JF Ptak Science Books Post 1529
If each of the 2,000 trucks pictured below carried $100,000,000 dollars in hundred dollar bills, how many trucks would it take to carry away the national debt? Every one of them--this entire scene. 70 times. Twenty miles of this convey, each truck carrying $100,000,000, would carrying off the debt. Actually it would take 40 trucks (each with 100 million) to cart away the amount of debt accrued in daily interest on the national debt of 14 trillion dollars.
This Life magazine ad for the Chrysler Corporation--makers of Dodge--took the form of a public service announcement and a push to buy more ear bonds, though it really was an advertisement for itself and its wartime efforts. What it proposed to graphically portray were the 300,000 trucks that it manufactured (to that point) for the U.S. Army--and the image that they use to get the point across is arresting, but it doesn't come close to doing the job.
It seems to me that the visible trucks here number about 2000 for the five columns; and I calculate that each of what we can see of the columns to be about 1500 feet long. In order to show 300,000 trucks we'd need to show this page 150 times; or what Chrysler is showing is 1/150th of their total wartime production of trucks. To show them all would take a lot of time for the two-star to review, hours, in fact. I reckon that the five-column-wide display for the 300k trucks would be about 150 miles long.
So even though this image is very persuasive and impressive, it doesn't come close to the magnitude of the number's display.
Similar to the Chrysler ad is this:
This arresting cover image for The Illustrated London News of 21 February 1942 illustrates the (new) American production program for planes and tanks for 1942 and 1943 The caption reads: "185,000 planes form a mile-wide blanket of bombers under a blanket of fighters stretching 117 miles" which is actually a double blanket of planes--if they were thinned out to form one layer it would stretch one mile wide from Washington D.C. to New York City, which is quite an unimaginable ribbon.
The numbers and depiction are in some aspects similar, though it is still very difficult to get the point across of how massive these numbers really are.
The Chrysler ad says that the depiction of the trucks would "take up as much room as several million soldiers", though it seems to me that any of the columns alone would do so. A while ago in this blog appeared a short piece on what 1,100,000 British war dead would look like, as presented by the Illustrated London News:
The image (printed in 1933) shows the column stretching from London to Durham--London through Hitchin, through Bedford and Peterborough and Grantham, past Sheffield and Leeds and York, and then on to Durham--a distance of 269 miles or so. Four across, a 269-mile column of dead soldiers. That makes a pretty big point on an extraordinary sacrifice.
So the short end of the story is that back there during 1944, the Chrysler Corporation somehow managed to vastly underplay their war effort in an advertisement to themselves.