SGM Herb Friedman (Ret.)

Note: A short version of this article appeared in the October 2000
Falling Leaf, Journal of the Psychological Warfare Society

B52Bomber.jpg (13657 bytes)

The strategic heavy bomber is the major symbol of American power throughout the history of our psychological operations (PSYOP). No other nation has ever used bombers as a regular reappearing image on their propaganda. This seems uniquely American. In this article you will see a number of propaganda leaflets prepared by the United States starting during WWII and used as recently as in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Each leaflet threatens the enemy with catastrophic bombing should they resist. The threat was real. The American heavy bomber is the symbol of the reach and strategic power of the United States. The leaflets reflect that power and are an effective means of changing minds and hearts.

I have always wondered if the image of American aircraft overhead was of any real propaganda value. The question seems to be answered in a secret 1943 report on what was needed by the Philippine Resistance to carry on under Japanese occupation:

Undoubtedly, the best and most irrefutable propaganda that the Allied can now use in the Philippines is the airplane. This will give lie to the main Japanese propaganda and blow to smithereens their entire propaganda machine. Nothing except invasion can equal the propaganda value of the sight of an American airplane in the Philippine skies today…Even if the airplane were to drop nothing, the mere sight of it and the star on its wings will give the people tangible things to boost their morale and renew their faith in the American pledge to redeem the Philippines.

Think of all the countries in Europe and Asia under German or Japanese occupation in WWII and multiply that thought one hundred times.

WWIIUSG8.jpg (21531 bytes)

WWII Germany #USG 8

During WWII the United States dropped a number of leaflets on Germany showing the B-17 Flying Fortress or the B-24 Liberator bomber. Leaflet "USG 8" dropped in late 1943 shows an American B-17 with bomb-bay doors open. It tells the Germans that the Americans are here and reminds them that they brought the United States into their war. The text on the front says, "Now the American Flying Fortresses are in action." The text on the back says, "This leaflet was dropped by an American bomber." Around the four sides of the leaflet is the message "Adolf Hitler declared war on the United States December 11, 1941." This was one of the earliest leaflets to show an American bomber. Many more would follow.

WW2USG9F.jpg (21887 bytes)

WWII Germany #USG9

After taking heavy losses early in the war from anti-aircraft fire and Luftwaffe fighters, the Royal Air Force chose to schedule bomb runs over Germany only at night. The Americans, new to the war, took on the extremely dangerous daylight bombing of the Third Reich. This day-night bombing campaign is symbolically depicted in leaflet USG9. United States B-17 Flying Fortresses and British Avro Lancaster bombers are shown on a bombing mission. The left of the leaflet is daylight, the right of the leaflet is nighttime. The text is "DAY AND NIGHT WITH UNITED AIRCRAFT." The back of the leaflet is all text, "Adolf Hitler declared war on the United States on 11 December 1941. The American bombers give their answer: ATTACK. ...Bombing with the RAF all day and night. ...At the most valuable military targets in all of the Reich." At the bottom of the leaflet in small print, "This leaflet was dropped by an American bomber." It is very rare for a U.S. leaflet to show aircraft from another nation. Three million of these leaflets were printed on 29 July 1943 by the British printer Waterlow and Sons. A total of 2,652,000 were dropped over the enemy on 13 bomb raids between 2 August and 3 December 1943.

USB6B17Flag.jpg (389136 bytes)

WWII Belgium #USB 6

One of the most handsome and colorful leaflets that featured the American B-17 Flying Fortress was leaflet USB 6, dropped on occupied Belgium to give the people the hope of an eventual Allied victory and encourage them to fight on against the Germans. The front of the leaflet depicts four B-17 bombers flying above an American flag depicted in full color. The back is all text and has a long propaganda message in both French and Flemish. A Complete Index of Allied Airborne Leaflets and Magazines 1939-1945 says that this leaflet was prepared by the United States Office of War Information entitled “The American Air Force,” and dropped beginning 3 November 1943. The text quotes from President Roosevelt’s message to Congress on 7 January 1943 and tells the Belgians at the bottom of the leaflet that the Americans will bomb by day while the British bomb at night.

The exact same image was used again on a leaflet to Germany coded USG 5 that was dropped with a different German-language message from July to November, 1943.

cph32261.jpg (37317 bytes)


Tactical Leaflet CPH 3 was produced by the United States Ninth Army for use against the German Army in October 1944. The front depicts a sky full of silhouetted four-engine bombers and the text:

Did you hear us?

The back is all text. Some of the message is:

German Soldiers on the Western Front

We heavy bombers will do no immediate harm to you. We leave this to the weapons of our tactical air force. We fly in German air space about 10,000 meters above your heads. Your fox holes are not our aim. Our aims are the factories producing your ammunition, railroad tracks which supply you and bridges which connect you with your home. We bombed the bridges of Julich on 29 October. We dropped 9,000 tons of explosives on Cologne in nine attacks from 28 to 31 October. We systemically bomb important war industries 50-100 kilometers behind your front.

Think about the destruction every time that we come with out four-engine bombers. We will be back soon.

You will hear from us again!

The Rumor Campaign

whisper01.jpg (7754 bytes)

In an attempt to raise the morale of occupied Europe and lower the morale of the German military, civilians and their allies, the secret British Underground Propaganda Committee produced well over eight thousand rumors, (they called them “Sibs” from the Latin sibalare – to hiss). Researcher Lee Richards mentions the whisper campaign and many of these rumors in his book Whispers of War,, 2010. In regard to British propaganda rumors about Allied heavy bombing he lists dozens of moral-destroying rumors. I have selected a few of the more interesting ones:

26 October 1940 - Letters from Berlin are arriving late. The reason is strict censorship because there were 2,000 people killed in the last raid on Berlin, and the authorities don’t want this to get out.

16 April 1942 – No more deep civilian shelters will be built. All cement is reserved for military defenses in France, Holland and Belgium.

10 September 1943 - The real reason for the new trench shelters being dug everywhere is that the big deep shelters have proved useless in the new attacks, people being suffocated or roasted alive.

16 June 1944 – The amount of steel and cement in the Normandy section of the Atlantic Wall would have built air-raid shelters for 2.5 million people.

25 August 1944 – After a secret debate in Washington it was decided that 3,600 B-29 Super Fortresses should be sent to Europe. Each carried 10 tons of bombs.

   AI026244FlyingCoffinA.jpg (94184 bytes)    AI026244FlyingCoffinB.jpg (110035 bytes)


The German response - Flying Fortresses? Flying Coffins

The Germans retaliated with a leaflet of their own threatening death and destruction to any Allied bomber crew who had the temerity to fly a mission over the Fatherland. Leaflet AI-026-2-44 depicts a flight of seven flying coffins in the air over Germany, each coffin bearing a Christian cross. The text on the front is:

Flying Fortresses?

A long message on the back states:



On January 11th when American and British bomber formations attempted to carry out raids against German towns.

136 planes, 124 of which were four-engine bombers, were wiped out.

1300 picked American and British airmen who had been trained for a long time were lost in this one raid alone.

They were burned to death, shot to pieces or crashed with their planes.


A few hundred German homes bombed and a few hundred persons, mainly women and children, killed or wounded. No military target was hit, no factory destroyed.

Your forces lost:

136 big planes, costing millions and millions of the American taxpayers’ money.

1300 airmen killed, causing untold grief at home.

Only a few of those shot down still lived and could be taken prisoner.

What a pity, those boys – from whatever parts of America or Great Britain they might have come, should die so soon especially is such a horrible manner in a strange continent far away from their folks at home. They fought against a country that has never done them any harm.


German records indicate that that the text of this leaflet was written by Sonderführer (specialist officer) Kempin and the drawing was done by Obergefreiter (Lance Corporal) Schwabe.

GermanB17LeafF.jpg (40573 bytes)

German B-17 Leaflet

Sometimes the enemy would use our own bomber leaflet theme against us. One German leaflet coded ACE shows a British farmer and his grandson watching B-17s take off on a mission to bomb Germany. The grandson remarks on the power of the bomber and the old man replies in part:

Yes boy, those beautiful “B-17s” with their 5000 horsepower will change the face of the earth. They smash a way for our troops. They pave the road to victory. It’s the power of modern machines which will win the war for our fighting men.

ACE leaflets were prepared by the Germans for use against Allied troops in Northwest Europe in 1945. The back of the leaflet is all text and the young boy asks why if the Allies have so many modern machines, why so many fathers of his schoolmates have been killed in the war. The Germans answer seeks to drive a wedge between the troops on the ground and the Air Force and government strategists by pointing out that airpower will never win a war, and ground troops are needed. The leaflet ends with the demoralizing statement:

ITS MEN and not material WHICH COUNTS

gangsterPilots.jpg (84413 bytes)

Gangster Pilots

It was not only the Germans that attacked the American bombing campaign. The Fascist Italians also produced a number of posters and postcards that attacked the American Air Force as murderers and war criminals. A whole series of images were published. In one, the artist Gino Boccasile depicts an American thug standing over a crying child while a B-17 bomber is depicted in the background. The text is:

The inhuman crimes of the “Gangsters Pilots” always points to the Government of the United States

In another, a bloodied child stands over a dead infant while a B-17 flies overhead.

   LiberatorItalyBomb2.jpg (64589 bytes)


A third Italian propaganda poster adds racism to the accusation as the American pilot labeled “Liberator” is depicted as a barbaric black man. A fourth poster entitled “Work of the Liberators!” depicts the Statue of Liberty as Death as she stands over a burning Italian city while bombers fly overhead. It is clear that the American bombing campaign was considered an excellent propaganda theme by both the United States and its sworn enemies.


B52trainingjapan.jpg (212623 bytes)

People of Japan!

We seldom get to see the training leaflets that candidates for PSYOP positions prepared as part of their curriculum. The above leaflet was designed and printed by the OWI outpost training class in San Francisco in 1944 as it prepared for deployment to the Pacific. The purpose of the project was to gain experience in studying military conditions for which leaflets would conceivably be used in the field, and to practice writing and producing leaflets that would deal with hypothetical situations set up by the class.

