Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rochester on the Road: Photoflash Flares

If you ever find yourself visiting the National Museum of the U. S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, you'll find a connection to Rochester, Michigan in this exhibit from the museum's World War II gallery.  Here is displayed an example of the AN-M26 photoflash flare, which was dropped from airplanes to provide illumination for nighttime bombing missions, or to aid aerial photography.

These flares descended toward their targets on a parachute, which allowed them to burn for about three minutes over the area to be illuminated. They produced about 800,000 candlepower.  The AN-M26 device was 50 inches long and about eight inches in diameter, weighing 52 pounds. Fourteen pounds of that weight was flare charge.

McAleer Manufacturing Company, located  at the time in Rochester at Fourth and Water streets in the building we know today as the Rochester Mills Beer Company, had government defense contracts to build these flares. Thousands of the devices were built, tested and shipped from Rochester to aid the war effort. Mixing and testing of the explosive powders used in these and other McAleer munitions resulted in the injury or death of several McAleer employees.

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