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M10 Airplane Smoke Tank

DAYTON, Ohio -- M10 Airplane Smoke Tank on the Douglas A-20 in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- M10 Airplane Smoke Tank on the Douglas A-20 in the World War II Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)


Several types of fighters and light bombers carried the M10 smoke tank. The Douglas A-20 could carry up to four of these tanks to lay a smoke screen or dispense chemicals such as tear gas. When filled to a maximum of 30 gallons, each tank weighed up to 588 pounds and could lay a smoke screen about 2,000 feet long.

The bottom photograph in the exhibit shows the value of aerial smoke screens in combat. The screen concealed the airdrop of American paratroopers from Japanese gunners near Lae, New Guinea, in 1943 (note the C-47s dropping more paratroopers in the bottom right corner). Whereas Japanese troops had to move through the thick jungle terrain, American and Australian airdrops and amphibious assaults moved quickly under the cover of Allied air power.

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