The candidates attempted to function as a combat team made of an artist, a military liaison, writers, a Japanese translator, two Davidson pressmen, an advisor-critic and an elected chief of project. This leaflet told the Japanese of the mighty B-19 bomber and prophesied the ultimate defeat of Japan. You can tell this is an early practice leaflet because the language is stilted and does not seem to roll off the tongue naturally. The map is also rather busy and not easy to understand. They would get better; much better. The text on the back says in part:

People of Japan!

The B-29s of America, largest and most powerful planes in the world, bring you this message from the people of the Allies.

Look at the map on the other side of this leaflet. You will see the roads to the Japanese mainland; the roads along which Allied troops are marching, Allied ships are sailing, Allied planes are flying.

You will see the outer defense line of Japan as it once was. You will see how it has drawn inward since the Allies began their offensive at Guadalcanal in August, 1942.The Allies are moving against Japan from the west, from the east, from the south and from the north.

Do not you, the people of Japan, now look at the skies with dread? For you know that the planes of the Allies have come in the past and will come again and again. You know they bring bombs to destroy Japan’s war machine.

It is this war machine, built by the greedy Japanese militarists to satisfy their lust for power at the cost of you, the Japanese people that is the target of the military might of the Allies.

JapWarningBombs.jpg (24358 bytes)

WARNING! - 150-J-1

The newspaper Free Philippines of 31 July 1945 talks about one version of this leaflet, a Psychological Warfare Branch, U.S. Army Forces Pacific Area product coded 150-J-1. This is a "directive leaflet," one that gives orders, instructions, and directives to the target audience. The article states:

Leaflets Will Give Jap Cities 72-Hour Notice of Air Assault.

Leaflets soon will rain on Japan, warning civilians that their home cities will be subjected to large-scale air-raids within 72 hours, Psychological Warfare Branch of General Macarthur's Headquarters has announced.

Leaflets will be dropped by planes of General George C. Kenney's Far East Air Forces.

Lt. Colonel J. W. Greene, executive officer of PWB, said: "The new warning program is part of the truth campaign started by the branch some time ago, which has produced excellent results. Furthermore, the appearance of the leaflets, followed by a raid in force, in each case in clock-like regularity will demonstrate to the people of Japan that their army and navy air forces are impotent to stop us, even when they know exactly when and where we are coming."

The leaflet shows a white bomb-burst on a red and black background. The center of the burst states "This city is the next target of the United States Army Air Force."

On the reverse side the message is amplified, informing Japanese that doom is coming in 72 hours.

The Japanese are warned: "As you can see, your military force is powerless to stop us... This destruction will continue so long as the people follow the militarists."

Japanese are advised to turn away from the militarists and endeavor to save what is left of Japan, and urged "to evacuate the city at once."

Carl Berger mentions the leaflet in more detail in An Introduction to Wartime Leaflets. He says:

During the summer of 1945, prior to B-29 attacks on Japanese cities, American aircraft dropped hundreds of thousands of warning leaflets bearing the heading: "Civilians! Evacuate at once!" and the following text:

These leaflets are being dropped to notify you that your city has been listed for destruction by our powerful air force. The bombing will begin within 72 hours.

This advance notice will give your military authorities ample time to take necessary defensive measures to protect you from the inevitable attack. Watch and see how powerless they are to protect you.

We give the military clique this notification of our plans because we know there is nothing they can do to stop our overwhelming power and our iron determination. We want you to see how powerless the military is to protect you.

Systematic destruction of city after city will continue as long as you blindly follow your military leaders whose blunders have placed you on the very brink of oblivion. It is your responsibility to overthrow the military government now and save what is left of your beautiful nation.

In the meanwhile, we urge all civilians to evacuate at once.

Berger adds that the leaflets were very effective and after the war Japanese officials stated, "The military had no time to prepare special defenses and practically all persons rushed out of town."

In 1947, the Morale Division of the Office of War Information produced a strategic bombing survey of Japan entitled The Effects of strategic bombing on Japanese morale. In regard to the effect of the American bombing it says:

One of the most spectacular moves in psychological warfare was the Ignited States Strategic Air Forces’ announcement to the Japanese people of three series of cities that it promised to destroy “In the next few days.” By this warning to evacuate, the power of the American air arm and the contempt in which it held the Japanese defenders were convincingly demonstrated.

As a result of the American air offensive against Japan, 500 separate targets were bombed and an average of 43 percent of Japan's 68 largest cities were destroyed. More than two-thirds of the civilian population experienced air raids, and more than one-third personally experienced bombing. As estimated from the Morale Division sample survey, approximately 1,300,000 people were injured and approximately 900,000 killed as a result of the bombings. Bombing, or the threat of bombing, resulted in mass disruption of the lives of countless millions of people, including the evacuation of more than 8,500,000 persons from cities.

The leaflets were so successful that during the Korean War similar leaflets warned the North Koreans in February 1953 of cities and military targets to be bombed during a U.N. operation called "Plan Strike." During the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, Coalition forces dropped leaflets warning specific Iraqi infantry divisions that they were about to be bombed by B-52s. It is believed that there were mass defections in these units before the bombings occurred.

134J1.jpg (23176 bytes)

Japanese Navy and Air Force Powerless - 134-J-1

The official title of U.S. Army Psychological Warfare Branch Leaflet coded 134-J-1 is: Japanese Navy and Air Force Powerless. The target is the Japanese homeland. The leaflet depicts a Japanese city with the shadow of a U.S. B-29 upon it. One wing of the aircraft is visible in the upper left-hand corner. The text on the back is:

Boasting that their defense was an iron wall, the militarists asserted that the Japanese Navy and Air Force would annihilate all who attacked the homeland.

Today, those militarists stand powerless while the U.S. Navy and Air Force attack Japan at will and with increasing fury.

It is clear that the Japanese Navy and Air Force cannot defend the homeland. It is also clear that the militarists whose so-called defense was merely an empty word, are not worthy to be leaders.

The full force of the American attack has not yet been felt. When it comes, the destruction will be pitiless and complete.

The militarists cannot save Japan by their boasts, but the people can save their country by unconditional surrender.

3J6Bonber.jpg (154113 bytes)

Leaflet 3-J-6

This leaflet depicting a flight of B-24 Liberator bombers was prepared by the U.S. Sixth Army in the Philippine Islands. The text on the front is:

Only Americans Eagles are in the Sky. Why?

The text on the back says in part:

Soldiers of Japan in the Philippines

Ask yourself how many Japanese planes you have seen in the sky in recent weeks. Why have they disappeared?

Are our planes ever challenged when they roar in the sky above you? What has become of the wild eagles who were trained to protect you?

Who has domination of the air above you? And have you not heard your Gumbatsu spokesmen say that whoever dominates the air will win the war?

The “Gumbatsu” is mentioned in many American leaflets to the Japanese. The term represents what President Eisenhower would later call the Military-Industrial complex, a mix of high ranking officers, government officials and leaders of industry.

3F6Bomber.jpg (81702 bytes)

Leaflet 3F6

3F6BackBomberWWII.jpg (467215 bytes)

Leaflet 3F6 Back

This leaflet depicts a B-29 over the Pacific. The data sheet states that it is a “test leaflet,” prepared on 26 September 1944 to be dropped before 26 October 1944. It appears to be a morale leaflet for the people of the Philippines to tell them of American victories and coming liberation. The code shows that the Sixth U.S. Army prepared this leaflet for Filipinos.  The shadow of the B-29 covers all of those areas where the U.S. forces have control of the sea and air. Text on the back mentions the recent fall of Palau and Morotai and the U.S. attacks on the Philippines. It dares the Japanese Navy to come out and fight.

B29ApproachJapan.jpg (102380 bytes)

Leaflet 401

Here is a similar leaflet depicting the silhouette of a B-29 approaching the Japanese Home Islands. This leaflet was printed by the OWI on Saipan to weaken Japanese resistance before an assault on their positions. Some of the text on the back is:

Since our new giant bombers began their frequent air raids against the home islands of Japan in June and our Navy and Marines captured Saipan, Tinian and Guam, your leaders at home have been fearful lest Japan itself be invaded and seized…

Resistance on your part is futile. You cannot withstand the overwhelming force of our men, ships, planes, tanks and various other weapons of war. You cannot match our industrial strength. For Japan, the war is already lost.

WWIIJap1of9a.jpg (26462 bytes)

Japanese Cities Leaflet 2106

Most of the leaflets dropped on Japan depicted B-29 Super Fortresses, although some did show B-17s or B-24s. The most famous leaflet showed a flight of five B-29s dropping bombs and a number of Japanese cities printed in small circles below. The Air Force dropped this leaflet on numerous occasions. For instance, on one raid 700,000 were dropped by the 73rd Bomb Wing on several Japanese cities on the night of 27-28 July 1945. Text on the back is:


Read this carefully as it may save your life or the life of a relative or a friend. In the next few days, four or more of the cities named on the reverse side of this leaflet will be destroyed by American bombs. These cities contain military installations and workshops or factories, which produce military goods. We are determined to destroy all of the tools of the military clique that they are using to prolong this useless war. Unfortunately, bombs have no eyes. So, in accordance with America's well-known humanitarian policies, the American Air Force, which does not wish to injure innocent people, now gives you warning to evacuate the cities named and save your lives.

America is not fighting the Japanese people but is fighting the military clique, which has enslaved the Japanese people. The peace, which America will bring, will free the people from the oppression of the Japanese military clique and mean the emergence of a new and better Japan.

You can restore peace by demanding new and better leaders who will end the War.

We cannot promise that only these cities will be among those attacked, but at least four will be, so heed this warning and evacuate these cities immediately.

The background of this operation is told in greater detail by William E. Daugherty in A Psychological Casebook, John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, MD, 1958. Daugherty mentions the leaflets in an article entitled "Bomb Warnings to Friendly and Enemy Civilian Targets."

To increase the impact of the limited number of leaflets the Air Force could drop on Japanese cities, General Curtis LeMay, the commanding general of the 20th Air Force requested that a leaflet be prepared for dropping on several Japanese cities, warning their inhabitants that there was the imminent probability that the designated cities would soon be leveled by fire bombs.

