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Teamwork: 1942

Teamwork: 1942

October 1942. "Men and women make efficient operating teams on riveting and other jobs at the Douglas Aircraft plant, Long Beach, Calif. Most important of the many types of aircraft made at this plant are the B-17F 'Flying Fortress' heavy bomber, the A-20 'Havoc' assault bomber and the C-47 heavy transport plane shown here for the carrying of troops and cargo." 4x5 inch Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information. View full size.


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Posed or not...

Yes, it's obvious that the photo was posed. As tterrace noted, this and other similar photos seen here on Shorpy were used to create posters and other paraphernalia for the War effort.

But... My Grandmother worked in an aircraft plant during the War. She worked on an assembly team, not riveting but an equally taxing and dirty job. She had several photos I've seen that showed her daily outfits and for the most part it looks like she always tried to look her best, at least in the morning. She actually wore her hair the exact same way.

Yeah, there were (and still are) a lot of dirty jobs but you only have to peruse the photos in Shorpy for a bit to tell that people took the time to dress better, more formal back then.

Posed? Of course!

Made a pretty decent living taking photos like that. They were posed because the people who were paying me to take them wanted them that way. The shot we're discussing here is a beaut. Alfred Palmer made what could have been a snoozer most compelling.

When I was taking photos for newspapers, I still would, depending on the situation, ask the subjects to move this way or that way, so you could say those were posed, too. Most of the stuff I shot captured students of the month or new garden club officers. I wanted the subjects, who would be happy to be in the next edition of the paper, to look nice and for the photo to reproduce well as 65dpi black-and-white printed on newsprint.

Sports stuff, crime (what little I ever took) stuff: not posed but not always good, either!


Dad flew as aerial engineer / crew chief on C-47's in the Pacific War. Battle Stars for Guadalcanal and Northern Solomons. His unit, the "Thirsty 13th" Troop Carrier Squadron island hopped for almost 4 years. Places and air strips long since forgotten.. Dumbea, New Hebrides, New Caledonia, Espiritu Santos, etc. . C-47's were unarmed, flew low and slow, frequently to airstrips carved out of the jungle at the front lines (ie Guadalcanal). His unit lost aircrews. Also, heavy experience with malaria (take your Atabrine !!) and combat fatigue. C-47's were also used to tow gliders to the front lines. Dad made the Sep 7 1942 cover of Life in a "war glider". Dad never discussed much of his experience, but made sure we remembered his lost friends. Mom served in the Atlantic. Greatest generation indeed.

This photo series... famous, yes posed, but served an important function. Front line airmen depended on the manufacturing excellence portrayed in the series.

Blatantly, Utterly Posed

Technically, it's a great feat of photography, but, like many Office of War Information photos, this image is blatantly and utterly posed.

Look at how the supposed "Rosie" is dressed, right down to gleaming shoes. Do you think for a moment that even the most unsophisticated viewer would not instantly recognize this as propaganda ?

Would it not be more informative to have captured the way the work was actually being conducted ? Would that not instill greater appreciation of the war effort in the general public?

On the plus side, the models are at least holding the rivet gun and the bucking bar in the correct alignment.

[These photos were used to produce posters and other promotional materials intended to motivate women to work in war-related industries; in other words, advertising, not documentation. -tterrace]


I just had to say it: This is a riveting photo! ;-)

I love the chiaroscuro, the focussed concentration, the saturated colors, the flesh tones and the gray metal.

They are both beautiful people, too!

Great picture!

The composition, the color - just a beautifully composed shot.

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