How to Assemble your M1 Helmet

Assembling your helmet

You should have the following helmet components.

  • M1 Steel Helmet
  • Helmet Liner
  • Mitchell Pattern Helmet Cover
  • Scrim Band
  • Headband
  • Neckband (Optional)
  • Chinstrap

Fitting the Helmet Cover

  1. First place the M1 helmet on a surface right way up and undo the chinstrap if you have one.
  2. Stretch the helmet cover over the helmet, ensuring the wings go either side of the chinstrap fittings.
  3. Put the scrim band around the cover and over the helmet. Push it down to the base of the helmet.
  4. Use the scrim band to hold the helmet cover in place while you are stretching it over the helmet.
  5. Once the cover is in place turn the helmet upside down.
  6. Fold the wings of the cover inside the interior of the M1 helmet.
  7. Next place the helmet liner inside the interior the helmet. This holds the wings of the helmet cover inside and helps keep the cover on the helmet. Make sure you put the liner in the right way round, with the neckband fittings to the rear. You will know which way round it goes as the liner will fit snug into the helmet.

Fitting the Headband

  1. If the headband is already attached to the liner, unclip it. To dissengage the 6 clips, push the levers down (You will hear them click).
  2. Place the headband around your head and adjust to a size just larger than your head.
  3. Make sure the leather portion is at the front, the buckle is at the back and the clips are open and facing inwards.
  4. Adjust the headband to a snug fit, then remove it.
  5. Insert it into the liner so that the clips are towards the crown of the liner and the buckle is at the back.
  6. Fix the clips over the liner’s web suspension band and finally close the clips.

Fitting the Neckband

  1. The Type 1 neckband isn’t really adjustable, but the Type 2 has some adjustment.
  2. If you have one thread the two long tapes into the small buckles at each side of the liner, making sure the smooth surface of the neckband forms against your neck and faces the front of the liner
  3. Thread the short tape into the rear buckle.
  4. Put the liner on your head and adjust to fit by tightening the long tapes uniformly so that the neckband fits snugly and comfortably against the back of your neck. Pull the short tape to take up the slack.

Putting finishing touches to your helmet

  1. If you have a chinstrap on the helmet reconnect it.
  2. Push it over the back rim of the helmet, so that it rests around the helmet’s rear.
  3. Pust some accessories into your scrim band if you like such as C-Ration cigarettes, matches, toilet paper, a zippo lighter etc.
  4. Feel free to graffiti your helmet with a black marker with anything you wish.

Helmet Band Items

C-Ration Cigarettes

Ahhhh, what can you say….FREE cigarettes in every C-Ration box. Great for the nerves, bad for the lungs, a must have item. A small pack of cigarettes that came with the C-Ration accesory packet. It contains 4 cigarettes. There is a choice of packs e.g. PalMal, Marlboro, Winstons, Bensons & Hedges, Newport.
Not a hard to find item. It gives your helmet that recognisable ‘Nam look’. DO NOT TRY TO SMOKE THEM! If you want to smoke, don’t waste these little jewels, go to a smoke shop or flea market, pick up one of those metal cases that are just the size of a pack of cigarettes. Stick you current smokes in the case to hide the new wrapper. The more beat up the case the better.

Bug Juice (Insect Repellent)

A small plastic bottle with screw lid containing sweet smelling liquid to keep the flies away. Sweet smelling….are you shitting me! There are three varieties that I know of: (1) clear bottle with paper label, (2) clear bottle with printing directly on the bottle and (3) green bottle also with printing directly on the bottle. I used to put this stuff in my Zippo and it burned just fine!

C-Ration Spoon

A white plastic spoon that came with the C-Rations accessory pack. Don’t think that any old white spoon will do, it will not. The Vets can spot them!

P-38 Can Opener

A small metal device for opening cans. When soldiers had C-rations, the P-38 was your access to food, that made it a high priority. Soldiers discovered the tool acquired its name from the 38 punctures required to open a C-ration can, and from the boast that it performed with the speed of the World War II P-38 fighter plane. Never in its 52-year history has it been known to break, rust, need sharpening or polishing. The P-38 was an extremely simple, lightweight, multipurpose tool. In warfare, the simpler something is and the easier access it has, the more you’re going to use it. The P-38 had all of those things going for it. The P-38 is one of those tools you keep and never want to get rid of because you can use it as a screwdriver, knife, anything. Perhaps that is why many soldiers, past and present, regard the P-38 C-ration can opener as the Army’s best invention. I still have mine!!

Gun Oil

A plastic bottle containing LSA gun oil. (Light Small Arms). Sometimes seen in the helmets.

C-Ration Matches

A cardboard packet of damp resistant matches that comes with the C-Rations accessory packet. Nice to have but damp resistant is a relative term. Usually mush and useless if there is any sort of moisture in the air.

First Aid Packet

A small first aid packet sealed in plastic wrapping containing a steralized cotton gauze. Normally kept in the Compass Pouch, but also seen kept in the helmet band, especially by Medics. Be sure to keep an eye out for dates on these packets. A lot of them around the market place and dates range from the 60’s to current dates. Details are where it counts.

