Original WW2 Airborne Hawley Paratrooper Liner for the M2 D-Bale Helmet

Hawley right side

WWII Airborne Hawley Paratrooper Liner

This style of WWII airborne Hawley paratrooper helmet liner was the first liner produced to go into the M2 d-bale paratrooper helmet.   They were manufactured using a pressed fiber material that feels very similar to cardboard.  Thus, they were not very sturdy and had a tendency to fall apart during use.  They were manufactured using this material because at the time it was the only material that could be easily molded into the shape of the helmet shell.

Soon after the development of the Hawley liner, a couple of new processes for helmet liners were developed using low and high pressure composite materials.  These new processes were used by companies like St. Clair and Inland for their liners.  It was not very long before production of helmet liners for the M2 paratrooper helmet was switched to these companies.

Since these Hawley paratrooper liners were manufactured for only a brief period of time and are very fragile, they are extremely rare and hard to find today.  Originals of this style of Hawley paratrooper liner are found in only a few private airborne and M1 helmet collections today.

This particular WWII Hawley paratrooper liner originally belonged to the same paratrooper who owned the M41 paratrooper jump suit I posted a few weeks ago.  He was an early member of the US Airborne forces and retained several of these early airborne items after World War Two ended.


Aiborne M2 D Bale Paratrooper Helmet from a 506th PIR 101st Airborne Division Veteran

Bale Paratrooper Helmet Side View

M2 D Bale Paratrooper Helmet

This original World War Two M2 D Bale Paratrooper helmet came from a  Company G, 506 PIR, 101st Airborne Division Veteran.   The Veteran received this helmet during WW2, after his previous helmet had been shot off his head by a German soldier.  He wore that helmet, with the bullet hole still in it, for awhile but was later forced to turn it in and replace it with this helmet and liner, because his First Sergeant deemed a helmet with a bullet hole as unsafe.

The M2 helmet is referred to by collectors by many several names today.  In addition to M2 and D Bale, you will hear it also referred to as a C Loop or D Bail. They are a highly desired piece of militaria today.  Since they are in high demand and are fairly hard to find, they are one of the most heavily faked and/or recreated items of US WWII militaria today.

This M2 D Bale helmet exhibits all of the classic features you like to see in an original D Bale.  It has a low heat stamp number, the male snaps that snap into the liner are chromed, and it additionally has the little single indentations on the rim of the helmet, in between the bales, that these original helmets often have.   Also, the size, shape, and construction of the bales, and the feet of the bales, is correct.  The liner is a WWII correct Westinghouse paratrooper liner and was in the helmet when it was purchased from the Veteran.

Airborne Paratrooper M41 Jump Suit with M41 Jump Jacket and M41 Jump Pants

M41 Paratrooper Jump Jacket Front

M41 Paratrooper Jump Jacket Front

The M41 airborne jump suit was the predecessor of the more widely used (during WW2) M42 jump suit.  The M41 jump jackets and jump pants were made for a brief time in 1941, before it was decided that changes needed to be made to the paratrooper jump suit.  These changes were them incorporated into the M42 jump suit.

The biggest difference between the M41 and M42 jump suits were the pockets.  The M41 pockets were sewn flat on to the jacket and pants.  This did not allow much to be put in them.  It was decided that they should be expandable, much like the pockets seen on modern cargo pants/shorts, and that change was implemented on the M42 suit.  Also, the pockets on the M41 jump jacket each only had one snap to close them.  It was decided that was not enough and when the M42 suit went into production, there were two snaps on each jacket pocket.

There were some other minor changes.  For example, the side zippers at the bottom of each pants leg were deemed not necessary and were dropped from the M42 jump pants.  Also, the M41 jacket belt was sewn directly on to the jacket on the back and had a button snap on the end, while the M42 belt was only sewn on to the jacket by a small piece of fabric and replaced the button snap with a fabric loop.

Although all collectors, myself included, have a tendency to over use the term rare, the M41 jump suit is extremely hard to find and I think would appropriately be classified as rare.  There are only a handful of complete M41 jump suits in private collections today.  Since it was only issued for brief amount of time and at this time the US airborne forces were small, there were not many of them made.  Additionally, paratroopers that were issued them did sometimes continue to wear them throughout WWII, which resulted in many of them being used up.  Although the jump suit was replaced by the M43 suit in 1944, paratroopers were occasionally photographed wearing both the M41 and M42 jump jackets and/or jump pants throughout the War.

This particular suit belonged to an early member of the US Airborne forces that later became a member of the 517th PIR during World War Two. In addition to this suit, he brought back many other nice early airborne items including an early paratrooper training helmet and early paratrooper hawley liner.  I also own those items and they will be the subjects of later posts.