Airplane List, Serial Numbers and Location Planes of the Past ... A Tribute to the Great Aircraft of the Past Planes of the Past Home Page About the PlanesOfThePast Website Site Map Search Planes of the Past Website Contact PlanesOfThePast
U.S. World War II Aircraft Consolidated B-24 Liberator Post-WWII Airplane Boneyards & Disposal Facilities B-17 Flying Fortress F-4 Phantom II Boeing B-52 Stratofortress Airplane Photo Galleries by Location Boeing B-29 Superfortress Other Website Features and Resources Air Force Bases and Army Air Fields Convair B-36 Peacemaker Current Day Airplane Boneyards & Airliner Storage Facilities Photo Galleries by Aircraft Type Airplane Nose Art

Boeing B-29 Superfortress ... tour it now!

 

Airplane Nose Art

A Brief History of Nose Art Painted on Military Planes

Military nose art from World War II on a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber
World War II military aircraft nose art on the B-17 Flying Fortress "Nemesis of Aeroembolism"

The inscription of art work on military planes dates to World War I, when paintings were usually extravagant company or unit insignia. However, regulations were put in place after the war to stymie the practice.

As the United States entered World War II, nose art regulations were relaxed, or in many cases totally ignored. WWII would become the golden age of aircraft artistry.

Artwork was typically painted on the nose of the plane, and the term "nose art" was coined.

The Purpose and Rationale Behind Nose Art

Nose art was a 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.

Classic WWII military bomber nose art featuring a likeness of actress Jane Russell on the B-29 Superfortress "The Outlaw" S/N 42-65306 of the 28th Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Group
Classic WWII military bomber nose art featuring a likeness of actress Jane Russell on the B-29 Superfortress "The Outlaw" S/N 42-65306 of the 28th Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Group.

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

The Nose Art Artists

The work was done by both professional civilian artists and talented amateur artists serving in the war theaters in Europe and the Pacific. At the height of the war, nose art artists were in very high demand and were paid well for their services.

One of the most well known artists of the era is Don Allen, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art graduate. As a U.S. Army Air Forces fighter crew chief, he used military aircraft for his palette during the war. For $35, pilots commissioned Allen to paint designs on their aircraft.

Military Airplane Nose Art Subject Matter

Pin-up style nose art on C-60 Lodestar "Classy Chassy"
Pin-up style nose art on C-60 Lodestar "Classy Chassy"
(Photo by the PlanesOfThePast staff)

Pin-ups represented a dominant theme on the noses of WWII bombers and fighters. Artists often mimicked Vargas-style "fantasy girl" pinup art on the military aircraft they painted. Aircraft names like Lady Eve, Forbidden Fruit, Heavenly Body, Our Gal Sa, 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 expanse of relatively open "painting space" on the nose of its massive fuselage.

The Aircraft Nose Art Form Continues Today

Modern-day aircraft nose art on PV-2 Harpoon
Example of modern-day pin-up nose art, on the B-24 "Diamond Lil"

Today the fascination with military aviation nose art continues, with a number of artists and studios creating reproductions or take-offs on some of the favorite classics of WWII.

The popularity of the art form has even led to creation of "nose art galleries" and "nose art studios" which specialize in the creation and sale of various type of art works.

Prints, posters, metal signs, decals, patches, bomber jackets and scale models are available from many sources.

In addition, artists continue to express the nose art tradition by paintings on the large fleet of restored WWII warbirds such as those maintained by the Commemorative Air Force (CAF).

Photos of Military Nose Art on World War II Aircraft in Aviation Museums and at Air Shows

There are entire websites and excellent books devoted to the subject of aviation nose art.

Modern-day aircraft pin-up style nose art on PV-2 Harpoon, Tillamook Air Museu
Modern-day nose art on PV-2 Harpoon "Rose's Raiders"
(Photo by the PlanesOfThePast staff)

So we do not attempt to reproduce or replicate the fine efforts of those web designers, historians and authors.

Hundreds of photos exist on the web which give a glimpse into airplane nose art history.

While we enjoy viewing the old photographs, we prefer to see the art work in person to get a better feel as to their size, placement, colors and textures.

We have visited a number of aviation museums, air parks, and air shows nationwide, and include below some highlights of the excellent aircraft nose art we've had the privilege to photograph.

Museums such as the Museum of Aviation, Tillamook Air Museum, Museum of Flight, Hill Aerospace Museum, and many others feature excellent collections of restored aircraft and nose art.

