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Airplane Nose Art in World War II

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.

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.

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 galleries, 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.

These facilities feature excellent collections of restored aircraft and nose art.

B-17 Flying Fortress Nose Art in World War II

B-17 Flying Fortress "Sweet LaRhonda" nose art
B-17 Flying Fortress "Sweet LaRhonda" nose art

B-17G Flying Fortress "Tailwind"
B-17 Flying Fortress "Tailwind"
B-17 Flying Fortress "Calamity Jane"
B-17 Flying Fortress "Calamity Jane"

B-17 "Leading Lady"

Seen in the photo to the right is B-17G-5-VE Flying Fortress "Leading Lady", S/N 42-39948, minus engines, at Kingman Army Airfield in Arizona after World War II.

The plane became the first aircraft in the 305th Bombardment Group to complete 100 missions, and finally performed 133 successful missions in a career spanning 18 months before surviving the war. After WWII, in the fall of 1945, it was transferred to Kingman AAF and subsequently scrapped.

Nose art on the B-17 Flying Fortress "Leading Lady"
Nose art on the B-17 Flying Fortress "Leading Lady"
Nose art on B-17F Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle"
Nose art on B-17F Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle"

 

B-17G "How Was It? Well?"

Shown to the right is B-17G 42-97249, with an interesting name ... "How Was It? Well?"

It was built in 1944 and served with the 398th Bomb Group, 600th Bomb Squadron, and 603rd Bomb Squadron. The plane was returned to the U.S. in June of 1945, and later sold for scrap metal at the Kingman Army Airfield after the war on December 20, 1945.

Nose art on the B-17 Flying Fortress "How Was It? Well?"
Nose art on the B-17 Flying Fortress "How Was It? Well?"

 

B-24 Liberator Nose Art in World War II

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
B-24 Liberator "Shy Chi Baby"
B-24 Liberator "Shy Chi Baby" nose art
B-24 Liberator "Going My Way"
B-24 Liberator "Going My Way"
Nose art 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

B-25 Mitchell Nose Art in World War II

B-25 Mitchell "Baby Blue Eyes"
B-25 Mitchell "Baby Blue Eyes"
B-25 Mitchell "Ave Maria"
B-25 Mitchell "Ave Maria"
B-25 Mitchell "Cherry Fizz"
B-25 Mitchell "Cherry Fizz"
B-25 Mitchell "Fat Cat"
B-25 Mitchell "Fat Cat"
B-25 Mitchell "Texas Gal"
B-25 Mitchell "Texas Gal"

 

B-29 Superfortress Nose Art in World War II

Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Fast Company"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Fast Company"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sweat'er Out"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sweat'er Out"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sheeza Goer!"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sheeza Goer!"

Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Southern Comfort"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Southern Comfort"


B-29 Superfortress "Straight Flush"
B-29 Superfortress "Straight Flush"
B-29 Superfortress "Mission Inn"
B-29 Superfortress "Mission Inn"

 

 

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