13 July 2016

The Barracks: Military Helmets

They are one of the most enduring symbols of the warriors that protect us from harm: the helmet. From the early Bronze Age warriors to Samurai, to the dusty modern warfighters in Afghanistan, the need to protect the head from the dangers of combat has been universal, but the material that the helmet was constructed out of has been continuously evolving along with design since the 2nd century BCE. In this blogpost, FWS will explore the history of the military, explain its evolution to the modern combat helmets, and show the various examples that inhabit science fiction. Confession time: I really like helmets and this blogpost was a real treat to discuss.

What Makes an Helmet "Military"?
Head protective gear is common throughout most sports, some vocations, and this begs the question: what separates those sports and work helmets from military helmets? Like any sports helmet, military helmets are designed to counter incomings threats, protect the wearer, and serve as a means of identification. Military helmets are designed in such a way for the battlefield that includes the level of protection. That right there is the main factor separating the military helmet from helmets in the civilian world: protecting against bullets and shrapnel. But that is not always the case. As we already know, military organizations have been using off-of-the-shelve  plastic sports helmets since the 1980's for collision protection, but what separates those Pro-Tec helmets from their skateboard roots is the "military" or "tactical" modifications done by the soldiers and sailors. Along with the threats and conditions that define the role of the military helmet that separates it from civilian helmets, but it is also the people that wear them. What truly makes an helmet "military" is the one who wears it.

Ballistic Protection vs. Bump Protection
Before we get too deep into the subject of military helmets, we need to address the two categories that military helmets are often divided into: bump and ballistic protection. The term “ballistic” is used generally to describe a modern combat helmet and it is referring to a military helmet that is constructed out of bullet resistant materials, like Kevlar. Prior to the advent of bullet resistant constructed helmets in the 1980’s, most combat helmets were constructed out of steel that did allow for some ballistic protection and bump (or collision) protection. Bump protective helmets are seen throughout the sports world in skateboarding, American Football, Hockey, kayaking, motor racing, and Lacrosse. On the battlefield, these plastic helmets are not able to offer any protection against incoming small arms fire, and their protection value for shrapnel is extremely limited, if any. They are designed to be worn in situations where the risk of incoming rounds is lessened while the crashing into objects is increased. 
Bump helmets are traditional worn by vehicle crews (tanks), in ATV operations, close quarters combat, and to save weight for attaching equipment (NVGs) and finally in waterborne operations. Most think of the classic Pro-Tec “Bucky” helmet worn by skateboarders when imagining the collision helmets, due to the movie Black Hawk Down, but they also include jet fighter pilot helmets, the CVC tanker helmet, and the World War Two M1938 tanker helmet patterned after early Football helmets.  

Why Do Soldiers Wear Helmets?
At one time, prior to the First World War, helmets were uncommon in military organizations, and that has been completely reversed by the time of invention of modern warfare. Today, helmets are the standard for soldiers, pilots, sailors, and marines...but why do warfighters wear helmets? Some have made the point that one good clean hit by an AK round is game over, so why bother with the weight and heat of an helmet? There are several major reasons why soldiers have and continue to wear helmets in battle.
The most obvious is for protection from shrapnel, bullets, the elements, bumps, and other threats like melee instruments. Modern ballistic helmets, have and do stop incoming fire from assault rifles, it is not as consistently as body armor. Modern combat helmets could be layered enough to stop incoming rounds, but it would break your neck. Helmets are also an load bear and attachment sites for various devices like radios, NGVs, IR strobes, and lights. With helmet mounted integrated rail systems being added to modern combat helmets, the possibilities are endless.There is also Friend-or-Foe identification. Since nearly every military organizations' helmets are different in some way, helmets can serve as a form of identification.
Helmets, as seen in World War I, World War II, and Korea have served other purposes that were not originally intended by the army or the designers. We've seen the steel helmets used as a wash basin, carrying supplies, cooking pot, and even covering an live grenade. Another crazy alternate use of the helmet was for melee combat. Seriously. The famous scene in Saving Private Ryan where helmet tossing is exchanged did actually happen in some isolated cases. The DC Comic Sgt. Rock  popularized this into mainstream prior to Saving of Private Ryan.

Why Do Pilots Wear Helmets?
One of the other users of helmets in the military is aircraft pilots, but if civilian pilots do not wear helmets, why do military pilots? Most helmets worn by pilots in the First and Second World Wars were soft canvas skull caps designed to hold radios, hair, and heat. However, bomber pilots would don metal helmets due to the flank from the German AAA. By the Jet Age, combat pilots needed to have an attachment site for their visors, communication gear, and their oxygen mask, and that meant an helmet. Also, during ACM, pilots can bump their heads and the helmet prevents serious damage as well as protecting the pilot from glass if the canopy is shattered.
As technology progresses, some next generation combat fighter pilot helmets are being fielded that are packed with cutting edge technology, like the F-35 HMDS and F-22 Scorpion helmet. These new generation of helmets allows for the HUD data to be feed into the visor of the the pilot, along with accessing night vision in a more organic way via integration into the visor, and provide greater field-of-vision. These helmets are also packed with tracking software and are custom fitted to the pilot's head and face. With the technology packed into the helmets allows the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to be one of the first combat aircraft to not mount an HUD system. Some rumors state that these helmets can allow the pilot to switch views and watch video feed from other angles, instead of moving their head around during ACM.  

Why Don't Soldiers Wear Full-Face Protection?
If we look at science fiction and military history, most of the helmets worn by ancient and future warfighters like the Greeks, the knights, and the samurai; we see that they offer full protection of the complete face. So, why don't modern soldiers wear full-face helmets? The answer is clear to anyone that has worn a paintball mask during a match Heat. Full face helmets are hot like hot yoga, hot. And during some environmental conditions like Texas in the summer full face helmets can promote heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. That has not stopped programs like the US Army Future warrior program to research and develop full face helmets for their future concepts of next-generation Infantry helmet systems.
But as we all know they have not put any of them into the field because the technology just as it isn't there yet nor is the need. It is likely that with advancements in technology and 3D printer technology that we will see full face helmets for certain kinds of combat conditions and they may even be attachments on to the regular helmet but I doubt is anytime soon. What would be the advantage of wearing a full-face helmet for Soldier? This is why there has been some exploration of this concept because it would allow for an integrated filtration system and protection from shrapnel and concussive Blast from things like IEDs. There's also advancement in making video game-like HUD systems for the soldier.