Airplane Nose Art Photographs by the PlanesOfThePast Staff

Nose art on "Goodtime Gal", a Lockheed C-60A Lodestar owned by the Houston Wing of the CAF
Nose art on "Goodtime Gal", a Lockheed C-60A Lodestar owned by the Houston Wing of the CAF
Nose art on C-47 Skytrain "7th Heaven" S/N 43-15977 at the Castle Air Museum
Nose art on C-47 Skytrain "7th Heaven" S/N 43-15977 at the Castle Air Museum
Bomber nose art on B-25J-5-NC "Yellow Rose", S/N 43-27868, operated by the Yellow Rose Squadron of the
Commemorative Air Force (CAF), San Marcos, TX

Mouseover the image to see an earlier version of the nose art paint scheme
before the vest and skirt were added to a more modest version of "Yellow Rose" (by R. Tate)
Nose art on B-25J-5-NC "Yellow Rose", S/N 43-27868, operated by the Yellow Rose Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), San Marcos, TX
Nose art on PV-2 Harpoon "Rose's Raiders" at the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon
Nose art on PV-2 Harpoon "Rose's Raiders" at the Tillamook Air Museum in Oregon

Nose art on B-29A "Raz'n Hell" at the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California

Nose art on B-29A "Raz'n Hell" at the Castle Air Museum in Atwater, California
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Peachy" at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum in Colorado
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Peachy" at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum in Colorado
Nose art on Lockheed C-60A Lodestar, 42-55918, "Classy Chassy",
on display at the Museum of Aviation, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia
Nose art on Lockheed C-60A Lodestar, 42-55918, "Classy Chassy", on display at the Museum of Aviation, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia
Nose art on P-47 Thunderbolt "Expected Goose" at the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin AFB
Nose art on P-47 Thunderbolt "Expected Goose" at the Air Force Armament Museum at Eglin, AFB
Nose art on the B-25J Mitchell "Lazy Daisy Mae" S/N 44-86891 on display at Castle Air Museum
Nose art on the B-25J Mitchell "Lazy Daisy Mae" S/N 44-86891 on display at Castle Air Museum
Nose art on the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Texas Raiders"
of the Gulf Coast Wing of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF)
Nose art on the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Texas Raiders" of the Gulf Coast Wing of the CAF
Nose art on Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress "Miss Liberty" S/N 231340 at the Barksdale AFB Global Power Museum
Nose art on Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress "Miss Liberty" S/N 231340 at the Barksdale AFB Global Power Museum in Bossier City, Louisiana
Nose art on B-29 "Bockscar" S/N 44-27297 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio
B-29 "Bockscar" on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio
B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay" S/N 44-86292 nose art ... at the Udvar-Hazy Museum in Washington, D.C.
B-29 "Enola Gay" on display at the Udvar-Hazy Museum in Washington, D.C.
Close-up view of B-29 "Enola Gay" nose art
Close-up view of B-29 "Enola Gay" nose art
B-29 "Sentimental Journey" S/N 44-70016 on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona
B-29 "Sentimental Journey" S/N 44-70016 on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona
B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force, with CAF flag and nose art
B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force, with CAF flag and nose art
Nose art on F-111E Aardvark "Heart Breaker", S/N 68-055,
at the Museum of Aviation, Robins Air Force Base, Warner Robins, Georgia
Nose art on F-111E Aardvark "Heart Breaker", S/N 68-055, at the Museum of Aviation, Robins Air Force Base, Warner-Robins, Georgia
"Free for All" nose art on FB-111A Aardvark, S/N 80248, South Dakota Air & Space Museum
"Free for All" nose art on FB-111A Aardvark, S/N 80248, South Dakota Air & Space Museum
B-25J Mitchell, S/N 44-86872, "The Little King",
on display at the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, in Warner Robins, Georgia
B-25J Mitchell, S/N 44-86872, "The Little King", on display at the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, in Warner-Robins, Georgia
Photo of nose art on the B-29 Superfortress "Tinker's Heritage" S/N 427343
in the markings of the 57th Weather Recon Squadron on display at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City
Photo of nose art on the B-29 Superfortress "Tinker's Heritage" S/N 427343
Nose art on North American PBJ-1J "Devil Dog" patrol bomber, a B-25 variant for the Marine Corps
Part of the Devil Dog Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), located in Georgetown, TX
Nose art on North American PBJ-1J "Devil Dog" patrol bomber
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress "I'll Be Around" nose art, at the 390th Memorial Museum, Tucson
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress "I'll Be Around" nose art, at the 390th Memorial Museum, Tucson
Military bomber nose art on B-17 "Short Bier" at the Hill Aerospace Museum in Ogden, Utah
Nose art on B-17 "Short Bier" at the Hill Aerospace Museum in Ogden, Utah
Nose art on the B-17G "Virgin's Delight" - S/N 43-38635 - on display at the Castle Air Museum, Atwater, CA

Nose art on the B-17G "Virgin's Delight" - S/N 43-38635 - on display at the Castle Air Museum, Atwater, CA

Nose art on the Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress "Nine O Nine" of the Collings Foundation

