Color photos from the Second World War show grim-faced US student pilots getting to grips with their parachutes as they prepare to go to war for their country.
The images, from 1942, were taken by the US Office of War Information, with the majority snapped across various airfields in Texas, just weeks after the United States entered the war following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
They capture a patient instructor explaining the mechanics of a parachute to nervous students, a woman methodically sewing the straps for the potentially life-saving chute and a grinning recruit showing off his canopy bundle as he clambers into his aircraft.
Another photo shows a US Marine expertly parachuting down to earth on Parris Island, the home of the U.S. Marine Corps training facility.
After heavy losses at Pearl Harbor and the Philippines, the United States bulked up their air force considerably, although thousands would die before even getting the chance to fly in battle.
15,000 pilots died while training to go to war – ten times the number of Americans who died on D-Day.
Over the course of the war, the US constructed more than 275,000 aircraft. In 1939, fewer than 1,000 pilots graduated basic flight training while in 1943 that figure had grown to 165,000.
Recruits struggle to rein in a billowing parachute. Thousands of recruits would die before even getting the chance to fly in battle, as the US fought to improve its air force and match up against its enemies. 15,000 pilots died while training to go to war – ten times the number of Americans who died on D-Day
As the USA rushed aircraft and pilots to the frontline, accidents occurred. In the rush to improve their air force, there were casualties among pilots and trainees. The crews knew what they were dealing with. The B-24 bomber was nicknamed the ‘flying coffin’ due to its many problems. Not surprisingly, more trainees died in B-24s than any other plane. But the war took precedence over safety
During the Second World War, US Airmen were particularly prominent in the Pacific against Japan but also served valiantly across Europe, helping the RAF and other allied air forces to claim the skies from the German Luftwaffe before the D-Day landings in 1944
These rare colour pictures were taken by the Office of War Information in 1942. Most were snapped across various airfields in Texas, just weeks after the United States entered the war following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Tens of thousands of American airmen were shot down and killed, captured or wounded throughout the Second World War
A US Marine comes in for a landing after a practice jump at Parris Island. In the first months of World War II, Parris Island struggled to cope with the massive number of incoming recruits and officials were forced to shorten training periods. Later, as the influx of recruits slowed and deficiencies in the shortened program were noticed, training was once again increased. Around 200,000 recruits were trained at Parris Island during the war
Cadet L. Deitz at the Naval Air Base, Corpus Christi, Texas. He looks very pleased with his plane and parachute. After heavy losses at Pearl Harbor, the United States bulked up their air force considerably. In 1939, fewer than 1,000 pilots graduated basic flight training while in 1943 that figure had grown to 165,000
Producing ‘defense silk’ for parachutes. Raw silk used by the US before WWII came from Japan. However, after WWII broke out, the US could no longer import silk from Japan. The sale of silk to the public was banned and all supplies were commandeered from retailers as they were needed for parachutes and were used for powder bags for naval guns
The utmost precision is required of these operators who are cutting and drilling parachute packs in an eastern factory, Manchester, Connecticut.
A woman making a parachute harness. Due to the shortage of silk, nylon, a relatively new fabric invented by DuPont replaced silk for parachutes, ropes and rubbers. Any fallen parachutes, if not taken by the military, were cut up by ladies who used them for their dresses and underwear