Saturday, May 12, 2012

12 May 2012 In the days of nose art

(CNN) -- As German Gen. Erwin Rommel chased British forces across the North African desert, a stray Royal Air Force fighter crashed in the blistering sands of the Egyptian Sahara on June 28, 1942. The pilot was never heard from again. The damaged Kittyhawk P-40 -- a couple of hundred miles from civilization -- was presumed lost forever.”
            “Until now!”

Cassi Creek:    There is a slide show attached to this article.  It is well worth the time required to view it and will tell you a great deal about the skill and abilities of the pilot.  Landing a warplane in desert sands without destroying the aircraft is no mean feat.  Yet, the article indicates he became confused and failed to follow his flight plan, which caused him to run out of fuel.  The big, three-bladed propeller demonstrates the forces involved in the final landing. 
            The Curtis P-40 KittyHawk was a signature airplane of WWII.  It was already becoming eclipsed by newer and more powerful airframes but saw service in all the theaters of WWII.  A moderately lengthy article about the history of the plane can be found at
These planes, if embellished beyond unit and service markings, often had shark jaw painted on the nose.  I’m curious as to how this one was painted.
            Nose art was very common on allied aircraft during WWII.  The paintings made aircraft more easily identifiable in combat, and were morale boosters in a war where most people served for the duration of the war.  The names of planes and the images used often were selected by the individual aircrew commander/pilot.  From the nose art, you might learn all manner of things about the pilot and crew. 

Notice the pin-up quality image, the crew’s names and rank, and each bombing mission they flew denoted by a yellow bomb painted on the aircraft. 

            Nose art endured through the Korean War but was far less common in VietNam.  Changing aspects of how war was carried out, layers of secrecy to prevent aircraft being identified for propaganda purposes and to prevent the North Vietnamese learning when air strikes were to take place, and the beginnings of political correctness applied to warfare were all factors in the demise of the traditions of nose art.

            I wonder what images this latest flier carried on his plane, if any. 

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