (1943 - 1944)
Although McCord was supposed to be the single source of M-1 helmet shells, by the summer of 1942 a second company was enlisted to help the production effort. This was Schlueter Manufacturing ofSt. Louis,Missouri.
Schlueter began production of its M-1 helmet shells in January 1943.Schlueter produced only 2,000,000 M-1 helmet shells during the war (both fixed and swivel).They placed an “S” stamp on their helmet shells above their "heat temperature stamp"
Schlueter Production Stamp
Aside from the markings, there are some subtle differences between a McCord and Schlueter M-1 helmet shell. This can be found on the rims. A Schlueter helmet shell has a much straighter profile than the classic McCord brim.
Schlueter Helmet Shell Rim
M-1 Helmet production numbers
The following are the total production numbers of the M-1 helmet shell from 1941 - 1945:
1944 5,703, 520
McCord Helmet Shell Rim
LATE WAR M-1 HELMET SHELLS
M-1 Helmet (1944 - 1945)
Due to the profound problem of the brightness of the stainless steel rims, in May of 1944 the Army Service Forces requested that the problem be corrected. Until that point, other options to solve the problem had been implimented such as the use of sandblasting and utility tape, but these both were unsatisfactory.
In October 1944 the rim material changed from stainless to the same steel that the helmets were made from (Hadfield Maganese). Evidently, for some unknown reason, at the same time, the weld seam of the rim also migrated to the rear.
Note:I personally have found numerous rear seam WWII era shells with stainless steel rims, suggesting the existing stocks of stainless rims must have been used up even after the change was put in place
M-1 Swivel Bale Helmet (rear seam)
FINAL PRODUCTION NUMBERS
The total production of WWII M-1 helmet shells reached over 22,000,000 by August 1945. M-1 helmet production ceased just days after the war ended.
Note:M-1 helmet shell production would not begin again until March 1951 because of the Korean War.