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Original U.S. Korean War / Early Vietnam War Tanker Helmet by Spalding - Converted Football Helmet

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. Now this is an interesting helmet for sure! This is basically a football helmet made by Spalding and converted for use in the U.S. Military as a tankers helmet, or possibly a door gunner’s helmet in Vietnam.

This is a very scarce helmet that was a “stop gap” piece after the WWII Tanker Helmet and before they produced a Tanker specific helmet. The Football helmet was a state of the art lightweight helmet by Spalding with a Titanite shell and interior suspension webbing which even retains the original football helmet pads. Helmet also has additional padding around the crown which is secured with a screw through shell and has metal clips to hold the added ear phones in rubber cups. Helmet is stamped on the back "Spalding Titanite Made in USA" and "SPS 62-2087 7 1/4". Helmet appears complete and is in very good to very good condition with some moderate scuffs and scratches to the OD finish, the ear pads have lost their padding and there is some wear to the rubber earphones.

Truly an unusual example of a tankers helmet! Comes ready for further research and display!

Since the first tanks rolled across the battlefield during World War I 100 years ago at the Battle of the Somme, armored crews have required specialized equipment to protect them inside their giant metal beasts. At first this often meant adopting existing head protection, but the interwar and Cold War eras saw great development in the types of helmets tank crews were provided.

The First World War is remembered as the first truly modern war. Napoleonic battle lines gave way to trench warfare, while the grand colorful uniforms were replaced with subtle tones of gray and khaki. Ceremonial looking hats and leather helmets, which had no place in combat, were removed from front line service in favor of steel headgear. The day of cavalry charges faded away, replaced by slow and lumbering tanks assaults. The crews of these behemoths utilized whatever they could adopt, but in the post-World War I era most nations began to create actual motorized units, complete with their own specialized equipment.

The British were the first to successfully deploy tanks on the battlefield, and thus the first to realize that the soldiers inside the tanks needed just as much head protection as those in the trenches. Often it was from the vehicle itself that the soldiers needed protection! The uneven moonscape terrain of no man’s land caused the crew to bounce around, and head injuries were commonplace.

The solution was to issue helmets to the troops inside the tanks. These first helmets, issued in the summer of 1916, were actually made from four pieces of very thick leather riveted together to form a deep bowl. Only a few hundred of these helmets were produced, because the shape was found to be too similar to the German M16 steel helmet. Thus in early 1917 these helmets were withdrawn and replaced by the standard British MkI steel helmet, which were painted blue for use by tank troops.

To provide a bit more protection to the wearer, a unique protective mask with small eye slits was created. This anti-splinter eye mask had a drape to cover the lower face that was composed of closely-knit metal links over a piece of leather. These links were reminiscent of medieval chain mail and mounted to the forward part of the MkI helmet visor.

The French too adopted their steel helmets for tanker service during the Great War. France had been among the first nations to use a modern steel helmet for combat in the trenches of World War I, and quickly devised their own modified helmet for armor crews. The first change was merely removing the forward visor from the M15 “Adrian” helmet, and later improvements included the use the aforementioned British anti-splinter visor.

Following the war the French would continue to experiment with a variety of tanker helmets, adding a leather bumper pad to the front of the helmet. This style of helmet would go through a few other changes in the interwar period, and would include better liner systems and thicker pads. Eventually the telltale top comb of the Adrian pattern would be removed completely, giving way to a fairly sleek helmet that would remain in service as another war began. The final evolution of this design, known as the Jeanne d’Arc or De Gaulle Helmet, would feature an American M1 style webbing system for the liner. This simple shell design would prove to be dated for the new styles of war that France would face from Indo-China to North Africa.

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