Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Liberty Belle

Liberty Belle

I recounted a bit about Boeing's B-17 a week or so ago, but felt it was worthwhile to show you another, clearer photo of the Liberty Belle's nose art. The practice of personalizing aircraft began during before World War One, particularly with German and Italian pilots. During the war German pilots were renowned for painting all manner of garish designs on their mounts, with scant regard to camouflage-after all, the Red Baron was a real pilot, and his personal planes were all pure scarlet. Other popular motifs were mouths painted around the propeller spinners, as well as the American tradition of squadron logos on the sides of planes.

But, nose art truly came into it's own during the second World War. Often considered the Golden Age of this particular art, both Axis and Allied pilots indulged, particularly American bomber crews. In fact, when one thinks of nose art one almost automatically imagines a big B-24 or something, with a cartoon character or Vargas girl splashed on the side. Good artists were in high demand within Air Corps squadrons, and were well paid by the crews for their services. Popular themes were cartoon characters, tributes to famous people, and the aforementioned Vargas-style pinups.

The Liberty Belle is a good example of the latter. Sadly, she's no more, having crashed soon after takeoff on June 13, 2011.

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