WWII in color: Rare photos from 1942 show Flying Fortress bombers and their heroic crews in The Mighty 8th Command
By Snejana Farberov
PUBLISHED: 00:40 EST, 16 March 2013 | UPDATED: 07:42 EST, 16 March 2013
Millions of poignant black-and-white photos have come out of the World War Two era, but it is not often that scenes from the deadliest conflict in human history can be seen in living color.
In 1942, LIFE Magazine sent Margaret Bourke-White, one of its four original staff photographers and the first female photojournalist accredited to cover WWII, to take pictures of the VIII Bomber Command, commonly known as the Eighth Air Force or The Mighty 8th.
The photographs, executed in brilliant hues that make them look almost like oil paintings, put on full display the massive American B-24s and B-17s - or Flying Fortresses - that rained terror on Nazi-control cities often in tandem with the Royal Air Force.
In the early stages of the war, the Eighth Air Force and the bombers under its command were praised for the 'fantastic accuracy' of the attacks.
But as the conflict dragged on, the Flying Fortresses and their crews would face heavy loses, the most dramatic of which came in October 1943 when 60 bombers were destroyed and 600 pilots perished in a single raid in Germany.
Some of Bourke-White’s pictures show everyday scenes from the base in England, like the portrait of an American pilot with a pink toy bunny - likely a good luck charm from a child - tucked in his waistband.
Another image shows an Air Force service member painting caricatures on the nose of an aircraft poking fun at the leaders of the Axis - Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Japan's Hirohito.
Getting ready: Members of the flight and ground crews of a B-17 bomber named 'Honey Chile II' make adjustments to their plane prior to a mission, Polebrook, Northamptonshire, England, fall 1942
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2294284/WWII-color-Rare-photos-1942-Flying-Fortress-bombers-heroic-crews-The-Mighty-8th-Command.html#ixzz2NiG0xTsI