Searching for the “Secret” Third Petty Model 1945-49

Petty Girl

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Searching for the “Secret” Third Petty Model 1945-49

Click on the link above for the PDF file.

The American pin-up girl evolved as a concept from many different sources, posters, post cards, calendars, cigarette cards and mostly magazines. They were all tied to themes, stories, and commercial products, using female anatomy and sex in advertising and selling its social content. The Golden age of the American pin-up era has been defined by art dealer and American illustration pin-up collector Charles G. Martignette as the years 1920 to 1970. This American process of shedding and painting the female anatomy was very gradual, beginning with the Gibson Girl whose body showed High Class Fashion, Integrity, refinement, and Love. From 1925 to 1933, the American emergence of naked breasts and female buttocks in paintings began the slow process of undressing the All-American pin-up girl. Today we can read and study online the pin-up magazines of the past American Golden Age and just the American titles alone record the promotion of the sex life in Paris, France. The American male seemed to regard French women as much more sexually exotic and more sophisticated than their own American gals. Some of this attraction came from American troops in WWI who had experienced the night-life in Paris, and the affection shown by French ladies. American publications were now given French names such as French Frills, French Follies, Les Dames, Paris by Night, Paris Life, Paris Nights, and Gay Parisienne. These magazines contained many drawings of nude ladies in sub-title headings, replacing the Gibson girl era which ended in 1910.

Text version with all images


Screenshot 2021-04-12 15.51.27

Searching for the “Secret” Third Petty Model 1945-49

Screenshot 2021-04-13 06.41.07

The American pin-up girl evolved as a concept from many different sources, posters, post cards, calendars, cigarette cards and mostly magazines. They were all tied to themes, stories, and commercial products, using female anatomy and sex in advertising and selling its social content. The Golden age of the American pin-up era has been defined by art dealer and American illustration pin-up collector Charles G. Martignette as the years 1920 to 1970. This American process of shedding and painting the female anatomy was very gradual, beginning with the Gibson Girl whose body showed High Class Fashion, Integrity, refinement, and Love. From 1925 to 1933, the American emergence of naked breasts and female buttocks in paintings began the slow process of undressing the All-American pin-up girl. Today we can read and study online the pin-up magazines of the past American Golden Age and just the American titles alone record the promotion of the sex life in Paris, France. The American male seemed to regard French women as much more sexually exotic and more sophisticated than their own American gals. Some of this attraction came from American troops in WWI who had experienced the night-life in Paris, and the affection shown by French ladies. American publications were now given French names such as French Frills, French Follies, Les Dames, Paris by Night, Paris Life, Paris Nights, and Gay Parisienne. These magazines contained many drawings of nude ladies in sub-title headings, replacing the Gibson girl era which ended in 1910.


In 1910, French nude postcards sold 123 million pictures, ten years later, American publishers made more money on French style pin-ups than French publishers did in France.

Screenshot 2021-04-13 06.44.18

American published French Follies 1931 [Free domain]

1920-1933 America is taking the lead in publishing girlie magazines with France the closest competitor. Hundreds of unknown American artists [illustrators] painted the girls and used themes as nudism, sports up-skirt, physical fitness, the wind, and party games to expose stockings, girdles, black hose, legs, panties and full frontal nudity. [free domain]

Screenshot 2021-04-13 06.44.48

Thousands of American illustrators took an assignment, put his or her work on paper, were paid, and then forgotten, their name was even omitted in the published magazine and many were lost forever. [free domain]

Another unknown American artist 1933. The artist illustrator and his girl art became the single most exploited guise for painting female full nudes provided the vulva was never showing. [free domain]


Sometimes an unknown artist submitted art work and his name was published like this December 1933 issue of Follies [Vol. 10, #1] magazine. The signature reads – ALBERT VARGAS 1927, who went on to become world famous girl illustration fame in Esquire, True, and Playboy magazines. The King of aircraft nose art paintings in three wars, WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam. [free domain]

Until the invention of the camera in early 1900s, world artists illustrated still life, portraits, and yes even full nudes, preserving the earliest form of human life. Like it or not, the most popular subject for artists were the topless or fully nude female form. The introduction of the camera and photographs were slowly taking over from the artist in illustrating nudes by 1910, but this did not create much concern. In reality, the photos of their nude models became the new normal and freed the artist from hours of posing and live model painting in his studio. When you study the portrait style of famous girl illustrators such as Earl Moran, or Gil Elvgren, [who photographed his own girls] you will find most used models and sets, combined with 8” x 10” photos which captured the natural face expressions they sought in their work. This created a huge new industry for the photographers of pin-up images, both for magazines and the artist illustrator. The female nude photo was now appearing more and more in pin-up magazines.

The photographer was paid to produce images for the art illustrator and retained his copyright, reselling his photos to publishers. Original 1926 “Spice of Life” magazine photo. A few pin-up photo models went on to become favorite girl illustrator models, appearing in color cover art on hundreds of magazines. [free domain]


The American pin-up illustrator artist model was created. Follies magazine Fall 1924, featuring Marion Orr who became a true nude model for artists. [free domain]


The cover of Spicy magazine for September 1933. The American color pin-up girl had appeared on magazine covers since 1920, then in December 1939, the first pin-up two-page gatefold Petty Girl began appearing inside Esquire magazine.

Today, [2021] the free-world recognizes everyone, male, female, and gay couples, deal with erotic fantasies everyday. Erotic fantasies are derived mostly by the social experiences in

childhood, religion, family, and many other thoughts and feelings experienced during our lifetime. Today we are exposed to more erotic fantasies and sexual seduction from the internet, Facebook, and Wi-Fi, than any other past generation could ever imagine. In fact, it has gone way beyond control for all age groups, and makes billions of dollars world-wide.

