Nose Art Collection

It is easy for us to be entangled with the statistics of war and we forget how young this group of men was when they went off to save the world. It is even easier to read statistics describing the loss of life without really comprehending what that means. The crewmen flying the B-17s faced their mortality daily, a reality that would challenge even the most hardened of adults.

Nose art helped inject some levity into the daily grind of warfare. Inside jokes, intimidating images, sexy inspirations, or pop culture references painted on the noses of the plane gave the crewmen a sense of identity and connection with each other as well as a creative outlet that helped them to get through, one mission at a time. For us, it is not only a peek at the life they lived but a reminder of the incredible strength of a generation.


Exhibit Highlights

Nose art runs the gamut from cartoon characters to pin-ups to symbols of luck or intimidation. The art was reflective of the crew’s identity.

FORBIDDEN! For as popular as nose art is now, it was forbidden during World War II. The 8th Army Air Force, of which the 390th Bombardment Group was a member, opted to overlook the rule breaking when it came to nose art as it helped to alleviate some of the strains of war.

A MORALE BOOSTER Nose art was a morale booster for the men, facilitating crew bonding around a single identity.

INSPIRATION Names and images were chosen with care, inspired by life back home or at war and, as to be expected of such young men, pin-up girls in little to no attire!
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