World War 2: The Office of War Information’s pictures of women working on aircraft

WORLD WAR 2 did much to emancipate women. These photographs from 1940-1943 show women working in California’s aircraft industry. They worked on the B-17F bomber at the Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, and on the P-51 fighter and C-47 heavy transporter at North American Aviation’s Inglewood factory. They worked at the Consolidated Aircraft factory in Fort Worth, Texas. They worked at the Heil and Co. factory in Milwaukee on blackout lamps to be used on Air Force gasoline trailers. They worked on Wright Whirlwind motors at the Corpus Christi, Texas, Naval Air Base. The men from the Office of War Information took photos. They were stylised portraits. The women were all white. Their faces were made-up. Eyes were focused. No-one looked at the camera. It was propaganda, of course. No women flew these aircraft in combat. Change comes slowly…

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