Aviation Nose Art

The practice of putting personalized decorations on fighting airplanes originated with Italian and German pilots. The first recorded piece of nose art was a sea monster painted on the nose of an Italian flying boat in 1913. This was followed by the popular tradition of painting mouths underneath the propeller spinner, initiated by the German pilots in World War I. After these beginnings, though, most nose art was conceived and produced by the airplane ground crews, not the pilots.

While the nose art in World War I were mainly embellished or extravagant squad insignia, true nose art started to occur in World War II, which is considered the golden age of by many observers nose art, with both Axis and Allied pilots taking part. During the height of the war, nose-artists were in very high demand in the United States Air Force and were paid quite well for their services while Air Force officials tolerated the nose art in an effort to boost the morale of the crew. This lack of restraint combined with the stresses of war, and high probability of death resulted in an excess of nose art that has yet to be repeated.

Due to changes in military policies and changing attitudes toward representation of women, the amount of nose art has been in steady decline since the Korean War.

World War II  Page 1  Page 2  Page 3  Page 4  Page 5

Modern  Page 1  Page 2  Page 3


Nose Art 5.1 MB ZIP File
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