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Thunderbolt air raid siren ad & decal

Contributed by Calvin Hones on Mar 28th, 2018. Artwork published in .
    Source: License: All Rights Reserved.

    One of the earliest advertisements for the Thunderbolt, perhaps the most iconic and widespread model of air raid siren in history. Produced by Federal Enterprises, Inc. (later Federal Sign & Signal, now Federal Signal) of University Park, Illinois, thousands of units were installed in every state and around the world, many of which survive and operate to this day. Originally designed to alert the public of an impending nuclear attack, most of those “T’bolts” that remain in use now warn of tornadoes and other natural disasters.

    License: All Rights Reserved.

    This decal was placed on several components of each siren, most prominently the blower, which “supercharged” the air flowing into the unit’s horn to give the warning signal its unique roar. It could also be seen on the rotator mechanism and some control boxes.

    Source: License: All Rights Reserved.

    A later variation of the decal with the Federal Sign & Signal logo, as seen on a siren.

    Raymond D. Woods, Jr. has made a digital reconstruction of this version.

    Source: Kevin (cropped and edited). License: CC BY-SA.

    Another variation with the Federal Signal logo. The “Thunderbolt” letterforms appear to be unchanged.


    • Futura Condensed
    • Futura
    • Futura Display




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    1 Comment on “Thunderbolt air raid siren ad & decal”

    1. Mar 28th, 2018  8:22 am

      The magazine ad combines several styles from the greater Futura family (or one of its American followers like Spartan?) including the squarish Futura Display (for “Federal Enterprises, Inc.”).

      The letterforms from the Thunderbolt logo itself strike me as custom. There are several digital fonts that’ll bring you pretty close, except maybe for being too narrow, see e.g. Public Gothic Square or NT Gagarin Anna. Refrigerator Deluxe Heavy even has the gas-pipe-like ‘S’ that is shown here (and which also appears in Futura Display). It’s provided as one of Refrigerator’s many stylistic alternates, in Set 04.

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