40 Awesome Aircraft Nose Art

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40. Marine’s Dream


How ironic that a beautiful girl who would elicit catcalls and whistles from any serviceman would find herself on the nose of an FG–1D Corsair. Why is that, you ask? The Japanese called them “Whistling Death” because of the sound they made before obliterating their target. They had a unique feature, too. The inverted gull wing made it possible to use shorter landing gear while ensuring sufficient ground clearance for the massive 13 foot propeller. The Corsair had a maximum speed of 446 mph and a ceiling height of 41,500 feet. Yet, due to the modifications to allow for shorter landing gear, the canopy was positioned a bit higher, complicating visibility. This made landing Corsairs on aircraft carriers a feat for those who had balls of steel. But, if you had them, and flew a Corsair, you might snag yourself a Marine’s Dream in time. One could only hope.

39. The Outlaw


In 1938, Boeing started work on what would develop into a pressurized long-range bomber. Nose art like the Outlaw you see here would be common during the war effort. According to the Army Air Corps, the official specification was known as a super bomber. It needed to be capable of delivering a bomb payload of 20,000 pounds, at a range of more than 2600 miles while moving at a 400 mph clip. All the major aircraft manufacturers, consolidated, Douglas, Lockheed and Boeing submitted bids, with Boeing ultimately winning the contract. In May 1941, a test order of 14 was placed, to be followed through with 250 full-scale production bombers considering all went well. Ironically, the B-29 Bomber was designed to be a high altitude daylight bomber. It had a flight ceiling of almost 32,000 feet and could scream across the sky at 350 mph. The irony is it was known for its lower altitude nighttime missions.

38. Sic ‘Em


This B-29 Super Fortress nose art photo is unique because it reveals a portion of the name of the copilot. There is a great backstory in regards to one particular mission in Korea. Prior to mission, Sic ‘Em was parked by itself, away from the other B-29s. Once the crew boarded, the Bombay doors remained open for 30 minutes. Then, the plane taxied out onto the runway and took off. After about three hours, they were instructed to open the doors, leave them open a while, then return to base. Much much later, it was learned that they had actually dropped a spy off the Korean coast. This is not the typical mission you’d expect from a bomber, but maybe that’s why it works so well in the narrative of war. If you can surprise your enemy you always get the upper hand. Sic “Em is a nod to the covert missions many servicemen performed while protecting home and country.

37. Southern Breeze


The Southern Breeze Belle looks ravishing on the nose of this KC–135 aircraft. Known as the Stratotanker, she has a span of 130’10” with a length of 136’3″. The massive military fuel transport aircraft is more than 50% aluminum by weight, with 10% steel and stainless steel included. Other metals that make up construction are magnesium and titanium. The landing wheels on the plain contain as much material as 100 automobile tires. Inside, the electrical system contains about 14 1/2 miles of wire. Four Pratt & Whitney engines power the beast, and they weigh 6100 pounds each. At full throttle, each engine will consume 10,250,000 ft.³ of air per hour. That’s all to say, the KC is no small player when it comes to military might. It was the backbone for part of the 1990 Gulf War effort. With their adi, the USAF was successfully able to destroy command centers, key enemy radars and air defenses.

36. Executive Sweet


Doesn’t she look sweet on the nose? A gal like that could make any executive happy, especially a bomber pilot. The B-25 was the most numerous of the American bombers built, constructed of both glass and solid nosed versions. Though it would predominately serve the Pacific war effort, it could be found on all fronts. Between 1940 and 1945 several different versions were created. Most of them include improvements to the armaments. For instance, later versions would see the B-25 outfitted with as many as 14 machine guns. The plane was also known for skip bombing, which involve dropping a bomb at sea and letting it skip across the water toward an enemy ship until it exploded. It’s most important contribution was undoubtedly the Doolittle raid. While Japanese damage was minimal, this provided the morale and confidence needed to defeat the Japanese. By the end of the war effort the B-25 earned a reputation as one of the most durable and dependable war aircraft.

