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Royal Air Force Photographer

Allied airmen wipe out a Japanese convoy in the Bismarck Sea. A ship goes up in flame after receiving hits from medium bombers., March 1943
Vintage wire photograph on paper
6 5/8 x 8 1/2 in. (16.83 x 21.59 cm)

Creation Place: Oceania, British
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Restricted Gift of Michael Mattis, Judy Hochberg, and Daniel Mattis, in honor of Kathleen Stewart Howe
Accession Number: P2019.21.735

In an official RAF photo radioed from Melbourne, Australia to San Francisco, one of 22 Japanese ships in a convoy wiped out by Allied airmen in the Bismarck Sea is shown going up in flame and smoke after receiving hits from medium bombers. Japanese merchant’s ships and 102 planes, as compared with the Allied loss of four planes, March 1943.

Sheet: 7 x 8 7/8

Wire photographs were originally transmitted over phonelines, then later, by satellite. They were first used in the early 1920s. Associated Press became a leader with this. After pigment touch-ups, etc., the print is put into a drum (like a drum scanner). The image gets converted into audio tones that are transmitted. The tones are received and beamed onto photo-sensitive paper. Wire photographs are copies without originals---they are hybrid, transmitted objects. (Britt Salvesen, Curator and Department Head, Photography Department, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 30-31, 2022)

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  • Image Dimensions: 6 5/8 x 8 1/2 in. (16.83 x 21.59 cm)

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