July 26, 2002


A pair of B-24 Liberator waist gunners are shown wearing new
flak vests designed to protect them from the shrapnel thrown
off by exploding antiaircraft artillery shells. The original AP photo,
captioned "Armored Knights of the Air," and dated June 23,
1943, is obviously posed since the gunner at right is wearing
his overseas caps in lieu of a helmet. The manganese steel,
sleeveless vests weighed in at 16 pounds. (Many an aircrewman preferred to sit on a folded vest in order to protect another,
more delicate part of the body from damage.)