I have used American drawings and photos from 1923-1933, to demonstrate the average thoughts and feelings of the main-stream American public in that time period. Just as there were millions of degrees of sexual fantasy and escape, there were just as many public responses to the developing pin-up images in American magazines. The most common American problem, [which was hidden but fully understood] became the simple fact male masturbation used the pin-up girl as their fantasy stimulation. This upset millions of below average looking females who could never come close to the male fantasy pin-up girls. The original American Gibson Girl image had universal appeal to rich and poor, young and old, educated and uneducated, male and female, but she was distinctly “high class.” The Gibson Girl was not based on a real person, she was born on the sketch pad of Charles Dana Gibson and became an American way of female life. The Gibson era ended in 1910, and there was no new American girl to replace her until after World War One came to an end. The new 1920 pin-up girl was at once attacked by feminist groups who saw pretty girls being used as sex objects and part of a men’s dirty barroom domain, and it worked. Sociological studies revealed a greater sex-associated male guilt feeling among the American male lower class than the middle or higher social class males. They also found in studies that this guilt feeling easily dissipates when a group of male’s [Military or University] share a wall covered with pin-ups, much like the nude nose art that later appeared on aircraft in WWII. This study also found the quality of the pin-up girl usually reflects the social taste of the reader, which might explain what took place next in the United States. The first sexy almost nude airbrushed Petty Girl cartoon appeared in the Autumn issue of Esquire magazine in 1933. This slowly set a new trend in establishing the new American pin-up girl as an “upper-class” good taste sophisticated lady, to all classes of Americans. [Just like the Gibson Girl] The pin-ups by George Petty and later [1942] by Alberto Vargas offered high-class painted nudes to a generation of Americans and Canadians alike, and it was OK to look at them or even pin [pin-ups] on their family bedroom wall.

Reid Stewart Austin fell in love with the art work of Alberta Vargas in his teens, and later as photo director of Playboy magazine, brought Alberto Vargas and Hugh Hefner together. Reid left Playboy to become the personal art director of Mr. Vargas for seventeen years. In 1978, Reid published “Vargas” the story of Arequipa, Peru, born Alberta Vargas. The book “Petty” followed in 1997, and it received top reviews. Both books describe and display the Petty and Vargas girls that changed the attitude of pin-up girls in North America forever.

Both books also contain a chapter which details the airbrush technique used by each artist. Vargas used a large number of live posed models during his long career, while the Petty Girl was a close guarded family project. In the 1997 book PETTY, [In George Petty’s Studio: A Memoir] daughter Marjorie explains the full role she played in posing and creating the new

Petty Girls. At no time did Marjorie mentioned the use of any model photographs of herself or any other models in creating the Petty Girl. That all changed on 10 February 1998, when a letter was received by Charles G. Martignette in Florida.

Charles Martignette was an art dealer and collector of American illustrator artists. His gallery in Hallandale Beach, Florida, housed the world’s largest collection of commercial illustrated art, including original paintings by George Petty and Vargas.


This letter from photographer Robert B. Kohl opened up a new can of worms in regards to the George Petty Girls creation and paintings from 1945 to 56. [Peter Perrault collection]

George Hukar [1895-1975] Internet.

George Hukar was an illustrator and photographer from California. He attended the Taliesin Fellowship Studio in Spring Green, Wisconsin, [Google and read, most interesting] and became a gifted commercial photographer of nude women. George worked for a number of major photo studios in New York and Chicago, but he had a serious drinking problem and moved around a lot. He created a number of commercial illustrations for jewellery, Nutone, Ovaltine, and Simoniz car wax. In 1936 – 37 he completed six fully nude ads for Simoniz car wax which were published in the photo news magazine LIFE. In 1945, George was elected a delegate to the General Assembly of the Photographic Society of America, Chicago Chapter and that’s where he met fellow photographer Robert B. Kohl from Chicago. In 1946, these two photographers formed a studio in the American Furniture Mart Building on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago, name Photo-color Studios, Inc. This is the location where secret nude photos of an unknown Petty Girl model were taken in late 1946 and possibly until 1949. It’s believed Hukar took earlier nude photos at another location for artist George Petty, but never confirmed. Robert Kohl stated this in his 10 February 1998 letter, page one, last paragraph.

George Hukar May and June 1937 Simoniz nude ads in Life magazine. [author LIFE collection] 


This same George Hukar unknown nude model also appeared in many pin-up pulp magazines 1930s. [author magazine collection]


Popular Photography magazine September 1949, photographer Robert B. Kohl and his first model [Helen Horne] who became Mrs. L. Kohl.



Robert Kohl did women’s fashions, hair styles, and commercial nudes using eighteen-year-old model Mitzi Proulx from Minneapolis.

The Robert B. Kohl 1998 letter to collector Martignette in regards to a secret long-time model used by George Petty for posed photos taken by George Hukar.     

This photo is one of 45 purchased by Charles Martignette in 1998 and intended for publication by Reid Stewart Austin and Peter Perrault. With the death of Reid Austin [2006] and collector Martignette [2008] the photos were never published and now Peter Perrault [owner] has allowed the author to use a few in this Blog story. The date is likely 1946, George Hukar is on the left holding the unknown model shoe, and the lady on the right is the one and only “Petty Girl” Marjorie Petty. These secret posed photos will be used by George Petty in his TRUE magazine paintings and calendar for 1945 and 1948. The model name is still unknown, outside of the Petty Estate.

