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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Flying Fortress: 1942

Flying Fortress: 1942

October 1942. Workers installing fixtures and assemblies in the tail section of a B-17F bomber at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant in Long Beach, California. View full size. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

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Just Noticed

Looking over this photo to see any secret type stuff (there isn't anything that could really be considered even sensitive unless you consider flush riveting aluminum sensitive) I suddenly noticed something that I hadn't seen in previous viewings - the fluorescent light fixture to the left of the woman in the pink blouse. It seems to have been powered externally so I would presume that it was only temporary like the incandescent work light. Looking at it again, there's what appears to be a second fluorescent fixture, covered in a protective mesh screen at the very top of the photo. Both appear to be off - it would probably throw off the colour balance if they were on in the photo - but I imagine that you needed light when working on these planes and you didn't have a convenient photo-flood in the area.

No Secret

I don't think the enemy needed this picture to learn anything about these airplanes. I imagine they had the aircraft itself from the ones that crash landed in enemy territory. I sort of remember from the WWII movies, the crew destroyed the Norden Bombsights to keep them out of Axis hands.

Top Secret?

I wonder if that photo would have been "top secret" at the time. I'm no aeronautical engineer, but would there have been anything in this photo that shows the "guts" of the plane of use to German/Japanese technicians?

B-17 Assembly

Wasn't the B-17 assembled in Seattle Washington? I was not aware that it was built in the Douglas plant in Long beach. Anyone know the details on this one?

[Google and Wikipedia -- so helpful. - Dave]

Histories of Hollywood

Histories of Hollywood frequently mention how "blinding" the lighting was when they were shooting Technicolor (around ASA 12). The same sort of thing is going on in this picture.

1940s Kodachrome is a very slow film, under ASA 10. It is not surprising that the lighting completely overpowered the natural lighting, making the factory look like a cavern outside the gunport. Recall also that light would be bouncing around inside the metal shell, amplifying the disparity in lighting.

Photoshop Contest

These lovely ladies have turned into grist for a Photoshop contest over at Fark.

B-17F Lighting

I think its a beautiful photograph, yet after having worked inside the metal frames of semis and railcars, I think it's interesting to note that all the lighting is turned off for the picture and the women must of had to stand still in the dark while the photographer got ready. I would have liked to have seen one picture with the real lights on, so we could see the harsh conditions they worked under. My thanks to all who supported the country back then.

[These planes were constructed inside giant, well-lit, air-conditioned hangars. The conditions were not exactly "harsh." See photo below. Also here and here. - Dave]


These workers are in the mid section of this B-17. When complete and flying, two waist gunners would be located here, pivoting and firing .50 caliber machine guns and bringing down those marauding German FW-190s and BF-109s. Or not.

Denny Gill
Chugiak, Alaska

[There are two fuselage sections: front and back (the "tail fuselage section," in photographer Alfred Palmer's words). The rear end of the fuselage is behind the workers. Below is another view of the tail sections where the women were working. - Dave]

Reckon You Know It's Backwards

but thanks for sending these priceless pix out, history should not be forgotten.

[It's not backwards. Maybe you're confused by the box being upside down. Try standing on your head. - Dave]

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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