North American B-25 Mitchell
During World War II, the personalization of an aircraft by giving it a name, painting an image on it, and in many cases doing both began in the early months of the war, increased in frequency as the war progressed, and reached its peak in 1945. In the case of bombers, a bomb tally was often added as well and this provided a powerful visual record of the success and longevity of the aircraft. In some cases, additional information such as whether an operation was a day raid or a night raid and the type of weapons carried were also noted. The destruction of enemy fighters was sometimes indicated and often other details such as awards received by aircrew while flying the aircraft.
If a bomber crew was assigned a particular aircraft, they were sometimes able to choose the name and artwork and this enabled a powerful bond to develop between the men and the machine. Often, but not always, the name and the artwork were directly related to the letter designation for the particular aircraft within the squadron.
The vast majority of World War II aircrew were in their very early twenties and many even flew wartime operations while in their teens. So it is not surprising that the majority of the nose art reflects their interest in "pin-up" girls of the day and other images related to their interest in the opposite sex. However cartoon characters were popular subjects as well, many of them created by Walt Disney.
Nose art still exists today, with not only air forces but civilian operators, as many of the pilots who flew these Invaders as either air tankers or executive transports actually flew them in combat.
This B-25J "Mama" from the 321st Bombardment Group stationed at Solenzara, Corsica.
This is B-25J 9D #43-27638 "Briefing Time" of the 340th Bombardment Group, 489th Bombardment Squadron at Alesani, Corsica. I'm not sure why the name "Briefing Time" has been rubbed out on the side of the plane but there is a reference in the 489th Bomb Squadron Book about the crew chief, Joe Moore changing the plane's name from "Briefing Time" to "Quitting Time" after the war. Perhaps this picture represents the beginning stages of such a makeover. I discovered that another 340th Bombardment Group B-25J named "Shirley Ann" has the identical nose art as "Briefing Time" but it is a mirror image suggesting that these nose arts were projected onto the sides of the planes and then traced. See the photo below taken by my father, Quentin Kaiser, of "Shirley Ann" B-25J 7Z of the 487th Bomb Squadron.
Amazingly, I came across this example of nose art from the University of Arizona Library Military Nose Art Collection which is just like "Briefing Time" and "Shirley Ann" as seen above. Also, Japanese artist Tetsuro Matsuo has meticulously painted this same noseart on Hasegawa's 1/72 scale Avro Lancaster B.Mk. III model. This seems to have been a very popular one.
This is B-25J 9C #43-27653 "Ruthie" from the 340th Bombardment Group, 489th Bombardment Squadron maintained by crew chief Ezra Baer at Alesani, Corsica.
This is B-25J "Ave Maria" from the 321st Bombardment Group, 447th Bombardment Squadron stationed at Solenzara, Corsica. Here's another photo of 'Ave Maria.' And here's another photo of Ave Maria with a crew.
This is B-25J "Meet Mrs. Runyon" from the 321st Bombardment Group, 447th Bombardment Squadron.
This is B-25J "Form I-A" from the 310th Bombardment Group, 379th Bombardment Squadron stationed at Ghisonaccia, Corsica.
This is B-25J 6A "Sahara Sue II" #43-4019 from the 340th Bombardment Group, 486th Bombardment Squadron stationed at Alesani, Corsica.
This is B-25J "The Kewanee Kid III" from the 310th Bombardment Group, 381st Bombardment Squadron stationed at Ghisonaccia, Corsica.
This is B-25J "Big Noise" of the 310th Bombardment Group, 428th Bombardment Squadron stationed at Ghisonaccia, Corsica.
This is B-25J "San-Antoneo Rose" of the 321st Bombardment Group stationed at Solenzara, Corsica.
This is B-25J "Angel of Mercy" of the 310th Bombardment Group, 428th Bombardment Squadron stationed at Ghisonaccia, Corsica. See the "Angel of Mercy" crash-landing.
The following information about this 488th Bombardment Squadron aircraft comes from Steve Pace: "The B-25J-25-NC (44-30142, 8Y) with four girls on its nose flew its last mission on April 22, 1945. It was the last 8Y, it was sold to Brazil after the war."
Crew Chief Durley Bratton drawing the four girls (as seen in the above picture) on Corsica.
I think it's remarkable that the above three planes, presumably photographed on the same roll of film, have the same name, "O'Riley's Daughter", but are obviously different.
This is one of the unique Bill Mauldin cartoon character nosearts of the 487th Bombardment Squadron, 340th Bombardment Group stationed at Alesani, Corsica.
The 100th mission is marked here with a single black bomb.
The above two favorites are quite similar and could possibly have been drawn using the same original stencil or projection.
Ezra Baer is listed as crew chief on the side of this plane. I suspect this plane was short-lived and probably destroyed in the German air raid of May 13, 1944 since Ezra Baer's main plane in 1944-45 was another 9C named Ruthie which flew 108 missions. Prior to Wabbit Twacks M/Sgt. Ezra L. Baer had another 9C, Ellen E. & Son which to my knowledge is the only surviving B-25 (a D model) from the 489th Bombardment Squadron. It is currently being restored at the Yankee Air Museum in Michigan. The small emblem to the right of Wabbit Twacks indicates a German fighter (Me109) was shot down by this plane.
My father flew 2 missions in this plane.
My dad, Quentin Kaiser, flew 15 missions in Stella, his main plane.
My dad flew 4 missions in Bubbies.
This picture of "Black Jack" was sent to me by Steven Parris whose father, Rudy Parris was a radio-gunner in the 489th. A better view of the nose art for "Black Jack" can also be seen in the 489th Bomb Squadron Book. My father flew his first mission in "Black Jack" on May 18, 1944 to bomb a railroad bridge at Viareggio, Italy.
Tom Sullivan, treasurer for the 57th Bomb Wing Organization, was the crew chief of this plane. My dad flew 3 missions in That's All- Brother.
My dad flew 1 mission in this plane.
My dad flew his very first mission on May 16, 1944 in a 9Q but I'm not sure if it was this plane.
My father flew 3 missions in this plane.
Two missions were flown in this plane by my dad.
This is one Quentin Kaiser's photos of "C-Ration" in which he flew 2 missions.
Three missions were flown in this plane by my dad.
Quentin Kaiser flew 2 missions in this plane.
My dad flew 5 missions in this plane.
Pilot Arnold P. Kimble's aircraft "Sweet Sue." 321st Bombardment Group, 446th Bombardment Squadron.
This is a great statement about the March, 1944 eruption of Mount Vesuvius that destroyed 88 planes from the 340th Bombardment Group.
Here's another photo of B-25J Sky Demon from the 487th Bombardment Squadron, 340th Bombardment Group. The guy with the clipboard is pilot David Feltus from Memphis, TN. His grandaughter, Pamela Feltus, sent me this great picture. David Feltus co-piloted the B-17 Memphis Belle when it returned to Memphis for the last time, crewed by a group of Memphis veterans.
This is another one of the unique 487th Bombardment Squadron B-25s with a Bill Mauldin cartoon character used for nose art.