Composite of current and past nose art

Nose art isn’t just for humans

By Staff Sgt. Jarrod Chavana
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

Since the conception of war planes, Airmen have figured out ways to personalize these aircraft and make them their own. During World War I, the artwork focused on squadron pride. During World War II and beyond, these paintings became more intricate and personal. I would call some of them masterpieces because they reflect the creativity and craftsmanship of the pilots and aircrew who flew these aircraft. During World War II, some Airmen and artists would make additional money and boost morale by incorporating these murals onto the noses or bodies of aircraft.

I thought I would go through some of the Air Force’s archives and find some great examples and share them with you. I will say, some of the nose art from World War II and later could make our mothers blush.


Nose art called "Lets make a deal"
“Lets Make a Deal” nose art from a Boeing B-52G that flew in Operation Desert Storm is on display in the Cold War Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Released)

B-29 nose art named Command Decision
Boeing B-29 “Command Decision” nose art. (U.S. Air Force photo/Released)


Nose art called "Sic'em
“Sic’Em”. B-29. (Photo by J. Stuart Edmondson/Released)


Col. Joe Davis stands next to his aircraft called "Four Queens"
Col. Joe Davis and his F-84 “Four Queens.” (U.S. Air Force photo/Released)


Captain paints nose art on aircraft
Fighter aircraft often carried decorative “nose art” in Korea. Pictured here is Capt. Karl Dittmer Jr., an F-86 pilot with three MiG kills, at work. Dittmer painted nose art on many of the 335th Fighter Interceptor Squadron’s Sabres at Kimpo. (U.S. Air Force photo/Released)


Flying tributes: KC-135 nose art modern masterpieces
After the nose art ban was lifted sometime around 1998, and within two weeks of joining the 171st Air Refueling Wing, Colonel Hess began the search for an artist to brighten up the unit’s fleet of KC-135s. ( U. S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Galindo/Released)

Sometimes a lucky few can have their favorite sport team sign their nose art, which is the case in this photo.

Penguins sign stratotanker
Members of the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team autograph one of the 171st Air Refueling Wing’s KC-135 stratotankers which displays nose art honoring the team November 2. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ann Young/Released)


For more photos, visit the National Museum of the Air Force. If you have some awesome nose artwork, which is family friendly, feel free to share it with us.