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress "Nine O Nine" of the Collings Foundation

Nose art on the Consolidated B-24 Liberator "Witchcraft" on the Wings of Freedom Tour in Tyler, Texas
Consolidated B-24 "Witchcraft" Liberator on the Wings of Freedom Tour in Tyler, Texas
B-1B Lancer "Midnight Train from Georgia", 116th Bomb Wing,
on display at the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, in Warner Robins, Georgia
B-1B Lancer "Midnight Train from Georgia", 116th Bomb Wing, on display at the Museum of Aviation at Robins AFB, in Warner-Robins, Georgia
B-29 "Sentimental Journey" nose art - Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson
B-29 "Sentimental Journey" on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona
Nose art on the Consolidated B-24J Liberator "Bungay Buckaroo" S/N 44-44175 flown by the 446th Bomb Group based in Bungay, England. On display at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona
Nose art on the Consolidated B-24J Liberator "Bungay Buckaroo" S/N 44-44175
Nose art on Curtiss P-40N Warhawk "O'Riley's Daughter" at Seattle's Museum of Flight
Nose art on Curtiss P-40N Warhawk "O'Riley's Daughter" at Seattle's Museum of Flight
Nose art on P-51D Mustang "Audrey" at the Hill Aerospace Museum in Ogden, Utah
Nose art on P-51D Mustang "Audrey" at the Hill Aerospace Museum in Ogden, Utah
Nose art on the B-25J "The Spirit of Al Penn" on display at the Pima Air Museum in Tuscon, Arizona
Nose art on the B-25J "The Spirit of Al Penn" on display at the Pima Air Museum in Tuscon, Arizona
Nose art "Hoosier Hot Shot" from a B-52G Stratofortress, on display at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona
(photo by the PlanesOfThePast Staff, October 2012)
Nose art "Hoosier Hot Shot" from a B-52G Stratofortress

Examples of Present-Day Bomber Nose Art

Nose art on P-38L Lightning "Thoughts of Midnite" owned by Comanche Fighters (Tom and Dan Friedkin) of Houston, TX.
(Photo used by permission of the photographer, David Dwight Jackson. www.WarbirdsAndAirshows.com)
Nose art on P-38L "Thoughts of Midnite" owned by Comanche Fighters (Tom and Dan Friedkin) of Houston, TX.
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress "Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby" nose art
Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress "Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby" nose art
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Aluminum Overcast" nose art
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress "Aluminum Overcast" nose art
Nose art on B-24 Liberator "Strawberry Bitch"
Nose art on B-24 Liberator "Strawberry Bitch"
Nose art on B-24 Liberator "Diamond Lil" of the Commemorative Air Force
Nose art on B-24 Liberator "Diamond Lil" of the Commemorative Air Force
Nose art on B-25 Mitchell "Pacific Princess"
Nose art on B-25 Mitchell "Pacific Princess"
Nose art on B-25 Mitchell "Take-Off Time"
Nose art on B-25 Mitchell "Take-Off Time"
Nose art on B-25 Mitchell "Russian to Get Ya"
Nose art on B-25 Mitchell "Russian to Get Ya"
Nose art on B-25 Mitchell "Show Me!"
Nose art on B-25 Mitchell "Show Me!"

Additional Nose Art Photographs

Nose art on B-17F Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle"
Nose art on B-17F Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle"
Nose art on B-17F Flying Fortress "Idiot's Delight"
Nose art on B-17F Flying Fortress "Idiot's Delight"
Nose art on B-24 Liberator "Mabel's Labels" ... "Gimme a Great Big Smile!"
engines removed and awaiting the guillotine and smelter as reported in LIFE
B-24 Liberator "Mabel's Labels" ... "Gimme a Great Big Smile!" engines removed and awaiting the smelter
Noseart on the B-24 Liberator "Gambler's Luck" at Kingman Army Air Field in Arizona
B-24 Liberator "Gambler's Luck" awaiting the furnace at Kingman Army Air Field in Arizona
Nose art painted on Consolidated B-24 Liberator "Solid Comfort" at Kingman Army Air Field
Nose art painted on Consolidated B-24 Liberator "Solid Comfort" at Kingman Army Air Field
Nose art on the B-24 Liberator "Windy City Kitty" ... "It's Up to You" ...
in the Arizona desert after WWII at Kingman AAF
B-24 Liberator "Windy City Kitty" ... "It's Up to You" ... awaits an appointment with the smelter in the Arizona desert after WWII at Kingman AAF
B-24 Liberator "Virgin Abroad" nose art, after WWII at Kingman AAF
B-24 Liberator "Virgin Abroad" nose art, after WWII at Kingman AAF
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sic 'Em"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sic 'Em"
Copyright © 2014 PlanesOfThePast.com All Rights Reserved