WW II Armored Forces: Tanker Helmet

The World War II Tanker Helmet was very popular and armored crewmen wore them as a matter of pride in being "in the Tanks". Goggles were commonly worn with the helmet, even if just kept on top, as in the photos on this page.

Tanker, 1942
Tanker, 1942.

Today in WW II: 26 May 1940 Evacuation of Dunkirk begins, withdrawing British forces from continental Europe [Operation Dynamo, 26 May-3 June].  More 
26 May 1942 German Afrika Korps counteroffensive in North Africa drives the British back to the Gazala line, just in front of Tobruk [26-27 May].
26 May 1942 At remote oasis in the Libyan desert, Free French and British troops slow the German advance [Battle of Bir Hakeim].
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World War II Armored Forces: Tanker Helmet

Tanker, 1942, Ft. Knox -- atop M4 Tank
Tanker, 1942, Ft. Knox -- atop M4 Tank

The U.S. tanks of World War II were very small inside, too small for the crew to wear the standard M-1 helmet. A special purpose Tanker Helmet was developed with these specifications: 1) fits inside an M-1 helmet when shrapnel protection is needed, 2) equipped with microphone and earphones, with connecting jacks, 3) protected the crewman's head from hits on the steel interior.

The Tanker Helmet (or Helmet, Tank) developed in 1938 met all these criteria and more. It was made of rubberized fibre/leather with a thicker band of leather stitched around the rim. An inner suspension was made of a cross of soft leather straps. Ten 3/4 inch ventilation holes helped keep heat down while the back of the head was protected by a neck flap of the same material as the cap.

Side ear pieces (again, same material as the cap) were loosely attached, each with an R-14 earphone built into a center hole. The ear flaps could be worn flipped up, but inside a tank the noise level was so high that you could hear nothing unless the earphones were right against your ears. Side spring-loaded tabs held the earflaps tightly to the ears when that was desired. A throat microphone was usually used with this helmet.

Tankers, Ft. Knox, KY, June 1942.
Tankers, Ft. Knox, KY, June 1942.

The whole shell was painted olive drab as issued but some were also painted other colors to indicate rank or special roles. The leather was natural tan color, not dyed. Rawlings was the manufacturer of the Tanker Helmet. Typical markings were stamped on the leather suspension with the Rawlings logo, a size, and patent numbers.

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