WWII Army/Air Maps

For operations which demanded the co-operation between both ground and air forces, it was essential that both branches of the military use the same map. This helped facilitate planning, briefing, and inter-communication, as well as ensuring a common basis for referencing map coordinates. Maps used for such operations, therefore, had to meet the needs of all parties involved.

The Royal Air Force (R.A.F.) employed amber lighting in the cockpit area of their planes when flying after dark, to minimize the loss of the flight crew's night-vision, thus allowing them to see both the instrument panel and objects through the window simultaneously. The colours on the maps, therefore, had to be selected so as to be visible under these special lighting conditions. During operations, air crews were also forced to use their maps in cramped and unstable conditions subject to intense vibration, so legibility and clarity were of great importance.

Ground forces, on the other hand, required more topographical detail than was present on the typical navigation chart used by the R.A.F.


Clough, A. B. (1952). The Second World War 1939-1945, Army Maps and Survey. London: War Office.