General Description: The standard M-1 helmet used by the US army during the Second World War was not appropriate for airborne troops because the steel shells had a tendency to separate from the detachable liners during jumps. The solution was to create a modified version of the M-1 for use by paratroopers. The new model, the M-2, had a half-moon shaped “D” loop for attaching the chinstrap to the shell. This enabled the wearer to more easily put the chinstrap on the back of the helmet if desired. The chinstrap differed from the standard type used on the M-1. It had an extension with a male fastener that snapped into a female fastener on the liner, thus securing the liner to the shell. The liners were also modified. In addition to the female fastener, the paratrooper helmets were equipped with inverted “A” straps which were used to attach a leather chin cup.
The M-2 helmet chinstrap loops had a tendency to break and surviving examples often have period repairs. When the loops broke, if they were not repaired, the paratroopers were issued standard M-1 helmets rather than being issued new M-2 types. Eventually, the army developed an improved version of the parachutist helmet called the M-1C. This was similar to the M-2, but it had flexible chinstrap loops like the mid to late-war versions of the standard M-1.
Although references to an “M-2” or “M2” helmet have been found in WWII period documents, it seems that this was never an official designation for this helmet. Officially the helmet was called the “M-1 Parachutist Helmet,” but M-2 is the term commonly used by collectors.
Displayed Example: This is an original M-2 helmet that has been married to an original paratrooper liner made by the Inland company. I bought the liner together with a parachute quick-release device. The original owner of these items was First Lieutenant George I. Stoeckert of the 82nd Airborne Division, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He was awarded a bronze star for his actions leading a mortar platoon during Operation Market Garden in Holland. I have included his photograph above.
When I purchased the liner, all the detachable parts were missing. Only the A straps and the sections of liner that attached to the liner with rivets remained. Over time I found correct, original components with the right level of wear and patina to complete the liner, including a hard-to-find flat chamois-lined chin cup. There are small holes in the front of the liner – for what purpose, I could only speculate.
The helmet liner was painted gold when I acquire it. This looked like a non-military done thing, like something a kid would do. So, I carefully removed the paint. Nine years later, George Stoekert’s daughter contacted me to talk about her father. Among the many interesting details that emerged from that conversation, was that the helmet liner had been painted gold when her father served as an honor guard for General Eisenhower in the post-war period. Of course, I then felt regret about having removed the paint. My apologies to posterity and to the collector community for altering this relic! It was a reminder to me that we collectors need to be careful about modifying the items in our possession. On the plus side, the gold paint was a post-war done thing and the helmet liner is now in its original wartime condition.
A collector friend in Holland was interested in buying my Inland paratrooper liner to complete a M-2 helmet shell in his collection. Because he already had a complete M-2 helmet, I thought a better proposition would be for me to buy his helmet to marry with my liner. We haggled and he agreed to sell me the M-2.
This particular helmet is missing one of the chinstrap loops. Both chinstrap sections are also long gone. These may have been removed when the loop broke in order to reattach them to a standard M-1.
The original WWII vintage net has its own history. The person I bought it from showed up late to an estate sale for an old collection of military headgear. The net was last thing available, having been overlooked by other buyers. I bought it because it is a type of British-made net that you can see sometimes in period photographs of soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division.
Collector Notes: The M-2 paratrooper helmet is one of the most highly sought-after items in the militaria collecting field. When they are offered for sale, which is infrequently, they tend to be among the most expensive additions to a collection. There were approximately 120,000 M-2 helmets made. They should not, therefore, be extremely scarce, but they are. One reason is that because of the design defect related to the faulty “D” ring chinstrap attachment devices, they would have been frequently discarded during the WWII period.
High prices breed forgeries. Many of these are quite good. Be skeptical and educate yourself before sinking a lot of money on one of these things. There are a few things to look out for. All the original M-2s have a small dimple on the interior rim between the two legs of the “D” ring chinstrap device. In addition, all M-2 helmets were made by the McCord company, so they should not have an “S” stamped in the helmet shell along with the lot number, which would signify that the helmet was made by the Schlueter company. Furthermore, McCord manufactured the M-2 helmets in four contracts from early 1942 to early 1943. The lot numbers for McCord helmets followed a sequence starting in 1941 and ending in 1945 with lot numbers in the 1,300s.The current known lot number range for M-2 helmets is 102C to 232B.  The helmet displayed here was made by McCord and has a lot number of 185.
* “The 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment: Trooper Pictures.” The 82nd Airborne World War II. https://www.ww2-airborne.us/units/508/508_trp.html. Accessed May 16, 2022.
 De Trez. 2010 pp 13
 “M-2 *Not the authorized official designation!* Research.” US Militaria Forum. March 26, 2016. https://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/263696-m-2-not-the-authorized-official-designation-research/#comment-2120416
 De Trez. 2010. pp 13
 Giard. 2007. pp 2
 Bugme (aka). “M-2 helmet and Inland airborne liner with history.” US Militaria Forum. May 21, 2022. Post #6. https://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/371649-m-2-helmet-and-inland-airborne-liner-with-history/#comment-2933948 [Information derived from unpublished collector database]