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World War II (WWII or WW2), also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. In a state of total war, directly involving more than 100 million personnel from more than 30 countries, the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, resulting in 70 to 85 million fatalities, with more civilians than military personnel killed. Tens of millions of people died due to genocides (including the Holocaust), premeditated death from starvation, massacres, and disease. Aircraft played a major role in the conflict, including in strategic bombing of population centres, the development of nuclear weapons, and the only two uses of such in war.

World War II is generally considered to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by the United Kingdom and France on the 3rd. From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan, along with other countries later on. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours: Poland, Finland, Romania and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, and the fall of France in mid-1940, the war continued primarily between the European Axis powers and the British Empire, with war in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, and the Battle of the Atlantic. On 22 June 1941, Germany led the European Axis powers in an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the Eastern Front, the largest land theatre of war in history and trapping the Axis, crucially the German Wehrmacht, in a war of attrition.

Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with the Republic of China by 1937. In December 1941, Japan attacked American and British territories with near-simultaneous offensives against Southeast Asia and the Central Pacific including an attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbor. Following a US declaration of war against Japan, which followed one from the UK, the European Axis powers declared war on the United States in solidarity with their ally. Japan soon captured much of the Western Pacific, but its advances were halted in 1942 after losing the critical Battle of Midway; later, Germany and Italy were defeated in North Africa and at Stalingrad in the Soviet Union. Key setbacks in 1943—including a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and the Italian mainland, and Allied offensives in the Pacific—cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned towards Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945, Japan suffered reversals in mainland Asia, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands.

The war in Europe concluded with the liberation of German-occupied territories, and the invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the fall of Berlin to Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945. Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender on its terms, the United States dropped the first atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima, on 6 August 1945, and Nagasaki, on 9 August. Faced with an imminent invasion of the Japanese archipelago, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, and the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria on 9 August, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. In the wake of the war, Germany and Japan were occupied, and war crimes tribunals were conducted against German and Japanese leaders. Despite their well documented war crimes, mainly perpetrated in Greece and Yugoslavia, Italian leaders and generals were often pardoned, thanks to diplomatic activities.

World War II changed the political alignment and social structure of the globe. The United Nations (UN) was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts, and the victorious great powers—China, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States—became the permanent members of its Security Council. The Soviet Union and the United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century-long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia. Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery and expansion. Political integration, especially in Europe, began as an effort to forestall future hostilities, end pre-war enmities and forge a sense of common identity.

World War II Media

74,095 media by topicpage 1 of 741
Berlin 1937, Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)

Berlin 1937, Berliner Dom (Berlin Cathedral)

Beskrivelse:Domkirken i Berlin. Pyntede gater i Berlin, Arbeidets dag (1. mai)/ Berlins 700 års jubileum. Store folkemengder, flagg med hakekors. Maistang. Berliner Dom..Fotograf: Thomas Neumann.År: 1937.Kamera... More

Woman working on an airplane motor at North American Aviation, Inc., plant in Calif.
[Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress, Mt. Rainier]

[Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress, Mt. Rainier]

Title: [Boeing Flying Fortress, Mt. Rainier]...Creator: Richie, Robert Yarnall, 1908-1984..Date: April 1943..Place: Mount Rainier, Washington..Part Of: Robert Yarnall Richie photograph collection..Physical Desc... More

[Waist Gunner in Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, World War II]

[Waist Gunner in Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, World War II]

Title: [Waist Gunner in Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, World War II]..Creator: Richie, Robert Yarnall, 1908-1984..Date: April or May 1943..Place: Mitchel Field Air Force Base, Long Island, New York..Part Of: Robe... More

[Tail Gunner in Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, World War II]

[Tail Gunner in Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, World War II]

Title: [Tail Gunner in Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, World War II]..Creator: Richie, Robert Yarnall, 1908-1984..Date: April or May 1943..Place: Mitchel Field Air Force Base, Long Island, New York..Part Of: Rober... More

C. & N.W. R.R., Mrs. Dorothy Lucke, employed as a wiper at the roundhouse, Clinton, Iowa
Bilder ohne Worte (In der Bauernstube)

Bilder ohne Worte (In der Bauernstube)

RAFA-3309 U71_0354..Vil du bla i albumet, kan du gjøre det i Digitalarkivet: arkivverket.no/URN:db_read/db/13188/2/?size=medium&mo... ( http://arkivverket.no/URN:db_read/db/13188/2/?size=medium&mode=0 ) ..If yo... More

Flowers where the freedomfighter, police officer Kaj Hedal was shot. Nytorv at Strøget (the pedestrian street) in Copenhagen. Photo: Jørgen Nielsen for Jay

Flowers where the freedomfighter, police officer Kaj Hedal was shot. N...