The text of the original air warning leaflet used in Japan contained the names of twelve cities, at least four of which were to be destroyed. Tokyo was included among the twelve, but a last-minute change in plans led to the necessity for deleting this name and the preparation of a new leaflet. Included among the eleven cities named, were eight on the main island of Honshu and one each on the islands of Shikoku, Hokkaido, and Kyushu.

After the final text was approved, Office of War Information printing personnel on Saipan set about to provide the 20th Air Force with a sufficient number of copies of the leaflets to permit a liberal coverage of the selected targets. On 27 July 1945, the day following the pronouncement of Potsdam, the first of these leaflets were dropped on the originally named cities. The following night, five of the eleven cities - Tsu, Aomori, Ichinomiya, Ogaki, and Uwajima - were bombed and left in ashes.

A second leaflet named twelve additional cities that were marked for probable destruction. More than 500,000 copies of these leaflets were dropped on 30 July by specially assigned B-29 aircraft. Four days later, on 3 August 1945, copies of a third leaflet, naming twelve more cities was dropped.

2106A.jpg (11438 bytes)

Japanese Cities Leaflet 2106A

This leaflet was prepared in two different formats. In one, the cities are depicted in circles at the bottom of the leaflet. In a second version the cities were listed in a box at the lower right. The second (box type) leaflet is illustrated in United States Pacific Fleet and Pacific Areas Psychological Warfare, Part Two, Supplement No. 2, CINCPAC - CINCPOA Bulletin No. 164-45, 15 August 1945. It is coded 2106A. Text at the left of the vignette is, "NOTICE BOARD." The purpose of the leaflet is "To inspire fear in the Japanese people by informing them of the cities we intend to destroy, thereby making it clear by inference that the Japanese air force is impotent and that we are masters of the skies over Japan." The text on the back of the leaflet is identical in both versions.

The leaflets were prepared by the psychological warfare staff of CINCPAC-CINCPOA, in Pearl Harbor and on Saipan. In addition to the employment of leaflets, warnings were also disseminated by a Japanese prisoner of war speaking over the radio facilities of KSAI, an OWI radio transmitter, which beamed medium-wave radio broadcasts to Japan from Saipan. The texts employed in the broadcasts were patterned after those used on the leaflets.

Another variation of this leaflet, coded 2027, shows a B-17 over a bombed Japanese industrial complex. The text on the back reads in part, "Our bombers have already been over Japan many times. Yowata, Moji, Nagasaki, Sasebo, Fukuoka, and other places have been bombed. So long as you continue this hopeless resistance, it is necessary for us to bomb your home cities. It must have been very difficult for the average Japanese technician to decide if he should chance the odds, or desert his strategic factory job and head for the safety of the countryside.


2069Bomber.jpg (39387 bytes)

Leaflet 2069

One of the most interesting Allied “bombing” leaflets depicts General “Hap” Arnold, Commander of the U.S. 20th Air Force and Allied landing barges on the front. The back depicts falling bombs and dead women and children. The leaflet is meant to weaken the morale of the Japanese militarists and civilians. Some of the text is:


General Arnold, Commander of the 20th Air Force and who is in charge of the B-29 Super Fortress bomber operations said: “There is no part of the Japanese Empire which is not within the bombing range of our Air Force and there is no munitions factory that will escape bombing no matter in how remote a place it may be located.”

The systematic bombing of Japan’s war industries started six months ago from bases in China will be carried on with greater power to soften up the heart of Japan in preparation of joint landing operations by the Allied land, sea and air forces…

General Henry Harley “Hap” Arnold was an aviation pioneer and Chief of the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was Commanding General of the U.S. Army Air Forces from 1941 until 1945 and the first and only General of the Air Force in 1949. He is also the only American to achieve five-star rank in two of its armed services. During WWII he was concerned about the B-29 bomber, which was plagued with mechanical problems. In order to assure that Japan was attacked the way he planned, Arnold named himself the commander of the new bomber force. With approval from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the president, he created the Twentieth Air Force, consisting of the 20th and 21st Bomber Commands. He transferred General Curtis LeMay and the B-29s from the China-Burma-India theater to the Pacific, with bases in Guam and the Mariana Islands. LeMay commanded subsequent combat operations against Japan, including the massive incendiary attacks on sixty-four Japanese cities. Hap Arnold is credited with being the guiding force behind the aerial destruction of the Japanese Empire.

2098MineLayer.jpg (53137 bytes)

Leaflet 2098

Leaflet 2098 is the only leaflet that I ever saw that depicts a B-29 Super-fortress dropping mines. The black and white leaflet is meant to show the consequences of the sowing of minefields in Japanese waters. The caption next to the photograph on the front is:

This is how mines are laid

The text on the back in part is:


Your harbors and waterways are full of mines. Trying to clear these mine fields is like trying to dry up the ocean with a cup. You remove one and immediately, the B-029s come and lay a new one.

Because of this insane policy, mines in daily increasing numbers are sinking the vessels, which are essential to the new Japan.

If this continues, Japan will soon have no ships left. The militarists are sacrificing Japan's future. How long will you permit their reckless actions to continue?

This leaflet continues the propaganda message started in 2097, which depicts a starving Japanese soldier and says in part:

Your loved ones have been abandoned on isolated Pacific islands where they do not receive one grain of rice or one round of ammunition. Their single hope is that ships will come to rescue them. Now that artery, too, has been severed.

Numberless mines have been laid in the harbors of Japan. In rapid succession, the precious lives of your countrymen and the raw materials that are the nation’s lifeblood are being blown up….


2020WWII.jpg (86936 bytes)

Leaflet 2020

American OWI leaflet 2020 is interesting because instead of the usual heavy bomber, it depicts a medium two-engine B-25 Mitchell bomber, the same type that raided Japan from the aircraft carrier Hornet early in the war. It appears over a destroyed building while dead Japanese soldiers are depicted in the foreground.  

There is no text on the front. The back is all text with red flames along the bottom of the leaflet. The purpose of the leaflet is to create fear of bombing and to convince civilians that to end the war is more patriotic than to continue hopeless resistance. The text is:

If this war is continued, the destruction of you beloved homeland will result. This is obvious.

If this war continues, the greater will be the job of rebuilding the country afterwards. The longer the war continues, the more the strength of the nation will be permanently harmed.

It is easy to sacrifice one's life for the country. But to end the war and rebuild the nation is true loyalty.

We know that this is an Office of War Information leaflet designed in Honolulu by American artist Frances Blakemore. This information is found in An American Artist in Tokyo, Michiyo Morioka, the Blakemore Foundation, Seattle, WA. Morioka describes the image in artistic terms and says:

Frances employed black to represent a city razed to the ground, with corpses of soldiers, destroyed buildings, billowing smoke and the ominous presence of American bombers like large predatory birds. The markedly naturalistic style imbues the scene with a grave sense of reality that matches the somber tone of the text and reminds the Japanese of their country’s dismal situation.

151J1.jpg (46020 bytes)

Leaflet 151-J-1

The United States Army produced a bomber leaflet coded 151-J-1. The leaflet is entitled “Earthquake from the sky,” And depicts a Japanese city being attacked while civilians flee in terror to the mountains. I add this leaflet because instead of the usual B-17 Flying Fortress or B-29 Super Fortress, it depicts B-24 Liberators. P-38 Lightning fighters can also be seen strafing railroads and factories. The text is:

Earthquakes and tidal waves cannot be halted. The people realize they are powerless against these overwhelming forces of nature and accept the ruin which follows in their wake.

The military forces of Japan can no more halt the overwhelming destruction by the United States Air Force than the people can stop an earthquake.

With ever increasing fury this air force will sweep over Japan like a tidal wave. It will rock the land like an earthquake. With unbelievable striking power, it will bring widespread destruction greater than that caused by all the forces of nature.

The boasting Japanese militarists know they are powerless to stop this terrific devastation. Having thus failed, they now call on helpless old men, women, and children to defend their own homes. They are now asking you to assume responsibility for home defense. But what weapons are the military giving you to defend your homes?

Complete destruction can be avoided only by the people’s overthrowing the militarists and asking for peace. An understanding with the United States means that the peace-loving people of Japan will be saved and will be free to build their country into a modern civilized nation.

The Americans dropped leaflets on the Japanese and their allies wherever they were. During WW2 Thailand aligned itself with the Empire of Japan. In 1945, the U.S. Office of War Information (OWI) prepared a leaflet newspaper entitled "Liberation" and dropped it over Bangkok and other major cities.

B52001.jpg (32678 bytes)

WW II Thailand - #CTP-1 (Thai Pictorial)

The front of the newspaper depicts two B-29 Superfortress bombers. The caption next to the photograph is:

These B-29 bombers are the largest warplanes in the world. They are 141 feet in size.

The text of the main article is:

Giant B-29 bombers attack from Bangkok to Tokyo. America's giant new air weapons, the B-29 bombers, are heavily attacking Japanese military places throughout Asia. Because the Japanese use Thailand as a military base, the B-29s have bombed Japanese targets in Bangkok. They have also caused great damage to Singapore, Rangoon and Penang.

No target is too distant for these bombers. Japan itself has been attacked time after time. Great damage has been visited on the capitol city of Tokyo. The B-29s have also dropped many bombs on the Japanese cities of Nagoya, Sasebo, Ywata, Omura and Nagasaki. The dockyards, naval bases, aircraft factories, steel mills and other war installations were damaged at these places.

The bombings will be greatly intensified as production of the B-29s is being increased day by day.

JapCBA44.jpg (25872 bytes)

Burma #CBA-44

Another American leaflet coded CBA-44 showed a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber flying low over a jungle hut (basha). The leaflet was prepared by the OWI in 1945 for Burma. Text on the front is:

Danger! Bombs for the Japanese!

Text on the back is:

A message from the pilot of the plane overhead. The days of the Japanese in Burma are numbered. Everywhere the Allies are smashing the invaders. My plane is helping to route the Japanese. The bombs I drop and the machine gun bullets I fire are speeding the day of liberation. But from the air, I cannot tell friend from foe. I must attack everywhere there are Japanese, from the biggest towns to the smallest villages. Burmese, I do not want to hurt you. I urge you to stay off the roads. Keep away from the railway. If possible, hide in the jungle.


