WW2 USMC Helmets III: M1 Helmet / Camouflage Cover

This is it, the iconic World War 2 helmet of the USMC. Fixed bale helmet shell, high pressure plastic liner and reversible camouflage cover. This was by far the most common helmet worn by the United States Marine Corps during WW2. It replaced the earlier M1 Helmet / Hawley liner set up and was used throughout the war.

Let’s start with the cover. During World War 2 three types of covers were used. All where reversible with a “green” and a “brown” side, just like the USMC camouflage utilities. The first pattern cover was without slits for applying foliage, the second pattern had slits, and the third pattern (probably just a manufacturing variation of the second pattern) also had slits on the flaps. There is conflicting info on what the slits on the flaps were for. Some say it was done in order to make it easier putting the cover on the helmet (by pulling a string through the slits on the flaps). Another theory is that the extra slits allowed to add additional foliage to the helmet when the flaps at the rear were left un-tucked from between the helmet and liner. This was done in the field by some Marines to protect their neck from the sun

Here are some examples of flaps being used to block the sun:

All USMC helmet covers were made of Army style HBT material and where not maker marked in any way. From time to time you can see helmet covers with an EGA printed on the front. This was not done during the second world war. It seems remaining stock after WW2 was re-used and the EGAs were printed on them (maybe during Korea, probably even later), so the cover might still be original WW2 manufacture but the EGA was applied later.

This is the cover “green side out”

A close up of the slits in the cover:

There where no openings for the chinstraps, the Marines had to cut them into the covers themselves:

The inside of the shell, you can see the flaps with the slits. Take a look at the green base colour near the end of the flaps, it has not faded / soiled as much as on the outside and looks less khaki. Also check out the rectangular hole in on of the flaps, this was most probably were a Marine had stamped his name. Sadly someone has cut it out.

The shell, you can see the front seam and a part of the covers “brown” side:

Fixed bales:

The high pressure plastic liner, this one was manufactured by the “Capac Manufacturing Company”. The leather chinstrap is missing.

Capac mark on the inside of the liner

Liner inside the helmet shell:

The suspension with olive drab “A” washers, this is typical for a mid war liner.

~ by m1pencil on February 3, 2011.

11 Responses to “WW2 USMC Helmets III: M1 Helmet / Camouflage Cover”

  1. I own three (3) USMC WW 2 covers, all have no slits and have a diamond
    patch, sewn on front/rear, with a EGA stincel. How rare or common are
    these?

  2. The ones without the slits are the so called “first pattern covers”. The diamond patch / EGA stencils are most probably post WW2 additions.
    You can find those being sold from time to time, they usually do not fetch as much money as the covers without patches / EGAs.

  3. I was reading here and realitzed how hard it is to actually get the cover well fixed over the helmet. For some strange reason its a nightmare to pass the bales through anything as they do not really line up with one of the “flaps” if you plan in having the cover straight.

    • Yes it can be a pain! Sometimes it makes things easier to wet the cover before putting it on the helmet. Also you should cut rather large holes for the bales/chinstraps, so you can move the cover around a little to find a good position.

  4. Sirs,
    Can someone please contact me about a helmet cover I have. I think it may be a first pattern original. The material is HBT, the stitching is correct and it has no maker marks or date…. Also the pacman camouflage spots appear correct. Could someone help identify? I can send pics…

    Shon Elliott
    Lubbock, Texas

  5. I had the “Old Spot Pattern” helmet in Vietnam (USMC) in 1965 – 1966. It was not seen often, but some guys had them. Of course we also had M-14’s and the old “Pineapple” style grenades. Did I mention we still were being issued the “old” on the belt first aid pouch (that still had a sulfur pack in it, which we were told to throw away). Later we got the “jungle” first aid pouch (mine had “NOTHING” in it when given to me). There was so much gear being sent to Vietnam from the WW II era, from helmet covers to “Brand New” crates of (never used) 1911’s, M-1 Grand’s, BAR’s, M-1 Carbines,… all “brand new” stuff.
    “Hey, want to buy an ARVN M-1,… never fired, and only dropped once.”
    Point is: Many things surface (or don’t) out of the ordinary (issue) in any war zone. Hell, we “Shot Down” a P-51 Mustang in April 1965 (the last one ever shot down in combat) during the fighting in the Dominican Republic (1st Battalion, 8th Marines),…. and “Yes” it was shot down from ground fire after (2) of them made two (firing) passes at us,…. M-14’s, and M-60’s. One of the (2) left trailing smoke (I guess they had enough of that game) and we got radio word that one of them crashed into the ocean. In war, strange things happen. (Look up the P-51 story on Google). Would you believe a completely painted white (USMC) AMTRACK in December 1965 at Marble Mountain (East DaNang). Remember, it is sometimes the “Oddities” in your presentation that make it that more real.

  6. Ah,… young Americans in Combat,…. ya just can’t beat them.

  7. You should do a comparison of repo helmet covers sometime. Also, do you know how to age them? Thanks

    • I know a guy who buried his cover in the garden for a few days, you can also try leaving it out in the sun to bleach it a little.

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