How well do you know airplanes from the Second World War? Today it is merely a curiosity, but back in the day soldiers had to be well-trained to recognize enemy’s planes. In dim evening lighting all you have is a silhouette – is this one of your planes? Or is your enemy launching an attack?

This test that you’re about to see was created back in 1943. It is a series of posters, published by the Bureau of Naval Personnel. Each poster displays silhouettes of two or more similar airplanes. Soldiers had to pay attention to detail and recognize, which planes belong to friendly forces and which ones – to the enemy. The right answer was behind a little black square, stapled to the bottom of each poster. We cropped these images to avoid stretching the article too much, but none of the important information was excluded.

So, can you recognize these planes? Let’s start:

Which plane is American and which one is Japanese? Correct answers are written under each poster.

Medium Japanese bomber Kawasaki Ki-48 (Lily) is at the top, while American light bomber Martin Baltimore A-30 is at the bottom. Probably the biggest giveaway is A-30’s gun turret on the top and slightly rounder vertical stabilizer.

Now that you know how this test works, take a look at the second task – which plane is Japanese?

Japanese Nakajima A6M2-N is at the top. Below it – Curtiss SO3C Seamew and Vought OS2U Kingfisher. A6M2-N’s wings are mounted slightly lower.

Now which one of these planes is German?

German Focke-Wulf Fw 189 is at the bottom, another plane is American Lockheed P-38 Lightning. These airplanes have quite a few differences, but creators of this test asked soldiers to pay attention to different cabins.

Which one of these planes is German?

German Dornier Do 217 is at the top, while American North American B-25 Mitchell is at the bottom. Silhouettes of these planes are very similar and you have to pay attention to slightly different engine nacelles and tails.

Can you recognize these planes?

On the right – German Junkers Ju 290, on the left – American Consolidated B-24 Liberator. The latter has a much more rounded vertical stabilizer.

Which one of these planes is Japanese?

Japanese Mitsubishi Ki-21 (Type 97) is on the right, while American Douglas A-20 Havoc is on the left. Again, vertical stabilizer is the best giveaway.

Which one is German?

German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 is at the bottom, while American Grumman F4F Wildcat is at the top. Wings of the Fw 190 are mounted lower.

Can you tell, which one of these planes is German?

German Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor is at the bottom. At the top – American Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress. Tails of these planes are quite a bit different.

Ok, the last one for now – which one is a Japanese airplane?

Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero is at the bottom, while American Republic P-47 Thunderbolt is at the top. Thunderbolt is shaped more like an egg.

How many of these did you answer correctly? Which ones were the trickiest? Tell us in the comments.


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