Copy of 10 February 1998 letter from Robert and Helen Kohl

Charles G. Martignette

P. O. Box 293

Hallandale, Florida 33009

Dear Sir:

I have some photographs that may be of interest to you and to collectors of George Petty memorabilia.

As the popular story goes, Petty used his daughter Marjorie [age five] then her mother, and Marjorie again [1929] when she reached her ‘teens. Popular, and often so-published, but not accurate.

I have in my possession 45 black-and-white 5×7’s and 8×10’s of the real nude model, and a number of tear sheets from ESQUIRE and TRUE magazines, showing the relationship of the artist/copy photos and finished/published artwork.

The story is this: George Hukar, a gifted commercial photographer had worked for major studios in New York and Chicago, and he had a drinking problem, later resolved by joining Al-Anon. [Al-Anon alcohol-rehab formed in 1951] He formed a partnership with me in Chicago in 1946 as Photo-color Studios, Inc. In general, I did women’s fashion, furs, and hair-style, and some very discreet nudes for commercial advertising. George did the commercial illustration, jewellery, NuTone, Simoniz, Ovaltine, etc.

Our first studio was in the American Furniture Mart building on Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. Later, we moved to a new studio in the Cossard Building at Rush and Ohio in Chicago. The partnership was dissolved in 1949, George moved to the role of instructor at the Art Center in California and my wife and I moved to Bemidji, Minnesota, for the next 32 years where we owned and operated a large resort.

During the studio years I had occasion to visit with Petty and on at least one occasion with his daughter Marjorie, while shooting his long-time model. I assisted in the making of some of the photographs. One of the shots shows partner Hukar holding the elevated foot of the model, with Marjorie holding the typical contorted hand of the model favored by Petty.

Actually, Hukar had photographed the same model for years for Petty. Petty would call George and the model, who originally lived in Chicago, and arrived for studio time at off-hours to avoid any uninvited interruption or publicity. It became more difficult for Petty to make arrangements when the model moved to Indianapolis.

I also believe that the model became less enchanted with the anonymous glamor of being a Petty model, with the train trips to Chicago, and the minimum fee and expense paid by Petty. Further, the model married in Indianapolis and may have run into some marital objections.

On a number of occasions, we made test shots of other nude models but none had the anatomical features of his favorite model.

A sitting would usually last for up to four hours with dozens of slight variations of one or two primary poses directed by Petty. We would make 8 x 10 proofs from each sitting and these would be numbered and sent to Petty’s north Chicago home.

Within a few days Petty would telephone and request several poses by number to be enlarged to exactly so many inches from top of model’s head to tip of toe: 18 5/8 inches, for example.

Two facts should be noted: First, to the best of my knowledge, Marjorie Petty never posed for any artist copy pix by George Hukar [or me], nor had her mother ever been photographed by Hukar for that purpose.

Second, Petty did not paint from life, and this was his most jealously guarded secret. Petty airbrushed apparently did his artwork on a trace [transparent] overlay, also working with gouache [body water color] and some brush.

A comparison of artists copy photos in my possession with the finished artwork for an Ice Capades poster reveals an exactness of detail of muscular structure, highlights and shadows, pose and props. The only embellishment was facial—the finished art work was not the face of the model, and the costume which was usually transparent and followed the model’s anatomical detail exactly.

Reid Austin was overwhelmed by the collection but they were too late for publication in his 1997 PETTY book. I was pleased to receive an autographed copy of the beautiful book from Reid.

In telephone conversations with Reid he recalled seeing some photo paste-ups on Petty’s work table, using legs, from one shot, torso from another, and so on, but he did not make any connection at the time with the nude model source.

Signed – Sincerely, Robert B. Kohl.

A small selection of the secret Petty model 5” x 7” test photos showing different hand poses, two wearing shoes, taken in studio by Robert B. Kohl and George Hukar 1946-49. Petty picked out what he wanted and scale measured enlarged body part photos were ordered by number. [Peter Perrault collection]

[Peter Perrault collection] George Petty created his 1947 True Girls like a mad surgeon using different posed body part photos of his secret model.

This rare Petty photograph was owned by Ted Kimer, St. Petersburg, Florida, in 1990. Ted painted a series of pin-up girls called “Teddy’s Girls” which can be found and purchased online. Peter Perrault captured this Petty image that was hanging in the art studio of Ted Kimer, which had little meaning at that date. The body of this Petty girl came from his secret model photos, and now George Petty is replacing her face with the face of Marjorie Petty. These images have been photographed to correct size as directed by Petty, in the studio of Robert B. Kohl and George Huker. They are then sent to the north Chicago home of George Petty where they are arranged as his next Petty girl painting. As stated in the Robert Kohl letter [10 February 1998] Petty did not paint the 1945-47 TRUE girls with Marjorie posing live, as the general public were led to believe. He painted from hundreds of photos posed by his “secret” unknown model, and these were arranged in different forms of arms, legs, and shoes. The Marjorie face was then cut out and placed on the body of the unknown model, and a new Petty Girl was painted, appearing in True December 1948. I believe the left face was in fact the unknown model first painting. For obvious reasons, this was a jealously guarded secret between artist and photographer, until exposed in the letter from Robert Kohl, along with his 45 original nude images. I’m positive the Petty Estate continue to hide the name of this secret model who was in fact the “true” body of perhaps all thirty-five TRUE Petty girls, plus the 1955-56 Esquire calendars.

