With nothing better to do during endless hours on base between missions, Air Force personnel became artists.
Nose art artists.
There was so much nose art that it would be silly to expect any representation of it to be comprehensive. It wasn't meant to be savored by posterity anyway.
|Taken during World War 2 in the China-Burma-India theater.|
Nose art was just doodling, a way for pilots and crewmen to wax nostalgic about what they were missing overseas. Or, more often, what they wished they were missing.
Which usually involved women and sex. Go figure.
But not always. Sometimes, Disney characters or dear old mom crept onto the nose of planes. Probably the most famous B 29 of them all, the Enola Gay, was named for the pilot's mom.
|This isn't his mom.|
These were talented guys. Of course, the subject matter was sometimes a bit edgy, but who was going to see the nose art anyway? The Germans who shot you down?
Nobody was too worried about offending the enemy, and who knows, that long, winding picture of "The Dragon and his Tail" on the side of the plane might just distract him for the moment you needed to escape.
Often, the offender showed definite pride of ownership of what essentially was graffiti.
|A Master Sergeant is shown standing beside a Liberator bomber called "The Jolly Roger." It is a veteran of many raids on Japanese-held territory. Guadalcanal - April 10, 1944|
Sometimes the art reflected school ties or something like that. For instance, the fellow who wanted the art on the plane below probably went to Notre Dame or had some other allegiance to it.
|"For the Gipper," referring to a famous Notre Dame football player who had a tough break.|
And sometimes it was just a way to have a little fun at the absurdity of the fool who was the real reason they were stuck in some god-awful nowhere base in the armpit of the world during the best years of their lives.
|Adolf, get off the pot, the Americans are coming! This was taken from a magazine cover.|
Anyway, with all those disclaimers, here is a smattering of the thousands and thousands of planes that were decorated with fancy nose art.
|'Why, yeah, son, I almost got shot down over Kwitcherbitchin, thanks for asking. It's just past Heidelberg and there were these two 109s and...."|
These shots aren't all from World War II, but most of them are, and they all are representative of the lonely lives of air force crew.
|Volume 1, Page, 55, Picture, 3, World War II, 4th May,1943, US Staff Sergeant Frank T, Lusic, pictured beside a bomber (Photo by Popperfoto/Getty Images)|
|P-40s weren't that impressive in the air, but they had smokin' nose art.|
|Sometimes there wasn't room for a lot of nose art - but a pithy quote by Hermann Goering didn't take up too much space on a big Avro Lancaster.|
This next plane had the same name on both sides, just so that an enemy flying by on the wrong side of the plane wouldn't miss out.
And this last one would have been sure to get a laugh and a shake of the head: