Wartime magazines were filled with military-themed patriotic advertisements. Paratroops were new and exciting in the 1940’s, so advertisers who were in any way linked to paratroop equipment published specially themed ads to highlight this. Looking at these ads from our modern perspective, they seem overly idealistic and patriotic. And they are. The war effort, even at home, was a total one. Nowadays, views on deployment of US troops abroad are at best divided, and no advertiser would get burned by pointing out he is supplying equipment to the armed forces. Not to mention soldiers endorsing Camel cigarettes…

These ads are all wartime dated, unless otherwise noted. Most ads below appeared in large size publications such as “LIFE” magazine and “The Saturday Evening Post”, but here they have all been resized to the same format.

Airfoam-Goodyear Alcoa Aluminum America’s Electric Light and Power Companies
They made the rubber soles of the jumpboots for paratroopers to land on. Signed by the men and women of Alcoa Aluminum. This is actually a post-war ad (1951), but I liked the picture with the M3 and other gear.


B.F Goodrich Bourbon-Supreme Bowes
A lot of copy in this ad, but really the same claim as the Airfoam-Goodyear ad. No real link, but I guess they figured paratroops would sell. This is an ad from 1947. Bowes has job opportunities for partroops after the war…


Camel Camel Camel
I love this one. Nice drawings and look how they also thought of a link between women and paratroops. This is the same kind of copy, but featuring Paramarines. This one shows a paratrooper among soldiers and seamen from other branches of service.


Camel Champion spark plugs Chrysler
Camel ad with glider troops in training Their spark plugs were fitted in the engines of the Skytrains You can’t NOT read this ad. The comic strip layout makes you read all of it. Never mind that these same bullets were also used by the rest of the Army.


Chrysler Curtiss Douglas
You can tell this ad is late-war because it’s about the C-46. This aircraft had doors on both sides and was used at the Rhine crossing, but then abandoned for paratroop use soon afterwards because of high fire hazard from even minimal flak. Another one from Curtiss, also for their troop carrier. Douglas made the ubiquitous C-47 Skytrain, the universal troop carrier and predecessor of the C-46.


Douglas Douglas Dr. Grabow
This ad focusses on the New Guinea airborne assault featuring different types of Douglas aircraft. Another one from Douglas themed on the drop on Tunis. Another ad of a brand that has absolutely nothing to do with paratroops, but hey…


Dunlop Emerson Radio Ethyl Gasoline
This is a British ad, featuring a British parachutist. The only one I have seen so far. Making the paratrooper link through their walky-talky, built to withstand shock and abuse. Ad shows aerial supply of fuel drums. Looks really dangerous if you ask me.


Ethyl Gasoline Fashion Frocks Foote Bros.
This one has a funny play on words “Alles über Deutschland”. This company made parachutes as well as dresses. Foote Bros. made gears for transmitting the enormous power of the new airplane engines.


General American Transportation Corporation General Electric GE – Mazda
These people made trains. Nothing to do with paratroops, but they sympathized. I think the creative is clever: into a tree. No real link with paratroopers, but a nice picture of a paratrooper in training with a Riddell helmet and T4 parachute. GE went far to link themselves to paratroopers. The ad tells a story about paratrooper who jumps when he sees the green jump light, made by Mazda of course, and how Mazda lamps are great for everyone else too.


Gilbert Good-Year Hamilton
Note the early style flying helmet used in training and the early jump boots with the white of the socks protruding. It also looks like a T4 parachute (large square chestpack). Ad for their contribution with rubber soles for jump boots. Hamilton military timepieces. Shown here is the USAAF timer…


Hercules Higgins Horsa
Interesting ad showing the use of A-5 aerial delivery containers with color-coded chutes. Higgins obviously supplied just about everything to every branch of the armed forces. British ad from the Airspeed company that made the Horsa glider planes.


Irving Irving IT&T
Ad from the famous parachute manufacturer Irving. Note that they write IRVIN in their logo, leaving out the G at the end. This was a mistake in the spelling of the company name (named after Leslie Irvin). After the war this was corrected. Another one from the same company, more specifically referring to paratroops. IT&T supplied communications equipment so air and ground forces could talk together. In actual combat that didn’t exist as illustrated in this ad.


