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Nose Art

It has long been a tradition for sailors to name their ships after their sweethearts. When men first took to the skies, many a girlfriend's name adorned the aircraft, giving the pilot courage to face the fearsome physics of flight. And when men go to war, they have always carried a photo of their wife or girlfriend... or emblazoned on the fuselage--and the bigger the aircraft, the more salacious the art became. In any case, as most of these planes flew from bases on the front lines, there were no women in the vicinity to be offended. And remember: the crews averaged 21 years of age.


For those who find such displays provocative, here's what an editorial in the Army Air Force weekly magazine brief said about nose art: "We'd like to point out that there's nothing so likely to have a permanent effect on an innocent young gunner's morale as a Jap anti-aircraft shell. And any weapon, whether it is a flak suit for his torso or a nude for his morale, should be made available to him."


Here's a sampling of the nose art on the Liberators of the 494th Bomb Group.