The Brief History of the Military Helmet
We will likely never know the first users of the helmet in warfare, but it is believed that since the rise of the first cities, the defenders of those cities worn protective garments, and helmets were chief among them. While the first helmets of those early warriors was leather, it wasn't until the Bronze Age that first military helmets that we would recognize emerged. Noted early civilizations like the Egyptians, Ur, and the Akkadian Empire all had art depicting their warriors wearing various forms of helmets. By 2,500 BCE, the first bronze helmets were being fashioned by the Sumerians in a style for their warriors that we can see protecting the back of the neck, the ears, and much of the head from incoming arrows, rocks, and blows. To counter the weight and heat of the metal helmet, early examples were fitted with lining that also adjusted the size of the helmet to the wearer. Not only did the helmet give ancient warriors protection, but it was also a symbol of their identity and culture.
There is no ancient military helmet more recognizable to the general public than the classical Greek Corinthian helmet. Taking its name for the city-state of the same name, this bronze helmet became one of the two standard designs that influenced other regions of the ancient world. With the heat, uncomfortable nature of metal that close to your skin, the Greek infantry moved toward an more open-face style, the Attic. This helmet design was used by the Etruscans and some of Alexander's armies. Another influence on the world of military helmets was of course the Romans and their classic Galea helmet which took style and design cues form the Greeks and Etruscans. While this Roman military was one of the mostly widely known by the public, there were five other types of helmets used throughout the existence of the Roman state.
Not only were legionaries and their commanders wearing metal helmets to fight the enemies of Rome, but the public at home were being entertained by the Gladiatorial blood sports that had a whole host of fanciful helmets in the arena of life and death. The technology of Rome and her military structure had ripple effects across the ancient world, and when the Barbarian armies began to benefit from Roman military technology, they too, gained metal helmets. My enemy becomes me I guess. The conquerors of Rome and their newly forged territories began to create new armies with metal body armor and helmets. With the advancement of metallurgical technology and advancements in warfare after the fall of Rome, we begin to see the rise of heavily-armoured feudal warriors like the Knights of Europe and the Samurai. 
A vast array of different helmets, in conjunction with the familiar heavy metal armor suits, populated populated battlefields for hundreds of years both in Europe and Asia. Even conscripted Infantry was eventually given the benefits of this advancement in metalworking technology with their own less complex metal helmets. The Samurai and the Knights used both the helmet for defensive roles, decoration, and psychological effect. This was best exemplified by the Samurai's Kabuto helmet where the face armor, the mengu, was designed to give a fearsome, often, devilish appearance. Up until the 1500's, the armored warriors that wielded swords, arrows, and spears were the kings of the battlefield. However, the emergence of the gun would change the use of metal for protection forever. Unlike the melee weapons and arrows use on feudal battlefields, the the gun could easily smash through those heavy armored suits making them superfluous in the new age of the gun. 
This new technology altered the balance of power away from feudal warriors like the Knights and the Samurai, towards  the regular infantrymen trained in the use of these new firearms. While you could forge armored protection, including helmets, that could withstand a direct impact by a bullet from a gun of that time period, but it would have been far too heavy and it would snap the neck of anyone wearing it. By the 17th century, heavy armor begin to disappear with only chest plates and metal helmets remaining as seen with the classic Spanish conquistador helmet during the conquest of the New World and other "iron hat" designs. From the Thirty Years War onward, the musket was firmly taking over, and the metal combat helmet was disappearing save for some cavalrymen. By the time of the American Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars of the 18th and 19th century, the metallic helmet that have been around since the second century BCE was all but gone from the battlefield. It had been replaced by various designs of hats and caps that were more uniform in appearance than the old metallic helmets, cheaper to make, and saving on resources.
We see the wood caps and hats of the Union and Confederate armies of the American Civil War and the British pith helmet for their overseas expeditionary units in India and Africa as prime examples of the movement completely away from the old metal helmets. These these hats and caps offered nothing in the way ballistic protection from incoming fire or shrapnel and they were mainly designed to protect the soldier from the elements and as a means of identification on the battlefield. There were some some Cavalry units that did have metallic helmets underneath these spectacular Calvary headwear, but they but they were designed for collision protection and falls rather than incoming bullets. The predecessor to the modern military helmet would not really emerge until the first World War at the beginning of the 20th century. 
Modern Battlefield of the Great War was populated with such advanced technology that more protection from incoming fire was needed unlike any time before. The fabric caps and hats that it worked for hundreds of years did not protect soldiers from modern artillery and modern firearms. In 1915, the French army would create the first metal helmet in over 300 years, M19115 Adrian helmet. This cause the British, Belgian, and German forces to develop their own helmets as seen with British Mark 1 helmet and the Germans Stahlhelm. By the end of the First World War, every army fielded modern metal combat helmets. 
The next evolution of the combat helmet would come during the second World War and we would see Nazi Germany and America develop two of the most advanced helmet designs with the M1 and the upgraded Stahlhelm helmet. For the most part, the technology of combat helmet after the Second World War basically stagnated and there was not a revolution or evolution in technology until the invention of new ballistic materials that created greater protection from bullets and shrapnel while reducing the weight. Throughout the bulk of the Cold War the armies of NATO and the Warsaw Pact soldiers worn helmets that were not that dissimilar to the ones that their grandparents wore during World War II. Then in the 1970s the advancement in materials, like Kevlar, promise new protection and weight saving. Because that two of the main problem with combat helmets, you can layer enough metal to protect the head of the soldier, but it will but it will be too heavy for them to even hold their heads up and and it would be useless in combat. 
Around 1983, the United States Army would begin to issue the first of an new generation of combat helmets, the PASGT, that use material like Kevlar to protect their soldiers far more than previous steel helmets of the past. By the end of the Cold War, most modern military organizations would issue these next-generation ballistic helmets. However, with the advancement of night vision technology, there became a new problem that was solved by some special forces units using plastic Sports helmets like the Pro-Tec. These helmets could not withstand direct impact by a bullet obviously but they were used to night vision and lights and any other equipment to special operators without the weight of the ballistic helmets worn by the Infantry. 
This created a real problem if Special Operations forces fought in heavy combat zones only wearing their plastic helmets as seen in the Battle of Mogadishu. What was needed was a helmet that was both lightweight, modular, and could allow for the attachment of night vision gear and other goodies. During the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States Special Forces begin to be issued the MICH helmet that serve all of those purposes. While modular enough to allow for the inclusion of modern ear protection, night vision and even IR strobes, it could also protect against incoming fire and shrapnel. The MICH helmet was so successful that United States Army and Marine Corps begin issuing, replacing the older Kevlar PASGT helmet. 
By 2003, the older style Kevlar helmet was fully replaced by the MICH, however, there was still a need for a lightweight load-bearing helmet for Special Operations units. In the late 2000s, companies like OPS-CORE and even Pro-Tec begin to develop lightweight Special Operations helmets that had integrated rail systems allowing Special Operations forces to have a modular lightweight helmet offered in bump and ballistic protection levels. After 2009, it was commonplace to see Special Operations soldiers and sailors using these new lightweight load-bearing helmets in combat operations in the Middle East. With advancements on the horizon in material sciences with things like carbon fiber and 3D printer technology, it will be possible to develop new helmets that are both lighter and offered greater protection from collision and ballistic threats. In the next 20 years, we could see rapid development in new combat helmets that will replace current issued helmets and we could see the fusion of the lightweight load-bearing helmet and heavy combat helmet into one platform using the new material scientific development.

The Evolution of the US Military Helmet

The M1917 "Brodie" Helmet (1917-1941)
The first metal combat military helmet worn by US soldiers in a combat zone was a copy of the British Army Mk. I “Brodie” metal combat Helmet and was used throughout the Great War and even into World War II. Like most nations prior to the First World War, the fielding of helmets was nearly non-existence , and when the US entered the war in 1917, they decided to utilize the already proven British Mk. I Helmet over their “campaign hats” of the time period. US "Doughboys" would use the saucer shaped helmet throughout the war. Post-war, the US official used the M1917 helmet even after the 1941 development of the M1 Helmet replaced the M1917. Mostly it seen in use with the US Navy and some units in the Pacific. By the time of the Korean War, the M1917 was completely replaced by the M1. Over one million M1917 Helmets were produced and issued, and they have become an symbol of the First World War. 

