Wednesday, May 29, 2019

50 Color Vintage Photographs Showing Amazing Nose Art Painted on Military Aircraft During World War II

The painting of art work on military planes dates back to World War I, when paintings were usually of company or unit insignia. However, this practice was generally discouraged and eventually directives were put in place after the war to halt the practice. Artwork was generally painted on the nose of the plane, and the term "nose art" was coined.

When the United States entered World War II, nose art regulations were relaxed, or in a great many cases totally ignored. WWII would become the golden age of aircraft art, with both Axis and Allied pilots taking part.

At the height of the war, nose-artists were in very high demand in the USAAF and were paid quite handsomely for their services while AAF commanders tolerated nose art in an effort to boost aircrew morale. The U.S. Navy, by contrast, prohibited nose art, the most extravagant being limited to a few simply-lettered names, while nose art was uncommon in the RAF or RCAF.

Nose art was a definite morale booster, and those in daily combat needed that boost. Facing the prospect of death on every flight, the crew deserved all of the encouragement, and smiles, available to them.

The art on the plane unified the crew, and identified it, and made it unique from all of the aircraft in their unit or on their base.

Also, there was widespread appeal in the practice since it was not officially approved, and it provided a spirited outlet against "authority". Regulations against it were rarely imposed.

Pin-ups were one of the main themes on the noses of WWII bombers and fighters. Artists often imitated Vargas-style "fantasy girl" pinup art on the military aircraft they painted.

Aircraft names like Lady Eve, Forbidden Fruit, Heavenly Body, Our Gal Sal, Miss Behavin', Double Exposure and Picadilly Lilly were based on pinup girl art.

But other subjects were also popular, such as cartoon characters, on aircraft such as Super Wabbit, Ruptured Duck, and Thumper.

Hometowns and states were also frequently used, on Miami Clipper, Memphis Belle, Carolina Moo, Arkansas Traveler and others. Names of wives of the crew, sweethearts, girlfriends, and mascots were frequent topics. Other bombers had nose art that was intimidating to enemies, on planes such as Surprise Attack and Axis Nightmare.

Nose art was found on many models of fighters, and bombers such as the B-17 Flying Fortress and the B-24 Liberator. The B-29 Superfortress was a popular palette due to its large area of mainly open "painting space" on the nose of its massive fuselage.


  1. Creativity takes wings. Outstanding!

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