WW2 USMC Helmets II: M1 Helmet / Hawley Liner

The M1 is the classic US WW2 Helmet. There are quite a few (more or less minor) variations and patterns even though the basic liner / shell combination stayed the same throughout WW2 (and a long time afterwards).  The helmet featured in this post is an early version of the WW2 M1. A front seam fixed bale M1 helmet with Hawley fibre liner. Of particular interest is the  liner, these were made of pressed cardboard material and covered with a layer of fabric. They came into production in 1941 and the early versions had a suspension made of silver-white rayon (based on a football helmet suspension). The material tended to shrink and the liners became quite uncomfortable to wear after some time. Later Hawley liners used cotton suspension as did all later liner models. Since the fibre liners were not very tough and were easily damaged it is hard to find any in good condition. Most were damaged beyond repair and discarded, others have loads of cracks and crushed areas.

M1s with fibre liners were used by the USMC on Guadalcanal for example,  it’s difficult to do an early war USMC impression without one. Question is whether you want to use a real one for reenacting, they are quite rare and especially the ones in good and usable condition have become very pricy… i have not found anybody yet who makes a repro one, suspension parts are available but not the liner itself as far as i know.

Let’s start with some details of the helmet shell. In the next picture you can see the rough texture. This effect was achieved by mixing small pieces of cork (not sand!) in the paint. A constant problem was the stainless steel rim, as you can see the colour came of easily. On late war helmets the same steel that was used for the helmet shell was also used for the rim to get rid of this problem.

Here you can see one of the fixed bales, a trademark of early and midwar manufactured helmets. Swivel bales were only introduced in the later stages of WW2.

Close up of the front seam were the two ends of the rim meet. Late in 1944 production was changed and the seam was placed in the rear.

The heat stamp (also known as lot number) is not a serial number, it was used by the manufacturers to monitor the quality of the steel throughout the production run. Usualy you can find this number on the inside front of M1 helmets. It seems to be possible to roughly date shells using the stamp, i am still looking into this. As a general rule higher numbers seem to point to later productions.  The 130A you can see indicates an early manufactured shell by MC Cord.

Check out the thick rim of the Hawley liner under the shell. You can see way less of the thinner rimmed later liner models. Bad for farby reenacting as you can easily spot a non Hawley set up 😉

Now some liner details, here is the complete liner without the helmet shell. Check out how deformed the weak liner is around the rivets holding the suspension. This is very common and can be seen in original photos as well.

Close up of the liner outside, check out the structure of the fabric:

Inside view, the rayon suspension was easily stained and could lose its silver-white colour quickly. My liner is missing the neck strap.

Early Hawleys have square washers, later ones have “A-washer” as used in all later style Liners.

Headband is only partially covered with leather:

Two of the press studs holding the headband in place. These uncovered studs made wearing the liner uncomfortable, especially when the rayon shrunk.

Chinstraps were riveted to fibre liners and not removable. Most liners are missing them. Mine is still there albeit broken on one side.

Early type square slide buckle:

And a bit of fun. M1 Raider Style! M1 Helmet with fibre liner and improvised burlap cover 🙂

Here is an original photograph of Marine Raiders on USS Nautilus before landing on Makin Island. Check out the liners & covers:

Some more original pics of fibre liners:

Maj. Roosevelt (son of the president), looks like he is wearing a fibre liner:

~ by m1pencil on November 3, 2010.

7 Responses to “WW2 USMC Helmets II: M1 Helmet / Hawley Liner”

  1. There is a guy in England making repro Hawleys.



  2. Oh nice!! Thanks for the info! 😀

  3. You are welcome, sir. I am in England, but he has nothing to do with me. I am an ardent M1 collector here, and at this time I have three very nice Hawley examples. I love those things.
    Kind Regards,


  4. Also there’s a Militaria dealer in Normandy, France, who has reproductions of Hawley paper liners and St Clair early low pressure liners. Contact me for the address if you’re interested. I’m located in the Netherlands and I’m also a collector of US M1 helmets. Best regards, Bert

  5. What did you use for your helmet stand?

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