The M1 Steel Pot Helmet (1941-1985)
The longest serving and most produced (22 million) US official issue military helmet is the iconic M1 Steel Pot Helmet. This two-piece metal helmet served from the 2nd World War, to Korea, to Vietnam, all the way until today with some foreign military units. Modified throughout its service life, there was an important variant, the M1C paratrooper model issued to World War II and was an overall improvement to the M2 paratrooper helmet that was not issued in great numbers. Most 2nd World War M1 Helmets were kept in their OD metal skin, the US Marines had a cloth camo cover, and this would become more standard in the US Army after World War Two. During Vietnam, it was more common place for US soldiers to draw or write on their camouflaged helmet covers. This helmet was a symbol of the US GI for over forty years, and no helmet has done that before or since. The M1 had a second life has the iconic blue-and-white helmets of the UN.

The PASGT Kevlar Helmet AKA the "K-Pot" (1985-2003)
With the rise of advantages of material sciences, a new official issue helmet was developed for the US military using Kevlar 19 ballistic fiber and phenolic PVB resin by US Army Natick Research Lab. Unlike it predecessor, the new PASGT helmet came in five sizes, and was of a greater protective value. The K-Pot would see its first taste of combat in the 1983 Invasion of Grenada (Operation: Urgent Fury) with a few units, but it would be the 1st Gulf War before the Kevlar helmet would see widespread combat operations. Throughout its deployment history, there have been cases were the PASGT helmet has saved the lives of their wearer despite dead-on hits from Kalashikovs. While the helmet was an improvement to the M1 helmet, it was much heavier and was often not used by SOF units. The PASGT helmet was largely replaced by the ACH in around 2003. PASGTs are still seen in use in reserve units, the UN, and embedded press.  

The Plastic Sports Helmets (1970's?-2000s?)
Beginning sometime in the 1980’s or even late 1970’s, American SOF units began using plastic sports helmets, like the classic  Pro-Tec “Bucky” and others developed for skydiving, driving, water sports, and hockey. While they certainly used these helmets for their original intended purpose, they were modified to serve as a lightweight option to the heavy PASGT helmet in close quarters combat assaults. Soldiers and Sailors modified the sports helmet to fit communication gear, mount lights via Velcro patches, and lighten their load. While not providing any ballistic protection, these little plastic helmets were used for bump or collision protection.
These were famously seen in the film Black Hawk Down, driving sales up for the MILSIM crowd and other military organizations. These helmets, in various forms, were seen through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but are being replaced by the OPS-CORE FAST helmets. The Pro-Tec company has attempted to capitalize on their recent past with SOF units by designing their own military variant of their iconic skateboard helmet.  Interestingly enough, the use and function of these civilian plastic sports helmets caused new thinking in military helmet design, allowing for the rise of bump helmets like the FAST and the ballistic MICH helmets.

The MICH Helmet (2001-2003?)

While the Marines and the Army were required to wear their standard K-pot helmets in combat, Special Operations Forces always had a love hate relationship with the standard issue Kevlar helmet. Most pictures of SOF operators during the 1980's and 1990's either had them abandoning the helmet completely, only wearing them in high-fire combat zones, or donning plastic sport helmets like the Pro-Tec as seen in the Battle of Mogadishu. In the 1990's, the US Army Soldier Systems Center in Natick, Massachusetts, began working on a more modular and lightweight helmet for Special Operations units that provided bump and ballistic protection. Some of this came from the Army's dislike of Special Operations soldiers going into firefights with little plastic skateboard helmets that could not protect from incoming fire. At least two DELTA Forces soldiers during the 1993 Battle of Mogadishu were killed by direct hits from AK fire to the head and their skateboard helmets could not protect the wearer.
In January of 2001, the US Army Special Forces Command began issuing the new MICH (Modular Integrated Communications Helmet) helmets to their Special Warfare units. MICH helmets allows for cleaner integration of NVGs due to the lack of visor on the older PASGT helmet, and the new chin-strap/interior pads allow for a much tighter fit. There are several variants on the MICH that are in some form of us. Some are cut-down to half-head size to allow for tactical ear protection and weight savings, or the sides are completely cut off or the MICH 2002 low-profile helmet that reduced the size of the side pieces. These half-head variants are less common with the advent of the FAST helmets. Given the level of modification inflicted on the MICH helmets and advancements in material technology, new helmets were soon issued like the ACH and the SOF FAST lightweight helmets. While the MICH was used by all manner of soldiers in the field, some Operators still continued to use the plastic sports helmets in specific cases.

The ACH and ECH Helmet (2003-Current)
At current, there are two primary ballistic helmets that are the descent of the MICH and PASGT: the US Army ACH (Advanced Combat Helmet) and the US Marines ECH (Enhanced Combat Helmet). Both are similar and have the lack of visor piece of the old PASGT to allow easier access to NVGs, as well as being fitted with the adjustable pad system and being better protectively. The real difference between the US Army ACH and the Marine ECH is that the ECH is thicker and will be issued with the USMC Digital camo patterns over the Army’s. These have already seen active service in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

The OPS-CORE FAST Helmets (2009?-Current)
For years, Special Operations Forces have attempted to field a full replacement for their old plastic sports helmets that married the advantages of the MICH ballistics helmets.  In 2008, the OPS-CORE company showed off their prototype FAST helmet at the 2008 SHOT Show, and it seemed to be the solution to this issue. FAST or Future Assault Shell Technology, was a helmet designed to be both a bump protector and load bearing site for all of the high tech goodies that warfighters go into the field with due to integrated rail systems and mounts.  OPS-CORE also developed a ballistic variant of their bump protection helmet.  These helmets have rapidly been accepted and fielded by Special Operations unit in various operations and missions, along with teams globally. Given the power of US SOF units to be more liberal with their gear, it is reasonable to assume that the OPS-CORE FAST Helmet is not officially adopted US Army gear like the ACH helmet, but does not seem to matter. In 2011, the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) spent five million dollars on buying OPS-CORE helmets.  

The Future of the Combat Helmet
There are several pathways that future military helmets will take. In the short-term, less than hundred years, helmets will follow a common path of most military technology: being made lighter, simpler, smaller, and more effective. In the early days of NVGs, they were bulky, expensive, hard to use, and less effective. Today with the Generation IV NGVs, they are a much different animal that has become a critical part of US war fighting strategy. Helmets of the near future will be made lighter via next-generation materials that offer both higher ballistic and collision protection.
The need for two different types of military helmets will not exist a few years from now due to those advancements, and the tools and technology mounted to helmets will also be lighter, to the point that night-vision, IR, HUD could all be routed via tactical eye protection or biological implants. This would alter the current dual-use of helmets as both load bearing as well as protection. If we look further down the road, we could see the entire concept of military helmets nearly completely eliminated.  The CDF soldiers in the Old Man’s War universe wear protective garments that cover the head in a more hood fashion than helmet, but perform the same function and the advanced nano-material offers high degrees of ballistic protection. This “hood” concept is also seen in conjunction with advanced powered armor, like the CryNet Nano Suit from the Crysis Universe. Some powered armor and mecha, like CLASS-I and CLASS-II types, can have the helmet portion of the interconnected armor suit be more linked to the overall armor than an independent object, as the case is with the Mjolnir powered armor from HALO. If all of your future warfighters wear powered armor, the traditional combat helmet may be completely extinct. What could also make the current understanding of the combat helmet an endangered species is the prospect of future armies using robots as combat infantry…thus, eliminating the need for any type of protective garments for flesh-and-blood soldiers.  

