Kodak goes to war

October 1942. Douglas Aircraft Co. at Long Beach, California. "Carefully trained women inspectors check cargo transport innerwings before they are assembled on the fuselage." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

With the recent tragic news of Kodak filing to bankruptcy*, I started thinking about the legacy of Big Yellow.

These are some completely amazing 4″x5″ Kodachromes from 1942/43.  They seem to be a kind of documentation of the war effort in the US.  Clearly they’re staged and with a view to propaganda, they are a fascinating hyper-real slice of the US in the early 40’s.  Even now, to see women working in these roles seems incongruous.

What is really astounding is to think that these images are 70 years old.  Those images have held all that information on them for this long and it’s only now as our scanners get better we can actually get the resolution of the transparency.

In other words, these images look better today than they probably did when they were taken, because there is so much information buried in the image.  There’s no grain and the colours are simply astounding ! There’s even shots shot in very low light that are breathtaking.

I wonder if we’ll be as gobsmacked by a digital image 70 years from now ?  Somehow I think not….

Images sourced from Shorpy.

*It’s worth noting the motion picture film part of Kodak is very profitable, unlike all the other devisions of Kodak that make printers and cheap digital cameras.

Engine installer, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California. October 1942. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

August 1942. Corpus Christi, Texas. "Women from all fields have joined the production army. Miss Grace Weaver, a civil service worker at the Naval Air Base and a schoolteacher before the war, is doing her part for victory along with her brother, who is a flying instructor in the Army. Miss Weaver paints the American insignia on repaired Navy plane wings." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Howard Hollem for the Office of War Information.

June 1942. Engine inspector for North American Aviation at Long Beach, California. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

August 1942. "With a woman's determination, Lorena Craig takes over a man-size job in Corpus Christi, Texas. Before she came to work at the Naval Air Base she was a department store girl. Now she is a cowler under civil service." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Howard Hollem.

Touching up the U.S. Army Air Forces insignia on a "Vengeance" dive bomber manufactured at Consolidated-Vultee's Nashville division. February 1943. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

October 1942. "Women are trained as engine mechanics in thorough Douglas training methods. Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California." Skipping ahead to 2009, and the end of an era: Today Kodak announced that, after 74 colorful years, it will stop making Kodachrome film. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer, Office of War Information.

October 1942. Engine installers at Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach, California. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

July 1942. Servicing an A-20 bomber at Langley Field, Virginia. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer.

"Noontime rest for a full-fledged assembly worker at the Long Beach, Calif., plant of Douglas Aircraft Company." October 1942. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

October 1942. "Lieutenant 'Mike' Hunter, Army test pilot assigned to Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, California." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

May 1942. Langley Field, Virginia. YB-17 bombardment squadron. "Hitler would like this man to go home and forget about the war. A good American non-com at the side machine gun of a huge YB-17 bomber is a man who knows his business and works hard at it." 4x5 Kodachrome transparency: Alfred Palmer.

May 1942. "Here's our mission." A combat crew receives final instructions just before taking off in a mighty YB-17 bomber from the bombardment squadron base at Langley Field, Virginia, nation's oldest air base. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information.

Santa Fe R.R. locomotive shops, Topeka, Kansas. March 1943. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano.

December 1942. Chicago & North Western roundhouse, Chicago. 4x5 Kodachrome transparency by Jack Delano.

About johnbrawley

Director Of Photography striving to create compelling images
Gallery | This entry was posted in Photography and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Kodak goes to war

  1. Pingback: Spirit of the Century Presents: The Dinocalypse Trilogy by Fred Hicks / Evil Hat Productions » Off to the Races! — Kickstarter

  2. Rohan says:

    Holy shit those are some of the most amazing images I’ve ever seen. Ever. How incredible the light, colour, sharpness, detail, contrast, jeeeeez, everything in terms of photographic quality is just special. Long live film!!

  3. chris says:

    thanks for sharing-truly impressive pictures

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