American Helmets (1880-Current):


American Model 1880 Sun Helmet

Based on the British Foreign Service Helmet, the American Army adopted their own sun, or pith helmet in the early 1880s as part of new efforts to provide a summer uniform. Despite rumors that these helmets were British made. This example was produced by New York based McKennedy and Company, and may have been an early prototype. It features the number 31 on the front, which is likely a New York National Guard Unit.


  American Model 1887 Officer Artillery Pith Helmet

Following the success of the Prussian Army during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871) many nations including the United States began to use spike helmets. These were modeled after those used by the victorious Prussian, and united German Armies.

Typically American helmets were dark blue and used as part of a dress uniform rather than on daily active duty. However in the summer many American units from around 1880 to 1905 used European style pith helmets in warmer areas. While these white helmets were never officially issued with brace accoutrements, many officers applied their dress spikes and front plates. This practice was officially banned by 1905 when the American army redesigned their uniforms.

Infantry, cavalry and artillery units in the Indian Wars and then during the Spanish American War used this white type of pith helmet. This particular example features the front plate of the 4th Artillery.


American Model 1887 Sun Helmet

The widely produced Model 1887 American sun helmet. Despite rumors that these helmets were British made, these helmets were produced in large numbers by Horstmann Brothers and Company of Philadelphia, a well-known dealer and manufacturer of military uniforms.


  American Model 1889 Pith Helmet

This summer cork helmet is made to the post 1889 specifications with khaki cotton over the cork body. This model helmet was used by the US Army in the Spanish American War in Cuba and in the Philippines. These helmets were used as late as 1909, before being taken out of service.


American U.S. Ambulance Corps Helmet

Americans supporting French military in hospitals and ambulance crews prior to the official entry by the United States into World War I were issued these modified French Model 1915 "Adrian" helmets. The helmets were issued with the distinctive shield and wreath. This example comes from the collection of author Chris Armold.


  American Model 1917 Steel Helmet

The first "American" helmets were actually produced in England. The American Model 1917 began production in the United States in the fall of 1917.

This example features the traditional mix of sawdust in the paint to give it the rough texture.


American Model 2 "Deep Salade" Steel Helmet

Designed in June of 1917 this helmet aimed to protect more completely the sides and back of the head. It was based on the "Standard" helmets of classical Greece and Italy in the 15th Century. This experimental helmet saw limited field testing during the First World War, but it was deemed to be too similar to the German Model 1916 helmet. Only some 2,000 Model 2 helmets were produced. It is one of the rarest American experimental helmets as a result.


American Model 5 Steel Helmet

This helmet was designed to provide the virtues of the Model 2 with the ease in production of the British MkI. Its dome protected the wearer's head while not imparing the vision. It uses a three pad liner system with a canvas chinstrap. About 2,000 of these experimental helmets were produced by the firm of Hale and Kilburn Company. And unlike the Model 2 or Model 8, this helmet design actually saw limited testing in the trenches in France at the end of World War I. In the end it was deemed to look too much like the German M16 helmet and thus not adopted by the US Army.


American Model 8 Steel Helmet

This experimental helmet features a visor to protect the wearer's face almost completely. The manufacture of this helmet, the Model 8, was undertaken by Ford Motor Company in November 1918. About 1,300 helmets of this model were produced. It featured a three pad liner system similar to the one found in the Model 2.


American "Liberty Bell" Steel Helmet

This experimental helmet was deemed "The Liberty Bell" because of its unique shape. It was designed by Major James E. McNary and submitted to the American Helmet Committee for consideration as a replacement for the M-1917 helmet. It was initially accepted but was disliked by the troops. The helmet was officially abandoned as a replacement helmet in 1920.

Several different liner types and chinstraps were used with the Liberty Bell. This example features a metal liner band with oil cloth suspension, and four coiled springs to act as a buffer. The chinstrap is light cloth with an H-loop.


American Model 5A Steel Helmet

The Model 5A was a cousin to the Model 5. In the late 1930s the US Army once again considered replacing the Model 1917. The Model 5A has a gentler slope to the side and a slightly deeper bowl. It actually is closer in shell shape to the Model 2. The liner design would be used in the stop gap Model 1917A1 helmet.

