Aircraft recognition silhouette playing cards : Air Ministry

Accession Number REL41859
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Cardboard, Paper
Maker Air Ministry
Place made United Kingdom
Date made 1941
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Rectangular card box, with lid, containing three sets of playing cards. A typed paper label has been pasted on the lid and reads 'Aircraft Recognition Silhouette cards'. The underside of the lower box is stamped in purple ink 'AID 77'. Contained within the box are three packs of playing cards, packed into card outers, the opening flaps stamped either R, G, or B; and a set of Playing Instructions. The initials stand for Red, Blue or Green (there is one set missing, identified as Orange), and the leaf design on the reverse of each card is coloured according to this classification. Each pack contains fifty three cards, consisting of four separate views of thirteen aircraft plus a joker (identified by a J on the card, and by being the only card containing multiple views of an aircraft). Each pack is accompanied by a folded printed key to the contents of the pack, featuring four-view silhouettes of a range of allied and enemy aircraft relevant to that pack. The key is dated Air Ministry January 1941 and each key, plus the instruction sheet, are labelled 'For Official Use Only'. The Instructions suggest a number of games that can be played with the cards, including Happy Families, Rummy, Clock Patience, Pelmanism, Snap and Banker.

The following aircraft silhouettes are featured in the following packs:

Red: Spitfire I, Defiant, Fulmar I, Grumman F4F, Roc I, Skua, Messerschmitt 109; Falco I, Buffalo, Heinkel 113, Mecchi 200 and Fiat G50

Blue: Blenheim IV modified, Beaufort I, Beaufighter I, Boston, Wellington I, Martin 167, Whirlwind, Stirling I, Junkers 88, C.A.N.T. Z1007 bis, Heinkel IIIK Mk V, Savoia 79 and Caproni 311.

Orange: Whitley IV & V, Hudson, Halifax I, Manchester I, Junkers 90, Breda 88, Albermarle, Dornier 215, Caproni 135, Messerschmitt 110, Fiat BR20 and Piaggio P32.

Green: Lysander, Mohawk, Vought 156, Dornier 17, Junkers 87B, Junkers 86, Focke-Wulf Condor, Heinkel 115, Breda 65, Henschel 126 and Junkers 52.

History / Summary

No specific history known. Set of cards issued by the British Air Ministry in 1941 to servicemen and women to accustom them to the types of enemy and allied aircraft they were likely to encounter. As card playing was such a popular pastime, it was thought constant exposure to the silhouettes would inculcate the images in the players' minds.