Life Advertisements, 1943

Below is a collection of World War Two ads from the same issue of Life Magazine, September 13, 1943. Most if not all US industries were on a war footing and produced equipment to be used in various weapon’s systems and support systems. The goal was to inform the public as to what they were doing to help win the war.

If you look carefully, some of the ads have a line encouraging the purchase of war-bonds. Warbonds was how the US financed the war. The idea was to by a bond at such and such a price that could be redeemed later as interest was accrued. If memory serves me I think there were 8-9 war-bond drives. A military hero was usually the main attraction at the public events.

I selected mostly large color adds that have a military connection.


Here General Motors is advertising “nose cannons” using a real Army Air Force logo. The airplane looks like a drawing of a P-39 Airacobra. The nose cannon would have been a 37mm and the aircraft itself would have been used mostly for ground attack by 1943. Huge numbers of P-39s went to Soviet Russia as part of Lend-Lease.


This is an ad for the famous Willy’s Jeep-an all purpose utility vehicle. From WikipediaWillys (English: /ˈwɪlɪs/ or /ˈwɪləs/[1]) was a brand name used by Willys-Overland Motors, an American automobile company best known for its design and production of military Jeeps (MBs) and civilian versions (CJs) during the 20th century. (I believe the word “Jeep” was derived from GP, the letters used to designate the vehicle in the first government contract. The company later merged with Kaiser, then American Motors and then Daimler Chrysler and then Fiat. The Jeep was the predecessor of the Humvee.


The use of helicopters in WW2 was in its infancy. This ad must have seemed like Science Fiction in 1943.


Prior to WW2 tanks communicated with each other by the commander standing in the hatch giving hand signals. The Russians used that system well into the war with only 1 in 10 tanks having a radio. American tanks each had one enabling communication with tank commanders at the platoon level-the level where tactics were the most important. Belmont Radio went out of business in 1952 and the radios are now collector’s items. The tank appears to be an M4 Sherman of which over 50,000 were built.


I love the black and white artwork with this ad and had to use it. It features a “White M3 Halftrack” mounting a 75mm field gun. The field gun was used as a light howitzer and anti-tank weapon. The half-track was manufactured by White and Autocar was their halftrack division. Half-tracks were used primary as armored personnel carriers but also in a number of other roles serving as anti-aircraft platforms, mortar carriers and ambulances. American made half-tracks served in most allied armies in WW2 and survived in the Israeli Army well into the 1970’s. My dad worked for Autocar briefly after the war.


World War Two like most wars brought technological improvements as each side tried to gain military advantage. The U-boat threat to allied shipping was very real and whole classes of warships were used to chase down the wolf-packs. This ad is all about improving speed and range with improved diesel engines. The ship is probably a destroyer-escort which was a smaller version of a destroyer and used primary to escort convoys. As a 17-year-old Sea Cadet I was able to take a short cruise on Lake Michigan on a WW2 vintage DE. The smell of diesel on the lake that day was overpowering as the ship pitched back and forth in a “mildly rough sea.”. Many a sailor (not me) lost their lunch over the side.


Aluminum was a vital component in the manufacture of aircraft and Alcoa (still in business today) did their bit. According to the ad 95,000 people were employed by Alcoa in 1943. The artwork is interesting as it features a sergeant of the ground crew. Those were the guys that kept the airplanes patched up and flying. Pilots loved their ground crews for good reason since their lives depended on their mechanical skill. The airplane appears to be a B-24 Liberator Bomber. The B-24 is less well known than the B-17 Flying Fortress. He had a longer range than the B-24 but had many drawbacks. The Aviation Online Museum 

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