Other items sometimes seen

Toilet Paper, Death Cards, the chewing gum from C-rat packs, other personal items. Be careful not to get carried away.

25 responses to “How to Assemble your M1 Helmet

  1. SJSmith

    Brings back memories from another life. Good stuff. Keep the faith.

  2. Chris Costanzo

    I’m looking for a close-up photo of C-Ration toilet paper tucked in the head band of a Vietnam era steel pot Helmet…

    do you have anything like that?

    I was in Germany with V-Corps in Frankfurt in 74-76

    Got out on Veteran’s Day 1976, our Bicentennial Year

  3. Not sure if I saw this on your site, but maybe make a note that M1 helmets from WW2 have a front seam on the steel pot, white nam era ones have a rear seam!

    • phillip

      some late ww2 helmets, both schleuters and mccords, have the seam in the rear. i even have a couple stainless steel rims with the seam in the rear. the only sure indicator is the heat/lot number stamped inside

  4. Helmetnub123

    ummm… how to you dissengage the clip? I pusshed the levers down but
    they don’t unclip? pizz help me here?

    • m151dave

      I am guessing that you are talking about the sweatband clips. If you look at the picture you can see where the latch part of the clip curls around to spring into place trapping the long part of the metal clip in place. To release it you have to push that short latch portion of the metal clip away from the long bit so it will release. You might need to slip something under the long metal part to help it pop loose if it has been closed for a long time. The spring tension is not great, but there is little leverage for you to get that clip to let go. I always to a large flat tipped screw driver and used it to pop the clip open, pushing down on the spring latch portion to get it to release.

      If you are talking about the chin strap, if the catch is hooked over the ball, just give it a tug. It is designed to release so that the pressure wave from an explosion will tear the helmet away rather than your head!

      Hope this helps. Let me know if I missed the mark entirely or if this did you some good!

      • Helmetnub123

        Thanks, I was talking about the sweatband clips so this helped a lot. I used a small wrench ( about the size of your index finger) to get it open.

  5. Len

    I have a M1 helmet with front seam, swivel bale and inner number markings making the helmet WW2 prior to 1943. However the black swivel bale has a chin strap that I have never seen before. The strap is black metal that clips onto the bale with forward arch. The chin strap itself is OD military chin strap and has a fitting chin piece where your chin fits into the strap. How can I send you a photo to show you the helmet bale to see if you can ID the strap.

  6. Greg Hunt

    We called a “P-38” a John Wayne..Ok?

  7. Antonio Gaeta

    just curious are there any sites that offer reproduction helmets using the same materials? I say this because whenever I look up m1 helmets they go for cheap.

    • m151dave

      Not aware of any repo helmets. There are o many originals out there, possibly there is no market for them.

    • Terry S

      Amazon has repro helmets, but the liners are plastic. They’re about $60 for the helmet/liner combo. Also, look around on the Goodwill internet store Web site. It may take a couple of weeks of checking the site daily, but I’ve bought two or three original helmets there for $20-$40 each.

  8. Josh Wilder

    Maybe I’m missing something here, what do I do with the leather chinstrap for the liner, that seems to get in the way of the cover.

    • m151dave

      Josh, the leather chinstrap on the liner is a World War 2 item. Remove the chinstrap, it should snap off. While the older liners were often found in Vietnam the strap was not used. The strap can be removed without damaging it. I would suggest saving it as you never know when you might want to go WW2 and then need it. Plus it is historically part of the helmet, so no need to dispose of it altogether.

      • AlexSDU

        As for the leather chinstrap, I would just tuck it inside my liner, above the headstrap so it wouldn’t slide out. It also prevent from misplace if I take it off from the helmet. Better to keep them all in one place – the helmet.

      • m151dave

        That is a good work around. I can appreciate the desire not to loose the strap

  9. Noor Iskandar Zakaria Alexsdu

    From what I’m been reading and my own observation, the Marines’ helmet don’t seem to have helmet band, like the one the Army have. Instead they would use cutout tyre’s rubber tube as the helmet band.
    Were the Marines ever been issued helmet band during the Vietnam War?

  10. Scott

    Hi, I have a question. In some m1 helmet liners there is a little strap that has wire type ends. What is it called? Is it to secure the liner to the pot over the brim? Thanks, Scott

    • m151dave

      It is a chin strap for the liner, and stores over and around the steel helmet when the two are together. The straps were deleted from use and were not utilized in Vietnam. My helmet liner had the metal buttons to snap the strap to the liner, but did not come with the strap. There may be an occasional image of one of these straps in use, but by the time the US was fully committed to Vietnam they were not in use. While using the strap might possibly fit into the realm of actual, it will attract a lot of attention by the anal stitch nazis and you just do not need the crap.

      • scott caldwell

        Thanks for the info. I also have a couple liners with the snaps. That was going to be my next question. You killed 2 birds with 1 stone. Thanks so ever much!!!

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