B25CBA30F.jpg (43585 bytes)

Burma #CBA-31

Another leaflet showing the American B-25 Mitchell medium bomber depicts a pair of them flying over the landscape of Burma. The Office of War Information placed the same text in both Burmese and the Shan native language on different leaflets. Codes for Burma were CBA, CBG, CBM, CBN, CBP, CJ and CJM. This leaflet is coded CBA-31. Leaflets with text in Shan were coded XBSha, XShA, XShn and XShNL. The Shan version of the leaflet was disseminated by fighters, depicted a P-47 Thunderbolt and was coded XBSha-30.

The text on the front is:


These are American planes flying over your land. From this great height people down below look like small ants. That is why pilots cannot always tell friends from foe. To be safe, stay away from the Japanese.

The back has a longer propaganda message that says in part:

A Message from the Pilot of the Plane Flying Overhead

I am flying over your land to kill Japanese and to destroy their supplies. I have no other purpose here.

Before the Japanese attacked my country I lived peacefully at home. I had no desire for war. But Japan attacked the United States just as it attacked Burma. Now my comrades and I attack the Japanese wherever they are found. We shall not stop until the Japanese have been completely beaten…

Stay away from roads used by the Japanese. Stay away from the railroad. Stay away from Japanese military places. Do not needlessly endanger your lives...

Stay away from Japanese military places.

B52m1906B17.jpg (44880 bytes)

B17 over Hong Kong - #M1906

The Japanese were not safe from American bombers in China. This striking Allied leaflet entitled "Warning for Civilians" was dropped over Japanese troops occupying Hong Kong. It shows a devastating bomb raid by American B-17 Flying Fortresses.

The same image was used on OWI leaflet 2027 dropped over Japan and entitled “Save your homeland from destruction.” Some of that leaflet’s text is:

You are destroying your homeland

It is a known fact that America, with its huge resources and unlimited production facilities, is winning the war. Already your inner defense line in such areas as the Marianas has been breached.

Until a Year ago, the closest U.S. base to Japan was Pearl Harbor. Today we have bases near enough to bomb Japan.

America has already bombed Kyushu many times. Yawata, Moji, Nagasaki, Sasebo, Fujuoka, among other cities, have been bombed. As long as you continue this useless resistance, we must bomb the cities of Japan…

CA147x.jpg (119600 bytes)

OWI China Appeal Leaflet CA-147

This 27 July 1945 American leaflet was dropped over China to warn industrial workers away from Japanese operated plants. It depicts heavy bombers over bombed and flaming factories. Some of the text is:

Industrial workers of Taiyuan and Shihchiachuang

Save Yourselves! Soon Chinese and American bombers will be coming to bomb Japanese installations. You Chinese who work in the mills, factories, warehouses and on the decks of ships operated by the Japanese – find work elsewhere, quickly! The Japs are doomed. For it is written in the Book of Changes, “When a thing reaches it limit, it turns around.” Don’t work with them and die with them. Let Jap blood spill, not yours….

108JapWW2.jpg (84708 bytes)

American bombers over Taiwan - 108

Leaflet 108 depicts a group of unidentified American bombers over Taiwan in stark black and red. We clearly see the white "star" insignia on one wing. We should note that prior to the Pearl Harbor attack, the American Army Air Force symbol was a white star with red ball in the center on a field of blue. After the sneak attack, the red ball was removed from the insignia due to its similarity to the Japanese "red sun" symbol.

The aircraft are bombing a factory and buildings burn, chimneys fall, and human bodies fly through the air. The text on the front is:

To pulverize the cruel military might of the Japanese pirates one must bomb their military establishments - Japanese Imperial Munitions Factory.

The text on the back is in both Japanese and Chinese. Taiwan, like Korea, was occupied by the Japanese for many years prior to WWII. The message is directed to the people of Taiwan and explains that it is the Japanese being attacked not the occupied people:

People of Taiwan! 

Residents with families should quickly find a way to remove their old and weak from the vicinity of docks, railroad stations, fortifications, shipyards, munitions factories, depots, barracks and all other buildings and installations of value to the Japanese military forces.

Those with relatives or friends in the countryside would do well to send their parents, women, and children to temporarily live with them in order to escape the bombing of innocent people.

SJ54WWII.jpg (359613 bytes)

Leaflet SJ/54

Curiously, the British also printed and disseminated leaflets that featured American bombers. Here is a leaflet produced by the British South East Asia Command (SEAC), coded SJ/54 and dropped by the Royal Air Force over Japanese soldiers in Burma during 1944 and 1945. What is particularly interesting about this leaflet is that the British have combined the American B-17 Flying Fortress (mostly used in Europe) and the B-29 Super-Fortress. One would expect that they would depict two B-29s. The title of this leaflet is:

Tokyo Bombed

2014WW2F.jpg (15426 bytes)   2014WW2B.jpg (13556 bytes)

Leaflet 2014

America threatened Japan with depictions of bombs as well as bombers. Leaflet 2014 is very impressive from a visual standpoint. It shows a highly detailed and polished vertical black bomb on a red background. There is no text on the front.

The back depicts a vertical silhouette of the bomb with black text on a white background. The purpose of the leaflet is to tell the Japanese that America did not want to kill civilians, just destroy Japan's military strength. The text is:

This leaflet could have been a bomb.

This is to warn you away from military installations, factories, railways, and harbors where our bombs will strike again and again until the gumbatsu quits this hopeless war.

Stay away from military objectives! 

This is another OWI leaflet designed by Frances Blakemore. Morioka says about it:

Frances created a portrait of a menacing black bomb. She rendered its three dimensionality, cool tactile surface, and compact geometric shape through a precise hatching technique and fine lines. Set against a red background, the bomb’s perfect appearance emphasizes its inhuman effectiveness as a modern weapon of mass destruction.

AntiAmericanBombLeaf1.jpg (76660 bytes)

AntiAmericanBombLeaf2.jpg (156435 bytes)

An Anti-American, Anti-British “Bomb” leaflet

This propaganda leaflet was prepared by the Germans to be disseminated on France and should be in the European section. However, it is so similar to the U.S. bomb leaflet dropped on the Japanese that I thought it would work well here where the two could be compared. The leaflet is folded into two pages and the front and back depict a black bomb and the words:

R.A.F. = U.S.A.A.F.

During WWII this would have indicated that the Royal Air Force was the same as the United States Army Air Force. Late in the war the Americans bombed by day, the British by night. When opened, the leaflet had a long French-language text which says in part:


Here is the latest model of the incendiary bomb which the “liberators” are beginning to drop in the millions on your towns and villages. 

It is the final product of their science. The perfection is such that you will be able to see children killed outright or burned alive and your homes destroyed in an instant. 

Keep this reproduction. If you are lucky enough to escape this new attack which they promise you, you will have in front of you a picture of the weapon your friends used to liberate you… 

The text goes on to talk about the foolishness of waiting four years for Allied liberation when they have never liberated anyone. It recommends that the Frenchmen join with the Germans for a brighter and better France.  

It is interesting to see how the enemy took this very American image of a bomb and used it for their own purposes.

808JapWW2.jpg (43125 bytes)

Bombs over Japan - 808

Leaflet 808 is printed in black and white and depicts 13 American bombs falling on a smoking Japan. It is obvious that there are more bombs yet to come. The back is all text and the message is more harsh than usual on a surrender leaflet:

Are you so determined to die that you won't listen to reason?

Don't you know that resistance against our overwhelming strength is futile? Do you enjoy being pounded and shelled to pieces?

What can your death accomplish here?

Come over to us! We will give you food, water, and medical treatment. Our kindness will refute the lies you have been told about American troops!

2038Bomber.jpg (136339 bytes)

Leaflet 2038

This is rather a strange leaflet to drop on Japan because it depicts the effect of an Allied bombing on the German city of Essen. The Germans were the allies of the Japanese so this leaflet is saying in effect, "what we did to your allies we can do to you." Like leaflet 2079 below, it uses an old Japanese proverb as part of the propaganda. The proverb is: "What happens twice will happen three times." The leaflet is 5 x 8-inches, brown ink on white paper. The front depicts the bombing of German war plants in Essen. The text is:

The Great Industrial Area of Essen, Germany

The back is all text and says:

What happens twice will happen three times

You should know the strength of American Airpower. The same air power is causing your partner Germany to surrender.

Our bombers will return, not just once or twice or three times, but many times as long as your militarists continue the war.

In 2015, one of these leaflets was offered for sale from the estate of a Navy veteran who wrote on it “Souvenir of Saipan - 1945.” These leaflets were prepared on Saipan by the Office of War Information. However, the sailor obviously did not read Japanese because he also wrote on the leaflet, “Tokyo - Before & After B-29’s.” Right war, wrong theater.

2046OWI.jpg (44411 bytes)

Leaflet 2046

OWI leaflet 2046 is extremely well done. It has the appearance of an art poster with interesting colors and design. The text is meant to describe the bomber, its range, load and fire power together with indication of the havoc its bombs can create. The text uses the standard propaganda theme of turning the people against the military leaders. The front of the full-color 5 x 8-inch leaflet depicts a pinned down man burning amid the aftermath of a bombing. The text is:

These American bombers above your heads are very advanced and powerful. Even engineers could not have dreamed of these powerful planes just five years ago. These bombers are twenty times bigger than yours, and its armor is so thick and bullets would not penetrate, unless the bullets hit its crucial areas, which is less than one third of total surface of its body. Not only these bombers able to fly at a much higher altitude than your latest fighter planes, but they also can carry a full load of bombs as far as two thousand miles away. Their ability to fly long distances are twice as much as the distances of the Liberators or Fortress as well as their faster flying speed. These bombers powerful firing abilities are equal to a battalion of your Japanese Army Infantry. Therefore our bombers are much stronger and much faster and able to fly at a much higher altitude than you bombers.... These planes above your heads are carrying orders to attack your country everyday with high explosives and incendiary bombs. You already know how powerful these bombs are . These bombs are capable of destroying any military facilities and or factory making military goods, unfortunately killing people who live near these places. These horrible sights are indescribable by words. The fires can spread to civilian housing and destroy everything....Nothing can protect you from these new weapons. Our weapons are created by the most advanced science technology and its purpose is to kill and destroy. We advise you to either run or persuade your leaders to surrender, otherwise you will witness your loved ones horrible death and your mother country destroyed by bombs and fire and in the end you self will become a victim of our new weapons. Until your leaders realize how useless it is to resist our power, we will continue bombings and destroying your country and your people.