35. Fightin’ Sam


Why does Fightin’ Sam look like he means business? He’s on the nose of a B-24 bomber, that’s why. This little 67 foot beauty was quite the showstopper during World War II. Outfitted with four Pratt & Whitney R-1830 twin supercharged engines, with three blade variable pitch propellers, the new version of the old bomber also featured longer wings for improved performance at high altitude. This also increased its payload as well. The initial production run was completed in 1941. Many of those were snatched up by the Royal Air Force, including the airplanes built and designed for France. It was Britain who dubbed this bomber the Liberator. The Royal Air Force would quickly learn they were overzealous with their appetite for the B-24. They were not suitable for European combat, because the defensive armament was insufficient and the fuel tanks were not self sealing. So, they modified the plane to use them for maritime patrols and long-range transport. The modified plane was a hit. The initial order for the B-24D model was so substantial that it overwhelmed production capabilities. They had to build a new factory just outside of Fort Worth, Texas in addition to the one in San Diego, just to keep up. Over time, the B-24 would become the standard bomber used in the Pacific theater because it had a longer range.

34. Superman II


Though the nose art speaks to Superman, this plane has adapted quite a bit. As it turns out, the KC–135A’s engines are built on good old 1950’s technology. Later revisions found in the KC–135R would include reduced pollution, increased fuel efficiency and reduced noise levels. It all had to do with the introduction of a new engine, the CFM56. In addition, the revision saw fuel offload capability and performance drastically improved as well. In fact, this modification was so dynamic that two of the newer engines can do the work of three KC–135A engines. However, in its day it was the standard for in-air refueling. No matter which model you chose, just about all of the internal fuel can be easily pumped through the flying boom (it’s primary fuel transfer method). It even has a special shuttlecock-like cone that trails behind the flying boom, used specifically for aircraft outfitted with probes. So, whether you’re flying the old Superman nose art model 135A, or a newer KC-135R, refueling is not a problem.

33. Tantalising Takeoff


Our bleach blonde red dressed beauty looks tantalizing indeed on the side of this Douglas B-18 bomber. These bombers were a bit outclassed at the beginning of World War II. Since there was a run-up to production spurred by competition with several aircraft companies, long-range medium bombers were in demand. While Martin ultimately would win the American military contract with its B-10 in 1934, the B-18 would still find itself in use at the onset of World War II. Primarily, they were utilized to train bomber crews to understand the intricacies of large aircraft flight and bombing while also acclimating the crew to high altitudes. In addition to training, they also served as makeshift transports. In fact, some were even modified to mobilize as active anti-submarine warfare platforms along the American coast when maritime patrols were needed. It was a B-18 that was credited with sinking a German U-boat on August 22, 1942. Over time, however, the 18’s saw themselves replaced with large capacity B-24 liberators, and of course, the famous B-17 Flying Fortress.

32. The Rookie


While our busty blonde works over the rookie, consider this — the Navy has retired the plane on which she is featured. Unless you have a keen eye and are familiar with aircraft, you probably can’t tell what this is. However, a quick review of the screwheads and rivet pattern are a dead giveaway. This is an EA-6B Prowler. It served the Navy well for 45 years, until they finally retired this jet that served in every major conflict since Vietnam in 2015. The EA–18 Growler came into use during the effort that was used to unseat Gaddafi in 2011. The official name was Operation Odyssey Dawn. Known for its electronic jamming umbrella, it was capable of keeping improvised explosive devices from detonating, and therefore saved countless American military lives. So while our nose art vixen gets up close and personal with the rookie, we salute an airplane that was a true master of the skies for almost half a century.

31. Dream Girl


If the nose art on this plane doesn’t get your propeller going, well you are broken. This is especially true since the A–26 Invader turned 76 years old in 2018. It was designed specifically as a replacement for the A–20 Havoc and was heavily used in the European and Pacific theaters during World War II. The three seater light attack bomber was quick, powerful and very helpful at digging out targets that faster jets could not effectively strike. The reason? As a successor, she was built with a longer range in mind, heavier armament capacity, remote power gun turrets and more powerful engines. The gun nose (known as an all-purpose nose) was a lethal beast during wartime because its machine gun was mounted out front. It could either transport drop bombs or rockets on its wings. Though smaller than other planes, it was pure muscle. That’s enough to make any dream girl want to striptease on the side of the plane.

