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Dense smoke rises from burning oil storage tanks in the Columbia Aquila refinery in Ploiesti, Romania, after bombing attack by American B-24 Liberators, August 1943
Vintage wire photograph on paper

Creation Place: Europe
Technique: Photography
Credit Line: Restricted Gift of Michael Mattis, Judy Hochberg, and Daniel Mattis, in honor of Kathleen Stewart Howe
Accession Number: P2019.21.160

Yanks bomb vital Axis oil fields: Dense black clouds of smoke rise from burning oil storage tanks in the Columbia Aquila refinery at the southwest edge of Ploiesti, Romania. Fires are the result of a low-altitude bombing attack by American B-24 Liberators, more than ten of which are visible coming in for further attack. Cracking plant and still, vital targets are seen smoking at center. The War Department reported that the sensational 2000-mile round trip raid destroyed the vast bulk of operating capacity of the Romanian area, which supplies one-third of Axis oil needs, August 1943.

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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