2047.jpg (73318 bytes)

Leaflet 2047 

Leaflet 2047 depicts two Japanese workers in a blazing factory with beams and machinery falling all around them. The purpose of the standard 5 x 8-inch leaflet was to show the futility of trying to escape the American bombs. The leaflet tells the Japanese civilian of the inadequacy of air raid shelters provided by the government and the inevitable results of bombings. The text on the front is, "The Aftermath of Bombing is Hell."

The back is all text. The text is:


The Gumbatsu boldly urge resistance from the safety of their fine air-raid shelters, but your shelters are only the entrance halls for death!

Every day of added resistance will bring greater terror upon you. Bombs will blast great holes in your cities. Bombs directed at factories will also destroy your homes while you scurry desperately for a place of shelter, which does not exist. Incendiary bombs will start conflagrations, which will envelope you and consume you in flames. Every plane will leave horror in its wake.

You cannot escape. You cannot hide. Resistance means a horrible death.

Demand an end to such hopeless resistance. This is the only way to save the nation.

2048WWII.jpg (121932 bytes)

Leaflet 2048

I was not going to illustrate OWI leaflet 2048 because the message is redundant and we already have what I consider a better example of the fear of bombing theme in leaflet 2047. However, it is interesting to note how different artists approach the same themes. Instead of the full color very realistic artwork found on the previous leaflet, 2048 is printed in red, and the Japanese victims are almost caricatures, like the character in the Edvard Munch painting, "The Scream." The standard 5 x 8-inch leaflet uses the earthquake of 1923 as a sample of the horror and destruction that will be caused by bombs dropped by American aircraft. The leaflet depicts fear-maddened masses fleeing the toppling flame-ridden buildings. Tokyo is falling down and burning in the background. There is no text on the front.

The text on the back is:

Do you remember the great damage done to your country by the earthquake of 1923? America is capable of producing earthquakes that will cause damage a thousand times greater.

Such earthquakes will be brought in bundles from 2 1/2 to 4 tons. The bundles are capable of destroying in 2 or 3 seconds the results of several years of struggle and hardship.

Note carefully the American style of earthquake. Feel the trembling of the earth when they are let loose. Your homes will be destroyed, factories will vanish, and your family killed.

Note carefully the American style of earthquake. You will know the time when it will occur. You will be experiencing it!

This is another OWI leaflet designed by Frances Blakemore. Morioka says about it:

The message on leaflet 2048 compares a bomb’s destructive capacity to the great Kanto earthquake of 1923, in which more than 100,000 people perished. Frances presented a scene of the disaster caused by the great Kanto earthquake with people in a panicked frenzy in the midst of falling buildings and rising flames. Red, the color of deadly fire, emphasizes the apocalyptic destruction.

John W. Dower depicts the three leaflets above from this article in Cultures of War, W.W. Norton, NYC, 2010. He gives his own interpretation to the effects of the bombing:

Terror bombing was not aimed only at destroying enemy will. The devastating urban-area raids simultaneously proved an enormous boost to American morale as the pacific entered its ferocious endgame against a fanatical enemy now engaged in kamikaze attacks and suicidal last stands of Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. As one internal military report put it after the great incendiary raid on Tokyo in early March, the outstanding success of the new bombing policy “salvaged the morale and fighting spirit” of LeMay’s crews and persuaded them that the B-29 was an efficient and reliable aircraft.

Beyond this, of course, news that war had finally come home with a vengeance to Japan, and the emperor’s loyal subjects were being “erased” in a wholesale manner, was uplifting to virtually everyone on the Allied side – not only in the theaters of battle but also on the home fronts of the Anglo-American powers and, to the extent that such information could be disseminated, in China and much of the rest of occupied Asia as well.

2114WWII.jpg (46462 bytes)

Leaflet 2114

A very plain small 4 x 5-inch all-text leaflet may be one of the most important bomb messages ever dropped by Allied aircraft over Japan. The leaflet is coded 2114 and is in the form of an extra addition of the American propaganda newspaper Mariana Jiho. Its purpose was "To inform the Japanese people of the new atomic bomb and to make them aware of the great devastation that is in store for them.” Some of the text is:


Washington - August 6 - President Truman today issued the following statement:

Sixteen hours ago, an American airplane dropped one bomb on Hiroshima, an important Japanese army base. That bomb had more power than 20,000 tons of TNT. It had more than 2000 times the blast power of the 11-ton British "Grand Slam," which is the largest bomb ever yet used in the history of warfare.

It is an atomic bomb. It is a harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East.

We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan's power to make war.

We mentioned British rumors in the section about setting the sea on fire. It is amazing to note that while the atomic bomb was one of the greatest secrets of WWII and everything possible was done to keep American research on the bomb hidden from the enemy until its actual use in August, 1945, the British, apparently not knowing of the American project blithely used the threat of it in their rumor campaign. Some examples:

17 January 1941 – America’s Flying Fortresses are specially designed to carry atomic bombs with a blast area of two miles generating intense heat.

22 January 1941 – Sir William Bragg has been knighted for perfecting the uranium bomb.

19 March 1943 – Air Marshall Harris is very satisfied with the Essen try-out of the new uranium atom bomb.

If American security heard of these rumors they surely were in a state of panic. The less said of the atomic bomb in the early years of the war the better.


1013KoreanF.jpg (15914 bytes)

Korean War - Leaflet 1013

The United States used the very same image of a bomb blast during the Korean War that had been used against the Japanese in WWII. (see 150-J-1 above)It was prepared by the Military Intelligence Section of the Psychological Warfare Branch and dropped on major cities in North Korea.

Leaflet 1013 depicts an explosion in the center of a bright red field and the words in contrasting blue:

Air Raid Warning

Act quickly!   Move away from military targets!

The back of the leaflets is an all text long propaganda message that targets 10 North Korean cities. The first of two paragraphs is:

Act quickly!   Move away from military targets!

Citizens of Chongjin, Pyongyang, Chinnampo, Ilungnam, Songjin, Sariwon, Wonsan, Hamhung, Sinanju, and Haeju:  The UN forces urge you to leave these cities and go to the country or to the mountains. Your city is one of those in which your Communist leaders have built war factories and concentrated military supplies to kill other Koreans. UN planes will destroy all such military installations, including railway marshaling yards, communication centers, dock installations, war material factories and supply depots.

The leaflets were mentioned in the Toledo Blade of 19 August 1950. Some of the text was:

North Korea was served a grim warning last night that 10 major cities, including the capitol Pyongyang, are about to be bombed…

Korea1011B.jpg (64462 bytes)

Leaflet 1011

The same striking image was used earlier on a leaflet coded 1011. The data sheet says the leaflet is entitled “Civilian evacuation of military target areas.” The text is Korean and it targets the civilian population of major cities in North Korea and occupied areas. It is a warning leaflet urging civilians to evacuate cities which contain military targets likely to be bombed. The text on the front is identical to 1013. The back of the leaflet depicted a blue U.N. flag at the top and the text in red:

Act quickly! Move away from military targets!

The U.N. Forces urge all civilians to leave cities containing military targets. Your city is one in which the Communist gang has built war factories and concentrated military supplies to be used in killing other Koreans. One by one these military installations will be destroyed by U.N. planes. The U.N. Air Force will do everything possible to protect innocent civilians from the war forced on Korea by the Communist traitors. But you must act quickly. Stay away from military targets. Move to the country. Many others have wisely left cities where the Communists have military depots and war factories. Join them, and preserve your live so that you may help build a strong, free Korea after the Communists have been driven out. The U.N. forces wish to avoid harming civilians.

Korea1020F.jpg (44838 bytes)

Korean War - Leaflet 1020

Curiously, the same image was used again on Leaflet 1020, but this leaflet was printed only in red and without the blue contrast is not quite as striking. Instead of naming a number of cities, it is aimed only at the Capitol of North Korea. The text on the front was the same as the two leaflets above. The back text in red is:


Your city still contains important military targets which must be destroyed in order to bring an end to the war of aggression which the Communist leaders started.


You are warned to leave Pyongyang immediately. The United Nations wants to avoid harm to innocent civilians. To remain where you are is to place your own life in needless danger.


Mark R. Jacobson mentions these “bomb blast” leaflets in his PhD dissertation “Minds then Hearts: U.S. Political and Psychological Warfare during the Korean War.”

The use of warning leaflets with strategic bombing campaigns continued throughout the Korean War. In July of 1951 Washington specifically directed Far East Command to drop warning leaflets in conjunction with renewed strategic bombing campaigns against Pyongyang and 77 major North Korean cities. Far East Command, Eighth US Army Korea, and especially Fifth Air Force viewed the propaganda offensive, code named Plan Strike, as not only an attempt to reduce civilian casualties but to lower civilian morale and disrupt industrial production – something even well placed bombs could not always do well. Plan Strike specifically focused on communications centers and major supply routes while Plan Blast supported attacks against military targets in Pyongyang. In addition to leaflets, Strike and Blast used Radio Seoul and other media outlets to warn residents of the upcoming missions.

1056FKorea.jpg (59013 bytes)

1056BKorea.jpg (75432 bytes)

Leaflet 1056

Just as in WWII, many of the Korean War leaflets depicted falling bombs. Leaflet 1056 was produced by the Military Intelligence Section General Staff, Psychological Warfare Branch of the Far East Command. On the front it depicts falling bombs bearing the flags of many of the nations allied against North Korea. The back shows naval carrier aircraft attacking trains and vehicles. Some of the text is:

No soldier can fight without supplies! – No man can live without food!

Day by day more and more United Nations planes are bombing your lines of supplies.

Day by day more of your food supply trucks lie in burning ruins. Trains carrying the vital war materiel you need so badly are being blasted from the face of the earth.

8515WWII.jpg (133987 bytes)

Leaflet 8515

Leaflet 8515 was produced by EUSAK, dated 6 April 1951 and targeted the Chinese military in Korea. It attempts to raise their fear of night bombing. On the front a USAF heavy bomber drops a string of bombs. The text is:

Even at night you cannot hide

The back is all text and says in part:

Officers and men of the Chinese Communist forces:

Death might strike you at any moment! You are no longer safe at night. United Nations aircraft equipped with radar can find and destroy you. Bodies made of flesh and blood cannot encounter the aircraft and bombs of the United Nations. Do not die a foolish death. Come to the United Nations lines at once….

8527WWII.jpg (134210 bytes)

Leaflet 8527.

Leaflet 8527 seems to be from the same series as 8515, is also in stark black and white and probably from the same artist. This EUSAK leaflet shows two bombers on the front, one dropping leaflets, the other bombs. The text on the front is:


Safe Conduct pass. Do not hesitate. Save your life. Come to the United Nations lines and receive good treatment.

Text on the back says in part:

Officers and men of the Chinese Communist forces:

The United Nations forces possess two kinds of bombs. One destroys your life: One saves your life. Are you willing to die in a foreign land for nothing? Be wise, friends. Choose the way to life….

1123Bomber.jpg (280390 bytes)

Leaflet 1123

This leaflet depicts bombs falling on a Korean munitions factory. It was printed by the 1st Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet Group on 24 November 1951. The data sheet explains that the color red was chosen because of its eye-catching ability and the increased weight it gives the bomb warning message. The back depicts Communist troops and police suppressing the bomb warning leaflets and forcing the Koreans to work at the point of a gun. Some of the text is:


Save your life

Communist police keep civilians from reading U.N. bomb warnings. Communist police are to blame for needless deaths.

Stay away from military factories. Stay away from airfields. Stay away from entrenchments. Stay away from soldiers. Stay off railroads. Stay off main highways and crossroads.

Korea1080.jpg (23019 bytes)

Leaflet 1080

Leaflets showing heavy bombers were used once again during the Korean War. The USAF dropped leaflet 1080 printed by the First Radio Broadcasting and Leaflet group on 18 September 1951. It showed a B-29 Super Fortress on one side and a bombed rail yard on the other. It was prepared to “stimulate the individual soldier’s fear of the United Nation’s material superiority in meeting an attack. The leaflet text is:

These bombs of fire await your next attack

Because your Communist leaders refuse to stop fighting, they force the UN troops to use every powerful weapon against you when you attack. Have you heard about your next attack?

In your next attack you will meet our fire bombs, flame-throwers and destructive artillery. Many of you will not survive the Communist "human sea" offensive…

But you can come over to the UN side and save your life.

1081Korea.jpg (45234 bytes)

Leaflet 1081

Several other bomb warning leaflets were dropped at the same time as leaflet 1080. For instance, leaflet 1081 depicts B-29 bombers over a barren pock-marked airfield (red color). The text is:

People of North Korea.

Airfields in North Korea are unsafe!

To save your lives, stay away from airfields at all times!

Leaflet 1091 depicts the same scene of B-29 bombers over a barren pock-marked airfield but in blue. The text on this bomb warning leaflet is:

North Korean civilians!

North Korean airfields are targets for U.N. bombing.

Don’t go near them or risk your lives while the armistice negotiations are going on!

9012bKorea.jpg (43731 bytes)

Leaflet 9012

Leaflet 9012 was produced by the Military Intelligence Section of General Headquarters, Far East Command. It depicts a single North Korean soldier with rifle pointed at the sky filled with U. S. B-29 bombers and about to be run over by a tank. The text is:

The Sky Thunders, the Earth Rocks, Human Flesh Cannot Stand Against Planes and Tanks.

The text on the back is:


But Communist leaders have not given North Korean soldiers protective covering.


But Communist leaders expect North Korean soldiers to fight tanks and planes with rifles.


Why support leaders who don’t support you?

The strategic bombing of North Korea was called Operation Strike. Towns were warned weeks ahead of a major bombing raid. Civilians were warned that they were about to be bombed because their homes housed enemy military personnel and materiel. They were ordered to flee the area before the bombers attacked. Before the actual bombing, Radio Seoul broadcast additional warnings. After the bombings, leaflets were dropped reminding the people that they had been warned and telling them once again why their town had been a target. The purpose of this operation was to show the North Koreans that the United Nations forces had complete control of the air and could strike when and where they desired.

A typical Radio Seoul message was:

People of North Korea. Attention. This may save your life.

Today the United Nations Air Force bombed fifty villages, towns and cities that were military targets. These were military targets along highways and railways. You may be next. Save your lives. Flee to the hills.

Obey this warning and you may live.

Leave your village immediately. Take your families with you. If the Communists force you to remain in the danger area, send your women and children to safety.

The United Nations Command wants to protect Korean civilians. You must obey these instructions to leave.

Leave the doomed area at once.

Remember. You may be the next to die!

The U.S.A.F. was different from the other services in that it believed that its bombing raids were a form of psychological operations. To the Army, PSYOP was leaflets and loudspeakers. The Air Force knew that 100 bombers destroying a division or a city changed the way that the enemy thought. As a result, they often specifically asked for leaflets to be used after a raid when the troops or civilians would be in a more susceptible state. The following three leaflets are an example.

Korea8288F.jpg (34371 bytes)

Leaflet 8288

This leaflet was produced by the Psychological Warfare Division Headquarters EUSAK on 26 May 1952. It is a tactical leaflet requested by the 5th Air Force to be dropped immediately following an unusually heavy air strike. The leaflet exploits Communist lack of air support.  The front depicts a drawing of Flying Tiger (An actual winged beast, not the WWII P-40 Tomahawk) and U.S. F-80 Shooting Star Fighter bombers in an air strike. The back depicts small flying tigers on the four corners. Text on the front is:

The Flying Tigers of the Free World Strike Again!

Text on the back is:

Officers, Sergeants and Privates of the North Korean People’s Army:

You have just had a taste of the might of the free world’s aircraft! Does the taste not smack of death? The flying tigers of the free world will refresh your taste again and again!

Do the false promises of your Communist leaders compensate for their lack of aircraft?  Can you believe your own eyes” Have you been defended by any aircraft from China?  From North Korea?  From Russia?

Kim Il Sung has betrayed the North Korean People. He is the running dog of Stalin and has sold the Glorious Heritage of your race for the slave-like ideology of the “Big Nose.”

Under the bombs and guns of the UN flying tigers you risk a dog’s death for nothing.  Our tigers will return again and again!  You must escape inevitable death!

Come to the side of the UN and preserve your precious life for the future of Korea.

Korea8301F.jpg (36227 bytes)

Leaflet 8301

This leaflet was produced by the Psychological Warfare Division G3 (Operations) EUSAK on 10 June 1952. It is a tactical leaflet requested by the 5th Air Force to be dropped immediately following an unusually heavy air strike. The leaflet exploits Communist lack of air support. It was requested by the 5th Air Force to inform NK soldiers of the results of the two years air strikes by UN aircraft. The front depicts a U.S. F-80 Shooting Star bombing various targets. The text is:


The back is all text:

Two years ago your Communist leaders launched an attack on your brothers and sisters in the Republic of Korea. The attack was cowardly and unprovoked.

What are the results after two years of war?  What has happened to your beloved country? Read these figures and you shall know what UN aircraft alone have done in answer to Communist aggression:

Destroyed Damaged

127, 769

Vehicles 56,230 4,409
Carts 2,816
Supply Dumps 1,346 593
Bridges 2,100 5,233
Tanks 1,105 988
Railroad Cars 14,001 27,084
Gun Positions 5,406 2,531
Troops 239,023
Rail Cuts 34,118
Aircraft 445 588

This is the UN answer to Communist aggression. UN aircraft fly in your skies unchallenged.  Have you seen this with your own eyes?

Your Communist leaders have caused your country to be destroyed and have placed the chains of slavery on your people!

Korea8681F.jpg (43455 bytes)

Leaflet 8681 (front)

Korea8681B.jpg (30885 bytes)

Leaflet 8681 (back)

This leaflet was produced by the Psychological Warfare Division Headquarters G3 (Operations) EUSAK on 14 September 1952. The leaflet was requested by 5th Air Force to be dropped immediately following an air strike on Chinese Communist Forces troop concentrations. The leaflet exploits Chinese lack of air support. The front depicts a U.S. F-80 Shooting Star attacking a Communist installation. The back depicts three U.S. B-26 Martin Marauder light bombers dropping bombs.

The text on the front is:


Text on the back is:

Sergeants and Privates of the Chinese Communist Forces:

United Nations Fighters and bombers shortly will destroy all military targets along the railroads and highways outlined in red on the map.

You have just had a taste of the might of the United Nations’ aircraft. The Air Forces of the Free World are daily increasing in number and in strength. From now on, you will taste more and more of their might, until peace is restored in Korea.

You are lacking of aircraft; the empty talk of the Communist Party will never cover up this deficiency. You have been in Korea long enough. Did you ever see any aircraft from China, North Korea or Soviet Russia protect your ground positions from the air? If there were such, you would certainly have seen them with your own eyes!

Under the bomb and guns of the United Nations’ aircraft, many of your comrades have died in vain. Your leaders have volunteered you to fight in Korea and now can not protect you. What a pity!

Your Communist leaders have betrayed the Chinese people into slavery and death!

8274Korea.jpg (97178 bytes)

Leaflet 8274

I thought I would end this section with this leaflet because of the interesting image. This leaflet was actually produced by the Republic of Korea Army and entitled “Inferiority of Transportation.” It depicts American heavy bombers attacking North Koreans carrying supply on their backs and by carts. The Koreans drew the bomber and notice that it is four-engine, with a curved tail and the old red and white stripes used in WWII. Yes, that is a B-17 Flying Fortress. The Koreans wanted a bomber for their leaflet and apparently they found an old picture of a WWII American Fortress.