30. La Patrona


We don’t know what Patrona means in this aircraft nose art, but we like it. The plane is not too shabby, either. This Tigercat from the Reno Air Race looks like it just rolled off the production line. World War II saw the production of many things, most notably some pretty sick aircraft. The F-7F Tiger Cat, was one of several warplanes seen exiting the Grumman factory during the World War II. Featuring 2 radial 21,000 horsepower engines, it was one of Grumman’s best. In fact, the F7F Tiger Cat was considered to be the cheetah of Grumman’s lineup, eclipsing the Bearcat, Wildcat and Hellcat. In total, 364 were built during a three-year span, beginning in 1943. Find one today and you can experience top air speeds of 450 mph. Pilots report they are thrilling to fly and perform great maneuvers like roll off rolling. Maybe this is the reason it was accepted by the U.S. Navy as a the first twin engine fighter. The F7F was a monster in the air and the tricycle landing gear configuration made it perfect for carrier based war efforts.

29. Hard to Get


Though she might play hard to get, the Douglas A–26C Invader will not. This was one of the most instrumental planes during the Korean War. It played a huge role in the interdiction campaign with the US between communist ground forces. Initially, crews would fly during the day, but with the introduction of MiG-15 jets, they were forced to fly most of their missions at night. Invaders were primarily used for ground strafing, rocket attacks and level bombing. The first A-26 took to the skies in July 1942 with production ramping up in August 1943. Its first combat space was over Europe in November 1944. A little more than 2,500 were built. Once production stopped, it was re-designated as the B–26, not to be confused with the B-26 Marauder. That’s another plane entirely. A-26C Invaders were equipped with several 50 caliber machine guns; two under each of the wing pots, two up top and a remote controlled turret. Play hard to get with her? We think not.

28. Little Gem


Wow, what a specimen we have here. If you can pull your eyes away from the nose art long enough to focus, you could get a pretty sweet history lesson. This B-29 Bomber was part of the 497th bombardment unit deployed to perform service to support the Pacific Theater of Operations. The squadron began operations in October 1944. They performed two attacks on Iwo Jima and the surrounding islands. They also flew several strategic missions in Japan, making numerous raids attacking in daylight from very high altitude. Once the war was over, the 497th used Little Gem to supply Allied prisoners, as well as participate in various a show of force missions. She was decommissioned for service on March 31, 1946. This was one of the very heavy bombers that could often be seen roaring across the sky in groups during World War II.

27. Old Soldier


The Old Soldier you see here is firmly plastered on the side of a B-52 bomber. If you look a little closer you can see the unit insignia on the side of the 43rd bombardment wing as well. This picture was taken at the Yokota air base in Japan during the Friendship Festival of 1989. However, if you were in Pearl Harbor about 40 years earlier there was no friendship to speak of. The B-52s sent the Japanese running for cover for good reason. The Stratofortress was a long-range, jet-powered subsonic strategic bomber built by Boeing. Introduced in 1955, it has since undergone several revisions, but one thing never has… its nickname. Those most familiar with the B–52 know her as the BUFF, or Big Ugly Fat F*%#er. Don’t laugh, though, she still gets the job done and she is always under revision, even to this day. In addition to her impressive payload delivery, scientists are currently working to outfit her with defensive laser weapons to incinerate any offensive attack. That’s BUFF for sure.

26. Raz’n Hell


We think we could raise just as much hell with her as she could on her own, don’t you? That’s a piece of nose art you could admire for a while. Raz’n even has her own peeping Tom (notice Kilroy in the upper left). And while you might be thinking this is the same plane we just previously mentioned, you would be wrong. This is an improvement over the original B-29. In fact, it’s the fourth rendition if you consider the two prototype and testing models. The A class B-29 included a few refinements like defensive modifications and better wing design. Also, since there was such a demonstrated weakness concerning head to head fighter attacks, rather then redesign the nose, more muscle was added. Instead of two machine guns, she was graced with two more. Four blazing beasts met the face of any would-be attacker head-on. The wings were strengthened by three section build instead of two. It made for easier construction and stronger frame integrity. Incidentally, bombers shipped overseas to be used by the Royal Air Force were given the service designation Washington BM K-1. B-29 Bombers were ultimately phased out when Strato jet bombers, known as the B–47, came into the picture, but they raised plenty of hell in their day.

