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The Unparalleled Style of American WWII Nose Art

Vintage Aircraft Nose Art is a unique form of original American art developed during the tense days of air combat during World War II and it was continued later during the Korean War and some can be found in the Vietnam era.

The origin of nose art or its precursors goes back to ancient time. It is driven by the desire to personalize a weapon or any object to make it unique among thousands of others. Decorating it in a distinguishable way makes it unique.

Much of the artwork on war machines was inspired by the magazines and calendars of the time. Disney characters play an important role, as well as the comic strip heroes which were popular in the early 40s. But the most influential artist was Alberto Vargas.

Vargas produced most of the airbrushed artwork for Esquire magazine’s pin up page.

Vargas produced most of the airbrushed artwork for Esquire magazine’s pin up page. In the Air Force, some units were lucky enough to have talented artists among them and produced excellent pieces of art on their airplanes’ noses. Others did not have the expertise nor access to the raw materials. Nose Art comes in all grades of quality but it is always original and an expression of its time.

This is an example of Nose Art on a historic airplane which is still being maintained and operated by the Commemorative Air Force:

The Commemorative Air Force is an organization which acquires, restores and preserves in flying condition a collection of combat aircraft which were flown by the military services of the United States. Many of their aircraft carry their original nose art. If you want to know more about American military aviation history:

For more examples of WWII nose art, view this video:

If we got you interested in a unique American form of art, “an art borne of fun and of fear”, please google “Nose Art”. Or try to get a copy of the book “Vintage Aircraft Nose Art” by Gary M. Valant with more than a thousand authentic photos.