What Made Nose Art a Popular Phenomenon in World War II?

Nose art is a Popular Phenomenon that has evolved from wars and battles dating back to the first World War.  Red Barron

World War I Red Baron

The reasons behind its popularity may truly be found when one has an insight into the psyche of their pilots and crew. It represented value to wartime service living under conditions of severe stress, tension, and uncertainty. It provided them with a sense of self-pride; resolute and strong psyche. The lives of the crews who took care of the machine along with the pilots felt responsible for the performance of the aircraft and viewed them as they would view another human being.

Another fact that mattered was that the lives of the pilots and crews were dependent on their assigned aircraft. It served as a great booster for the morale which was often in dismay due to the dehumanizing situations that the theater of war brings with it. It was in such situations, that decorations and names signifying ferocity or protection rose to stardom in their hearts. It was a symbol of self-expression. It signified individuality that made its way through the onerous uniformity and anonymity that life in the military entails. This fact becomes more prevalent during times of war.

B-17 Flying Fortress Memphis Belle

Gary Velasco Painting  Aircraft Nose Art on the B-17 used in the movie Memphis Belle!

Another aspect that made nose art so appealing was it’s partly illicit and forbidden nature. It went against orders and regulations. Though often and widely condoned unofficially, pilots and crews alike found in them an escape from the strict discipline of military life. The sexual portrayal of women especially found its expression through the unclothed female figure that was very popular among the crew but for reasons obvious frowned upon by the commanders. This is most likely due to the troop demographics that primarily consisted of unmarried young males.

B-24 Liberator Surprise Attack Nose Art

B-24 Liberator Surprise Attack

The inspiration behind such art in no way was restricted to female nudes. They owed their origins to, Hollywood, patriotic concepts, legendary heroes, hometowns, popular music, comics, sports, symbols of good luck and superstition. They even included symbols of mothers and unexpectedly the Grim Reaper. But what mattered most is that it signified the indomitable human urge to find expression among the severest of conditions that existed during war and combat.

Nose art is a thriving cult that has its share of ardent supporters. Now you too can be a part of the select few who own nose art panel reproductions with help of Aircraft Aluminum Art.