More images from The Museum of Danish Resistance: <a href="http://erez.natmus.dk/FHMbilleder/Site/index.jsp" rel="nofollow">erez.natmus.dk/FHMbilleder/Site/index.jsp</a>

Culver Cadet and Army Plane

Culver Cadet and Army Plane

Title: Culver Cadet and Army Plane..Creator: Richie, Robert Yarnall, 1908-1984..Date: September 1941..Part Of: Robert Yarnall Richie photograph collection..Description: Culver Cadet LCA and two monoplanes at ai... More

Dawn Patrol (B-25s), Southern Methodist University collection

Dawn Patrol (B-25s), Southern Methodist University collection

Title: Dawn Patrol (B-25s)..Creator: Richie, Robert Yarnall, 1908-1984..Date: September 18, 1941..Place: Lake Charles, Louisiana..Part Of: Robert Yarnall Richie photograph collection..Physical Description: 1 tr... More

Holding A Box

Holding A Box

Unidentified photograph...Citation: Lois Gunden Clemens Photograph Collection. France, 1941-1942. HM1-926 Box 1 Folder 9. Mennonite Church USA Archives - Goshen. Goshen, Indiana.

[U.S. Flight Navigator, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, World War II]

[U.S. Flight Navigator, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, World War II]

Title: [U.S. Flight Navigator, Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, World War II]..Creator: Richie, Robert Yarnall, 1908-1984..Date: April or May 1943..Place: Mitchel Field Air Force Base, Long Island, New York..Part O... More

Boeing Flying Fortress, Southern Methodist University collection

Boeing Flying Fortress, Southern Methodist University collection

Title: Boeing Flying Fortress..Creator: Richie, Robert Yarnall, 1908-1984..Date: April 1943..Place: Mount Rainier, Washington..Part Of: Robert Yarnall Richie photograph collection..Description: Boeing B-17F Fly... More

Mission Mfg. misc, ''Miss Mission'' series in color

Mission Mfg. misc, ''Miss Mission'' series in color

Title: Mission Mfg. misc, ''Miss Mission'' series in color ..Creator: Robert Yarnall Richie ..Date: August 1944..Place: Houston, Texas ..Part Of: Robert Yarnall Richie Photograph Collection..Physical Desc... More

[Woman taping wire, Chrysler Corporation]

[Woman taping wire, Chrysler Corporation]

Title: [Woman taping wire, Chrysler Corporation] . .Creator: Richie, Robert Yarnall (1908-1984) ..Date: 1944 ..Part Of: Robert Yarnall Richie photographs..Physical Description: 1 transparency: film, ... More

Mission Mfg. misc. field shots

Mission Mfg. misc. field shots

Title: Mission Mfg. misc. field shots ..Alternative Title: [Mission Manufacturing Co. miscellaneous shots]..Creator: Robert Yarnall Richie ..Date: August 1944..Place: Houston, Texas ..Part Of: Robert Yar... More

Mission Mfg., ''Miss Mission'' series in color

Mission Mfg., ''Miss Mission'' series in color

Title: Mission Mfg., ''Miss Mission'' series in color ..Alternative Title: [Mission Manufacturing Co., ''Miss Mission'' series in color]..Creator: Robert Yarnall Richie ..Date: August 1944..Place: Housto... More

Ida Fieldman March 1945

Ida Fieldman March 1945

Ida was a 2nd Lt. Army Nurse stationed in US. She took care of the men from overseas...Collection of The Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford..We're happy for you to share this digital image within th... More

Garden Vase, sculpture collection Rijksmuseum

Garden Vase, sculpture collection Rijksmuseum

This vase, one of a set of two, is from Enghuizen Estate near Lochem. During the Second World War this 19th-century country house was used as a military hospital, and torn down shortly thereafter. The vases wil... More

