From displaying defiance and humor; immortalizing the names of loved ones and hometowns; proudly showing off flight records and mottos; or displaying some very risqué pinup artwork, the nose art that emerged on bombers during World War II became an art form unto itself. Ensuring that names such as Flak-Bait, Enola Gay, and Bockscar remain legendary in U.S. Air Force lore. 

  • Part of the 320th Squadron of the “Jolly Rogers” 90th Bombardment Group, the crew of this B-24 arrived in Papua New Guinea only four months prior before being shot down in March of 1944. (The MacArthur Memorial)
  • The nose art on this B-17, a member of the 349 Bomber Squadron, 100th Bomber Group, humorously captures certain bodily reactions when flying over Nazi-Occupied Europe. (American Air Museum)
  • "Old Man Moe", a C-47 of the 455th Service Squadron giving off slight Herbert the Pervert vibes. (The MacArthur Memorial)
  • Sgt. J.S. Wilson, paints a design on a B-24 bomber based at Eniwetok, 1944. (National Archives)
  • The crew from the 497th Bomb Group, 869th Bomb Squadron, pose in front of their B-29, "Waddy's Wagon." These men were the fifth B-29 to take off on the initial Tokyo mission from Saipan, and first to land after bombing the target. (National Archives)
  • This B-17, named after a popular song at the time, was assigned to the 91st Bomb Group––"The Ragged Irregulars." It flew 24 combat missions in WWII, receiving flak damage seven times. It was later found in France in 1968, returning to the U.S. in 1988 after undergoing a major restoration. (U.S. Air Force)
  • The famous B-29 "Bockscar" nose art was added after the Nagasaki atomic bombing mission. (U.S. Air Force)
  • Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr., pilot of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, waves from his cockpit prior to takeoff on August 6, 1945. (National Archives)
  • Crewmen of the 43rd Bomb Group 64th Squadron admiring their B-24's nose art. (The MacArthur Memorial)
  • An American airman waves from the cockpit of a B-17 emblazoned with a picture of U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, circa 1943. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
  • And then sometimes, like in the case of this B-24, the nose art it is just utterly confusing. (Franklin D. Roosevelt Library)