Posted by: secondeguerremondialeclairegrube | July 1, 2017

Adrian helmet: mild steel

Adrian Helmet : mild steel

Grüß Gott !

French soldiers, during the First World war, were fond of their pretty helmets. Although not very effective.

Helmets and Body Armor in Modern Welfare / Bashford Dean / Yale University Press / 1920:

The French helmet

« The present hat-shaped helmet is worn by all French soldiers in actual service. Its light weight enables it to be worn without fatigue, and its artistic merit touches the pride of the soldier. » (…)

« The French helmet, while apparently simple in structure, requires no less than seventy operations in manufacture. This number, moreover, does not include stages in the preparation of the metal for manufacture, cutting out the plates, etc. » (…)

« The French helmet is made of mild steel, without scales or defects. It must be .0277 inch in thickness, with a tolerance of .002 inch. The steel should be clean and heat-treated. Its tensile strenght is 62,000 pounds per square inch, its percentage of elongation 18 degrees. »

« From this physical caracter, it may without special annealing be pressed into the needed form, and it is sufficiently tenacious not to be shattered when struck by a bullet – the last a feature of great importance, for if the helmet be penetrated, there must be no danger of the bullet carrying fragments of steel into the wound. Hence it is that « half hard » steel is safer to use than hard steel. » (…)

« The French helmet, which is probably the most popular of headpieces in actual service, is functionally the least effective. » (…)

« In a general way, it may be stated that the ballistic value of the French helmet is about one half of the British helmet. Thus, while the British helmet will resist perforation by an automatic revolver at ten feet, which has a bullet weighing 230 grains and a muzzle velocity of 700 foot seconds, the French helmet would be perforated by a similar missile having muzzle velocity of about 400 foot seconds. » (…)

« There can be no question, accordingly, that the French helmet does not take hight rank ballistically. It is penetrated at about one half the blow which the English helmet is able to resist. On the other hand, it weighs nearly one fourth less and can, therefore, be carried with minor fatigue. » (…)

« Also it is fair to say that each helmet has a morale of its own. That of the French helmet is high : its weaerer takes it seriously and it would do him no good to tell him that his is not the best model for his needs. He becomes fond of his helmet and his feeling towards it is a distinct asset in the problem. He is convinced that its shape is excellent, he is accustomed to its lighter weight, and he would gladly wear it under conditions in which he would probably cast aside a heavier and a better helmet. »

« As an example of this, one wonders vainly why the French helmet is allowed to remain narrow in brim over the ear and temple ; for, obviously, tle lack of protection in this vital region must have cost the lives of many wearers. A critic may also note that the casque Adrian might be lightened at least 3 ½ ounces (100 grams ) by removing from of it its various ornamental devices, a procedure which would also, by the way, considerably help to reduce the time and expense of its manufacture. But here, again, we touch the question of morale (in this case, aesthetical), which plays an important part even in the business of war. »

The British helmet

« The present British helmet, shaped like an inverted bowl with narrow shelving rim, was devised in 1915 by an English inventor, Mr Brodie, who after many experiments came to the conclusion that this simple type of head defense would probably be found the most serviceable ; he emphasized especially the fact that it could be cheaply and rapidly produced, for its simple shape enabled it to be pressed in metal of high ballistic quality. » (…)

« For ease of manufacture it left little to be desired ; its shallow dome could be stamped out in a single operation without unduly thinning the metal in the crown ; its brim was made wide enough to protect the wearer’s face and shoulders from splinters ans shrapnels ; and its shell was far more resistant than that of the French helmet. In the matter of its steel the recommandation of sir Robert Hadfield was followed, who pointed out the the many virtues of a high percentage (roundly 12 per cent) manganese steel. »

« This alloy, rolled in sheets of twenty gauge of .036 inch, would resist with remarkable uniformity pistol bullets of 230 grains jacketed with cupro-nikel, travelling at the rate of 600 foot seconds. Such a bullet, it is true, produced a deep indentation in the metal, but it did not break through. Morever, if at higher velocity the projectile passed through the plate, no shattering or splintering occurred to aggravate a wound. The demerit of this metal was its liability to indent deeply, for this would be apt to cause fatal injury to the wearer. » (…)

The German helmet 

« No information, infortunately, is at hand dealing with the experimental results of the German in this field. There is no doubt, however, that they have considered this subject in an extended way, for a careful study of their present helmet and body armor shows clearly that they have consulted not only able metallurgists but technical expert in the field of armor. »

« They have probably secured the best results for the protection of the soldier during the present war. »

« The actual « trench helmet » while the heaviest of those in actual use – weighing two pounds ten and one half ounces, against the two pounds two and one half ounces of the British helmet – protects a lower zone of the head ; it covers, in fact, the neck region, temples and ears to a depth of two inches greater than the British helmet. We may, therefore, fairly assume that from this reason alone it has saved a greater proportional number of its wearers. Its metal, we may note, is hardly inferior to the British manganese alloy. »

« Several specimen measured showed a thickness of .040 inch at the top and .045 inch above the brim. »

« The shell of the German helmet weighs two pounds six ounces. »

« A sample analysis of a helmet showed:

Carbon .37

Silicon 1.54

Manganese .90

Nickel 1.94

« Test made in the Ordnance Department of Washington (several specimens) showed that the helmets resisted the Government automatic revolver, 1917 model, and automatic pistol, model of 1911, bullet weighing 230 grains and velocity up to 900 foot seconds. The present writer confirms this result and notes that a helmet tested at Ford’s plant in Detroit gave even better results – or about 1,000 foot seconds ; he learns, however, that considerable variation exists in the ballistic strength of German helmets. » (…)


« The French helmet… is functionally the least effective. »

Claire GRUBE


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