25. Tico Belle


This is one of the most famous ever designed. No, we’re not talking about the nose art. She is eye candy for sure, but not legendary. The Douglas C–47 Skytrain however, is. Wiith over 70 years of service since its first flight on December 17, 1935, she still remains in service throughout the world. She was known as the “Gooneybird” during wartime and could transport either 10,000 pounds of military cargo, or 27 passengers. The lend lease program found right around 2,000 Gooneybird’s delivered to the UK by the end of the war, whereupon 600 additional planes were purchased and an additional 650 were leased. These planes have been bought, sold and traded over the years to about a third of the air forces across the world. It is estimated that there are 400 C–47’s in service across 49 countries. Maybe it was the nose art that persuaded the purchase? She could certainly loosen our wallets.

24. Executive Sweet


Don’t you wish she was your Executive assistant? Productivity might be an issue, but hey, measured risk, right? Productivity is not an issue for the B – 25J. During wartime, if you saw one of these screaming through the skies productivity was soon to follow, mostly in the name of carnage. Named after Billy Mitchell, the general who always advocated for greater air power in the military, the maiden flight of the B–25J was August 19, 1940. It had a top speed of 355 mph, but still underwent a few rounds before she was perfected. The J series was reconfigured so it would resemble the most famous H model. Notable differences include the plexiglas nose replaced with a solid piece, four package guns mounted below the cockpit on the side of the fuselage, and no belly turret. In addition, the turret on top was moved towards the front of the plane a bit more. The rear was punched out a bit with the addition of two .50 caliber machine guns mounted at the wings on the fuselage of the plane. Add to that two more twin .50 caliber machine guns in the tail turret and you have a beast to contend with. Like we said, productivity is not an issue with the B 25–J.

23. The Pink Lady


The Pink Lady here is quite expensive. Knowing the price will help you fully appreciate her. In 1940, building one B–17 Bomber cost just over $200,000. That’s more like $3 million today. When you consider a production run of 12,731 planes (that’s a lot of Pink Ladies), you get a total cost of about $38 billion. Originally, she was designed to replace the smaller Martin B–10. Those planes were getting old and the military needed an upgrade. They got one with the B–17 F model. In that variation, you essentially had a super armed gunship designed to protect other bombers during fights. This was before the days of escort fighters, so to protect other planes in the sky new B-17 variants had thirteen .50 caliber machine guns. In total, she dropped 640,000 tons of bombs on Nazi Germany during World War II. We could go on about other feats, but we think you get the picture. The B–17 bomber was the boss of the sky.

22. Nine-O-Nine


Remember how we were talking about a B–17 Bomber outfitted with 13 machine guns on our last post? Well, that was actually the B–17G, which you see pictured here. The 909 was nicknamed after the last three digits of her serial number. She was part of the 323rd bomb squadron, 91st bomb group and completed 140 combat missions during the course of World War II. This is widely regarded to be the eighth highest Air Force record… of those missions where no crew members were lost. Her very first raid was on February 25, 1944 over Augsburg Germany. Ultimately, 18 bombing raids would target Berlin. A total of 562,000 pounds of bombs were dropped spanning 1,129 hours. The BN–17G 909 was a busy warbird indeed. No wonder the old guy on the front of the nose is so happy. He lives to drop another one on the Nazis.

21. Old Crow Express


Of the B-52 Bombers, the G version was the one built most. From 1958 to 1961, thousands of planes with multiple variants were produced. The last of the series was retired in 1994. The biggest mobilization effort since WWII came in 1991 when the US entered Operation Desert Storm. The plane you see here was active in the Middle East. It was part of the temporary 1708th bomb wing located on the US air base in Saudi Arabia. They were scary planes, too. The reason? These bomber variants can carry up to 20 armed nuclear warheads each. That’s enough to wipe out more than a small country. You could probably wipe out an entire continent. Whether or not president George W. Bush could say the word “nuclear” is completely irrelevant. These bombers knew how to deliver the goods when called upon to do so. Now aircraft like the Old Crow Express are as much a part of nostalgia as they are history.