The Power of the Helmet

Helmets can represent many things in the minds of the wearer, the enemy, and even the audience. As we've seen with characters like Boba Fett, the Master Chief, Kylo Ren, and Samus; the full-face helmet can become an icon and a signature of the character along with the world they inhabit. It also expresses an inhumanity and coolness, allowing the wearer to become anonymous and more robotic...along with being mysterious, as the case is with Boba Fett. This can apply to fans that also want to be hidden from the world and themselves. I myself own a Boba Fett, and he is much colder than I. This power of the helmet can serve as an psychologically weapon, as the Samurai, Emile-A239, and Darth Vader demonstrate, or even a mark of an elite status among the legions of soldiers and sailors in an military organization.    

Science Fiction and the Full-Face Shield Helmet
There are assumption that the general public, artists, writers make about the future and the look of future technology. This can influence one another and led to an society wide assumption. One of those assumptions from the 1980's in regards to futuristic military helmets is that future soldiers will be wearing full-face shield helmets that look more akin to wielding masks/helmets than combat gear. This has been seen in military magazines predicting the future of soldiers, as seen in the November 1987 issue of  International Combat Arts. This concepts also appeared in TV shows like Captain Power (see below), the US Police Force shocktroopers from Escape from New York, and the Mordan IV soldiers in the Star Trek: TNG episode "Too Short a Season",
Why? I am not 100% sure, but I think some creators believe that soldiers will have to shield themselves to a greater extend from the deadly blinding effects of directed-energy weaponry impacts, nuclear flashes, and high-tech explosions. While this does not exist to the same extend as it did in the 1980's, the modern trend of future soldiers wearing full-face environmental sealed helmets that are a solid surface, as seen in Mass Effect 3 "Terminus Assault Armor", the art work of Nivanh "Duster132" Chanthara for his Babiru art series project, the art of Ukitakumki and the art of Shimmering-Sword. All of these have fully embraced the current trend of future warfighters donning helmets that do not show any hint of their faces and by extension, their humanity. These types of helmets blur the line and given the current issue military helmets, the inclusion of full-face helmets is an hallmark of "this is the future" trope. At the moment, there is some hints of more enclosed combat helmet systems, but nothing that resumes an wielding mask.

Science Fiction and the Military Helmet
The relationship between science fiction and the combat helmet is a complex and odd story, but none the less interesting. For much of the history of helmets in science fiction, the “spaceman” fashioned helmet of 1920’s Buck Rogers and the Pulp era sci-fi cover art, dominated the central ideas of how futuristic helmets were to be styled that influenced a generations of creators and dreamers. It didn’t help matters with connecting military-style heroes with military helmets that some early space heroes like Flash Gordon were often appeared helmetless unless in outer space, while soldiers around the hero wore helmets, creating a trope of fiction that endures until today (see the Stargate franchise).  
Many of these "spaceman" helmets were little more than decoration fitted with the normal run-of-the-mill communication devices and visors that blurred the line between spacesuit helmet and combat helmet. These fanciful “spaceman” helmets designs that paid more attention to form rather than function found their way into the ranks of futuristic soldier designs as seen with the 1991 Avon Books cover art for The Forever War, Captain Power from Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, the Star Helmet from Lazer Tag Worlds of Wonder toyline and cartoon, and the 1986 GI Joe: Real American Hero character of “Sci-Fi”. 
There was little technology or explanation given to these military helmets functions, or even a proper goddamn name. One of the few military sci-fi helmets ever given a name on-screen was the M.I. M3 Tactical Helmet from 1997’s Starship Troopers. One of the few areas of technological advancement shown in the vast majority of combat helmets is the HUD that streams tons of information. From Iron Man films, to various anime, manga, video games, like HALO and Fallout, the HUD reigns supreme in the most used piece of technology in military helmets. Today in science fiction, helmets are getting more love via video games like HALO and Destiny that inject helmet customization as a prime motivator to spend time and money in the video game world to achieve that piece of swag that completes your character's look and equally impresses other players.   


The Mobile Infantry M3 Tactical Helmet from Starship Troopers I, II, and III
In the 1997 film, the original vision of the author's Mobile Infantry was altered from powered armor to poorly equipped space-drop infantry in black and grey armor. In the film, the well-designed helmet was actually named during the fatal blue-on-blue training accident at Camp Currie. When Rico is dressed down for asking recruit Breckenridge to remove his helmet to fix it being misfit, the commander actually calls the helmet by its destination: the M3 Tactical Helmet. This is the first named military sci-fi helmet in a film ever. There is not much to say about the fictional M3 helmet itself. It has little in the way of 23rd century technology, like much of the M.I. tech, and cannot protect the wearer against a direct hit from an 7.62mm round, as demonstrated in the case of poor Breckenridge.
While it does have an communication system, the original concept was to have M3 helmets to be fitted with flip-down tactical HUD visor, but it produced too much glare and blocked the actors' vision and was jettisoned. There were several variants of the M3 seen in the original SST film, the medic helmet, the blacked-out Fleet variant, and the "laser tag" force-on-force red vs. blue trainer helmets. For the 1997 film, over 1,000 prop helmets of various detail were constructed out of fiberglass in one size with pads to modify the size. Starshiptrooper.net reports that only 25 were hero props meant for the lead actors and close-in shots (called "A" helmets), while the rest were only suitable for the background actors playing M.I. soldiers in massive battlescenes (called "B" helmets).
The M3 M.I. helmets would be recycled for the other two live-action SST films, and in several episodes of Firefly as the combat helmet for the Alliance soldier and on the apes in the horrible 2001 Planet of the Apes reboot. The helmet has gone on to become one of the most iconic sci-fi helmets of all time and a favorite of collectors, much like the Morita Rifle.

The Colonial Marines M10 Pattern Ballistic Helmet from ALIENS
Given the legendary status of 1986's ALIENS, the gear, vehicles, and weaponry have also achieved the same status in the sci-fi community. Sitting on top of the Colonial Marines heads is an rather realistic combat helmet from the 22nd century: the M10 Pattern Ballistic Helmet of the US Army and CMC. Constructed out of the same material as the M3 body armor, the M10 allows for protection from collision and ballistic impact, while also serving as an load bearing site for other gear. The neck of the soldier is protected (to a lesser extent) by the rear attached flap. While it cannot protect against a direct strike by an bullet, it can protect against collision and shrapnel.
Besides simple protection, the M10 has Ear protection and and communications is integrated into the M10's architecture, along with an passive IR single-eye sight and video/audio transmitter. The battlefield of the 22nd century is awash in data, and individual Colonial Marines transmit audio, bio-metric, and video information back to the C3 center and the command staff. Some Special Operations units have lightened M10 helmets that delete these features due to low-profile and low-weight conditions.
For the film, the M10 helmet were constructed out of the standard US issue M1 "steel pot" helmet of the Vietnam War, and they were constructed by Terry English at Pinewood Studios. The rear-flap plastic armor, flip-down IR sight, and communication gear was added to "future-up" the iconic helmet. It is believed, like most films, that there were several hero prop helmets for close-in shots, but even those hero prop M10 helmets were not the same based on an interesting tactic of director James Cameron.
Several actors wore live audio/visual gear on their M10 helmets that really feed footage and audio that were to be added to the film to add layers of tension and the Marines' POV. Some of this footage can be found in the first part of the Colonial Marine insertion into the colony and the atmospheric processor. One of the confirmed actors wired for live sound and video was Al Matthews playing Sgt. Apone. This is why Apone's M10 helmet appears different that other actors' helmets. Due to the weight of the equipment, Al Matthews' helmet was actually either the liner to the M1 or an plastic copy. This also accounts for different appearance of the camo pattern, because it was not a liner as with Frost's and Hudson's, but painted on. Hicks' helmet is also an lightened variant as seen when Newt puts on the helmet in Operations. Some of the fan-created prop M10 helmets were also constructed out an lightened helmet rather than the M1.