Garden Vase, sculpture collection Rijksmuseum

Garden Vase, sculpture collection Rijksmuseum

This vase, one of a set of two, is from Enghuizen Estate near Lochem. During the Second World War this 19th-century country house was used as a military hospital, and torn down shortly thereafter. The vases wil... More

Garden Vase, sculpture collection Rijksmuseum

Garden Vase, sculpture collection Rijksmuseum

This vase, one of a set of two, is from Enghuizen Estate near Hummelo. During the Second World War this 19th-century country house was used as a military hospital, and torn down shortly thereafter. The vases wi... More

Garden Vase, sculpture collection Rijksmuseum

Garden Vase, sculpture collection Rijksmuseum

This vase, one of a set of two, is from Enghuizen Estate near Hummelo. During the Second World War this 19th-century country house was used as a military hospital, and torn down shortly thereafter. The vases wi... More

Nederlands verzetkruis

Nederlands verzetkruis

Nederlands verzetkruis: De tyranny verdrijven 1940-1945. Met lint in zwart, rood, wit, blauw, oranje. Op kruis vlammend zwaard en kroon.

Pet van Tonny van Renterghem

Pet van Tonny van Renterghem

Kaki petje met bruin/geel embleem met de Hollandse Leeuw van een legeruniform waaronder opschrift. Achterzijde koperen gesp. Op petje vier buttons gespeld: 1. Button zwart-wit gedrukt met midden witte vredesdu... More

Etappen- en verkeersdienst 1939-1940

Etappen- en verkeersdienst 1939-1940

Herdenkingsbord met schuine oplopende rand waarop allerlei symbolen in donkerblauw. In het midden van het vlak: nederlandse leeuw op vier-puntige ster. Gedeelte van het merk is achter sticker met: Bord No. 568 ... More

National parks: 148 - public domain image
National parks: 51 - public domain image
Guy Burton and Marjorie Braithwaite

Guy Burton and Marjorie Braithwaite

Guy Burton and Marjorie Braithwaite at Des..Marjorie Braithwaite was born in the Northwest Territories in 1889, daughter of Arthur Douglas Braithwaite (who worked for the Bank of Montreal) and his wife Marjorie... More

A new jointly-used Armed Forces Reserve Center in Great

A new jointly-used Armed Forces Reserve Center in Great

A new jointly-used Armed Forces Reserve Center in Great Falls, Montana is now named the Capt. John E. Moran and Capt. William W. Galt Armed Forces Reserve Center. Soldiers in the U.S. Army Reserve’s 364th Sust... More

Deseronto, Ontario, Canada - HMR2-09-95

Deseronto, Ontario, Canada - HMR2-09-95

"Guy Burton and Marjorie Braithwaite at Des."..Marjorie Braithwaite was born in the Northwest Territories in 1889, daughter of Arthur Douglas Braithwaite (who worked for the Bank of Montreal) and his wife Marjo... More

Hotel Nordangsdal, lantern slide

Hotel Nordangsdal, lantern slide

SFFf-1992078.0053..Hotel Nordangsdal was located in Fivelstadhaugen by the road between Øye and Hellesylt. The hotel was built in 1885 and received a lot of tourists in the decades before the Second World War. ... More

Passagerarfartyg, Ocean liners: Fo113983C
Passagerarfartyg, Ocean liners: Fo113936C
Passagerarfartyg, Ocean liners: Fo113937C
Passagerarfartyg, Ocean liners: Fo113982C
Passagerarfartyg, Ocean liners: Fo113932C
Passagerarfartyg, Ocean liners: Fo113981C
Passagerarfartyg, Ocean liners: Fo113892C
Barrette de rappel de la Médaille Coloniale du Général Leclerc

Barrette de rappel de la Médaille Coloniale du Général Leclerc

Retrouvée dans le tiroir de sa "caravane". Ruban à raies verticales blanches et bleues, épingle horizontale au revers (Leclerc était titulaire de la Médaille Coloniale avec agrafes "Maroc", "Fezzan", "Koufra", ... More

Capt. J.P. Coulter, George Grantham Bain Collection

Capt. J.P. Coulter, George Grantham Bain Collection

Photograph shows John Breitling Coulter (1891-1983) who served in the U.S. Army in World War I and World War II and the Korean War. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2016) Title from data provided by the Bain Ne... More

Cmdr. Paul Reinhardt, commanding officer, USS Alabama (SSBN 731) (Blue), addresses Sailors, veterans and attendees during the annual Memorial Day

Cmdr. Paul Reinhardt, commanding officer, USS Alabama (SSBN 731) (Blue...

