AAA Ground Recognition Signals

The following comments from the commander of the U.S. 5th Armored Division on the proper use of ground recognition signals were published in “Antiaircraft Artillery Notes,” No. 5, November 22, 1944.

Subject: Use of Ground Recognition Signals
Source: AA Section, Headquarters Twelfth Army Group

The following extract is taken from AAA Situation Report No. 98, First US Army:

*    *    *    *

“a. The following is quoted from a letter received at this headquarters from the Commanding General, 5th Armored Division:

“‘1. At approximately 1630, 2 November 1944, nine to twelve P-38s approached the CP of the 47th Armored Field Artillery Battalion located in a group of buildings about fifty (50) yards south of paved highway one mile southeast of ROETGEN (K-919273). After circling the CP twice, the three lead planes broke out of the circle and flew off in the direction of ROETGEN. The next three planes made a diving attack of the CP, dropping six bombs. ******* The 440th AAA thereupon fired six recognition flares, at which the remaining planes pulled out of dive without dropping bombs and dipped their wings and left the area.*******

“‘3 ******* AA did not fire on planes, other than recognition flares.’

“b. The AAA complied strictly with standing instructions, by firing flares and withholding fire of their weapons. The friendly A/C, recognizing the signal and the lack of fire from the ground, immediately ceased the attack. This exemplifies the manner in which such incidents must be handled.”


Don’t Be A Dope VI

An illustration from the “Don’t be a Dope!” series was included in the M36 tank destroyer technical manual.



M4 Medium Tank Characteristics

Summary of M4 SHerman tank characteristics from the training booklet Tracked Vehicle Chassis Units, The Armored School, Fort Knox.




2. DESCRIPTION. a. Characteristics

    76-mm Gun, M1A1
    2 cal .30 machine guns
    1 cal .50 machine guns

    71 rds 76-mm
    6250 rds cal .30
    660 rds cal .50

Fire Control Equipment:
    Telescope, M71D
    Periscope, M10 or M4A1
    Elevation Quadrant, M9
    Gunner’s Quadrant, M1

Vision Devices:
    Vision cupola
    Periscopes, M6 (4 each)

    5 men

    Ford, 500 HP @ 2800 rpms
    Model GAN, V-8

    Double plate

    Synchromesh, 5 speeds forward and 1 reverse

    Controlled differential

    23″ steel chevron, rubber backed, double pin, T80
    23″ rubber chevron, double pin, T84

    Length, 247″
    Height, 124 7/8″
    Width, 118″

    Combat loaded, 71,175 lbs

Fuel Capacity:
    168 gallons

Cruising Range:
    100 miles

Maximum Speed:
    25 mph

Ground Clearance:

Fording Depth:


Navy Educational Services


Source: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin, March 1944.


Life on a Raft

Life on a Raft

Answers: 1. 2, 2. 3, 3. 4, 4. 4, 5. 2, 6. 3 (Naval Aviation News, August 1, 1944.)


Identify when Approaching Allied Ships

Identify when Approaching Allied Ships

Note to Pilots: This could be YOU!
Identify when Approaching Allied Ships!

GO AHEAD! Fly over one of our ships without identifying. Test the crew’s quickness on recognition… if you want that plane you’re flying punctured like a hunk of swiss cheese! Then, should you live to add up the count–you undoubtably won’t!–you can flatter the AA crews on how accurate their lead is!

But it’s saner and safer, to identify. Remember, AA crews are plenty yough and trained to shoot. If you approach Allied ships and leave them doubtful as to whether you’re friend or foe, they won’t ask too many questions, wait too long…

Don’t expect crews to take chances. They’ve had ships blown from under them, seen shipmates machine-gunned to death because they were slow to act. And most of the unfortunate cases where friendly planes were shot out of the sky were the fault of pilots who failed to identify their planes as friendly.

So don’t you take chances. Ships will challenge, but don’t wait. It’s the pilot’s responsibility to identify first.

