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US Army Air Corps Recruiting Film: Observations

This video is a compilation of several newsreel recruitment commercials shown in movie theaters during World War II. It comes to us courtesy of the FedFlix project.

Watching these commercials, I noticed four things. Half of these surprised me:

  1. Combat flying was portrayed as perfectly safe. In the recruitment films, it’s always day, the skies are clear and there is never any antiaircraft fire.
  2. Flying for the Army Air Corps was a man’s job.
  3. Teenagers as young as 17 were being actively recruited, although the 17 year olds had to join a special cadet corps and couldn’t be formally trained till after their 18th birthday.
  4. Movie box offices doubled as recruitment centers.

1&2 were no surprise to me. Recruitment films are supposed to put the best face on service. And in the 1940s, women weren’t supposed to be in combat. At least not as military combatants.

I was surprised to see 17 year olds recruited. I wonder how long the Army Air Corps worried WWII could last.

While logical, the newsreel’s instruction to “see the box office on your way out for complete information” was perfectly logical during the preTV years of our country, I was still surprised.

If you watch the videos, I’d be interested in what you notice about the 1940s from it.


4 Responses

  1. Military have always and still do recruit 17 year olds and younger (drummer boys were 14 during Civil War, I think). JROTC is in high schools and recruiters have school records for nearly all children approaching the final years of school.

    Unfortunately, some services are more aggressive at recruiting than others so the young don’t get a balanced view of what their opportunities might be.

  2. Looks a lot like the TV ads now running– adventure calls are effective appeals to adolescent minds.

  3. PS– seems like then only blue-eyes need apply for the flying

  4. Too bad the films do not tell the complete story of the military experience.

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