Jarman Jefferson-Travis Joyce Aviation
Similar to the series of Roblee shoe ads, showing they also make jumpboots. These folks were direct competitors to IT&T in radio communications. They use the same story. This is a nice pic of paratroops in training. Note the A-2 helmets, the T-4 chutes and the socks.


Kelly Tyres Nash-Kelvinators Northern Pacific
This is a typical 1945 ad, featuring a veteran. Of the 101st, no less. One of my favorites. A very nice ad with a poem. Just to show they didn’t only make refridgerators. Railroad ad with a quiz about several topics, including paratroops.


Ovaltine Pepsi-Cola Pioneer
If it’s good for paratroopers, it must be good for you too. Nice ad with just a cartoon. Very different from what Coca Cola did at the time. Another one from a parachute manufacturer.


Piper Plaskon Pycopay
This ad is from 1942, a bit early to claim the use of small Pipers for dropping ‘Airborne Commandos’ behind enemy lines. I don’t think they were ever used for that. They also invented a 6-pocket Thompson magazine bandoleer. From the folks who made the glue for plywood glider plains. Speaking of far-fetched. Ad for tooth powder endorsed by a general from the Medical Corps. Try doing that today!


RCA Roblee Roblee
Another radio manufacturer, but this one is intersting for mentioning the Geronimo battly cry of the 501st PIR. Several versions of this ad exist (see books M. De Trez). If you had been selected to make these jumpboots, of course you’d use it in your ads. This is one of the other versions.


Shell Shell Research Stanpar
This is one from a series of 11 Shell ads, this being the only one showing paratroops. This is another one from Shell. I like the puritan humor in it: 444 silk stockings, aaauw! And another parachute manufacturer.


Stetson Talon Underwood
A public service announcement from this famous hatmaker in the best ‘Feind hört mit’ tradition. I do think that in Sept. 1944, this ad was published a bit late to be of much use. From the folks who made the zippers of jump suits and so many other WWII uniforms. This famous brand of typewriters also made M1 carbines (as did many other unrelated manufacturers such as IBM and even Rock-o-la).


U.S. Army U.S. Army U.S. Army
This is a post-war recruitement ad (1951), but it’s such a pretty one that I included it. This recruitement ad is from 1942 and already speaks of the ‘Airborne Infantry’. This recruitement ad is again postwar (1947) and shows a paratrooper wearing a flag at his left shoulder (which isn’t authentic as far as I know).


Vaseline Hair Tonic Wheat Sparkies Winchester
Be a smooth operator like Paratrooper Dennis, wearing Vaseline Hair Tonic. She’s a champion parachute maker. She eats Wheat Sparkies. Another very nice one from the biggest manufacturer of the M1 carbine.

Reference book

All American Ads of the 40's from Taschen

All-American Ads of the 40’s by Jim Heimann is a great reference book about ads from WWII. This Taschen publication is now out of print but can still be found on Amazon.com if you’re interested. This is from their review by J.P. Cohen: “Like a pop-cultural walk through time, All-American Ads of the 40’s covers the breadth of print ads from the World War II era. As one might expect, the ads look very different from ads today. Most are illustrated, and even the selling of innocuous products like candy bars taps into public interest number one, the war. The book is divided into chapters by product including alcohol, fashion, entertainment, travel, and automobiles. It also covers movie posters. Not surprisingly, gender roles are sharply divided, and race issues stick out sorely. Included is an essay by Willy R. Wilkerson III, “From Rationing to Prosperity, American Life in the 1940’s,” tracing the history of wartime consumerism.”

You can contribute too:
This article describes the ads that I own or know of. You are welcome to contribute with any additional pictures and information you may have.



Advertisements with paratroopers — 1 Comment

  1. Wouter,

    I just wanted to share with you and your followers my new book “American Airborne Ads Of The 20s Thru The 50s” It is 200 pages of period Airborne Print Ads, Paratrooper Cartoons and Vintage Airborne Magazine Covers. The book is 8 1/2 x 11 and all color high gloss 80 pound stock paper. This book will be a wonderful addition to the Airborne enthusiast collection!

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