Air Scoop Newsletter
Above you see the back of the t-shirt for the girls soccer team our Club is sponsoring this spring. We wish the girls the best of luck in their games. Also pictured is a wider view of the proposed quadcopter course layout with a wider view showing the runway.
We will finish up our successful indoor flying at the Longfellow School at the end of April. Hopefully this snow will melt and the field will dry up so we can start flying at the field. We welcome back Jim Spaans, who spent the winter in Texas. We hope to see Bob Fetsch pretty soon, as he winters in Yuma, AZ. I think Garry Denning is down south or in California, that lucky guy. Sometimes it's difficult to find something to write about each month. I have been doing some research on WWII aircraft nose art that helped the pilot's and crew morale. I hope you enjoy it.
Hell's Angels, the 3rd Squadron of the 1st American Volunteer Group "Flying Tigers", 28 May 1942
While World War I nose art was usually embellished or extravagant squadron insignia, true nose art appeared during World War II, which is considered by many observers to be the golden age of the genre, 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 well 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.
The work was done by professional civilian artists as well as talented amateur servicemen. In 1941, for instance, the 39th Pursuit Squadron commissioned a Bell Aircraft artist to design and paint the "Cobra in the Clouds" logo on their aircraft. Perhaps the most enduring nose art of World War II was the shark-face motif, which first appeared on the Bf-110s of Luftwaffe 76th Destroyer Wing over Crete, where the twin-engined Messerschmitts outmatched the Gloster Gladiator biplanes of RAF 112 Squadron. The Commonwealth pilots were withdrawn to Egypt and refitted with Curtiss Tomahawks off the same assembly line building fighter aircraft for the AVG Flying Tigers being recruited for service in China. In November 1941, AVG pilots saw a 112 Squadron Tomahawk in an illustrated weekly and immediately adopted the shark-face motif for their own planes. This work was done by the pilots and ground crew in the field. However, the insignia for the "Flying Tigers" - a winged Bengal Tiger jumping through a stylized V for Victory symbol - was developed by graphic artists from the Walt Disney Company.
A-10 Thunderbolt II with shark mouth themed nose art, Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, 2011
Similarly, when in 1943 the 39th Fighter Squadron became the first American squadron in their theatre with 100 kills, they adopted the shark-face for their P-38 Lightnings. The shark-face is still used to this day, most commonly seen on the A-10 Thunderbolt II (with its gaping maw leading up to the muzzle of the aircraft's GAU-8 Avenger 30mm cannon), especially those of the 23d Fighter Group, the AVG's descendent unit, and a testament to its popularity as a form of nose art.
The "Dragon and His Tail" nose art on a B-24 Liberator, Moffett Field, 2004 - from 2005-on, Witchcraft (s/n 44-44052) The largest known work of nose art ever depicted on a WW II-era American combat aircraft was on a B-24J Liberator, tail number 44-40973, which had been named "The Dragon and his Tail" of the USAAF Fifth Air Force 64th Bomb Squadron, 43d Bomb Group, in the Southwest Pacific, flown by a crew led by Joseph Pagoni, with Staff Sergeant Sarkis Bartigan as the artist. The dragon artwork ran from the nose just forward of the cockpit, down the entire length of the fuselage's sides, with the dragon's body depicted directly below and just aft of the cockpit, with the dragon holding a nude woman in its forefeet.
Sgt. J.S. Wilson painting a bomber based at Eniwetok in June 1944
Tony Starcer was the resident artist for the 91st Bomb Group (Heavy), one of the initial six groups fielded by the Eighth Air Force. Starcer painted over a hundred pieces of renowned B-17 nose art, including "Memphis Belle". A commercial artist named Brinkman, from Chicago was responsible for the zodiac-themed nose art of the B-24 Liberator-equipped 834th Bomb Squadron, based at RAF Sudbury, England.
Contemporary research demonstrates that bomber crews, which suffered high casualty rates during World War II, often developed strong bonds with the planes they were flying, and affectionately decorated them with nose art. It was also believed by the flight crews that the nose art was bringing luck to the planes.
