Military Might garishly displayed seems so darn un-American, but in fact it’s rather retro.
While we might recoil at the idea of a Soviet style military hardware parade rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue, during the Cold War Americans were far from shy about boasting and flaunting our military might. And we did it in that most American of ways – in big, bold, colorful advertisements.
These easy on the eyes advertisements found in the pages of our most popular periodicals were a veritable post war pageant of our power and prosperity, showcasing the force of Americas war machine.
New and Improved
Nestled between ads for Instant Maxwell House Coffee and Ford Fairlanes in the latest issue of Life were lavish full-page, four-color ads for the latest fighter jet or guided missile. A veritable parade of military might could be admired from the comfort of your own Naugahyde Barca Lounger while flipping through Time Magazine.
In a marriage made in Pentagon heaven, the mad men of Madison Avenue in conjunction with the Military Industrial Complex churned out dozens upon dozens of ads in military precision during the 1950’s. These ads served as a visual reminder of our unparalleled strength, instilling pride in our Global leadership while helping to bolster a panicked public that America was were ready to fight, protect and attack if necessary.
Defense companies like Lockheed, Grumman, and United Aircraft Corporation bloated with government contracts had no problem spending some of that cash on lavishly illustrated ads to thrill us with their latest technological marvels.
And marvel we did
Missiles with that 100 million dollar look… new kinds of fighter jets swifter smoother more accurate in its destruction, jets in daring new styling to capture the heart of a nation… guided missiles light years ahead of our competitors with a new kind of destruction never thought possible.
To see and experience this newness was something every American owed to his pocketbook and his heart.
Not to mention his nerves.
Cold War Jitters
Cold war Americans had a bad case of nuclear jitters.
The threat of attack loomed large. With the Ruskies breathing down our necks e needed protection. Fast. Fighter Jets a fast acting as Alka Seltzer.
The very thought of Soviet technological supremacy, especially military supremacy sent off a chain reaction of panic, rising fear levels and soaring defense spending. “To succeed in preventing war our Air Force Power must be strong enough to discourage aggression before it starts. This meant aircraft that are ready for retaliation,” warned an 1954 ad from United Aircraft Corporation.
We would pay any price, bear any burden to fill any Missile gap.
The thrilling new jets and missiles filled with advances and exclusive features expressed a confidence in the future and assured a shaky nation there would indeed be a future to look forward to.
Suitable For Framing
Seeing American military might in vivid living color, put our cold war minds at rest, as well as justifying the enormous costs to our defense department. What a lift to the spirits when during the Korean war a reproduction of this beautiful illustration from the 1951 Grumman ad was offered to readers text-free and free of charge.
Suitable for framing, this charming testament to the fight for freedom depicting fighting jets carrying destruction to the Reds very doorstep, would be right at home in any mid-century den. It fit so perfectly with the early American décor so popular in the smartest of suburban homes, making you the envy of your friends.
And after all isn’t that the American way?.
Copyright (©) 2018 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved