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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Thomas Cooper World War II Photograph Collection

 Collection — Folder: 1
Identifier: 2009-08-13-A
The Thomas Cooper World War II Photograph Collection is comprised of 42 photographs mostly taken by Paul A. Payne, with whom Thomas Cooper served in United States Marine Corps in the Pacific theater of World War II. The photographs were taken on Saipan and Tinian in the Mariana Islands between 1944 and 1945. They feature several American aircraft, such as a Northrop P-61, a Douglas C-47, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator, and several Boeing B-29s. Many of the B-29 photographs were taken on Tinian and showcase nose art painted by Bernell Hilderman. Also depicted are Amercian soldiers posing with several Japanese fighter, torpedo bomber and heavy bomber aircraft captured at Aslito Field following the Battle of Saipan. According to collection materials, many of the Japanese aircraft were dismantled into parts that were crated for shipment back to the United States for analysis. The photographs are all black-and-white prints and range in size from 2" square to 4x5".


  • Circa 1943-1946


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.


0.05 Cubic Feet (One letter-size file folder)

Biographical Note: Thomas Cooper

Thomas Cooper served with the United States Marine Corps Seabees during World War II.

Thomas Cooper was born in Malden, Massachusetts in 1924. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1943 and served with H Company in the 121st Naval Construction Battalion, also known as "Seabees," until early 1946. In that time, Cooper participated in the construction of airstrips and infrastructure in the Marshall Islands and Mariana Islands. Cooper served with photographer Paul A. Payne, who later gave these photographs to Cooper.

After the war, Cooper graduated from Seattle Pacific University in 1951, then went on to obtain a Doctorate in education from Columbia University. He worked in the Shoreline School District in Washington as an assistant principal for many years.

Biography derived from collection materials.
Historical Note: Mariana Islands Campaign in World War II Japan had obtained administration of the Mariana Islands from Germany following the South Pacific Mandate of 1919. Beginning in May 1944, the United States Armed Forces invaded the southern Mariana Islands to cut off Japan's supply lines to the Caroline Islands and establish airbases from which bombing raids on the Japanese homeland could be launched. The island of Saipan was captured in June 1944, as were several Japanese aircraft at Aslito Field. Tinian was successfully invaded in July 1944 and was developed into one of the largest airbases of the war. The campaign had dramatic reprecussions: over twenty thousand Japanese soldiers and Chamorro civilians on Saipan and Tinian were casualties of the invasion, Japanese Prime Minister Hideki Tojo resigned, and the following year the Enola Gay would launch from Tinian with the atomic bomb bound for Hiroshima.


"Mariana Islands." World War II Database. Accessed December 12, 2019.

"The Marianas Campaign: May-November 1944." National Museum of the U.S. Navy. Accessed December 12, 2019.
Guide to the Thomas Cooper World War II Photograph Collection
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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