The Rebel Commando Helmet from the Star Wars Universe
In the sixth Star Wars film, we see a Rebel Commando strike team deployed under the command of General Solo to the Forest Moon of Endor to sabotage the energy shielding protecting the under-construction 2nd Death Star. The SpecOps team drawn from the ranks of the Rebel Alliance Commandos led by General Crix Madine and was outfitted in woodland gear, topped off with an rather unique helmet that is completely different than the helmets used by the Imperial Stormtroopers and the Mandalorians Warriors. There is little to none information on the Rebel Commando helmet, and the SW cosplay community has wrestled with how to craft this unqiue sci-fi military helmet. The helmet is basically two pieces, a metal "donut" and an skull cap that encompesses an communication system, visor, and chin strap with an color pattern to match the Woodland conditions of Endor Moon.
This is not an military helmet in the classic sense, and when Princess Leia mets Ewok warrior Wicket, it is interesting that she refers to the helmet has an "hat", and this may give some insight into the helmet itself. Bear with me here. When the costume department designed the Endor Strike Team Commando uniforms, they drew inspiration from modern military kit and gear, and since the costume department was mainly based in England, they drew some inspiration from British military kit and gear. Also, at the time of that ROTJ, most people believed that Special Forces troopers worn boonie hats and bandanas. All of this, coupled with the tradition of the SW costume/prop team using surplus military gear to design their alien galaxy. The commando helmet was based around an canvas ANH-15 military soft cap trainer helmet (noted by the clips for attaching an O2 mask and the visor) and pieces were added to design the overall look of an light military helmet that was mainly for bump protection and not ballistic protection, along with being more breathable than an Rebel Marine helmet (seen in SW:ANH). It is my firm believe that the Rebel Commandos that donned the helmet in ROTJ were showing us that the same thinking that made SOF units turn to the Pro-Tec and the current FAST helmets over heavier standard combat helmets is alive and well in a galaxy far, far away.

The 2063 USMC "K-Pot" Ballistic Helmet from Space: Above and Beyond
One of the best works in all of military sci-fi was 1995-1996's Space: Above and Beyond, and it was cut down it too early by FOX after just a single season. One standout feature of the TV show was that show's producers worked hard to blend the world of 2063 with the world that we knew, making the world, technology, and clothing of SAAB less outlandish and relatable. That extended to the tactical gear that the Marines and Army personnel worn on the show. Since the Marines of the 58th would be fighting on various types of exo-planetary conditions and in their SA-43 Hammerhead starfighter. This forced the costuming department to outfit each member of the 58th with three different helmets: one for their atmospheric standard ground combat loadout, their hostile atmosphere ground combat loadout, and their flight gear.
Given the expensive nature of SAAB's production, the show made a decision to save some money on outfitting the devildogs for atmospheric standard ground combat operations. They bought and lightly modified the US military PASGT Kevlar Helmet, AKA the "K-pot". These helmets were retrofitted with several items to fit the time period like the addition of a skinny microphone, and side-mounted "camera", and using OD helmet cover inside of a known camouflage pattern. This blended the helmet being using by US forces in the mid-1990's with the world of 2063, making the Marines and soldiers less futuristic and more realistic.
There are two unusual features with the helmet seen in the show. First, it seems from the limited information on the internet and my experience with PASGT helmets, that the show actually used the real military ballistic kevlar helmet, given today, that most productions using military helmets uses the plastic variants that retain the look but ditch the weight. Second, what is the little item on the side of the helmet? In the show, we never get an explanation of what the hell that little camera/light device is or what it does.Cosplayer sites that discuss creating an SAAB marine outfit have concluded that it is some sort of camera and/or light attachment, or it could even been tied into the communication system. I've seen the real prop, and it doesn't give anything in the way of answers. It is likely that the SAAB costume department drew from the ALIENS Colonial Marine helmet-cam, never figured out a way to incorporate it into the show.

The Various SPARTAN Helmets from the HALO Universe

Most characters in science fiction, be it alien, robot, or human, have a face that sets them apart for the others. The main character of the HALO universe, SPARTAN-II Master Chief John 117, never shows his face, and his MJOLNIR helmets becomes the "face" of our favorite SPARTAN and one of the most iconic fictional helmets of all time. The helmet itself is one of the most important pieces of the total MJOLNIR powered armor. While it does protect the wearer from collisions, explosions, and incoming fire using the advanced materials of the rest of the APS, it also featured an HUD system, exterior lighting, a slot for an AI construct (Cortana) chip, neuro-link interface with the rest of the armor, and of course, environmental support. MJOLNIR armor can easily transition from normal environmental conditions to hostile in a moments notice, and the helmet provides part of the support and protection for that feature. Throughout the existence of the various SPARTAN super-soldier programs, the MJOLNIR helmet, like the rest of the APS, was available in a vast array of designs. By the time of 2558 and the events of HALO 5, there was an number of helmet designs seen being used by SPARTAN IIs, IIIs, and IVs.
While some of these designs were merely cosmetically different than one another, other MJOLNIR helmets were constructed around a specific task or operation like sniping, EVA, flying, hazmat, and close quarters warfare. With the HALO franchise's strong multiplayer history and presence, the customization of their characters MJOLNIR armor was a key feature and motivator for the audience. Players can pick from dozens of various designs, colors, and features for their SPARTAN super-soldier avatar's armor loadout once every helmet design was unlocked. Often, these helmets were a symbol of how badass you were or how much time you spent grinding to get that one piece of shiny digital kit. Given this, the various helmets' design are often a representation of a certain game, SPARTAN character or generation, the year of release, or even DLC.  

The Infantry Helmets from Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future episode "the Abyss"
When costume departments are asked to design future infantry soldiers, they turn to some classic thinking about how soldiers in the future will look...and that includes the trope of full face masks. In the episode of Captain Power, the "Abyss", Power and Hawk seek out an military distress signal, and locate one of the last Earth military units intact, but it is lead by a nutty general. While some of the soldiers wear berets and soft-caps, the more armored infantry are wearing full-face masks in a tainted hue. It is my believe that this helmet was original some sort of welding mask and was re-purposed for the future infantry look needed for Captain Power.

