Question about US Bomber Signal Lights (?)

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Lou IV

Sep 16, 2005
Hello - I am an artist and model builder I try to make my work as accurate as reasonably possible. While doing research, I began to wonder about the purpose of the red and white lights found on some WWII bombers.

Some Marauders, B-17's (the original Memphis Belle for one), B-24's, B-25's, and also some Texans had both a white landing light and a red light on the left wing (on the leading edge facing forward).

There were also aft-facing red and white lights on the tails of the B-17, Havoc, Invader, and some B-24's (the Marauder had them on the upper surface of the trailing edge of the right engine cowling).

I'm already familiar with the downward facing green, red and yellow "Reckognition Lights" used by many bombers and fighters, but what were the red and white lights used for?

Why so many lights? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much for your time.
I believe that some of the are "formation lights" that are used to show where the wings and tail are when forming up in the pre-dawn hours. Landing lights are for what they are named, landing. Flyboyj can probably shed some light on this (no pun intended).
The standard lights on an aircraft - red, port - green, starboard, white on the tail. I've seen them on wintips, the tops of the wing and even the trailing edge.

I know the lights you're taliking about on the B-17 tail, not sure what those were used for but the ones I described are typical for identification.
I know the Swordfish had a small blue tail light for formation linking so I can only assume this is for something along a similar line.
I always thought red was only ever used for port wing ID so conversely In the large tight formations flown by the USAF using two lights one red denoting port would allow for accurate alignment in both the vertical and horizontal attitudes, although I have to admit it is only speculation on my part.
trackend said:
I know the Swordfish had a small blue tail light for formation linking

Thank you all for your input -greatly appreciated. Trackend, one question: where exactly was the blue light located on the Swordfish?

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