SILVERDALE, Wash. (May. 26, 2016) Cmdr. Paul Reinhardt, commanding officer, USS Alabama (SSBN 731) (Blue), addresses Sailors, veterans and attendees during the annual Memorial Day "Tolling the Boats" ceremony a... More

160526-N-JY507-013 SILVERDALE, Wash. (May 26, 2016)

160526-N-JY507-013 SILVERDALE, Wash. (May 26, 2016)

160526-N-JY507-013 SILVERDALE, Wash. (May 26, 2016) – Cmdr. Paul Reinhardt, commanding officer, USS Alabama (SSBN 731) (Blue), addresses Sailors, veterans and attendees during the annual Memorial Day "Tolling t... More

ROYAL OAK, George Grantham Bain Collection

ROYAL OAK, George Grantham Bain Collection

Photograph shows the HMS Royal Oak,a battleship which served in the Royal Navy during World War I and World War II. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2017) Title from data provided by the Bain News Service on th... More

Gen. Sir Henry Wilson

Gen. Sir Henry Wilson

Photograph shows Field Marshall Henry Maitland Wilson (1881-1964) who served in the British Army during World War I and World War II. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2016) Title from data provided by the Bain ... More

160530-N-LY160-729 
JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM,

160530-N-LY160-729 JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM,

160530-N-LY160-729 JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (May 30, 2016) – Members from National Sojourners parade the colors during the Memorial Day ceremony at the USS Parche Submarine Park and Memorial at J... More

Legalman 1st Class Tabitha Caballero strikes a bell as Cmdr. Warren Branges, retired, narrates a

Legalman 1st Class Tabitha Caballero strikes a bell as Cmdr. Warren Br...

SAN DIEGO (Apr. 29, 2016) Legalman 1st Class Tabitha Caballero strikes a bell as Cmdr. Warren Branges, retired, narrates a "Tolling of the Boats" ceremony at the USS Roncador submarine memorial on Naval Base Po... More

Sailors, veterans, and attendees render honors as the national anthem is played during the annual Memorial Day Tolling of the Boats ceremony at Deterrent Park on Naval Base Kitsap - Bangor.

Sailors, veterans, and attendees render honors as the national anthem ...

BANGOR, Wash. (May. 21, 2015) Sailors, veterans, and attendees render honors as the national anthem is played during the annual Memorial Day Tolling of the Boats ceremony at Deterrent Park on Naval Base Kitsap ... More

Cmdr. Warren Branges, retired, narrates a tolling of the boats ceremony at the USS Roncador submarine memorial as Legalman 1st Class Tabitha Caballero strikes a bell at Naval Base Point Loma.

Cmdr. Warren Branges, retired, narrates a tolling of the boats ceremon...

SAN DIEGO (Apr. 29, 2016) Cmdr. Warren Branges, retired, narrates a tolling of the boats ceremony at the USS Roncador submarine memorial as Legalman 1st Class Tabitha Caballero strikes a bell at Naval Base Poin... More

REPULSE sister ship of RENOWN

REPULSE sister ship of RENOWN

Photograph shows the HMS Royal Oak a battleship which served in the Royal Navy during World War I and World War II. (Source: Flickr Commons project, 2017) Title from data provided by the Bain News Service on th... More

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Pearl Harbor Attack, National Memorial - Another view through a porthole

Pearl Harbor Attack, National Memorial - Another view through a portho...

Looking through a porthole into a stateroom, illuminated by a diver's light

177th Engineer Company Headquarters
Pearl Harbor Attack, National Memorial - Teak Decking

Pearl Harbor Attack, National Memorial - Teak Decking

A cleared section of the teak wood decking on the USS Arizona

Historic Fort Snelling

Historic Fort Snelling

Fort Snelling was constructed at the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers starting in the 1820s. This strategic fort controlled river traffic over a broad swath of what was to become the upper Mid... More

Maritime Child Development Center

Maritime Child Development Center

The Maritime Child Development Center was one of approximately 35 nursery school units of varying sizes established in the Richmond area during World War II in order to provide child care for women working in t... More

Game board pieces representing ships are positioned during a wargame reenactment of the Battle of Jutland at U.S. Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, Rhode Island

Game board pieces representing ships are positioned during a wargame r...