The artistic work of Alberto Vargas's pin-up girls from Esquire Magazine was often duplicated, or adapted, by air force crews and painted on the nose of American and allied aircraft during World War II.
Boeing KC-135E Stratotanker, based with Sioux City Air National Guard, 2007.
Some World War II era nose art was commemorative or intended to honor certain people such as the B-29 Superfortress, "The Ernie Pyle".
In the Korean War, nose art was popular with units operating A-26 and B-29 bombers, C-119 Flying Boxcar transports, as well as USAF fighter-bombers. Due to changes in military policies and changing attitudes toward the representation of women, the amount of nose art declined after the Korean War.
During the Vietnam War, AC-130 gunships of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Squadrons were often given names with accompanying nose art - for example, "Thor", "Azrael - Angel of Death", "Ghost Rider", "War Lord" and "The Arbitrator."  The unofficial gunship badge of a flying skeleton with a Minigun was also applied to many aircraft until the end of the war and was later adopted officially.
Nose art underwent a revival during the Gulf War and has become more common since Operation Enduring Freedom and the Iraq War began. Many crews are merging artwork as part of camouflage patterns. The United States Air Force had unofficially sanctioned the return of the pin-up (albeit fully clothed) with the Strategic Air Command permitting nose art on its bomber force in the Command's last years. The continuation of historic names such as "Memphis Belle" was encouraged.
WWII and other Aircraft Nose Art
Nose art is a decorative painting or design on the fuselage of an aircraft, usually on the front fuselage.
While begun for practical reasons of identifying friendly units, the practice evolved to express the individuality often constrained by the uniformity of the military, to evoke memories of home and peacetime life, and as a kind of psychological protection against the stresses of war and the probability of death. The appeal, in part, came from nose art not being officially approved, even when the regulations against it were not enforced.
Because of its individual and unofficial nature, it is considered folk art, inseparable from work as well as representative of a group. It can also be compared to sophisticated graffiti. In both cases, the artist is often anonymous, and the art itself is ephemeral. In addition, it relies on materials immediately available.
Nose art is largely a military tradition, but civilian airliners operated by the Virgin Group feature "Virgin Girls" on the nose as part of their livery. In a broad sense, the tail art of several airlines such as the Eskimo of Alaska Airlines can be called "nose art", as are the tail markings of present-day U.S. Navy squadrons. There were exceptions, including the VIII Bomber Command, 301st Bomb Group B-17F "Whizzer", which had its girl-riding-a-bomb on the dorsal fin.
Placing personalized decorations on fighting aircraft began with Italian and German pilots. The first recorded piece of nose art was a sea monster painted on an Italian flying boat in 1913. This was followed by the popular practice of painting a mouth beneath the propeller's spinner, begun by German pilots in World War I. The cavallino rampante (prancing horse) of the Italian ace Francesco Baracca was another well-known image. Nose art of that era was often conceived and produced not by the pilots, but rather by the aircraft ground crews.
Other World War I examples included the "Hat in the Ring" of the American 94th Aero Squadron (attributed to Lt. Johnny Wentworth) and the "Kicking Mule" of the 95th Aero Squadron. This followed the official policy, established by the American Expeditionary Forces' (AEF) Chief of the Air Service, Brigadier General Benjamin Foulois, on 6 May 1918, requiring the creation of distinct, readily identifiable squadron insignia. What is perhaps the most famous of all nose art, the shark-face insignia made famous by the First American Volunteer Group (AVG, the Flying Tigers), first appeared in World War I on a British Sopwith Dolphin and a German Roland C.II, though often with an effect more comical than menacing. Three decades later, the British pilots spotted it on German planes during World War II. The AVG in China decided to paint shark mouths on their P-40Bs after seeing a color photo in a newspaper of a shark mouth painted on a No. 112 Squadron RAF P-40 fighter in North Africa. The British version itself was inspired by "sharkmouth" nose art (without any eyes) on the Bf 110 heavy fighters of ZG 76.
I wonder if I built this bomber, a little too heavy?