The leaflet was printed by the Eighth U.S. Army in Korea G-3 (Operations) and numbered 8274. It also carried the Korean number 230. The text on the front is:

Can a Cart and A-frame stand against B-29s or Jet Planes?

The back says in part:

We are watching a fight between a tiger and a rabbit in this civilized 20th century – a fight between an airplane and an A-frame or cart….


Viet14666R.jpg (10434 bytes)

Vietnam - #146-66-R

During the Vietnam War a number of leaflets were dropped showing the B-52 Stratofortress. This was our major strategic bomber carrying up to 54,000 pounds of ordinance at an altitude of 30,000 feet. One leaflet coded 146-66-R has the following text on the back:

This is the Mighty B-52. Now you have experienced the terrible rain of death and destruction its bombs have caused. These planes come swiftly, strongly speaking as the voice of the Government of Vietnam proclaiming its determination to eliminate the Viet Cong threat to peace. Your area will be struck again and again, but you will not know when or where. The planes fly too high to be heard or seen. They will rain death on you again without warning. Leave this place to save your lives. Use this leaflet or the GVN National Safe Conduct Pass and rally to the nearest government outpost. The Republic of Vietnam soldiers and the people will happily welcome you.

Former SP5 Dan Heckstetter mentions how the B-52 leaflets were used. He says:

I was the Squadron draftsman for the Headquarters & Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron / 9th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division from January 1968 to September 1968. The Cavalry’s Headquarters were in An Khe in the Central Highlands.  Their operations were from Hue to the Demilitarized Zone.

My job was to post the Operations Map.  I would keep all enemy locations, our locations & no fly zones posted for the Squadron briefing each evening.

One evening I posted an Arc Light mission for the next day at 1200 hrs in the hills west of Camp Evans.   The next morning it was snowing PSYOP leaflets.  A post card size picture of a B-52 dropping a load.  The information on the back told the time and location of this event.  I inquired with the S2 (Intelligence officer) why we are telling the bad guys when we are going to bomb them.  He stated that it was so the good local people could leave the area. 

[Note: Arc Light was the code name given to the use of B-52 strategic bombers in Southeast Asia. The first mission took place on 18 June 1965 when twenty-seven B-52 bombers flew from Guam to Vietnam and dropped 750 and 1000-pound bombs on a VC stronghold.]

We know from military records that in November 1967 the 6th PSYOP Battalion in Vietnam requested that the 7th PSYOP Battalion in Okinawa print 10 million copies of this leaflet for delivery by 15 January 1968. The leaflet number shows that it was first printed in 1966, and the “R” at the end of the leaflet shows that this was a reprinting.

B52VNDeathGrief.jpg (11222 bytes)

This is a B-52

This uncoded American leaflet depicts a B-52 bomber over Vietnam. The text on the front is:

Your death will bring much grief to your family back home in the North.

The back is all text:

To Our Friends in the North Vietnamese Armed Forces.

The South Vietnamese Government and our allies are well informed of your plans for a total offensive to gain political influence. Therefore, the most advanced weapons will be used by the South Vietnamese and Allied soldiers against you. You will be defeated and you have a slim chance of survival. The people and the armed forces of South Vietnam will surely win.

Another B-52 leaflet was dropped over the Ho Chi Minh Trail. About 100 different leaflets bear the "T" code and all were dropped as part on an interdiction campaign along that supply trail used by North Vietnam to secretly bring supplies to the south.

VietT7.jpg (13076 bytes)

B-52 over Vietnam - Leaflet T7

The front of the leaflet depicts a B-52 dropping bombs. The back is all text:

You will never see one of these. You probably won't hear it. It flies too high. It is a B-52 bomber, used by the South Vietnamese people's powerful American allies to blast aggressors out of their hiding places. One B-52 carries 29,700 kilos of bombs and can drop them with pin-point accuracy, dealing certain death to everyone within the target area. The B-52 can strike you at any time during all seasons and weather conditions. Your chance to avoid this fate will come. Look for your safe conduct pass.

2861B52.jpg (41259 bytes)

Leaflet 2861

Leaflet 2861 depicts the B-52 bomber on the front and the back. What I found fascinating was the very technical description of the bomb load that the bomber could carry. These leaflets were dropped on North Vietnamese soldiers and Viet Cong who might have been farmers or workers and probably understood very little of this technical details of this message. The text on the front is:


This jet has the largest bomb-carrying capability. It can carry over one hundred 340 kilogram bombs. Many returnees have talked of the tremendous destruction of the B-52. Every fortification, no matter how strong, can be destroyed. For each day’s bombing missions, the B-52’s combined efforts obliterates over 20 square kilometers.

You have heard of the tremendous destruction of the B-52. The best solution for you is to return to the Government of Vietnam.

The back of the leaflet has the text:


The B-52 is a bomber aircraft operating at altitudes of over 10 kilometers. It can carry over one hundred 340 kilogram bombs. B-52s drop over 200,000 kilograms of bombs each day. They can cause blood to run from the mouth, nose, ears, and even collapse the lungs for those who are located near the area of bombing.

You have heard of the tremendous destruction of the B-52. Don’t let yourself be sacrificed uselessly. Return to the Government of Vietnam and you will be welcomed.

4537B52.jpg (19598 bytes)

Leaflet 4537

It should be clear to the reader that this author has dozens of Vietnam War leaflets depicting B-52 bombers to choose from. I have made a conscious decision to show just a few of them. I added leaflet 4537 only because of the text. The idea of calling the bomber an “evil genius” is so strange that I thought we must show this one. The front of the leaflet depicts a B-52 dropping bombs and the text:

This is the B-52 evil genius; a constant threat to you

The back is all text. Some of the message is:

Dear North Vietnamese Communist Cadre:

On your supply routes into the south, you have surely heard a lot about the terrible death and destruction of the B-52 evil genius.

The B-52 evil genius is capable of carrying many different kinds of bombs. It usually flies at an altitude of more than 10 kilometers, so that you can neither see it or hear it.

Unmarked graves on both sides of the road are the consequences of bombing by the B-52 evil genius…

I assume that this text was written by a Vietnamese. Another clue is that the PSYOP fact sheet states that the illustration is of a “B-52 Flying Fortress.” The “Flying Fortress” was the WWII B-17.

Tom Weber was a member of the United States Air Force stationed at the Strategic Air Command Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska as a Graphic Artist on a Target Planning Staff. He remembers being very disappointed when the results of B-52 bombing missions were received at Omaha. A lot of the missions were unsuccessful and many of the people he worked with believed that it was the warning leaflets dropped on the Viet Cong that allowed them to clear the target areas just prior to bombing. He says:

We were always disheartened to view our reconnaissance photos showing Charlie evacuating an area for a few days, only to always return after the bombings.  All because some idiot thought it's "only fair" to tell the enemy when we're coming!  Needless to say, we were really pissed off at the brilliant "advisers" on Mr. Johnson's and Mr. Nixon's inner circle of confidantes.

A Vietnam PSYOP officer told me that most of the B-52 leaflets he dropped were the after-action leaflets with a photo of B-52’s on one side and propaganda text on the other. He dumped millions around the bomb craters. He went on to say that he was never sure exactly target what would be bombed on a given mission. Whenever a Primary B-52 mission was scrubbed they would bomb a secondary target. The list of secondary targets was a long one so it would be difficult to guess where the bombs would fall. He got his list of targets in the early AM for daylight missions, and assigned targets of opportunity as secondary missions. Sometimes the bombers were redirected in flight to another target for tactical reasons. The Viet Cong knew they were always a target and the reason they kept moving was a simple case of self-protection. If “Charlie” stayed in one place or tried to hold ground he died.

I should also add that many members of the South Vietnamese military and some of the President's advisers in Saigon were Viet Cong agents. It is possible, though not probable that one of these turncoats could have informed their units in the field of a coming attack. The Viet Cong infiltrated the ranks of the South to a much greater extent than was ever believed at the time. 

bomber440.jpg (45622 bytes)

Leaflet 4-1-70

The 4th PSYOP Group prepared leaflet 4-1-70 to strike fear into the hearts of the Viet Cong by the threat of the heavy bomber. It does not show a bomber, but instead depicts a hand jutting out of the soil from a buried body. The text is:

A B-52 just passed by here. Avoid a sad death. Leave this worldly Hell! Return to the National Government.

Bao Anh Thai who was in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam said:

We'd get advanced warning when the American B-52's were going to bomb the enemy positions. These were the most frightening times of the war. We'd stuff cotton in our ears and our nose and shut our eyes tight and crouch down against the ground. The bombs didn't drop in one place. They spread out like sand. And if you weren't ready for them and happened to be standing up with your ears uncovered and your eyes open, the pressure alone could burst your heart or break a vessel in your brain. When they dropped their bombs, I don't think those pilots knew what it was like on the ground.

He also mentioned his uncle who fought for the other side:

The B-52 is the most terrifying weapon of the war. My uncle who fought for NVA in Tay Nguyen, Quang Tri and Khe Sanh said that it was common that soldiers shit or pee in their pants when they were bombed by B-52. “It's not only because you are afraid, but because the explosive waves really forced everything inside out!” he said. One precise B-52 carpet bombing could destroy a regiment!

The Allies also produced radio and loudspeaker messages using the same theme. Tape 104 is a 24-second message in a male voice in both Vietnamese and Cambodian:

You will soon be bombed by airplanes. Your fortifications and trenches will be smashed by the power of their explosives. There is no safe place to hide. Surrender now and you will escape a terrible and useless death. Soon you will be bombed by airplanes. Surrender now. Avoid a flaming death.