Several different shell patterns were used, but the total number of Model 5a helmets produced is unknown. This example comes from the collection of author Chris Armold.


  American Marine Sun Helmet

Introduced in 1940 these pressed fiber helmets remained in service for more than sixty years in tropical regions. These helmets featured the bronze EGA of the USMC.


  American Army Sun Helmet

This examples features the lighter canvas covering, and these helmets were used by the US Army from World War II through the Vietnam War. It features the standard American Enlisted Man's cap insignia. It features a Hawley makers stamp and is dated to 1948.


American M-1917A1 Steel Helmet

This transitional helmet features the steel shell of the American M-1917 helmet with a new version liner, based on the Model 5A. These helmets were a stopgap prior to the outbreak of World War II. It is this helmet model that was worn by American troops around the world at the start of the Second World War.

This example features a rough paint, uncommon for M-1917A1 helmets. Whether it is the original paint of the M-1917 or was repainted is unknown.


  American M-1917A1 Steel Helmet

This transitional helmet example features a light sandy texture, which is common for the M-1917A1. This was likely a new production, rather than a reissue of WWI stock.


American Model 1917A1 Steel Helmet With USMC EGA

This M-1917A1 features a rough paint texture, and is likely also an M-1917 that was retrofitted with the new liner. This example also features the USMC Eagle, Globe and Anchor (EGA). Despite rumors these helmets were not likely used at Wake Island. This example comes from the collection of author Chris Armold.


  American Model 1938 Tanker Helmet

Designed prior to World War II this was the primary headgear issued to tank crews during World War II. Based on cavalry-style and an assortment of football helmets of the era this piece of headgear was designed to provide protection against head injuries while inside the tank—but offered little ballistic protection.

It should be noted that the official nomenclature for this piece of headgear is just “Tank Helmet.” There is no M-number designation or long military name. Likewise the helmet was not considered a clothing item (like a helmet or hat) but rather ordnance as part of “On Vehicle Material” of the tank.

Many of these helmets were found un-issued in a cache of military equipment in India in 1994. This particular model however appears to have seen some use, possibly during the Second World War.


American M1 Helmet with USMC Cover

The M1 was introduced in 1941, and went through several changes. This example features a fixed bale loop for the chinstrap and an early Hawley fiber liner. This was the first production liner, and it was very light and fits snugly into the helmet shell.

This example features the firt pattern United States Marine Corps liner of herringbone twill cotton. This cover does not have foliage slits, and it is reversible with a "green" and a "brown" side. This comes from the collection of Chris Armold, and is on page 138 of his book Steel Pots.


  American M1 Helmet

The M1 went through a series of modifications throughout World War II. This example, which would have been used from 1943 on, features a front rim seam and hinged loop for the chinstrap.


  American M1C Paratrooper Helmet

American M1C paratrooper helmet; recreated with original World War II parts, this example has been painted with the field markings of the 101st Airborne Division, 506th parachute infantry regiment (the same group from the HBO series Band of Brothers)


  American M1 Helmet with Vietnam War Era Cover

This example features the reversible woodland pattern cover. The removable liner features the Distinctive Unit Insignia of the U.S. Army Administrative Schools Center.


  American M1 Helmet with Post Vietnam War Era Cover

This example features the final woodland pattern cover, and dates to the 1970s.


  American DH-132A Crewman Helmet

The Combat Vehicle Crewman's helmet (CVC) was developed in the 1970s by the Gentex Corporation. It was a four part system with an outer shell, inner liner, earphones and a microphone. The outer shell is made of Kevlar and resins.

This example is the upgraded model with improved outer shell, which was introduced in the late 1980s.


  American PASGT Kevlar Helmet

The Personnel Armor System Ground Troops (PASGT) helmet was developed in the 1970s as a replacement for the M1 steel helmet. This helmet was first used in combat during the 1983 Grenada invasion and remains in service today.

This particular example features a desert combat cover of the style used in the First Gulf War in 1991.