Ships will recognize, but don’t stake your social security on it. They may not be sure, there may be clouds, enemy planes…

In the final analysis, it’s that ship and its big complement against your plane and lonely little you. You’re valuable, but you know which counts more with the Fleet!

RECOMMENDED READING: (1) Recognition and Identification Sense, (2) Identify… or Else! reprint from Naval Aviation News.

Source: Naval Aviation News, August 1, 1944.

TBM-3 Avenger: Movement of Personnel

TBM-3 Avenger: Movement of Personnel. (Source: Pilot’s Handbook of Flight Operating Instructions, Navy Model TBM-3 Airplane, November 1945.)


Training and Teamwork Brought Us Back

AAF Training and Teamwork

Training and Teamwork Brought Us Back
by Capt. Charles S. Grant

As Navigator of the B-26 bomber, So Sorry, Capt. Grant flew 37 combat-missions in the Southwest Pacific theater. Here is the Captain’s story of his most unforgettable flight.

The So Sorry was dishing it out that morning over the New Guinea coast. Six or eight Zeros had jumped the formation, and our gunners–Sgts. Lawrence Steslow, Melvin McCaskey and Andrew Johnson–were strictly “on the ball.”

Johnson in the top-turret, Steslow firing from the tail, and McCaskey manning both guns in the waist had cleared the air of enemy fighters as our pilot, Maj. Gerald Crosson (then a Capt.) swung in over our objective at 8,000 for a long, steady bombing run. A few flak bursts blossomed around us–but we ignored them. We wanted to be sure that we drew a good bead on our target.

The bombardier’s eve was glued to his sight. He had the Jap air-strip caught square in the crosshairs, and was all set to lay his eggs in there…

And then the whole sky caved in on us! A terrific shock hit the plane–as a 75 mm. ack-ack shell tore through the bomb-bay doors, three feet from my head, and burst backward.

I had a sensation of overpowering heat… and the entire compartment around me was one great swirling ball of angry red and yellow flame.

The blast picked the So Sorry up and stood her on one wing. Her bomb-bays became a shower bath of oil and hydraulic fluid. The bombs jammed in their racks. The elevator controls were severed and the rudder and ailerons partially fouled.

It looked like we’d spin right into that ack-ack battery. But with the stick limp and useless in his hands, Major Crosson managed to pull us out with the trim-tabs! It was the finest piece of flying I have ever seen.

The nearest spot for a landing was back of the Allied line, 200 miles south. But before we had gone a third of the way, we ran into typical New Guinea weather. Every landmark suddenly “socked in.” We limped along on dead reckoning.

Now a navigator has to say to himself: “You’re right!”–and believe it. And when you’re as scared as I was that day, you sweat out even the simplest calculations. I didn’t take any part of the ride “with my feet on the desk.”

When my charts said we should be over our base, we ducked cautiously down through the fog and driving rain. Sure enough, there was a landing strip… and bouncing along beside it, an American Jeep. We knew we were home.

Major Crosson cut the engines, feathered his props and brought us in with our wheels up, our flaps down, our bomb-bay doors wide open and our bombs still hanging crazily in their racks. We hit hard–slid 400 yards–and buried me under an avalanche of dirt scooped up through the open doors.

I dug myself out and looked around–at the men whose courage and skill and training had brought this airplane back when it should have been at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.

And, looking at them, I knew why nothing will ever stop the AAF. I knew what the General meant when he called it “the greatest team in the world.”

Back in the U.S.A. Left to Right: Major Crosson, Captain Grant, Sgt. McCaskey, Sgt. Johnson. When this picture was made, Sgt. Steslow was an Aviation Cadet, in pilot training.


Keep Your Eyes on a Whirling Propeller

Keep your eyes on a whirling propeller

Air Force, May 1943


Don’t Be A Dope V

Always check the oil! An angry tank crew stars in another “Don’t Be A Dope” training poster from Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

Always Check the Oil - Dont Be a Dope WW2 Poster

The tank crew is sore as a boil
For it ain’t according to Hoyle
     To get caught in a spot.
     So exceedingly hot.–
Joe Dope had checked all-but the oil!