Many of my followers know that I actively collect WWII color slides, predominantly those developed by the Eastman Kodak Company. These Kodachrome slides are typically regarded in the field of vintage color photo collecting as the crème de la crème of vintage color. Taken at a time of incredible social and political upheaval, these images capture an era that will never be seen in the same light or colors again. With the small percentage of the world populace that used color photography, an even smaller percentage of the slides have been passed down or purchased by people with the ability to scan and post them to the internet.
In this rare case, I was able to purchase a large set of Kodachrome slides taken by a US serviceman before he shipped off to war. One box of the Kodak-developed slides were unopened. I took a photo of the seal, opened the box and immediately scanned them! Please enjoy the following 12 slides that are only seeing the light of day 70+ years later….
Taken in Fort Benning, GA, these slides were shipped home in January of 1945 to only be opened in 2016! Enjoy.
Many followers of PortraitofWar.com know that I have a strange passion for WWII amateur color photography. In this case, I luckily remembered that anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa is upon us and decided to post some of of the material I’ve acquired over the years that directly relate to the Battle of Tarawa. When the Marines landed on the Tarawa (Gilbert Islands, Micronesia) on November 20th, 1943, a pilot who launched from the USS CHENANGO (CVE-28) snapped a series of 35mm color photos while flying overhead providing fighter support.
Tarawa Flyover 1
And an actual aerial color snapshot taken during the opening hours of the November 20th, 1943 invasion. The pilot had his 35mm camera with him and snapped dozens of shots during the initial invasion; the following shots are the only known aerial color photos of the Battle of Tarawa!
Tarawa Flyover 2
A member of VSMB-332, Walter A. Huff poses for the camera. Luckily a roll of 35mm color Kodachrome was ready for shooting!
From a continuation of a series of 60+ slids/color photos from this collection, this image captures the virginal quality of the Marine (USMC) aviator. Prepped for war on the SBD/ Marine Douglas SBD Douglas Fighter/Bomber, the Dauntless was a key implement of many Pacific battles.
Looking towards an uncertain future, Walter Huff grins and bares the inevitable future as a Marine dive bomber pilot!
I’ve been lucky enough to acquire another 1944 color slide to add to my growing collection of slides from Walter Huff, a WWII Marine pilot. This one is especially interesting as it shows his name on his yellow inflatable life vest. Slick hair too!
I was able to pick up an additional 40+ color slides taken on Guam, Tinian, and Siapan during WWII. Pacific Theater color shots are hard to come by due to the high temperatures and scarcity of color film in the far reaching islands of the Pacific. By my estimation, PTO color slides are outnumbered 2:1 by ETO shots.
Here’s a stunning example of a heavy truck carrying wheels and tires. Enjoy!
Although the focus is a bit off, I’m still pleased with the color range of the four color slides from Guam that I recently acquired through a trade with a friend. Nothing spectacular, but I thought others may enjoy seeing the “colors of war”.
Picked this little gem off eBay for a great price and couldn’t help but do some research on the plane. It appears to have been taken while it was with the New Mexico Air National Guard. Likely in 1945 or 1946. I missed out on another listing from the same seller showing the plane with it’s full insignia painted on the side, which was the New Mexico state symbol. I believe this photo may be considered rare, as I can’t find another shot of the 44-74976 on the web, and certainly not in color. I hope the current owner finds my site!
From what I can gather, as pictured, this aircraft was used by the New Mexico Air National Guard in WWII and in the 1940s and then was sold to Indonesia in 1958 or 1959. It was then recovered in 1978 from Indonesia and purchased by a Ralph W. Johnson of Oakland, CA and registered as N98582. It’s first flight after being recovered from Indonesia was in 1983. It was then purchased by it’s current owner, Jeff R. Michael and restored to airworthy and redesignated as “Obsession” with it’s original tail code of 44-74976. Phew!
The color of WWII is something lost on our generation; WWII has been a war fought in black and white for everyone but actual WWII veterans who witnessed it firsthand. One of my goals here at PortraitsofWar is to collect color slides from WWII and make them accessible to those who don’t know it exists. Yes, color film was shot in 35mm(and sometimes larger format) and was used on a somewhat regular basis by shutterbug soldiers during WWII. My collection is roughly 500:1, black and white : color. To find a complete collection of color slides is like hitting the WWII photography jackpot. In this case, I was able to pick up a small selection of color slides from a Marine dive bomber. Although I was only able to snag 7 from a grouping of nearly 200, I am still happy to pass along the images to interested parties.
From the collection of Walter Huff.
Please enjoy the colors of WWII as they were meant to be seen!
The following set of slides (and many more not shown) were picked up at a local flea market along with 3000 more from the same photographer. In this case, he was invited down to view a series of military exercises at Pope Air Force Base in Fort Bragg, NC. The activities and joint demonstrations by the United States Readiness Command (USREDCOM), Brass Key II at Fort Bragg in North Carolina were a series of military exercises to show the readiness of US airborne and Special Forces troops. A great set of shots all taken in 1974.
We’ve all seen shots of aircraft carrier decks, festooned with waving lights, landing planes, crewmen and the excitement of an aircraft launch, but how often do we get to see below deck? In this rare color slide we get a colorful glimpse into the underbelly of the beast, complete with oil drums, fork lift, and extra propellers. This color slide is from a set of shots taken by a crew member on board the USS Philippine Sea during while the VF-114 “Executioners”, a Corsair unit, was flying missions over Korea in 1950/51. For other shots from this set, make sure to search for VF-114 in the search menu.