This TRUE magazine December 1945 gatefold enlarged face became the finished Petty girl with her new Marjorie face and secret model body. [author collection]

This TRUE magazine gatefold also appeared in the December 1948 Petty TRUE calendar, and tens of thousands of Petty match covers.


Petty Girl match covers, first five printed by Mercury Match Co. in 1946, the same time George Petty was creating his TRUE magazine series of thirty-five girls. This is possibly where Petty began to mix body part photos and resell as different Petty girls. [author collection]

In 1938, Superior Match Company was founded by Harold Meitus, headquarters on Greenwood, Avenue, Chicago, Illinois. They introduced the now famous Elvgren Girls first five match cover set in the same year, followed by fourteen other sets, totalling seventy-five girls. Several other match companies [Monarch, National Press, Mercury, and Regal] soon jumped on the money wagon and began producing pin-up girl covers. In 1945, Mercury Match Co. secured a contract with George Petty and his first set of five girls appeared as match covers, seen above. These five girls were all originally painted for Esquire magazine and appeared in 1939-41 issues, but Petty retained his copyright, and two girls [Gold Ball Curves and Yes, I’m Home] were then altered from his original art. This was done using the same unknown model and photos taken at the Kohl-Hukar studio in Chicago. Many glamour girl artists appeared on match covers, including Alberto Vargas, however it was the Petty girl which caused eyeballs to roll when lighting up a cigarette. Once again the well formed body and tiny waist sent a message to the healthy male hormones, and the Petty Girl became the high-point of match cover pin-ups. These same Petty Girls soon appeared on all other company match covers with the most appearing on Superior Match Company covers beginning in 1948, with nine sets of five girls per set. These Petty match covers were printed in the tens of thousands, mixed in sets, and continued to appear until 1956, when real women, showing real female flesh, began appearing on match covers. Today match covers are still being collected by a new generation.


[author collection]


George Petty took his original March 1941 Esquire girl and gave her a new hair style with flower, adding a key-hole background and the match cover “Yes, I’m Home’ first sold for Mercury match covers.

This is the original [under protective cover] George Petty altered hair style with flower which became the image used in tens of thousands of match covers 1946 to 56. This is property of the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, copied by Peter Perrault. Somehow this original Petty [match cover] art ended up in the Esquire collection which was donated to the Spencer Museum. This demonstraes the talent of Petty to change a painting, reselling time and time again, using scale photo images as a model.


This origianl June 1941 Petty Esquire girl became a Superior match cover titled “Golf Ball Curves” appearing from 1948 to 1956. She first appeared on Mercury match cover in 1946.

This original match cover art also survives in the Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, donated as part of the Esquire collection. Petty cut off the original arm, repainted a new arm with golf club and this was printed on tens of thousands of match covers. Some of his original masking tape remains on the painting, and the golf club remains unpainted over the left shoe. I believe this new arm came from photos of his secret nude model. [Peter Perrault image]

[Internet free domain]

These Petty girls were used by all companies as sales promotion which were printed ‘Made in U.S.A.’ Today these match cover sales books are collector’s items, and somehow the two original altered paintings survive in the Spencer Museum of Art. It is still a mystery how these two original girls were found in the Esquire archives, when George Petty closely guarded all his original paintings. The above page is from a National Press Match Company sales book dated 1950, the Petty girls are still selling. By 1960 the match cover paintings had been replaced by real photos of real models, and by 1970, the golden age of the American girl illustrator had come to an end. The gatefold nude models appearing in Playboy magazine had taken over the world by 1955, and Hugh M. Hefner became the father of photo posed Nudes and American Pin-up Bunnies.


Without the complete set of secret posed photos, [hundreds photographed] it is impossible to match every single TRUE magazine or calendar Petty girl to an image. At the same time, the few nude photo posed images which survive preserved a very clear record of how George Petty was using his posed nude images to create the TRUE magazine Petty girls of 1945-47. This Petty girl painted bust can be clearly seen in the posed photos of unknown model.

His new Petty girls created from secret model photos for TRUE magazine were also sold to the major match cover companies again and again. Everyone believed they were Marjorie Petty, but it was possibly only her Petty face, and that can now be questioned. [Peter Perrault collection]

The TRUE February 1947 Petty Girl, body from unknown model and face of Marjorie. [author collection]


Unknown model in 1945-46 posing for February 1947 TRUE girl. Photo by George Hukar, one of hundreds taken. [Free domain Internet]


Not the same photo, check shadow on left shoe, and space between leg and chair top, meaning many images of the same pose were taken. [Free domain internet]


[Free domain internet] Photo George Hukar 1946.

Final pose with face of Marjorie Petty, body from unknown nude model?

Columbia Pictures movie “The Petty Girl” premiered in New York on 17 August 1950, and Joan Caulfield posted live for the movie poster, no photographs used. [Author collection]

[Peter Perrault collection]

Picture magazine, 1 October 1950, featuring a story on artist George Petty [56 years] with his first model, wife Jule [right] and daughter Marjorie, now his favorite model. “George Petty joined his public in believing that the voluptuous, long-legged girls he draws – are like nothing human.” He did, that is, until he saw [and measured] actress Joan Caulfield, who plays the lead in the Columbia film, “The Petty Girl.” Then he had to eat his words, because Joan fulfills to a remarkable degree the ‘biologically improbable” Petty Girl measurements. [5’ 5”, weight 110 pounds, burst 35 ½, hips 35 ½, with honey-blonde hair] Joan did a number of Petty Girl photos but of course never nude.

