M3 

 

Type M3 flak helmet

Bomber crews – by the sheer nature of their mission – were particularly subject to anti-aircraft fire from flak batteries and fighter aircraft protecting the targets.

This was especially the case for the USAAF which started strategic daylight bombing of targets in Germany and occupied territory from mid-1942.

The casualty rate among those bomber crews, mainly due to the dreaded flak shrapnel, rapidly increased such that after some insufficient stop-gap solutions (e.g. standard and/or field-modified M-1 infantery steel helmets worn over flying helmets) the need of standardized (eventually full-body) armor was officially recognized.

 

The main problem of the „M-1 solution“ had been that this steel helmet, without adequate modification (hammering out the sides and cutting the liner) did not fit over the earphones of a flying helmet. Furthermore it was too bulky for certain crew positions as in gun turrets

So the US Ordnance Department produced the M-3 Anti Flak Helmet, a factory modification of the M-1, omitting the fibreboard liner and riveting the suspension band directly to the steel outer shell. Designed to fit properly over a flying helmet and its communication equipment the sides were cut out and felt-lined, hinged ear flaps were fitted, plus a long leather chin strap with a quick release buckle. In order to prevent freeze-burns, a risk when touching bare metal at temperatures well below zero encountered at high altidudes, the helmet was painted with a flocked olive gren finish (sawdust or similar material mixed with the paint).

 

  

USAAF M3

FLAK HELMET