The Combat Powered Exoskeleton Helmet from Edge of Tomorrow
In the solid 2014 military sci-fi film based on the Japanese novel, the infantry of the combined global force (the UDF) against the alien invaders uses the exosuits to even the odds. While the exosuits mostly over the extremities, the duty to protect the rest of the wearer falls on typical body armor. The head is protected by an slightly retrofitted current military helmet. It is highly likely that the helmet is none other than an bump protection OPS-CORE FAST helmet. Exosuit builder, Pierre Bohanna seems to have liberally borrowed all around to develop the legions of exosuits needed for the film.
It makes sense to use an off-the-shelve military helmet that they modified with full-ear protection and an clear eye protection visor. These helmets are seen on most of the exosuit infantry, with some modified for Sgt. Rita Vrataski's "dead head" full-face wearing soldiers. While nearly all of the UDF exosuit infantry wear the helmets, but Rita and Bill often abandon the donning of the helmets...because they are the stars and doesn't seem to help anyways against the mimics.

The 2063 USMC Hostile Environment/Flight  Helmet from Space: Above and Beyond

In the series, the 58th squad served in both a ground and space attack role as rifleman or space fighter pilot. Each member of the 58th was issued no less than three helmets for use in various combat conditions. During ground operations in atmospheric standard worlds, they donned the standard ballistic helmet. However, on hostile planetary environments, the Marines worn an OD hued ground combat variant of their clamshell flight helmet that, unlike the flight version, was sealed against the hostile environment and tied into their rebreather packs. During operations when the 58th served as attack jet or transport pilots , they worn their clamshell flight helmets decorated in unique patterns and markings that were not present on their ground combat variant, nor was the flight helmet enclosed and sealed. David Tremout was the model-smith on SAAB, and he and his team, designed the flight helmets for the show.
He said in an interview, that each helmet cost around "several thousand dollars" and about 30 were made. Some were fitted and customized for certain actors with marking and colors to match, while others were recycled for guest actors and background players. Given the expense, the helmet props were watched. One of the most unqiue features of this sci-fi helmet was the clamshell feature. Instead of the normal slipping the helmet over the head, the actors latched the two pieces of the helmet to their head and crewmembers attached oxygen hoses to the rear access ports. This makes the SAAB flight/hostile environmental helmet a real bitch to reproduce for cosplay and display. One feature that was dropped from the pilot episode was the "night-scope/sight" that was to be used with Vansen's hostile enviroment helmet while on Mars. This was dropped partly because the actress, Kristen Cloke, had an eye infection during filming and the sight was stupid looking once seen on film. The flight helmet would reappear a few years later in an Will Smith video and some of the original props have found their way into the hands of collectors.

The Helmets of the Imperial Stormtroopers of the Star Wars Universe
This is the most famous, iconic, and celebrated military helmet in all of science fiction: the Imperial Stormtrooper helmet from the Star Wars universe. From the first time it was seen on screen in 1977 until even today, most in around the globe know this helmet and that says something about the design of the helmet and the power of Star Wars. Since the beginning of Star Wars fandom and merchandising, the Imperial Stormtrooper helmet as been there in the form of action figures, Halloween masks, and even coffee mugs. Some of the reason behind that status is, of course, the popularity of the films, but also how unique the Stormtrooper helmet is. According to in-universe explanations, the Imperial stormtrooper helmet is an improvement on the original Clone Wars-era Clonetrooper helmet. Like many sci-fi helmets, the stormtrooper helmet is fitted with communications equipment, limited atmospheric support and filtration, voice adjustment, and enhanced vision and audio pickups as well.
While it does offer some thermal, collision, and ballistic protection, a few bolts from an normal blaster would defeat the armor; however, the high-powered bolts from the Rebel A280 blaster assault rifle  and DL-44 pisotl would crack the helmet on a clean hit. A number of variants existed in the service of the Empire's elite soldiers. These include the scout armor helmet, the Imperial Guard red helmets, the aquatic helmet, and the cold weather helmet. All were fitted with unqiue technology and abilities to haul their specialized role. After the collapse of the Empire after the Battle of Endor, the First Order was formed out of the ashes, and their new stormtrooper corps was given redesigned armor, including the helmet, stylistical distancing themselves from the original Stormtroopers and their Empire.

The UN SPACY Veritech Flight Helmet from ROBOTECH/MACROSS Universe
There are just some sci-fi helmets that strike a chord with fans and the audience that become icons and visual hallmarks of the work in question. For ROBOTECH and MACROSS, it is the flight endo/exo helmet of the original Veritech pilots of the UN Spacy forces. Variants of the original 1980's design can be seen in current MACROSS anime products, models, and toys. Hell, there is even an officially licensed motorcycle helmet based on the design by Masei 911. For the most part, there is no hard data on the Veritech flight helmet, but given my deep passionate love for ROBOTECH, I do have some. The helmet pre-dates the formation of the UN Spacy and the crash landing of Zor's space research fortress.
During the Global Civil War, Roy Fokker and Henry Gloval served in the Western States Alliance, and the official issue flight helmet was the same used by UN Spacy Veritech fighter jocks. It is unknown how that factions flight helmet became official issue, but it is believed that the helmet was modified to serve in outer space flight operations as well as endoatmospheric via an attachment that enclosed the helmet. Unlike many other military helmets, these helmets were offered a rainbow of colors, and pilots would often choose a color scheme that wildly varied from pilot-to-pilot and even unit-to-unit. Through the First Robotech War (2009-2011) helmet was the standard issue for nearly all UN Spacy aircraft personnel and would be widely replaced after the First Robotech War for the new Southern Cross and the REF. Despite this, the original Veritech flight helmet was a symbol of that conflict and the men and women who served inside a cockpit. One of these days, I am going to buy the Roy Fokker type flight helmet for the FWS offices.

The Various Helmets from the Destiny Universe
The world of Destiny is a consuming affair with me firmly in its grasp. One of the cool things to do in the game is tailor your Guardian's outfit to your own tastes and that includes helmets across all three classes. At present, my human female Hunter wears the ATS/8 Arachnid helmet I bought from Xur, and it allows other Guardians to know something of my tastes and my Hunter. While little or nothing is explained about the tech or function of the various helmets, it is mostly the function of the helmets to be a source of motivation for the player to quest and grid to find that helmet you want and desire. There are some nice variations of helmets present in Destiny that rival the likes of HALO.

The Alliance Marine/N7 Endo/Exo Helmet from the Mass Effect Universe
One of the better designed and styled helmets of sci-fi is the Systems Alliance military helmets that characters like Ashley Williams and Selena Shepard wear throughout the Mass Effect games. The standard N7 helmet is dual atmosphere rated with embedded communication gear, HUD, and navigation. It is seen being used by all members of the System Alliance military and in various patterns and colors. It has become a popular helmet in prop and cosplay circles. Oddly, the N7 helmet design is one of the first to be ditched by the player since it is given to you at the first of the game, but to me, there is nothing more organic than Shepard wearing her N7 helmet.

The Resource Integration Gear Helmet from the Dead Space Universe
One of the new class of iconic sci-fi helmets that is featured in both civilian and military units is the RIG (Resources Integration Gear) suits from the Dead Space Universe. This glow-in-the-dark-fantastic styled helmet changes with the different RIG suits you buy via the stores, but the features do not alter. The RIG helmet is meant for hard duty in various environments. It also features an unique HUD feature, known as the Holotech Operating System.

