Topic: Cold War
Today, if you walk into an area where soldiers are relaxing, you'll find many engrossed in personal electronics, listening to customized playlists, texting or watching videos on their smart-phones or, possibly, reading the latest bestseller on an electronic reader. During the Cold War, before so much of our personal time was taken up by solo interaction with electronics, those same soldiers might have been found reading (anything from pulp sci-fi, to Sven Hassel, to the inevitable selection of magazines they wouldn't have shown their mothers (ok, not exactly reading those ones)), or small groups playing cards.
Few infantry section vehicles or command post vehicles didn't have a deck of cards, often with a cribbage board, tucked in a corner for those long periods of "hurry up and wait." Solitaire, cribbage, euchre, poker, all were fair game to the troops, and new platoon members night be warned not to start playing for cigarettes or cash with certain peers, because there was no way they could expect to come out ahead.
From as early as the Second World War up to the Cold War, companies that manufactured items for soldiers also tapped into this time killing activity. Various companies produced sets of playing cards with vehicle and aircraft silhouettes on each card. With these, a soldiers could convince himself that not only as he playing euchre, he was also learning. Among those groups for which armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) and aircraft recognition were primary requirements, like TOW and air defence gunners, the argument might had some validity. For most others, the information on the cards was just a novel decoration on something they would use just as much if they were from an ordinary Bicycle deck.
In the 1990s, Woods Manufacturing, of Ottawa, Ontario, (now Guthrie Woods made just such a deck. The deck included the three Jokers shown here displaying outline drawings of a tank, a helicopter, and a jet fighter. The three images included the names of the major components of each vehicle, adding to the learning potential of the cards for young soldiers.