20. O’Riley’s Daughter


This plane was quite the war bird in 1938, literally. The Curtiss P–40 Warhawk was one of the most widely used fighting planes of World War II, yet is often overshadowed by more recognizable names like Thunderbolt, Lightning and Mustang. One reason you might not see it mentioned as much in history books is because it simply looked a lot better then it performed. Of course, skilled pilots could make the P–40 exceed any of its limitations and outmaneuver anything in the sky. They could also outfight you, too. The plane was sturdy and handled exceptionally well, unless you were caught in a tailspin. Pilots admit that, most of the time when you were flying one of these you always wish you had something a little better, and they usually did. That’s why there are so few famous fighters associated with the P–40. Yet, even though it was outclassed and outnumbered in the Japanese skies, the Warhawk still held its own. It was able to bolster confidence for one simple reason… it could out dive any other aircraft in the sky. This one was named after O’Riley’s Daughter, a drinking song made popular by the US Air Force.

19. Nightie Mission


Designed to be a night fighter, the Northrop P-61 Black Widow (name origin not necessary), was the first aircraft equipped with radar. The P–61 could hold a crew of 3 including the pilot, radar operator and a gunner. For protection she was equipped with a 20 mm Hispano M2 cannon mounted inside the lower part of the fuselage. After her successful test flight on May 26, 1942, she was rolling off the line by October of the next year. Her service wasn’t as long as other aircraft we have seen in our list. The last black widow retired from the US military in 1954. And while she was not produced with the same massive numbers as other planes during the time, she was effective at her job. So much so that she found her way into operations in the Pacific, China, Burma, India, European and Mediterranean Theaters during World War II. Of her variants, the P–61C was the most effective. It made up for some of the combat deficiencies seen with the A and B variants. You might be surprised to find that most of the work on the P-61C variant was subcontracted out to a very familiar American company… Goodyear.

18. Sugar’s Blues


This hot little number is actually named after a popular wartime dance tune. It’s an entendre of sorts because the Lancaster Bomber KB–864 was nicknamed “sugar,” taken from the last letter of the markings on the aircraft, NA-S. Sugar’s Blues actually flew with the 428 squadron Royal Canadian Air Force. And even though she is based on a popular “Varga” pinup girl featured in Esquire Magazine’s January, 1945 edition, the plane is an original wartime service unit. This heavy bomber actually has origins in Manchester’s twin engine medium bomber plane. It seems that the air ministry wanted an aircraft bomber they could use for worldwide use. the most notable quality of the Lancaster bomber was its design focus. It was intentionally designed to maximize strength per weight in terms of structure. This meant the plane could withstand a level of damage from hostile aircraft before it needed to land, unlike other planes during the war effort. You could easily spot one in the sky. All you had to do was look for the massive twin elliptical fins on the tail.

17. Texas Raiders


This gal is one of only 11 B-17 Flying Fortresses still flying high today. Manufactured by the Douglas Aircraft Corporation in Long Beach, California, the aircraft officially began its career in the military with the designation B-17G-95-DL44-83872. On July 12, 1945 it was delivered to the US Army air course where it was then transferred over to the United States Navy. The Navy made a few modifications, such as sealing up the Bombay doors, adding a few long-range fuel tanks and a search radar with rotating scanner. The plane you see featured here was purchased by the Commemorative Air Force out of Mercedes, Texas. They paid Litton Industries $50,000 for her. One coat of military paint and original nose art later she was designated “Texas Raiders.” Over time she has traded hands to other commemorative Air Force units and eventually was restored to her original combat configuration with the final addition of a ball and top turret.

