This paper concerns the displacement potential formulation of the post-impact influence of an air-cushioning layer on the 2D impact of a liquid half-space by a rigid body. The liquid and air are both ideal and incompressible and attention is focussed on cases when the density ratio between the air and liquid is small. In particular, the correction to classical Wagner theory is analysed in detail for the impact of circular cylinders and wedges. © The Authors 2013. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications. All rights reserved.