Amazing colour Photos Of America Preparing For World War II


70 years ago the U.S. was transitioning from an epic financial crisis — one that brought high unemployment, plunging farm profits and lost opportunities — to one of the world’s deadliest and most destructive wars. 

We’ve written about the Library of Congress’ incredible collection of colour photos from the early 1940s before. We decided to take another look, this time highlighting how the country mobilized for World War II.  

Industry was humming with the help of this carbon black plant worker in Sunray, Texas

Men and women prepared for jobs in the Army by learning things like how to create camouflage maps based on aerial photographs

Meanwhile, the frontier was still alive and well in this shepherd in Madison County, Montana

Kids, like ones at the Farm Security Administration labour camp in Robston, Texas, were left to their own devices

America needed to manufacture for the war effort with the help people like John Kelseh, a blacksmith in Blue Island, Illinois

Many women took different roles, like this aircraft worker in Burbank, California

And Elizabeth Little, mother of two, who is seen spraying small parts for the U.S. Army Air Corps in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Even high school students received training for specific contributions to the war effort, like learning about propeller characteristics

Men like Jesse Rhodes Waller, A.O.M., third class, prepared for a fight by installing and testing 30-calibre machine guns on Navy planes at a base in Corpus Christi, Texas

Other women workers riveted A-20 bombers at the Douglas Aircraft Company plant at Long Beach, California

Women helped assemble a lot of the planes that soldiers flew, including the wing of a B-17F heavy bomber shown here

Women in the workforce, like riveter Mrs. Virginia Davis, eventually became supervisors

New types protective clothing were invented, like clothing and gas masks for chemical warfare

Marines at Parris Island, South Carolina, trained to become pilots on the planes built by their peers

So much was new that instructors were explaining the operation of a parachute as student pilots were just learning how to fly in Fort Worth, Texas

Students were keen to learn as much as they could the first time around

The bombs, like the one held here by J.D. Estes, were getting bigger and heavier

Soldiers practiced shooting the 30-calibre Browning machine gun on a pedestal for anti-aircraft protection

While others operated azimuth instruments to measure the angle of splash in sea-target practice

Some M-4 tank crews had their laughs as they trained at Fort Knox, Kentucky

Others were more serious

This Coast Guardsman was already serving his country as he stood guard over new items like a 78-foot torpedo boat in New Orleans, Louisiana

Furnaces like this one near Muscle Shoals, Alabama were working overtime

Everywhere, Americans were learning

While the world kept turning (albeit slowly in places like Natchitoches, Louisiana)

Our Allies were already in the thick of it.

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