NEWPORT, R.I. (May. 10, 2016) Game board pieces representing ships are positioned during a wargame reenactment of the Battle of Jutland at U.S. Naval War College (NWC) in Newport, Rhode Island. The historical W... More

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Catherine Morrison, National Parks gallery

Catherine Morrison, National Parks gallery

Real "Rosie" Catherine Morrison, who worked as a Journeyman Welder in Shipyard 2, between 1943-1945.

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Park Volunteers - World War II Memorial

Park Volunteers - World War II Memorial

Volunteers staff the contact station at the World War II Memorial, answering questions and providing information about the memorial.

Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center Exhibit

Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center Exhibit

Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center Exhibit

Philadelphia Memorial sculpture

Philadelphia Memorial sculpture

This Felix de Weldon bronze memorial pays tribute to the members of the U.S. Marine Corps who died during World War II, and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

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Women's Welding Championship

Women's Welding Championship

Two women welding while one judge watches in the Ingalls Ship Building Corporation's second annual Women's National Welding Championship contest, WWII.

The American Red Cross

The American Red Cross

The American Red Cross puts together Comfort Kits, date unknown

Rainbow Pool at the World War II Memorial

Rainbow Pool at the World War II Memorial

Fountains at the Rainbow Pool with Atlantic Pavilion in the background.

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NPS Diver and three forward guns

NPS Diver and three forward guns

An NPS diver shines a light on the three forward guns on the No. 1 Turret of the USS Arizona

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-...

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to visit World War II Pearl Harbor Memorial. Abe is the first Japanese prime minister to visit the memorial that honors the service m... More

Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center

Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center

Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center

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Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial

Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial

Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial

Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial

Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial

Port Chicago Naval Magazine National Memorial

Workers at the Kaiser Shipyards

Workers at the Kaiser Shipyards

Louis Lee's photographs offer a behind-the-scenes window into the labor necessary to build ships for the war effort during World War II.

The court of Fort Point and the lighthouse

The court of Fort Point and the lighthouse

The Fort has been called "the pride of the Pacific," "the Gibraltar of the West Coast," and "one of the most perfect models of masonry in America." When construction began during the height of the California Go... More

Pearl Harbor Attack, National Memorial - Visitors during half-staff

Pearl Harbor Attack, National Memorial - Visitors during half-staff

Visitors on the USS Arizona Memorial as the flag flies at half-staff

USS Arizona Memorial at half-staff

USS Arizona Memorial at half-staff

The flag at the USS Arizona Memorial flies at half-staff, viewed from the waterline

The Kaiser Company General Office

The Kaiser Company General Office

In this photograph by Louis Lee, an unknown woman poses in front of the Kaiser Company General Office in Vancouver, Washington.

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Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center

Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center

Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center

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Pearl Harbor Attack, National Memorial - 50 caliber shells

Pearl Harbor Attack, National Memorial - 50 caliber shells

Two 50 caliber shells with museum tags, from the forward ammunition locker on the USS Arizona

Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center Exhibit

Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center Exhibit

Rosie the Riveter Visitor Education Center Exhibit.

Women Inspecting Tin Plating

Women Inspecting Tin Plating

Women inspecting tin plating for military use during WWII

Singer at the Port of Embarkation

Singer at the Port of Embarkation

A woman singing by a ship carrying soldiers at Fort Mason, Port of Embarkation

Timucuan Ecological and historic preserve - _DSC2124 EDIT

Timucuan Ecological and historic preserve - _DSC2124 EDIT

Pounded bark wall hanging with design of birds, wreaths, flags, hats, and crossed swords. Reportedly brought from the South Pacific to the Army- Navy club (current Kingsley Plantation Ranger offices) by Victor ... More

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Pearl Harbor Attack, National Memorial - Leather flight helme

Pearl Harbor Attack, National Memorial - Leather flight helme

Japanese World War II era military aviators leather flight helmet, with a brownish fur lining on ear flaps and front edge. Note the cavities for the radiophone. Received from a source in Japan.

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