VCB52Stamp.jpg (22070 bytes)

North Vietnam Claims 4181 American Aircraft

The North Vietnamese struck back with their own propaganda. The above North Vietnamese postage stamp depicts two B-52 bombers brought down as they attempt to mine a harbor. The stamp, issued in 1973 claims that the number of American aircraft destroyed by the North Vietnamese had reached 4181. There are three other stamps to this set; one showing a B-52 brought down by ground fire, one by a MiG fighter, and the final stamp showing junks netting destroyed B-52 bombers on the floor of the ocean. In 1965 the North Vietnamese claimed to have downed 500 U.S. aircraft, by 1966 the number was 1000, by 1967 it was 2000, and by 1968 it was 3000. They claimed 3500 by 1972 and later that same year reached 4000, all shot down over North Vietnam. I suspect that is more than the entire inventory of American aircraft at that time.


When the United States went to war against Iraq in December of 1990 a number of leaflets showing B-52s were prepared. It has been said that General Schwarzkopf remembered the leaflets from his tour in Vietnam and specifically requested them. All of the Operation Desert Storm leaflets show a B-52F bomber numbered "70162" dropping 750 pound bombs.   The original photo was taken during the Vietnam War.   The front-line Iraqi divisions identified as targets of the B-52 leaflet are the 7th, 16th, 20th, 21st, 28th and 48th Infantry divisions.  In general, two leaflets were dropped on each division, one before and one after a bombing raid.

C40.jpg (17870 bytes)

Gulf War - 7th Infantry Division Initial Warning

Most of the B52 leaflets were dropped over Iraqi infantry divisions along the Kuwait border. They were usually dropped in pairs. The leaflets aimed at the Iraqi 7th Division said on the front:

This is your first and last warning!   The 7th Infantry Division will be bombed tomorrow!  Flee this location now!

The back said:

The 7th Infantry Division will be bombed tomorrow.  The bombing will be heavy.   If you want to save yourself, leave your location and do not allow anyone to stop you.  Save yourself and head toward the Saudi border, where you will be welcomed as a brother.

C41.jpg (18879 bytes)

Gulf War - 7th Infantry Division Second Leaflet

After the bombing, a second B52 leaflet was dropped which said, "We have already informed you of our promise to bomb the 7th Infantry Division.  We kept our promise and bombed them yesterday.  BEWARE.  We will repeat this bombing tomorrow.   Now the choice is yours.  Either stay and face death, or accept the invitation of the Joint Forces to protect your lives." This leaflet was dropped in mid-February.

One leaflet showing a B52 dropping bombs was coded "MSR" which implies it was meant to flood Iraqi main supply routes with refugees. The text on the front says "Desert Storm is coming to your area...flee immediately!" Text on the back says "Saddam's army intends using your city as a protective barrier to hide behind.   Saddam doesn't care about you or your family.  The joint forces do not wish to hurt innocent civilians, so take your belongings and head north to a safe place. This leaflet was dropped in late January and early February of 1991.

Daisycutter2.jpg (9875 bytes)

Gulf War -BLU-82 Daisy Cutter Bomb

Allied with the threat of the heavy bomber is the threat of the big or "super" bomb. American PSYOP has sometimes featured the big bomb on leaflets to strike fear into the enemy. During Operation Desert Storm, the USAF showered leaflets over Iraqi troops that featured the BLU-82. The BLU-82, sometimes called "The Daisy Cutter," is a 15,000-pound conventional bomb, delivered from an MC-130E Combat Talon. It is too heavy for the bomb racks of any bomber. The bomb is actually a thin-walled tank (1/4-inch steel plate) filled with a 12,600-pound explosive "slurry" mixture. The Pentagon designed the bomb to create an instant helicopter landing zone in the jungles of Vietnam. The USAF used the bomb in Iraq and in Afghanistan as an anti-personnel weapon and for psychological effects. Rumor has it that a British SAS commando detachment behind the lines during Operation Desert Storm witnessed the blast and mushroom cloud from one such bomb and reported, "My God, the Yanks are using nukes." It was the largest conventional bomb in existence at the time. The translation for the above leaflet is shown below:

FRONT: Flee and save your life, or remain and meet your death!

BACK: You have suffered heavy losses because we have used the most powerful and destructive conventional bomb of this war. It is more powerful than 20 Scud Missles in respect of explosion capability. We warn you! We shall bomb your position again. Kuwait will be liberated from Saddam's aggression. Hurry and join your brothers from the south. We shall treat you with all our love and respect. Abandon this position. You will never be safe!

Saddam Hussein dared the Americans to act once again during December of 1998. He refused to allow United Nations mandated inspections of his weapons program and regularly had his anti-aircraft sites turn on their targeting radar at Coalition aircraft protecting the Operation Southern Watch "no-fly" zone. This led directly to a short 3-day bombing campaign against Iraq from December 16 to 19 code-named "Operation Desert Fox."

DesertFoxB52.jpg (7278 bytes)

Operation Desert Fox

Once again American PSYOP specialists prepared a leaflet showing a B-52 bomber. The Arabic text on the front is:

Warning. This is only the beginning. Deploy south and you will be bombed. Warning.” Text on the back is, “Warning. This could have been a real bomb. Coalition forces are watching you. Any units attempting to cross the Kuwaiti border will be destroyed. Abandon your equipment and live. Deploy with your unit south and you will die. Warning.

In early 1999 Serbia seemed intent on purifying the land of all foreign ethnic groups. Television reports told of thousands of ethnic Albanians persecuted, raped, or murdered. This time it was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) that took action. NATO demanded full compliance with UN Resolution 1199 of September 23, 1998. The resolution called for all parties to cease hostilities. The Serbs refused and once again the American heavy bomber was called to action, this time under Operation Allied Force.

KosovoB52.jpg (14182 bytes)

Kosovo - #03-NN-17-L001

On May 29, 1999, two USAF B-52 bombers dropped leaflets over Pristina that warned Yugoslav troops to leave Kosovo. The leaflet is coded 03-NN-17-L001. The text is, "Attention VJ Forces: LEAVE KOSOVO. NATO is now using B-52 bombers to drop MK-82 225-kilogram bomb on VJ units in Kosovo-Metohija. Each aircraft can carry in excess of 50 of these bombs. These aircraft will return as many times as required to drive your unit from Kosovo-Metohija, and stop you from committing atrocities. If you want to live to see your families again, leave your unit and equipment, and get out of Kosovo-Metohija now! The back of the leaflet shows a B-52 dropping bombs. The illustration was taken from a Reuters News Service photograph. The text is "Thousands of bombs…and the will, capability and support of the world to drop them on your unit." About 1.6 million of these leaflets nick-named "B-52" were dropped.

AFD03a.jpg (17649 bytes)

Afghanistan - #AFD03a

After the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the United States declared war on terrorism. The first targets were the al-Qaida leaders residing in Afghanistan under the protection of the Muslim Fundamentalist Taliban party. The bombing of Afghanistan began on October 7. The first leaflet drops occurred on October 15. One of the early leaflets coded AFD03a showed photographs of a flight of six low-level B52s dropping bombs over Afghanistan at the right and the landscape erupting from the bombing at the left. The back of the leaflet shows a close-up of a B-52 bomber dropping bombs at the right, and the face of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden at the left. There is text on both the front and back of this leaflet but as yet there is no translation.

AFD62F.jpg (14577 bytes)

AFD62B.jpg (16184 bytes)

Afghanistan - #AFD62 - BLU-82 Bomb Warning

Once again, as in Operation Desert Storm, the image of the mighty BLU-82 bomb was used on a leaflet. The leaflet has four drawn illustrations, two on each side. On the front, an armed Taliban truck is shown. The second picture shows a large bomb under a parachute dropping on three of the vehicles. Text at the bottom states, "Taliban: we know where you are." The pictures on the back show two Taliban soldiers, identified by their black turbans, throwing down their weapons and fleeing the scene. The final picture shows a large burning crater. Text at the bottom says, "Stop fighting for the Taliban and live." This leaflet is coded AFD62.

Curiously, the Blu-82 bomb may have been used in a PSYOP coercion campaign in Afghanistan. I first heard of this when a reporter embedded in Kandahar Province asked for my opinion. He told me a story of a discussion about PSYOP with a Canadian Army captain:

One of the Canadian officers cited the example in Mazar-i-Sharif in late 2001 where the US Rangers were preparing to storm a Taliban stronghold and expected to take heavy casualties. Someone from PSYOP managed to get a postponement and arranged to have leaflets saying "Look West tomorrow." The next day a huge bomb was dropped west of the position, then more leaflets saying "Tomorrow that is you." The next day the Taliban had fled and the position was taken without a shot.

I did not believe the story was true, not having heard of such a leaflet, but it seems that the bomb portion of the story is true. I asked some friends in Special Operations if they had heard of such an operation. There answer was:

Three BLU-82s have been dropped in Afghanistan. Two were enough to break the defenses of Mazar-I-Sharif and the third broke the back of Taliban resistance at Kandahar.

So, it appears that the very sight of the American super-bomb is still enough to cause some enemy to withdraw from the field of combat.

IZD028ArabicF.jpg (16766 bytes)

IZD028ArabicB.jpg (20387 bytes)

Iraq War - #IZD028

On February 12, 2003, a leaflet was dropped over Iraq which depicted an ominous parked B-52 Stratofortress with a full load of bombs displayed on the ground. Bombs frame the photograph at the left and right. The text is, "Attacking Coalition aircraft invites your destruction." The back of the full-color leaflet shows a "smart bomb" falling through the air and the text, "Do not fire at Coalition aircraft. If you choose to fire, you will be destroyed. Coalition forces will attack you with overwhelming force. The choice is yours." The B52 is a 50-year old bomber first flown in 1952. The "H" model flies current missions. The bomb bay of the B-52H occupies almost the entire center section of the fuselage and is 28 feet long and 6 feet wide. The B-52H can carry 27 of a series of 500 or 750-pound bombs, Eighteen each of M129 leaflet dispensers, twelve each of 2000-pound bombs or mines, eight 2000-pound bombs, or cruise missiles. A pair of 9-megaton thermonuclear weapons can also be carried inside the bomb bay.

It seems clear that when the American military is called to combat, our PSYOP specialists will once again use those trusty photographs of our faithful strategic bombers to motivate the enemy to either surrender or leave his weapons and flee the battlefield. The threat of the big bomber has never failed us.

The author invites comments on any aspect of this article. Kindly contact him at

© 23 August 2004