Here is the graphic for WWII Magazine for October.
It is concerned with the development of the flamethrower - a weapon as effective as a psychological terror device as it was deadly against concealed troops. (Steve and his editorial folks have a done a good job of the headline in that respect).
The rest of the magazine looks really strong this month too - there are some very good articles and it is settling into a compelling product. (I've just been on holiday in the US and when I went in to a newstand to find a copy, they had sold out - always a sign of a popular product!)
I'll proceed as normal with some thoughts on the editorial content and design.
Tanks, but no tanks
I missed out details of tanks that were equipped with flamethrowers. I wanted to concentrate on flamethrowers' use in small unit tactics - utilised effectively by the US in it's increasingly violent path towards the Japanese mainland. One could argue that this special context needs explaining more with maps etc, but I wanted a degree of generalism in the information. I will also be doing some work on the variations of tank design that will include these weapons.
I also wanted people to reflect on the hazardous nature of the operator. I had conflicting reports on the results of a direct hit on the fuel tanks and so didn't include that information - but there was no doubt that they were despised by their enemies and that would have placed an extra burden on men already undergoing an incredible amount of pressure.
In the use of the silhouette on the bottom right illustrates the point I make about the risks to the operator - it is another example of trying to use that area to lead people out of the military technology issues in this series and to get people to reflect on the human angle if possible. It is a picture of a man that doesn't in itself convey any information - this angle is discussed a little later on.
One piece of information that didn't appear was information on the molecular structure of napalm. The text deals with it's chemical make up but I felt that a memorable way to convey this would be to show the complex carbon chains created by the addition of the napalm soap (compared to relatively simple kerosene without napalm). After asking some chemist friends, it turns out that the structure created by such a combination is not consistent and therefore hard to show with any integrity. It was a shame as I thought it would communicate the whole point of the need for napalm - one being it's long-burning nature - that matches the time it takes to read it's chemical structure.
All sides in WWII used these weapons but I concentrated on the US angle (a) because of the readership of the magazine (b) data on US small unit tactics was more readily available -(I have generally found that much data - casualties , research etc is very well documented by the US) (c) comparisons of flamethrowers would be moot - none were too different - it was tanks that really brought them to the next level. (Although tanks couldn't often get to the places, with the element of surprise, where they were most useful.)
It would have been quite possible to do this graphic in a more visually impartial way. With the dark background and more expressive flame jet, there is a element of subjectivity. The issues of decorative/ purely illustrative elements in information graphics is an important one. One could argue that a chart detailing most hated weapons would land the drama as much as the chiaroscuro of the flame against the dark background, but I thought I'd try it out. The jet across the page also binds the page - another one of my ongoing trials - I believe that visual information can be presented in paragraphs - not just big massive pictures.
Dots and Dashes
I have then swung the other way in explaining the covering fire by dots point (1) on the bottom left. Perhaps there is an uneasy mix of the expressive and the abstract. In my other work I find that different formats can co-exist but need to be labelled and consistent - maybe there is too much of a mix of styles here - but maybe not.
Anyway, that's it for thoughts on this one. I've got some interesting graphics from wartime magazines that I am going to put on the site for those of you wanting something else on these subjects apart from the monthly fare. I won't claim credit for them, and it maybe a little like reprinting old material but I am not sure many of you all will have seen it.