16. Aluminum Overcast


Aluminum Overcast is a B-17 Bomber primarily used in Europe during World War II. Cheaper dissipated in various countless missions from air bases in England, associated with the eighth Air Force. Usually, the missionsor longer than eight hours. The targets were deep in enemy territory. This made the –17 bombers indispensable due to their long-range capability. Today, you can actually sail across the sky and one if you choose to. The EAA offers 24 minute long flights in Aluminum Overcast. Once airborne, you can actually walk around the bomber, explore different compartments and see what it would have been like to be on board during a mission. of course, you will need to pony up about $400 for the experience, but if flying one-of-a-kind military muscle vintage aircraft is your thing, Aluminum Overcast is the answer. It might be worth it too. Only 17 are still able to fly. The rest are just for display in air museu, across the US.

15. Liberty Belle


You can see this B-24 Liberator at the Douglas, Georgia Brooks Aviation Center. It’s currently being rebuilt to original spec. This is one of two bombers that used the Liberty Belle name. The other one is on permanent static display at the Grissom Air Museum. Preserved and restored by the Liberty Foundation from two damaged aircraft, you would never know it. You see, it was set to scrap until an offer for $2,700 came in from Pratt & Whitney. They in turn donated the Liberty Belle to the prestigious Connecticut Aeronautical Historic Association. While there, a tornado smacked her into another B-17 on site. She would be repaired with half of another plane to create the beauty you see here.

14. Photo Fanny


So you’ll have to travel to Chino, California to view this pin up gal. However, be forewarned. Photo Fanny is not only just another piece of eye candy. She is available for airshows, film and flybys. She is best known as the B-25 Bomber used by Jimmy Doolittle on his raid against Tokyo. You might remember us mentioning that in a previous post. This is the actual aircraft he piloted that would ultimately become the backbone of the medium bomber US Army Air Force campaigns during World War II. So just how popular were planes like Photo Fanny? How about more than 10,000 produced with 10 total variants at plants in Kansas City, Kansas and Inglewood, California. In addition to their use by the US Army Air Force, they were also quite popular with the Navy, Marine Corps and air forces across 17 foreign countries. The last bomber of this class retired from US Air Force inventory in January 1959.

13. Patches


Patches looks quite sultry and sleek sitting on the side of this KC–135 Stratotanker. Notice, she even has the fuel pump in hand which gives you a clue as to what the aircraft does. Suggestive, sexy and definitively World War II, it doesn’t get much better. Well, maybe it does. If you search for Little Patches, you get an entirely different piece of nose art. You’ll find a busty blonde with her legs sprawled across the side of a B-17. How ironic that it could’ve been Patches was used to fuel Little Patches. That is almost too hot to think about. At any rate, you will often notice several variants of these pinup girls on World War II aircraft. Patches is unique in that she cannot be duplicated. There are several different variants of Little Patches featuring the exact same position with a different outfit and hair color. Patches is as unique as the Stratotanker upon which she sits.

12. We’ll Take it From Here


The F-16 Falcon was widely used during Operation Enduring Freedom. The nose art you see featured here depicts a firefighter handing over the flag to a US soldier. It’s a nod to the World Trade Center attack and a commemorative of sorts that proves we will never forget. The captain of this aircraft was Brett “Zipper” Robinson. This F-16 was assigned to the 398th expeditionary fighter squadron. This photograph has become famous due to its obvious meaning. The aircraft itself was used in Qatar from November 2001 to January 2002. Obviously since then, we have made great headway in the fight against terror. We owe our lives to men and women like these who operate some of the finest aircraft and weaponry the world has ever seen. The F-16 in particular is known as the Viper due to its shape and similarity to a snake. More than 4500 of them have been produced since the lightweight fighter program was launched. The F-16 is the less-expensive answer to the F-15s bloated production problems. It was also better, too, with improvements over the F-15. For instance, the side mounted control stick gave the pilots more control as it let them rest their arms during high G maneuvers. So when they say we will take it from here, they mean it.