Unknown to his public, George Petty had his own favorite model with all the anatomical features he wanted, and Marjorie had not posed nude for her father in at least the past six years. Robert B. Kohl wrote – “On a number of occasions, we made test shots of other nude models but none had the anatomical features of his favorite model.” I believe this third “unknown” model had measurements very close to those of Joan Caulfield, which Petty liked and used for his paintings. The complete set of nude photos would make for interesting research.

The three-year TRUE series begins in January 1945 and ends with the December 1947 issue. A total of thirty-five girls are painted and I believe all were created from the nude photos of the unknown model. Marjorie Petty acts as the supervisor in the taking of nude photos by Robert B. Kohl and Georeg Hukar in their Chicago studio. It is possible some used the model face.


Marjorie Petty, the real Petty Girl not only knows what is taking place, plus the name of the secret model, she even appears in a few images, believed to be taken in 1946, at first Chicago studio, Lake Shore Drive. It would appear Marjorie no longer wanted to pose nude for her father, as she was dating her future husband, who I’m sure objected to this family nudity relationship. Marjorie marries in 1948, and moves to southern California, her modeling days are over. The studio partnership of Robert Kohl and George Hukar is dissolved in late 1949, and they move to different parts of the U.S. George Petty retains his huge collection of nude photos from his unknown model and continues painting from these images.

The largest reproduction of a Petty Girl appeared in TRUE magazine December 1946. The caption read – “Don’t Tell Me That’s a Hobby Too.” Today I know my copy is not the body of Marjorie Petty, and even her face is now suspect. [author collection]

In 1952, the first of two calendars are issued by the Ridge Tool Company, a second follows in 1953. These girl images were painted with enlarged images of industrial machines and tools, exposing a strange mix of oversize clothing, large heads, and face expressions never seen before in the artist’s work. In 1954, two consecutive Petty calendars are issued by Esquire magazine, and these will be reproduced in 1955 and 1956 calendars. Hundreds of these images can be found for sale on the internet and the author believes they were all created using the collection of nude photos from the unknown model.

Three Petty Girl gatefolds will also appear in the April, August, and November 1955 issues of Esquire magazine.

Esquire April 1955 gatefold.

The author obtained his first 1955 Petty Girl in 1988, [above] and at once realized these girls were a different style than his earlier work. This remained a mystery until 2021 when Peter Perrault sent me the Robert B. Kohl letter from 10 February 1998, and some of his unknown nude model photos. I believe these paintings were all created from nude photos and even the new face was created by George Petty in his studio. George Petty retired in 1956 and his little “secret” nude model was forgotten.

Face created by George Petty from model photos.


Top Esquire August 1955, Mexican was November 1955. [Peter Perrault collection]

This secret history needs much more research to preserve the Petty past, and one large question remains – “Who was this forgotten American third nude Petty Girl?” I call her “George’s Prostitute” he used her body, paid her little, and never wanted her to be seen in public. Please, it’s time to give her a place in Petty Girl history.

Charles G. Martignette and Louis K. Meisel were partners and the real experts on the Petty history. It’s possible Louis Meisel knows the name of the unknown nude model and has more posed photos. Both are authors of many fine books on artists and photorealism, including the 2011 book titled “The Great American Pin-Up.”

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe Blog is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

“Lightning on Skates” – 1932-34

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Screenshot 2021-03-30 at 19.31.56


George Brown Petty IV [1894-1975] was known as the American girl illustrator who created a better-designed female than God, all posed by daughter Marjorie, as her dad puffed away on his pipe.

In his pre-teens, George spent summer holidays in his father’s retouching photographic studio in Chicago, where he perfected the airbrush paint spray like an artist brush. His favorite cover artist was Joseph C. Leyendecker who painted over 400 American magazine covers during the Golden age of United States Illustrated art. George admired the style of Leyendecker and studied his powerful interpretation of the strong built All-American male. Today we have little information on which artists influenced George the most during his formative years, but it is clear a large part of the Leyendecker male design rubbed off on young George Petty. Both artists attended the world famous Academies Julian Studio in Paris, France, and were instructed by Jean-Paul Laurens. [Joseph Christian Leyendecker 1896-97 and George Brown Petty IV 1914-16.] Both artists returned to the United States and both became the most famous illustrative painters of the male and female anatomy for all time.

Joseph Leyendecker was fascinated with male anatomy, asses, muscles, the All-American male masculinity, and with each painting he had to secretly hide and never expose to the American public the fact he was Gay. In doing such, he painted his younger Canadian lover, Charles Beach, as the Icon of American Military and Sports hero’s. He was talented, a genius, brave, and so un-American for this time frame.

Click on the link below to read the story in PDF form.

Lightning on Skates 1932-33 (PDF)

Text version only

“Lightning on Skates” – 1932-34

George Brown Petty IV [1894-1975] was known as the American girl illustrator who created a better-designed female than God, all posed by daughter Marjorie, as her dad puffed away on his pipe.

In his pre-teens, George spent summer holidays in his father’s retouching photographic studio in Chicago, where he perfected the airbrush paint spray like an artist brush. His favorite cover artist was Joseph C. Leyendecker who painted over 400 American magazine covers during the Golden age of United States Illustrated art. George admired the style of Leyendecker and studied his powerful interpretation of the strong built All-American male. Today we have little information on which artists influenced George the most during his formative years, but it is clear a large part of the Leyendecker male design rubbed off on young George Petty. Both artists attended the world famous Académie Julian Studio in Paris, France, and were instructed by Jean-Paul Laurens. [Joseph Christian Leyendecker 1896-97 and George Brown Petty IV 1914-16.] Both artists returned to the United States and both became the most famous illustrative painters of the male and female anatomy for all time.

