WWII Airborne Training Jump Helmet, ca. 1942, attributed, very early issue


All-original, totally complete, US WWII paratroop training helmet. This example is one of several types of such headgear worn in the early years of US jump training, and recently emerged from an 82nd Airborne NCO’s estate. Sergeant Shipman was evidently a jumpmaster and rigger—and likely also a very early member of the Airborne force. His helmet has never been restored, refinished, or otherwise worked-on since it emerged from Shipman’s footlocker. But then this piece is in such excellent condition, no work was or is necessary. It is, we believe, a 1930s-vintage molded-leather Rawlins football helmet--a much sought collectible in its own right--which was originally finished in red enamel. (See accompanying photos for an identical example being worn at an early jump school.). It was expertly repainted in Airborne blue, and approximately 95% of this finish remains. The helmet also bears a 1 ¼ inch white numeral 5 on its rear cape. An intriguing feature is the two-inch tall, white parachute with DFC lettering (Distinguished Flying Cross?) on the helmet’s front. In its style, this insignia is classic 1940s artwork, and resembles other Airborne insignia of the period. It is worthy of further research. The helmet also bears Sgt. Shipman’s name, lightly-inked on the center of the Riddell-type cotton webbing liner. The numerous, embossed factory markings on the helmet’s rear are likely more easily deciphered by collectors of sports memorabilia than Airborne enthusiasts. Also present is the helmet’s original cotton webbing chinstrap. I originally planned to research this piece by looking for Sgt. Shipman’s name in all the Para regimental and divisional histories. Thereafter I wanted to obtain his service history via the Veteran’s Administration. Following that, I hoped to find mention of the sergeant in any of the plethora of postwar 82nd Airborne histories and autobiographical works, such as “Those Devils in Baggy Pants.” Shipman may be present in those sources, but the voyage of discovery can now be yours! Included with the purchase is a copy of the original e-mailed letter of authentication from the primary beneficiary of the estate sale in which Sgt. Shipman’s effects were sold. We would also be happy to add a more formal Certificate of Authenticity if the purchaser desires this. See Davis’s “US Airborne Forces Europe, 1942-45,” p. 4 for the photo of an identical helmet we’ve shown here. See also Andrews’s “Airborne Album, Vol. One: Parachute Test Platoon to Normandy,” p. 6 for an image of Bill Lee wearing similar headgear. Also, Laughlin’s “US Airborne Forces of World War II,” pp. 8-13 illustrates numerous examples of Airborne training headgear. This helmet is a scarce, untouched, and superb piece of Airborne history, which belongs in an advanced collection.