11. Sentimental Journey


What would a nose art list be without the number one pinup girl of World War II. Sentimental Journey features Betty Grable and takes its name from a popular song sung by Doris Day in the mid-1940s. This plane had a story life. She served as everything from air sea rescue craft to a mothership (an airplane which could fly behind drone aircraft and take over their direction, making sure they landed in their target area). After being transferred in 1978 to the CAF for assignment to the Arizona Wing, a contest was held for her name. That’s where she got the title and the pinup girl added to her nose. She flies and performs airshows across North America and is perhaps one of the best examples of what a B–17 would look like during war. Having Betty Grable as nose art is a huge bonus.

10. Take Off Time


Sure this probably refers to an aircraft take off, but seeing her would make any man take off as well. This is another piece of nose art plastered on the side of the B-25 Mitchell Bomber. Right at 9,890 bombers were built during World War II. Over 100 of those have survived around the world, many of them located right here in the United States. After the war, many of the bombers were sent to long-term storage. Some even found renewed birth as training, reconnaissance or support aircraft. There are 27 B-25 bombers on static display across the country, including the one you see here. Aircraft nose art peaked during World War II. You can see why it was so popular. Plastering scantily clad women on the side of aircraft said as much about the men behind the yoke as it did about what they liked.

9. Diamond Lil


This brunette babe wrapped in a brown furry blanket poses almost as much naked honesty as the B-24 liberator on which she sits. The Liberators were known for their flat fuselage design and four engine propeller driven system with twin tail fins. One look at them would strike terror in the hearts of the enemy for one reason… they could deliver a massive payload. However, the dominant Liberator was known for a few other things. Most notably, she can be found in three or four different variations on other B-24 liberators. There even seems to be an updated version of her sporting a more modern 70s hairdo. Of course, aircraft nose art was a way for servicemen to pine for what they had or what they wish they had back home, and many of the girls look similar because they were based on popular pin up art at the time. Diamond Lil is no exception.

8. Versatile Lady


This beautiful lady in a Hawaiian dress can be found on the nose of a Douglas B-26 invader. The serial number for this particular plane is 44–35918. It was formerly known as an A–26C. Either way, the bomber meant business. The current plane can be found on Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. The image plays well with the colors of the plane, which would never play well with the enemy. World War II saw bomber production at an all-time high and as the spine of many operations in the China and Pacific theaters. Versatile Lady is a bit of an understatement. If you happen to make it past the machine guns throttling you from the nose, you always have to contend with the bombs which could drop at a moment’s notice. War was no fun. Nose art served as a distraction and a way to boost troop confidence and morale. Versatile Lady could do that.

7. Heavenly Body


Here’s another beautiful pinup girl gracing the side of a B-29 Super Fortress. Titled Heavenly Body, she straddles a bomb waiting to attack the enemy with explosive seduction. This is just one of the many examples of aluminum aircraft nose art. Often painted by military personnel who were skilled with a paintbrush, hundreds of different images of women in every position from chaste to sultry can be found on the nose of World War II aircraft. To the pilot and crew, it was a sign of ownership more or less. It tied them to the plane and made them more effective. You have to admit, seeing that image would boost just about any red blooded American soldier’s confidence. The B-29 Bomber did the rest. They are often credited for winning the war in the Pacific. Their ability to carry large bombs over long distances gave them a strategic advantage. The bombardment in Japan nearly brought it to collapse. Maybe it was due to the large investment made by the US government. The B-29 was the most expensive weapons project of World War II. It exceeded the cost of the Manhattan project by just under $2 billion.

6. The Patriot


This KC–135E Stratotanker was part of the Iowa National Guard and retired ultimately to Davis–Monthan Air Force Base in 2007. It was nicknamed the patriot and assigned to the 1/85 air reserve wing out of Sioux City. This is one of the more elaborate pieces of Noah’s Ark. Pictured are Mount Rushmore, Independence Hall in Philadelphia and the space shuttle launch from Kennedy Space Center. Also featured is the Iwo Jima raising of the flag from World War II and what looks to be the Vietnam Memorial from Washington DC. The serial number of this particular plane is 57–1447, which indicates certain funds were allocated specifically for this aircraft construction in the year 1957. This KC–135 along with many others performed routine refueling of nuclear bombers during the Cold War and other conflicts in addition to their service during World War II.

