WWI US Army Third Division Painted Helmet -
During the first year of World War I, none of the combatants offered steel helmets to their troops. The soldiers of most nations went into battle wearing simple cloth caps that offered virtually no protection from modern weapons. German troops wore the traditional leather Pickelhaube, also of little protective value.
The huge number of lethal head wounds that modern weapons were inflicting upon the French Army led them to introduce the first of the modern steel helmets in the summer of 1915. The first French helmets were bowl-shaped steel "skullcaps" worn under the cloth caps. However, these rudimentary helmets were soon replaced by the Model 1915 Adrian helmet. The idea was later adopted by numerous other combatant nations.
A design patented in 1915 by John L. Brodie of London offered advantages over the French design as it was constructed from a single piece that could be pressed from a single thick sheet of steel, giving it added strength.
This page is a recognition and identification guide for US hats and helmets. Multiple
detailed photos of a specific sample are provided. Descriptions point out clearly defined
points that should be noted.
One of the most commonly asked questions is "How much is my US headgear worth?".
A price guide is included here to address this question. The value of the hats and helmets
is reviewed over a period of several years. A trend can be observed. The present worth
of US militaria in the collector's market is illustrated.
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The United States Armed Forces when entered the war in 1917. The United States government initially purchased
some 400,000 helmets from Britain. From January 1918 the U.S. Army began to use helmets manufactured in the U.S. and these helmets were designated M1917. The steel helmet was known to the troops as a "tin hat" or for the officers a "battle bowler" (from Bowler hat).
The item featured here is a WWI US helmet.
The outer design of the helmet was identical to the British helmet. The differences came in the form
of the suspension. An aluminum ring was riveted to the inside. A leather suspension was secured to the
ring. The suspension is missing from the example photographed here.
A metal bracket was welded to each side. They were used as a means to attach the leather chin strap.
the crown had a suspension piece bolted. A set of paper instructions was normally found here. The
instructions described how the suspension could be adjusted.
The front of the helmet has a Third Infantry Division emblem painted. It was not unusual for the soldiers
to paint the unit to which they belonged.
The 3rd Infantry Division (nicknamed the Rock of the Marne) is a United States Army infantry division based at Fort Stewart, Georgia. It is a direct subordinate unit of the U.S. Army Forces Command, and boasts a storied history of valorous service in World War I in France and World War II in Italy.