Saturday, January 07, 2017

Old vehicles.

How about a few random photos featuring old vehicles? Since this first one has a Volkswagen "microbus", I can't really call it a "car" because I would go to prison. The slide is undated, but almost certainly from the 1950's - in fact there were other slides in the lot taken in Korea, and I believe that this image is also from that country, presumably during the war. "USAF"... well, nobody will ever figure out that acronym. But maybe the other markings will tell a story to somebody with a little knowledge. I am not that person. 

This guy's nickname was "Radar", because he spun around in circles and made beeping noises.

Here are two beauties with 1948 Massachusetts license plates. Somebody really liked burgundy red. Both cars have a lot of similarities, though they are different. Come on, car nuts, tell us what these are!

Look at those white walls, yowza. And I like the optional searchlight on the side (I'm always searching for something). It looks wintery, but both cars have their convertible tops down. What does it mean?!?


D Ticket said...

AFE is Aircrew Flight Equipment

Nanook said...


The first year for the Microbus was 1950. And as the production runs were rather small back then, I'm guessing this image dates a few years beyond that date. Our man in uniform appears to be an Air Force sergeant. That's all I got on the first image.

Those are two, burgundy beauties. The similarities you note are due to the fact both vehicles are made by General Motors. On the left is a 1947 Chevrolet, and the one on the right is a 1941 Buick. They certainly look 'smart', all nice and shiny, but obviously the Buick is older, but you can hardly tell.

Thanks, Major.

K. Martinez said...

I haven't a clue about anything in today's post except that my father was in the Korean War so that first one is interesting to me. Thanks, Major.

Patrick Devlin said...

And, as I sometimes do in the wake of Nanook's always informative posts, I Googled around for shots of early VW buses. It looks like that air scoop on the roof is a seriously rare item. Thanks as always, N.

Chuck said...

Major, although the first photo may have been taken during the Korean War, it was most definitely not taken in Korea. While US forces did purchase some locally-produced road vehicles like the VW Microbus in support of Allied economies as part of the Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs) with each host nation, they did not export them to other operational theaters. Not only would that have been more expensive, but the US auto industry and their Congressional supporters would not have accepted it, either.

While D Ticket is correct that "AFE" can stand for "Aircrew Flight Equipment" in USAF usage, in this case, it's a shortened abbreviation for "United States Air Forces in Europe" (USAFE), the Major Command to which the vehicle was assigned. This abbreviation was still being used on USAF vehicles in Europe when I was stationed there from 1998-2001. Had this been taken in Korea during the war, the bumper would have been marked "FEAF" for "Far East Air Forces" (see this example).

Despite not being taken in Korea, this was still definitely shot in the first half of the 1950s. The USAF began painting identification numbers on the both the driver's and front passenger doors of their vehicles in October of 1954, and since this example lacks that feature, we can safely date the photo to before the end of 1955 or so.

Nanook, this Airman might be a sergeant or an airman first class, depending on when the photo was taken; the three-stripe rank changed titles in April of 1952. And his M-1951 field jacket also helps date the photo to the early-to-mid-'50s, as the Air Force began issuing a field jacket in a different pattern (note the exposed snaps and rounded collar of the replacement) in the mid-50's.

About all I can add on the bottom photo is that it was taken in 1948 or 49, based entirely on the 1948 Massachusetts license plates on both cars.

Chuck said...

On closer inspection, the Airman is actually wearing an M-1950 field jacket (or maybe an M-1943) rather than an M-1951. The only real difference between the M-1943 and the M-1950 jackets was an addition of buttons on the inside of the M-1950 to secure a button-in liner. The M-1943/M-1950 had a button closure in front and a slightly curved front edge to the pocket flaps while the M-1951 had a zipper front and straight-edged pocket flap fronts.

Nanook said...


I was wondering about the Airmam's rank for the very reason you mentioned.

I think as far as today's post is concerned, the obvious clues rest with those great automobiles.

Major Pepperidge said...

D-Ticket, thanks!

Nanook, yeah, I figured this was probably 1953-ish, more or less. Thanks for the IDs on the two beauties - I’m kind of amazed at how similar they are, given that one is six years older.

K. Martinez, I had a small group that really was from Korea, but I sold them years ago. Wish I’d kept them, now.

Patrick Devlin, that air scoop is odd - is that what passed for air conditioning?

Chuck, I was hoping that you would chime in, since I figured you’d have all kinds of info. And you did! I’m not really surprised that this one is not from Korea to be honest. Thanks also for the info about the vehicle and the uniform! As for the license plate, that is one detail that I actually mention in my text.

Chuck again, sounds like this might be from earlier in the 50’s than I originally thought?

Nanook, for me, half the fun of posting these is reading the comments that they evoke.

Chuck said...

Major, well, I feel rather foolish. I got so excited about the first photo that I guess I just skimmed the text on the second. Always a bit embarrassing when you execute a "ready, fire, aim" sequence. Still, I have to admit it was fun doing the research...even if it was unnecessary. :-)

Chris White said...

Strangely, that V.W. transporter would be worth a huge amount of money today, possibly six figures!