Joseph Leyendecker was fascinated with male anatomy, asses, muscles, the All-American male masculinity, and with each painting he had to secretly hide and never expose to the American public the fact he was gay. In doing such, he painted his younger Canadian lover, Charles Beach, as the Icon of American Military and Sports heroes. He was talented, a genius, brave, and so un-American for this time frame.

1928, head study of “Canadian” Charles Beach by Joseph Leyendecker. [Free domain]


J. Leyendecker 1911 Hockey goalie. [Free domain] George Petty was seventeen when this art was published, which likely influenced the younger budding artist.

In 1914, George Petty IV began art training at the famous Paris Académie Julian Studio with principal instruction by founder Jean-Paul Laurens. Possibly influenced by the fact J. Leyendecker had attended the same school and received the same instruction in 1896-97. In late 1916, as America prepared for entry into WWI, American Ambassador Joseph P. Herrick ordered all American citizens in France to return at once to the United States. George began an apprenticeship in engraving and retouching photo department, then his father died from gall bladder blockage. George no longer wished to follow his father’s role in photo retouching, and wanted to become a commercial artist. He had watched his father struggle in the business, and became determined to protect his art interests, retaining his resale rights from the paintings he created. This was very “revolutionary” for the times as large photo and magazine publishers paid a price for each artists work and then retained the copyright, making millions of dollars reselling his or her original art. Early samples of George Petty advertising display artworks are extremely rare, however the influence of Leyendecker’s males can be clearly seen in a few.

This 1928 American School of Aviation Petty brochure shows the influence of Leyendecker males. [James Camperos, courtesy Peter Perrault collection]

In the 1930s, George willingly stated he preferred drawing the British style and American Leyenbecker strong bold male paintings. Without his art teaching in Paris, France, and his ability to draw a strong, appealing American male, it’s possible the Petty Girl would never have been created.

His biggest contract came in 1930, when he signed with Atlas Beer, painting both male and female, beer bottles, and street scenes. During Prohibition, [1920-1933] many American [legal] Breweries went bankrupt, or were taken over by organized crime, which made a fortune selling illegal booze. In 1919, U.S. Congress approved [the Volstead Act] where breweries could produce ‘near-beer’ with an alcohol content of 0.5 per cent. The Atlas Brewing Company, 2107 Blue Island Avenue, Chicago. Ill. brewed a Green Label Atlas Special Beer, 0.5 % alcohol content which could be delivered to your door for 15 cents per bottle. A case of twenty-four bottles sold for ten cents per bottle. The Chicago Sunday Tribune ran full page color ads with the first Petty [family] painting appearing 18 May 1930.

Daughter Marjorie posed for the women in the beer ads and the males took on the bold Leyenbecker style all-American look. Another influence came from motion pictures where George painted the makeup, clothing, and ladies’ hair styles used by Hollywood. He created a romantic family atmosphere around the subject of beer with a universal appeal for both men and women, plus a large hidden gay community in United States.

These Atlas Beer ads were appearing across the Midwest and Southern United States in store front posters, billboards, street car cards, and sports event magazines. That is possibly how George obtained a contract to paint three Chicago Stadium program covers for the 1932 season. Two of these covers featured his ability to paint a strong male figure for boxing events, the third was for a tough fast-action hockey player titled – “Lightning on Skates.”

“Lightning on Skates” Chicago Black Hawks Hockey cover 1 January 1933. Note the Leyenbecker style painted hockey player face by George Petty. This same male face appeared in the 18 May 1930 Atlas Beer poster ad. [author collection]

Chicago Black Hawks played their first NHL game on 17 November 1926, where their first logo [above] appeared in black and white. They were named after the 333rd Machine-gun Battalion, 85th [Blackhawk] Division, U.S. Army. Modern U.S. Army Helicopters are named after Native American Tribes, Apache, Kiowa, Comanche, Black Hawk, etc., and native leaders bestow tribal blessings during the official U.S. Army naming ceremony.

In 1932-33 the nine NHL teams were the New York Americans, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadians, Montreal Maroons, and Chicago Black Hawks. Each team played 48 games and the Stanley Cup playoffs were won by the New York Rangers. The Black Hawks won their first Stanley Cup the following year, the 1933-34 season. It is believed the Petty Hockey Player cover art was only printed for the 1932-33 and 1933-34 seasons, and it is unknown if it appeared on each cover program.  This program also contained many rare hockey advertisements, two painted by George Petty.

The Hawks won the Stanley Cup in 1933-34 with twelve Canadians, five Americans, one Russian, and one Canadian who was born in Scotland. Chuck Gardiner came to Canada at a young age and grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He first excelled in the C.F.L. [Football] and played in the 13th Grey Cup game in 1925. He came to the Chicago Black Hawks in 1927 and his records were many. In those past glory days’ players often took to the ice when they were sick, hurt, or had an infection. Tonsillar infection caused the death of Chuck who died from a brain hemorrhage on 13 June 1943, leaving a wife [Myrtle Brooks] and one son.

Page seven contained the black and white Atlas special brew painted by George Petty, and the U.S. Prohibition alcoholic content is ½ of 1% by volume, which lasted until December 1933. The same posed face of Marjorie Petty also appeared on page twenty for Red Hots. George was becoming a master of reusing the same face again and again.

