This article is an overview of magazine covers featuring US paratroopers. This did not necessarily mean that the magazines also featured articles related to the cover photo. That was rather the exception, and if it was the case, the pictures inside were usually disappointing. So they now make great collectables for framing, not so much for reading.
I have divided the article into a section for civilian magazines and one for military magazines. All covers have been resized to the same format, but most civilian magazines like “LIFE”, “Collier’s” and “The Saturday Evening Post” were in the same large format. “Yank” was the same format, but “The Infantry Journal” was much smaller. There were some very small format magazines distributed in liberated Europe, such as “U.S.A” and so-called “Pony editions” of civilian magazines, especially for the Armed Forces, like “TIME”.
LIFE, May 12, 1941
LIFE, September 7, 1942
LIFE, August 14, 1944
This must be one of the earliest articles on the new paratroops. Note the Riddell helmet, the T-4 and the M-1928 Thompson.
Gliders, just like paratroops were a new phenomenon in warfare. These are glider pilots and troops in training.
This must be THE best known wartime photograph of a paratrooper. Lt. Kelso C. Horne, platoon leader of 1st Platoon, I Company, 508 PIR in Normandy. Read all about him in “America’s Finest’ by Gary Howard.
LIFE, August 19, 1940
Collier’s, November 20, 1943
Douglas Airview, September 1944
This is the earliest of all magazines on this page. It’s about the parachutists in training. Must be the very beginning.
This is an interesting photograph of paratroopers training with carrier pigeons. Two pigeons are in the first type harness attached to the reserve chute on the lefts and 8 more in a special drop container on the right.
This looks like spray-painted camouflage of an M-1942 jump suit and very well camouflaged face and hands. In the background is a camouflaged parachute canopy.
Saturday Evening Post, September 12, 1942
Liberty, April 22, 1943
Liberty, July 17, 1943
Beautiful painting of paratroops on a practice jump. Is this corporal jumping without a reserve?
Note how this magazine speaks freely of ‘our invasion army’. This was 6 weeks before D-Day. How secret did the Allies really keep their broad intentions?
This title already speaks of post-war jobs for servicemen. In fact, Germany was loosing its dominance in the spring of ’43, but the war was still far from won for the allies. On the cover is Cliff Doud who was a Para-Marine with the 5th Division in Iwo Jima during WWII.
This cover features the same photograph as in the Liberty magazine on the left.
Has airborne General Ridgway on the cover.
Paratrooper in a ‘posed’ jump from the door of a C-47.
November 3, 1942
I searched a long time for this one. It has a beautiful cover.
I didn’t even know this one existed. Just found it by chance. Inside is a story of the 503rd PIR in training with color photos, which is quite uncommon inside WWII magazines. All troops wear M2 helmets, many with the early cardboard liners. Some readers pointed out in the comments section that the paratrooper on the cover is PFC Robert L. Green. Apparently this is documented in the January 12, 1943 Edition of Look Magazine on page 62 where Mr. & Mrs. L.H. Green of Stephens, Arkansas sent in a picture and a thank you to the magazine which states “The Paratrooper on your Nov 3, 1942 Cover is our son, PFC Robert L. Green. Thank You for giving him this honor!
U.S.A. was an American propaganda publication, distributed in France after the liberation. The cover shows a much used stock-photo of a paratrooper in training. Other issues of U.S.A. exist, but I don’t have those yet.
March 13, 1944
Photo of a training jump. Note the pouch on his left hip. I have not been able to identify its purpose. The contents of the magazine provide no further clues.
October 2, 1945
Infantry Journal featured several covers with paratroops. Inside, however, it was a dull professional Army publication.
Another nice cover.
This is a magazine published by the Army in the ETO. The quality of the paper is very bad, so generally these magazines are in poor condition.
Yank, August 1, 1943
Yank, March 24, 1944
Yank, February 18, 1944
The shoulder insignia is that of the Aviation Engineers. Their job was to land their equipment by glider to build or repair captured airstrips
(p. 219 America’s Finest, Gary Howard).
Paratrooper in New Guinea.
This is the same cover as before, but this is another edition, which appeared almost a week earlier.
Yank, June 30, 1944
Yank, June 26, 1944
Yank, July 2, 1944
You find this photograph in many books. It’s Ike interviewing members of the 101st Airborne ready to board the aircraft.
This is the same cover as before, but this is the Caribbean edition, which appeared a few days earlier.
Paratrooper boarding C-47 for the invasion of Southern France.
Yank, December 24, 1943
Yank, July 9, 1944
A Yank with Santa jumping alongside a paratrooper. Inside is an interesting full-page article about Belgian Commandos.
Another Yank with paratroops on the cover. Also a picture found in many books of paratroopers handing out ration tins to French civilians.
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This article describes the magazines that I own or have pictures of, but there are more. You are welcome to contribute with any additional pictures and information you may have.