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Question about crew photos

Discussion in 'Heavy & Very Heavy Bombers' started by shawneegal, Feb 16, 2017.

  1. shawneegal

    shawneegal Member

    Many of the crew photos , in front of their plane, have info printed on the bottom of the photo. Did the BG take photos of each crew or were they made by individuals? I have a photo of one of my dads crew but not the crew who went down with him over France. If the air force took photos of each crew, I may have a chance to get one of that crew. Does anyone have info on this?
    You were all so helpful when I posted before , and I thank you.
  2. shaef1944

    shaef1944 New Member

    If the printed info is on the photo image itself it was an " official " one taken and processed by an AAF photographer and photo lab. Individuals taking photos would normally write anything on the print white margins or on the back.
    25Kingman49 likes this.
  3. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member

    I have a photo of one of my dads crew but not the crew who went down with him

    "Official" photos have writing within the image itself, photos taken with personal cameras might have something written on the back or within the border, as Shaef mentioned. Your question regarding a photo of the crew your father was with at the time they went down is a different question. The official crew photos were usually taken at the end of training in the US or on arrival at their base overseas. But crews frequently went through changes during the course of their missions. Crew members sometimes flew missions with other crews as 'fill-ins' if a crew was short handed. Crew men were injured, ill, or for any number of reasons were replaced. New photos were not taken every time a member of a crew was replaced.

    Attached are two examples of 'official' photos, two different crews taken in front of the same B-17. Notice the white lettering at the bottom of the images.

    SLEEPY TIME GAL 2b.jpg

    SLEEPY TIME GAL 3b.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
    Airwar and 25Kingman49 like this.
  4. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

    There is one other source -- all combat crews WERE photographed after they completed training -- I want to say starting early 1944 because I have not done any research (yet) on earlier aircraft.

    Depending on the station (Dyersburg and Sioux City come to mind) many of these combat crews were identified with the crew training number.

    42-102847 (2).jpg 42-102847.jpg
    25Kingman49 likes this.
  5. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

    Post the photo -- let's take a look

    25Kingman49 likes this.
  6. shawneegal

    shawneegal Member

    Thank you for your help and comments. The photo I have , has the group#, date and crew # as the one posted here. It is posted in my other thread here. I didn't realize they were not made at the airfields where they were stationed , so that clears that up for me. Thanks so much.
  7. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Is this the photo you are referring to, or did you have a different one in mind. This photo was taken at Kimbolton, England, AAF Station 117.

    Jamerson Flight Crew.jpg

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  8. glund

    glund New Member

    I've found 3 photos of my uncle in various places. One has the correct names, (training crew at McDill), and 2 have incorrect information. These were crews he flew with while at Rattlesden.

  9. shawneegal

    shawneegal Member

    Yes, Scott that is the photo I received from your files. It is the same one I had posted on the other thread but it was slightly different ; like the first one posted here with the writing in white, and it had the crew mechanics in the front row.
  10. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  11. Lucky Partners

    Lucky Partners Well-Known Member


    The vast majority of crew pictures that I have found appear to have been taken at bases overseas, maybe 80% or more. Where do you think the pictures taken at stateside training bases are stashed? At College Park maybe? Or have I just not been looking in the right places?
  12. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    Here is an out of focus copy of the Jamerson air & ground crew photo with the labeling described by Pam found on pinterest https://www.pinterest.se/pin/496803402626127777/. So in these other images it was cropped off - hunting the original on fold3 now. Edit: No joy, image not found.

    pinterest out of focus 42-29893 El Diablo Flight&Ground crews.jpg
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  13. shawneegal

    shawneegal Member

    Thanks Scott, this image with the lettering below is one I have in my photos and I posted it to Pinterest. It is out of focus because I just took a photo of the photo I had and it didn't turn out very well. I need to post the good ones you fixed for me and put them on Pinterest in place of this one.
  14. 25Kingman49

    25Kingman49 Well-Known Member

    The photo labeling is historically important for image provenance. Might I suggest you take another photo of the original photo with better focus. Flat bed scanning would of course be preferred but it is understood this option is not available to you.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  15. Mike.Simpson

    Mike.Simpson New Member

    This photo appears to have not only the flight crew but the five ground personnel charged with maintaining this plane. You'll find a greater number of B-17 outfits with pictures as a lot of the B-17 bases were located near London where the photo personnel were stationed. The photo shop on the particular bases overseas would have also taken pictures of crews, but not like the stateside photos upon completion of training.
    The National Archives does have a photographic archive but I don't know how well it's been catalogued as they only listed 5 photos of the 445th Bomb Group (H) that my dad flew with.
    25Kingman49 likes this.
  16. terveurn

    terveurn Active Member

    I do not know if any of the crew photos from the ZOI bases were ever taken by official AAF photographers.

    The original ones I have found generally have some local photo studio stamp on the back, so I would assume that sometime during the rotation, the local photographer would come on base and shoot the crews close to graduation time -- then offer the prints for sale.

    I have several hundred of these ZOI B-17 crew photos and I am lucky that some of the photographs have the crew number.

    Unless the photo studio is still in business after 70 years, doubt if any of the negative are still around - I also doubt if the National Archives has any of these crew shots archived (or a very small collection).
    25Kingman49 likes this.
  17. billrunnels

    billrunnels Active Member

    Our crew photo (Lt. Lacker) was taken by a commercial photographer in front of the mess hall at Hunter Field, GA. We were there picking up a new B-17 to ferry to the ETO. Each member of the crew purchased a copy. This was the only crew photo ever taken. On the back of each photo we listed the name, address and phone number to be called in case of an emergency. The system was used following the loss of the crew in a mid-air collision on April 6, 1945.
  18. RSwank

    RSwank Well-Known Member

    I agree that the combat crew graduation pictures were most likely taken by a local contract photographer. In the back of my mind I remember a posting made on the "old" thread and as I recall for the base I was researching, the local photographer was a woman. I can't remember how that came up, whether a group of her photos had been found and were being sold on-line or not. What is suggests is that after giving/selling a set of prints to the crew members is it unlikely that anyone else preserved a copy.
  19. pathfinder504

    pathfinder504 Active Member


    Do you think The nose art name El Diablo was overpainted on the actual plane or "erased" by the photo censor?

    I have several official AAF photos of Pathfinder aircraft with tail numbers blotted out by censors--
  20. billrunnels

    billrunnels Active Member

    Very unlikely. However, it is a little strange that a crew photo by an aircraft was never taken if it was used for an official purpose etc.

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