Page twenty contained another George Petty ad for Singer’s Red Hots served at Chicago Stadium, and the face was the same used in the Atlas Beer advertisement on page seven. I wonder if daughter Marjorie Petty used ketchup on her Chicago Red Hots?

George at his studio in the family home at Roger’s Park, Illinois, in 1935. This original coal-storage area was called the “coal hole” and that is where the Chicago Black Hawks Hockey cover art was created in 1932. [original photo James Camperos, copy gifted to author from Peter Perrault collection]

George Petty begins a series of cartoons which were published in the first issue of Esquire magazine fall of 1933. In March 1935, the first Petty Girl cartoon without the old man appears in Esquire magazine. In July 1935, the first Petty girl pin-up with all white background appears in Esquire and the trademark white telephone appears in the September issue. The first two-page gatefold Petty Girl appears in the December 1939 issue of Esquire and the Petty Girl pin- up is truly born. It’s clear today, viewing these early Petty advertising paintings you realize the success of the Atlas Beer ads and the bold, strong, Leyenbecker male paintings reflected in the creation of the famous Petty Girl pin-up.

This history involves very little aviation nose art but it has a special meaning for the author. I attended my very first professional hockey game at the old Calgary Corral Hockey Stadium in 1955, I was eleven years old. The Calgary Stampeders were a western farm-club of the NHL Chicago Black Hawks, and a few of the players made it to the big league. I became a life-long Hawks fan and during my 1965-78 Toronto police days, attended many Chicago games at the old Maple Leaf Gardens. Last year, [July 2020] the City of Calgary demolished the original Corral Hockey Stadium for a more modern and money making Stampede Park, so now only memories remain. In 2021, I learned for the very first time George Petty painted a cover for the Chicago Black Hawks and my friend Peter Perrault even donated an original Hawks program to the author. I had to paint and tell the history of the Petty ‘Lightning on Skates’ hockey player.  

Maybe in the year 2032, the Chicago Blackhawks [modern spelling] will republish the Petty hockey program cover art that sold in old Chicago Stadium. That would be a very fitting honor for George Brown Petty IV.

American Artist George Petty and his French Connection

Research by Clarence Simonsen


My life-long interest has been painting and preserving aircraft markings whether they be official, functional, or merely a pilots’ self-expression which was titled “Nose Art” during WWII. The images of aircraft nose art were first learned from American Air Force comics in my pre-teen years, and followed by the pages of Playboy magazine in the early 1960s. The editor and publisher Mr. Hugh M. Hefner was world known for creating his men’s entertainment magazine, and his associate picture editor, Reid Austin, had no read meaning at all. I recall thinking what would an associate picture editor do every day, just look at hundreds of photos featuring beautiful nude women. To this average Canadian teenager, that seemed like the best working conditions in the world and you got paid for picking the best erotic looking photos for each monthly issue of Playboy magazine. During my four-year stint in the Canadian Army Military Police, six months of 1965-66 were spent with the United Nations on the Island of Cyprus. During off-duty hours, I painted large wall murals and life-size images of the girls from the centre-fold of Playboy magazine. In the following years as a Metro. Toronto Police constable my nose art research and collection grew in size, producing three historical books on this forgotten aircraft art form. My research came from many sources, and today I consider myself very fortunate in being able to meet, interview, and copy the nose art images from the surviving veterans World War Two photo albums. There was no internet, interviews were done with pen and pad, and each photo was copied with 35 mm camera and three-power lens, then hand developed in a rented dark room studio where you mixed your own chemicals. It took hours of learning at photo classes [partly taught in 1976 when I served in Metro. Toronto Police Identification Bureau] and in the end saved thousands of nose art photos are a low cost. Since my first publication of photos in Gary Valant’s Vintage Aircraft Nose Art book in December 1987, it was a learning experience in the harsh world totally controlled by giant book publishers. If you were rich and famous, they tossed you thousands of up front money, but if you were a nobody, you got six or eight per cent and the publisher made millions from your years of hard work. I soon learned that if you did long proper research and seek out the forgotten or government hidden history, you could still make good profit, if you sold forty-thousand books or more. [nose art did just that] I will always be indebted to the many readers and war veterans who enjoyed the fact I stuck my neck out and told the truth, even if a few times it stepped on the toes of our Canadian Department of National Defence, War Museum, or RCAF Association magazine editor in Ottawa. When they screwed up, I told them and backed it up with photos or documents, and bureaucrats then hate you for life. In 1982, I received a letter from Mr. Reid Stewart Austin, [Yes, the Playboy picture editor] he was conducting research on a new book titled “PETTY” and wanted aircraft nose art.

We became friends and I will always be very grateful for his assistance, phone chats, and sharing his pictures, plus amazing knowledge of George Petty and daughter Marjorie, the Petty Girl. On 27 July 1996, Reid Austin signed a book contract with Gramercy Books in New York, and the book PETTY was published in September 1997.

Below is the story in PDF form you can download…

American Artist George Petty and his French Connection

Text version without images to make this story available on search engines.

