It’s fun to see the nose art from World War II airplanes showing up on posters and greeting cards. These designs often featured pin-up girls to brighten the day of the airmen who risked their lives flying over enemy territory in fighters, bombers and cargo planes.
WWII Nose Art Poster – Wild CargoMemphis Belle Graphic Art Wall PosterB-25 Briefing Time Poster
You can travel to museums to see some of the vintage planes on display. There are also books showcasing the campy art that decorated the nose of the WWII planes. Now you can have the colorful graphics on the wall in your man cave or another room in your house.
These might have been rather risque in the 1940s as they often featured curvaceous pin-up girls in skimpy swimsuits. The slogan with the artwork sometimes related to the airman’s hometown (example: Memphis Belle) or involved a word play like “Briefing Time” or “Wild Cargo” referring to military jargon.
Museums – You can see the actual nose art on airplanes at museums around the country. Here’s a listing of museums that feature WWII aircraft.
- Pima Air and Space Museum – This Arizona museum has over 300 aircraft and spacecraft.
- Castle Air Museum – Atwater, California – Castle Air Museum’s OFFICIAL website
- Fantasy of Flight, World’s Greatest Aircraft Collection – Fantasy of Flight features the world’s greatest aircraft collection. You can see a fighter plane, airplane restoration, and learn about aircraft history. This museum is southwest of Orlando, Florida.
- Western Museum of Flight Located in Torrance, California Yankee Air Museum – Honoring aviation history and it’s participants through a living, flying museum. Palm Springs Air Museum California
I first became intrigued by airplane nose art when I saw an old photo of my uncle, Ralph Martin, that was taken back in World War II. He was standing jauntily by his plane somewhere in China. The year was 1944.
Painted on the nose of the plane was the figure of a Kansas Jayhawk (a mythical bird). Since then, I’ve seen many pictures of planes with nose art like this. Some are fancier than others, and I think much of it was done by amateur artists either local or in the military.
There is so much of this nose art on military airplanes that there are even books about it, and you can sort it into categories. The nose art that I’ve featured here is the pin-up girl art. If you research it, you’ll find humorous nose art,
This is my uncle, Ralph Martin, with the Jayhawk nose art on his plane.
Cards Featuring WWII Nose Art – For fans of World War II nose art, you can find postcards and greeting cards showcasing the vintage art. As you can see, the art is designed to cheer the spirits of young men stationed far from home. I’m sure they had a lot of fun coming up with slogans and graphics to personalize their aircraft.
WWII Bomber Pinup Nose Art: Wichita Witch PostcardWWII Bomber Pinup Nose Art: Libra PostcardWWII Bomber Pinup Nose Art: Bomb Babe PostcardWWII Bomber Pinup Nose Art: Liberty Belle PostcardWWII Bomber Pinup Nose Art: Heavenly Body PostcardWWII Bomber Pinup Nose Art: Laden Maid Postcard
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