1993 29¢ B-24s Hit Ploesti Refineries, August 1943
1943: Turning the Tide
World War II 50th Anniversary Series
· Stamp from the third in a series of five sheetlets commemorating the 50th anniversary of World War II
Stamp Category: Commemorative
Set: WWII 50th Anniversary
First Day of Issue: May 31, 1993
First Day City(s): Washington, DC
Quantity Issued (if known): 12,000,000
Printed by: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Offset printing in plates of 80; intaglio printing in sleeves of 160
Format: Sheetlet of 10 stamps arranged in two strips of five surrounding world map
Why this stamp was issued: By the mid-1980s, Americans were already writing in to the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) suggesting stamps honoring the upcoming anniversary of World War II. The challenge would be creating enough stamps to appropriately honor the war, while not adding an extra 100 stamps to each year’s schedule.
To aid in this process, CSAC created a three-member World War II subcommittee to figure out how to select subjects for the stamps. The committee then worked with Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine historians to develop a list of appropriate topics. By April 1986 they had a list they believed would “properly recognize and honor all facets of national endeavor that contributed to victory.” They also selected the themes for each year and recommended that the center of each sheet feature a world map surrounded by 10 stamps honoring significant events.
At various times, the group considered issuing a variety of stamps such as singles, se-tenant blocks of four, and souvenir sheets. They also considered beginning the series in 1989, which would have marked the 50th anniversary of the start of the war in Europe. In the end, they decided to produce five 10-stamp sheets commemorating the years the US was in the war – 1941 to 1945.
About the stamp design: British-born artist and World War II veteran William H. Bond of Virginia was selected to create the art for the stamp. He’d never designed stamps before, and the set of 50 was quite a challenge. The stamps had to be immediately recognizable for each event, and their designs and color schemes had to vary enough that they didn’t look similar, but also appear balanced across the sheet. It was also extremely important that the illustrations be accurate as millions of people who had participated in the war would be looking at them with a very critical eye. Bond took inspiration from war-time photos, with some stamps being nearly identical and others a combination of multiple photos.
The B-24s hit Ploesti refineries stamp pictures two B-24 Liberator bombers flying just above three smoke stacks with smoke and fire in the background. Bond referenced photos taken by automatic cameras mounted on the aircraft that participated in the bombings. Among these photos was one picturing the plane Sandman flying over the Astra Romana refinery.
About the printing process: This stamp was printed on the six-color offset, three-color intaglio webfed D press.
First Day City: The sheetlet this stamp came from was issued on Memorial Day in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. This was President Bill Clinton’s first stamp dedication and during the ceremony he signed a proclamation making the following week one of national observance of the 50th anniversary of World War II.
About the World War II 50th Anniversary Series: Issued between 1991 and 1995, this series commemorates battles and events at home and abroad from the years America was involved in the war. Each sheetlet features 10 stamps surrounding a detailed map. The world maps are masterpieces of thumbnail summaries. They call attention to the major military and political developments of the year and include events not featured on the individual stamps. Color coded for easy identification of friend and foe, they’re “a year in summary” at a glance.
History the stamp represents:
Oil and the ability to move it to the places where it was most needed played a critical role in the success of both the Allied and Axis forces throughout World War II. A high priority for the Allies, the U.S. kept streams of oil moving from the mid-west and southwest to loading terminals in the East. From there, the precious fluid was transported to the battlegrounds, where mobile pipelines followed the troops as they moved through Europe and North Africa.
The Axis however, depended upon reserves built up in peacetime and supplies seized in occupied countries. To win access to these great oil regions became a matter of life and death. When German U-boats began attacking tankers carrying oil from Venezuela and Texas, the Allies retaliated by striking hard at the Axis' main sources of oil.
On August 1, 1943 American planes took off for an attack on the Ploesti oil refineries - the most important source of oil available to the Axis. A city located in southeastern Rumania; Ploesti was home to one of the first oil refineries in the world.
Eventually, the Nazi's lack of oil for gasoline, rather than a lack of planes, allowed the Allied forces to gain air superiority and win the war.