The StarHelmet from Worlds of Wonder Lazer Tag system and the Entertech Photon Helmet 
In the mid-1980's, there were two competing toy companies with similar high-end toylines and it was not Sega vs. Nintendo, but Lazer Tag vs. Photon. Both were IR-based "tag-shooting" systems that attempted to forge an multi-media brand with books, toys, cartoons, and even gaming centers. The original toylines were both dead within a few years, and neither reached the levels expected by the hype surrounding them. I owned two Lazer Tag systems and was a member of the Photon centers, playing in various cities around the country for a brief time. Even had my 11th birthday at the Photon Center in Tulsa. Yes, it was awesome...totally awesome.  Happy memories.
How does this relate to the topic of military helmets? Both Photon and Lazer Tag were marketed as you playing a future soldier and both systems had helmets that were future cool. While Lazer Tag had their helmet, the awesome 1980's styled and named "StarHelmet", sold separately in 1987, the core Photon system was sold complete with an either an red or green helmet. At Photon centers, you picked either the green or red teams, and the Photon helmet was also awesome 1980's future fashion with massive visor....which fogged up in combat and had a series of lights on the helmet that tracked the amount of hits you took. When you made at the Photon centers, you worn a paper skull cap, and the gear was mounted in these racks...great memories.
The StarHelmet is a little harder to track down information on and I never owned it back in the day. From the limited information on this picture above, this seems to from the company that actually constructed the original prototypes of the Worlds of Wonder Lazer Tag system, and it had a feature that did not sure make it to production: the visor. Worlds of Wonder knew prior to the release of their Lazer Tag system that they were going to release a helmet, the marketing, promotional pictures, and cartoon all bear this out...but it was not released until 1987, while the StarHat was out in the original 1986 line release. Both the StarHat and the StarHelmet were wearable IR sensors that your enemy could fire at in order to tag you out and served the same function as the chest mounted StarSensor, but more 1980's stylish. One of the let downs with the StarHelmet, that was clearly promised in the advertisements, was the 1980's future cool visor (Captain Power vibe anyone?!). Very clearly on the box, it states that the visor is not included. Total bummer. I feel lied to by corporate America. I badly wanted one of these, and never got one. One of these days, I am going to buy one of the helmets on eBay along with the Lazer Tag rifle and hang them with pride in the FWS offices...first I need an FWS office though.

The UNSC Marine/Army CH252 Helmet from the HALO Universe

While most pay attention to the MJOLNIR armor of the SPARTANs, the bulk of the warfighters combating the alien invaders is the UNSC Marine Corps and the UNSC Army. Their helmet of choice throughout the Human/Covenant War was the CH252 helmet for both soldiers and Marines. The CH252 would see some improvements and variations throughout the war. Some CH252 were fitted with an exterior HUD, ballistic visor, but all were fitted with communication gear and an embedded video/audio camera system that Master Chief is seen accessing during the battle of Installation 04.
The two major variants are the ECH252 and the ODST CH252 helmet. Seen in the HALO Wars game and some parts of HALO: Reach, the ECH252 is an enclosed variant for hostile environmental conditions (including limited EVA) or flight operations. The other is very specialized and only available to the elite ODST units of the UNSC. It features some improved HUD, neuro-interface, and the advanced night vision TACMAP/VISR. It is also able to allow the ODST to have 15 minutes of oxygen in case of emergency, especially during the dangerous space drop phase of their combat operations. Throughout the HALO games, the helmet of the UNSC Army and Marine personnel has changed, sometimes radically, and yet, the resources tell us that the CH252 has been the helmet for the both services since the beginning of the war in 2525...which I call bullshit on. But, this is par for the course for the HALO games, Master Chief's armor alters a great deal from game-to-game without explanation.

The Combat Helmets of the Colonial Fleet Marines from the BSG Universe
The 2003's rebooted and reimagined Battlestar Galactica is one of the greatest science fiction shows of all time, and the craft that Ronald D. Moore and others applied to this landmark show eclipsed the 1978 original series and other sci-fi shows. It is one of the iconics of sci-fi television. However, when it came time to costume the Colonial Fleet security forces, the Marines, the show did a shitty, lazy job and this fully extends to the helmet as well. The most recognized helmets of the BSG universe, classic and reimagined, are the Viper pilot helmets...and rightly so. But then you compare the love & attention those pilot helmets get and what sits atop the Colonial Fleet Marines, and you then realized that the production staff really phoned it in. The black plastic helmets of the Marines serving onboard the Galactica and the Pegasus were manufactured by a noted helmet company Giro, and the model in question was the "Bad Lieutenant" mode that was meant for skiing and other sports. In the series, the Giro helmets were black and topped off with a set of goggles that directly points to the "inspiration" for the look of the Colonial Fleet Marines: The D-Boys of the film Black Hawk Down. These Marines look more akin to SWAT officers or Airsofters attempting to look like DELTA Force Operators, and they are not completely pulling it off. While the show's primary philosophy was rooted in realism, the borrowing of modern tactical equipment and the overall look of these space marines smacks of laziness and breaks from the rest of the show's visuals. I've always hated the look of the Colonial Fleet Marines and the lack of effort put into their costume.

The ISA Marine Helmet from the Killzone Universe
Beginning with the 2009 sequel to the original Killzone game, the Interplanetary Strategic Alliance Marine Corps started wearing an combat helmet that appeared based on either military plastic sports helmets, like the Pro-Tec Ace Water helmets or the OPS-CORE FAST helmets. Given the time period when Killzone 2 was developed and released, coupled with the overall appearance of the ISA Marine combat helmet, I willing to bet that they are based on the Pro-Tec Ace Water helmet. However, by the time of  Killzone 3 and Shadow Fall, the ISA Marine helmet appears to be more visually related to the OPS-CORE FAST helmet, complete with NVG mount, full-ear protection and communication gear.

The Helmets of the Mandalorian Warriors
Often, the iconic and signature helmets of the Star Wars belong to Darth Vader, the Stormtroopers, and even now Kylo Ren, but there is another...the Mandalorian warriors T-visor helmets. Since the appearance of Boba Fett in the original holy trilogy, we fans have known that our favorite bounty hunter sported an helmet belonging to the ancient Mandalorian warriors and they influence the early version of the Imperial Stormtroopers. In 2002, that long held information was fully fleshed out in SW: ATOC. Much like the Knights of Europe and the Samurai, the Mandalorian warriors were known for their armor and helmets that became symbols of their entire organization. Throughout the evolution of the Mandalorian warriors and the many clans that hail from that culture, their full enclosed helmets possess an T-shaped visor and an HUD informational display with sometimes an flip-down rangefinder. While the Mandalorian warriors died out and there were still a few left and one, Jango Fett imported the T-visor hallmark to this warrior-prodigy, the clone troopers. For much of the Clone Wars, the Republic clone troopers worn an T-shaped visor fully enclosed helmet that spoke to the genetic origins of the clone troopers and an old sense of historical irony given the history between the Jedi and the Mandalorians. By the end of the Clone Wars, as the empire rose, the clone trooper helmet had been modified, abandoning the T-visor, there is still a piece of those warriors in the armor of the stormtrooper.  

