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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Donald K. Prothero World War II Photographs

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2015-03-13
The Donald K. Prothero World War II Photographs is comprised of 116 black-and-white photographs taken by Donald K. Prothero of the 86th Combat Mapping Squadron during World War II. A list of captions is provided for the photographs.

The photographs feature life of United States servicemen on base at Saipan, including construction of a photograph lab, USO shows, concerts, performances by indigenous Chamorro inhabitants, the base's theater, mess halls, and hospitals. Several images of nose art on B-24 Liberator aircraft are included. Aerial photographs of Guam, Bonin Islands, and Tinian, as well as images of aerial attacks against Japanese aircraft and ships are in the collection. Also included is a photographic reproduction of "The Viewfinder," the squadron newsletter.

Note that some photographs contain nudity or images of soldier deaths and the caption sheet contains derogatory terms.


  • Circa 1944-1945


Language of Materials

All materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


0.15 Cubic Feet (3 letter-size folders)

Biographical Note: Donald K. Prothero

Donald Keith Prothero served as an aerial photographer in the Pacific Theater during World War II.

Prothero was born in Superior, Wisconsin on September 11, 1924. After attending Superior Central High School, he enlisted in the United States Army in June 1942. He served as an aerial photographer in the 86th Combat Mapping Squadron, 7th Army Air Force. In his photographs, he captured American army life on Saipan circa 1944-1945.

After the war, he obtained a business degree and worked with National School Studios as a school photographer. He lived in the Puget Sound, Washington area with his family since the 1970s. He passed away on April 10, 2001.

Biographical note derived from collection materials and records relating to "Donald K. Prothero." Accessed November 14, 2019.
Historical Note: 86th Combat Mapping Squadron The United States Army 86th Combat Mapping Squadron, 7th Air Force was originally formed as the 86th Aero Squadron in World War I, which demobilized in 1919. When it was reactivated in 1940, it flew patrols over the Hawaiian islands. It was redesignated as an Observation, then Reconnaisance, and finally Combat Mapping squadron as it moved through the Pacific Theater, capturing troop movements and ship locations surrounding Japanese-occupied islands. Flying B-25 Mitchells and B-24 Liberators equipped with photographic instruments, the squadron gathered information in advance of the United States armed forces as they captured the Marshall Islands, Wake Island, Saipan, New Hebrides, and Guam. In 1944, the squadron participated in the initial reconnaisance of Tokyo. The squadron has been redesignated several times since the end of World War II as well as changed its role in the United States Air Force. It remains active and is now known as the 43rd Electric Combat Squadron.

Historical note derived from collection materials and the following sources:

"43rd Electronic Combat Squadron." Wikipedia. Accessed November 14, 2019.

"War Diary 7/1-33/44." Fold3. Accessed November 14, 2019.

"World War US Air Force Photos." Fold3. Accessed November 14, 2019.

Existence and Location of Copies

Materials from this collection have been digitized and are available at The Museum of Flight Digital Collections.
Guide to the Donald K. Prothero World War II Photographs
Completed - Level 2
L. Rola
Description rules
Language of description
Edition statement
1st Edition

Repository Details

Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

9404 East Marginal Way South
Seattle Washington 98108-4097

The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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