5. Lady Orchid


The story goes on April 2, 1945 the Canadians built a new Lancaster MKX, serial KB–895. This was air tested by Captain Ron Jenkins and his crew. Afterward, Jenkins was informed this would become his personal aircraft and they decided she needed a name and some aircraft nose art. The first rendition was “Wee Lady Orchid” after each of the plane’s code letters, WL–O. Later on they dropped the Wee and she became “Lady Orchid.” Patterned after the Lady Godiva pinup, with maple leaves covering her breasts instead of other fruits and fronds, she holds two six shooters in her hands as a nod to Captain Jenkins connection to Calgary. Her first operation was April 8, 1945. Lady Orchid struck hard, attacking submarine pens at Hamburg, Germany. After the war, hundreds of Lancaster bombers found their way into Canadian storage. Lady Orchid was one of those. She was eventually released to war assets for disposal. Captain Jenkins decided to purchase her from the division. He shipped parts of the equipment from crew stations inside the cabin to his former crew members as souvenirs.

4. Tiger Freedom Fighter


This tiger aircraft nose art can be found on the Northrop F–5A Freedom Fighter as part of the Royal Norwegian Air Force. They were established originally as a separate arm of the Armed Forces of Norway on November 10, 1944. Currently, they have just over 1,400 members for peacetime operations. The plane you see featured here is known as a Freedom Fighter jet. It is a direct result of the U.S. Navy’s call for small lightweight fighter jets to operate from the decks of their escort carriers. The tiger II, featured here has a max speed of Mach 1.6, or 1060 mph. That’s fast. It has a 51,800 foot ceiling and a climb rate of 34,400 ft./m. Equipped with 220 mm cannons, the Tiger Freedom Fighter can also carry two sidewinders on its wing tips in addition to five hard points. You don’t want to tangle with this cat.

3. In the Mood


If you were quick, you could spot In The Mood, pictured here, at the 2011 Colorado sport international airshow. Every year, this event takes place at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport. Our pinup girl with sexy lingerie in a provocative/suggestive position is Grace and the side of yet again another B–25J Mitchell bomber. It’s no wonder we’ve seen a lot of pinup girls on the sides of bombers. As the foundation to the success of World War II, seeing the planes survive is one thing. Getting up close and personal with their nose art is another. You can almost hear the roar of the propellers and the chopped radio chatter as crew members snap back-and-forth. Hundreds of Mitchell bombers stretched their wings over multiple theaters of war during the Allied effort to defeat the Germans. Ultimately, we would succeed. The nose art and legacy left behind by talented servicemen would remind us that vibrancy and life can be found in the most difficult of places. In the Mood is one of those reminders.

2. Apache Princess


The Apache princess featured here has quite a story. This B-25 bomber had her first delivery on May 17, 1944. The first assignment? Well, that would be Pounds Field, Texas. Subsequently she moved to Pyote, Texas in September 1947 where she was later assigned to Stewart Air Base (New York during 1952). A few modifications by Hayes occurred a couple years later and by 1957 she found herself in storage. However, on September 10, 1958 Blue Mountain Air Service out of LeGrande, Oregon purchased her. From there, she was bought and sold a few more times, ultimately landing in Borrego Springs, California where extensive restoration took place. Sold one more time in 1983, she now resides at the Fantasy of Flight Museum in Florida with Apache princess nose art firmly fixed on the fuselage. This bomber probably saw more time moving around on the ground postwar than she ever did in the sky.

1. Memphis Belle


This little hot piece of aircraft nose art was the nickname given to the Boeing B–17 Flying Fortress used during World War II. She inspired two motion pictures. One was a 1994 documentary film while the other a 1990 Hollywood feature aptly named Memphis Belle. She was one of the first B-17 heavy bombers to successfully complete 25 combat missions with crew in tact. After her service, the crew and aircraft returned to the US to sell war bonds. Currently, she can be found at the National Museum of the United States Air Force located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. After a complete restoration, the plan is to put her on display May 17, 2018. Out of the 25 missions she completed, eight German aircraft were downed by her crew. It seems like the Memphis Belle had a few tricks up her skirt that caught the Germans by surprise.

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