Major West's "Iron Man" Helmet from Lost in Space (1998)

The original Lost in Space was an early successful sci-fi show on a major American network, and during the 1990's, it was a trend to given old TV shows the big movie treatment. In 1998, we got the Lost in Space film that bombed at the box office and is not well known today. Anyways, the character of Major Don West, played by Matt LaBlanc, was outfitted with the latest in high-tech military gear and weaponry, including a rather future cool deployable/collapsible full-face battle armor, nicknamed "Iron Man" by the costuming community. It is likely that the 1994 Stargate film with the alien collapsible helmets and masks was an inspiration behind West's Iron Man mask. There is little information on the mask/helmet itself.

Next Time on FWS...
There is that special noise, the thump-thump of a firearm that does not match the explosive rush of sound we expect from an firearm....and we all know that there is an sound suppressor at work. For nearly an hundred years, the silencer or sound suppressor, as been the tool of assassins, spies, special forces, and wannabes. Despite, the extremely common nature of silencers in popular media, they are poorly understood by many due to misrepresentation of sound suppressors in popular media...including Bond films and Call of Duty games. Join FWS next time when expert contributor Yoel sorts out the fact from the fiction of sound suppressors.


  1. Great article William! This is for sure one of my favorites!

    Now my question. Do you think that Combat Helmets in the future could be or will integrated with a soldier's weapon to show how many cartridges it has left in the magazine (like in video games), or will it be that the military will just put and electronic HUD on the mag to show the ammo count? I feel as if it is more probable that they would do the latter, as trying to figure out a way to connect the weapon to the helmet's HUD seems more difficult. (If any of this doesn't make sense, please feel free to ask!)

    I will definitely say my favorite helmets in sci-fi are the various SPARTAN helmets and the Dead Space helmet. Great article once again, and I can't wait for your next one on Suppressors!

  2. I think that video game like HUDs will be in the future. I think that, in an odd move, that video games have proven their effectiveness and generations of future soldiers have grown up on shooters that display this information. An assault carbine linking into an soldier's helmet HUD system would be an easier system than open-window magazine. There could be a backup system on the weapon itself, as seen in some of the weapon of DESTINY rather than the bright-as-hell LED ammo counter seen on the M41a1 from ALIENS.
    Thanks for the comment and reading!

    1. A though, With the Advent of Smart glasses why not build such a hud into a set of ballistic glasses. If you keep the glasses small enough to fit under the helmet And the system could be mated with a wider range of head gear even if wanted without the helmet.

  3. An excellent article. A realistic future of the military helmet has been explored nicely in Jon Davis's The Next Warrior book series being written on Quora.com. Would check it out.

  4. Thanks in favor of sharing such a fastidious idea, piece of writing is nice, thats why i have read it…
    Odd stories

  5. This article is from back in 2014, but it seems that DOD has dropped the facemask/mandible idea for now.

    1. Actually I think they kept on it.
      The British Army just adopted the Revision designed Cobra battle helmet system that includes the Mandible And The US Army has continued to push it as part of of the soldier protection system concept.
      The critical issue is of course the weight but that can be mitigated by using a device that moves the weight of the helmet off the neck. The Army Research Lab devised such a set up It's basically a unpowered exoskeleton rig that moves the weight off the spine and lower on the body well still allowing a range of motion.

  6. A rather interesting and thought provoking blog entry on the miltiary helmet there William. I kind of hypothesized that there were two types of such modern military helms: ballistic protection and vehicle collision proteciton of some kind. It never occured to me that a third reason/type for SOF units and even fighter pilots to have helmets as to be a load-bearing structure for accessories such as visors, communications, air mask in the vein of fighter pilots. Also interesting is the fact that there is a Pitcanny-like rail system for helmets to mount said accessories to increase battlespace awarness and such. The only such "accessory mounts" I was familiar with was those nightvision mounting clips that were either installed after-market or before sale. Does sound like an interesting use of modular customization and such, especially with the ever evolving electronic and computer technologies. Not to mention that future material and production process that could blur the ballistic and collision protection (I'm going to assume that modular accessory mounting would be standard somewhere down the road) would slowly blend the two helmet types until ultimiately there is a universal combat helmet suited for both the common infantryman, the special operations soldier, and quite possibly ACV crew. A plus for anyone studying military logistics.

    Though I think it's worth noting that, if I recall correctly, the reason why the US Army stuck with the M1 Steel Pot design for so long until the PASGT Kevlar helmet was that the design philosophy of the K-Pot derived from the German Stahlhelm and for the longest time, propaganda and culture made the design synonomous with Nazi Germany and evil.

    As for the whole idea of a face covering military helmet, well there is a slight attraction towards the concept beyond the literary of environmental protection. I mean if the full face helmet causes so much heating problems, then it would probably make more sense to put in an internal climate control system not unlike the AC of an automobile. And if one would take the argument further, one would argue why should one limit the temperature regulation to the helmet alone and not the rest of the soldier? Well I imagine energy cost and complexity for one, but this is future tech we're talking here. I imagine that a fully environmentally sealed military helmet would not neccessarily have the bulk of the AC equipment installed for mass issues, rather it would be plugged into the enclosed environmental battle dress suit for lack of a better term. Akin to how vacuum cleaner attachments are used, though more rugged for military service. Heck, add the exoskeleton frame and you got yourself a bargain power armor that can be produced en mass. Though now that I think of it, the only reason why one would keep a visor for a military helmet, instead of soely relying upon externally mounted cameras and similar sensors to increase the amount of ballistic protection for any roughneck's dome, would probably be due to the combined effort of a passive backup system for said cameras, and the need to address the electricity problem in terms of longevity and possible weakness to EMPs.

    Oh, there were other areas where the MI M3 Tactical Helmet were seen in film: one being the made-for-TV movie G-Savior and the other being the 2001 film Impostor in which they were worn by nondiscript MPs.

  7. Another reason pilots wear helmets is that those helmets act as flotation devices for the head the helmet has the ability to float up 12 lbs which is more than the human head so it keeps the pilots head above water.

  8. Great article, maybe we could see one on the helmets of aviators one day?

    Two things occurred to me as I read.
    First, I think I prefer the Macross Zero flight helmets over the original series.

    Second, I wonder why USMC aviators got away from camouflage helmet covers in S:AAB. I know it was because the personalized helmets looked cool on screen, but I wonder about yhe in universe explanation.

    1. I you don't mind a retroactive fan theory, The F35 which would come before the SAAB uses a Helmet that will lack the cover due to it's size and shaping as well as stealth.

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Dope post. Hey have you done an article on smart guns? If you havent I think it would be a cool topic to explore.

    1. Smart guns as in ID locked guns or Smart guns as in fires all kinds of specialty rounds?
      Me I am hoping for the Long awaited Artillery post... or at least one on Commando mortars with mention of the F-Lance and Star fleet mortars.

    2. I think he means smart guns as in computer-controlled machine guns that automatically track and target designated threats ala Aliens. I could be wrong though.

  11. While technically not a military helmet, Judge Dredd's headgear is still an iconic piece of sci-fi lore, both in comics and film. Given the amount of action a street Judge sees on the mean walkways of Mega-City One, it should be considered a combat helmet. Interestingly enough, if memory serves me correct, I don't recall the comic detailing the helmet as possessing any form of HUD, which one might expect with 21st century tech.