Author’s Preface

My life-long interest has been painting and preserving aircraft markings whether they be official, functional, or merely a pilots’ self-expression which was titled “Nose Art” during WWII. The images of aircraft nose art were first learned from American Air Force comics in my pre-teen years, and followed by the pages of Playboy magazine in the early 1960s. The editor and publisher Mr. Hugh M. Hefner was world known for creating his men’s entertainment magazine, and his associate picture editor, Reid Austin, had no read meaning at all. I recall thinking what would an associate picture editor do every day, just look at hundreds of photos featuring beautiful nude women. To this average Canadian teenager, that seemed like the best working conditions in the world and you got paid for picking the best erotic looking photos for each monthly issue of Playboy magazine. During my four-year stint in the Canadian Army Military Police, six months of 1965-66 were spent with the United Nations on the Island of Cyprus. During off-duty hours, I painted large wall murals and life-size images of the girls from the centre-fold of Playboy magazine. In the following years as a Metro. Toronto Police constable my nose art research and collection grew in size, producing three historical books on this forgotten aircraft art form. My research came from many sources, and today I consider myself very fortunate in being able to meet, interview, and copy the nose art images from the surviving veterans World War Two photo albums. There was no internet, interviews were done with pen and pad, and each photo was copied with 35 mm camera and three-power lens, then hand developed in a rented dark room studio where you mixed your own chemicals. It took hours of learning at photo classes [partly taught in 1976 when I served in Metro. Toronto Police Identification Bureau] and in the end saved thousands of nose art photos are a low cost. Since my first publication of photos in Gary Valant’s Vintage Aircraft Nose Art book in December 1987, it was a learning experience in the harsh world totally controlled by giant book publishers. If you were rich and famous, they tossed you thousands of up front money, but if you were a nobody, you got six or eight per cent and the publisher made millions from your years of hard work. I soon learned that if you did long proper research and seek out the forgotten or government hidden history, you could still make good profit, if you sold forty-thousand books or more. [nose art did just that] I will always be indebted to the many readers and war veterans who enjoyed the fact I stuck my neck out and told the truth, even if a few times it stepped on the toes of our Canadian Department of National Defence, War Museum, or RCAF Association magazine editor in Ottawa. When they screwed up, I told them and backed it up with photos or documents, and bureaucrats then hate you for life. In 1982, I received a letter from Mr. Reid Stewart Austin, [Yes, the Playboy picture editor] he was conducting research on a new book titled “PETTY” and wanted aircraft nose art.



We became friends and I will always be very grateful for his assistance, phone chats, and sharing his pictures, plus amazing knowledge of George Petty and daughter Marjorie, the Petty Girl. On 27 July 1996, Reid Austin signed a book contract with Gramercy Books in New York, and the book PETTY was published in September 1997.




The book reviews were tops and Reid was very happy, then he disclosed to me he had throat cancer. To pay his mounting medical bills Reid was forced to sell a few of his original American illustrator paintings to the vast girl art collection of Charles G. Martignette in Florida.  In 2000, Reid Austin made contact with Peter Perrault in Kentucky, and discovered another vast collection of rare unpublished George Petty advertisement posters and printed material. Samples of George Petty’s early work, particularly his European Paris paintings, and early advertising display art work are extremely hard to find today. Peter Perrault spent a life-time collecting and a fortune preserving the rare advertising art from the air brush hand of George Petty and a new book was now planned. Professional photo images of the Peter Perrault collection were taken and mailed to Reid Austin in Washington State, then in early September 2006, cancer claimed the life of Reid Stewart Austin. Two years later, art dealer and American illustrator collector Charles G. Martignette died in Hallandale, Florida. His private gallery housed the largest collection of commercial illustrated girl art in the world, and today it is slowly being separated and sold at auctions in the United States. Private collectors and art historians spend a life-time collecting and preserving, then they die, and their work is sold to the rich and famous, to hang lost in some five-million-dollar mansion. That’s the simple, and main reason I attempt to educate and preserve girl and nose art to the world using the Blog. Which is free. In 2020, Peter Perrault made email contact with the author and explained his life-long Petty art collection of advertising art material and his connection to Reid Stewart Austin before he died. The original copied photos [including original Petty art] from the Perrault commercial art collection have been lost or still remain somewhere with the Reid S. Austin estate. I am grateful for my fifty plus years of obsession with aircraft nose art, the best part being the wonderful average group of people I have made contact with and their willingness to share and preserve this lost girl art mostly preserved through the eye of an old camera. My special affection and appreciation must now go to my new American friend Peter Perrault, who allowed me to publish any selected Petty images from his vast collection, some being viewed on the Blog for the very first time. To Peter with all my gratitude, for also giving me hours of new found Petty pleasure and new history.

For – Reid Stewart Austin:  Been there, done it, preserved the Petty Girl.

In November 1997, a replica nose art Petty Girl image was painted on original RCAF WWII aircraft skin and gifted to Reid Stewart Austin. His Christmas card reply sparked the idea of featuring a Petty Nose Art book with a few of my replica paintings. The first two replica nose art were selected as a B-24 “The Vulgar Virgin” and a B-17 “Tondelayo” both remained in my basement almost twenty years. Any future Petty nose art book and the Peter Perrault advertising book ideas died with Reid S. Austin in 2006.



My Petty Girl replica WWII nose art panels were offered to Canadian Aviation Museum’s but declined. Today my four Petty replica nose art panels are property of the Peter Perrault collection, who understood the value of nose art history and wanted them preserved.

B-24-D replica serial 41-24198.


Originally painted for Reid Stewart Austin in 2004, size 31” by 31” on WWII B-25 aircraft skin. The B-25 WWII original U.S. Navy skins were obtained from Kermit Weeks in Miami, Florida, in the 1990s and used in the restoration of the Alberta Aviation Museum [Edmonton, Alberta] B-25D [Mitchell] RCAF bomber. The Green camouflage paint is original WWII U. S. production.



B-17-F replica serial 42-29896


Painting originally started for Reid Stewart Austin in 2005, size 31” by 31” on WWII B-25 aircraft skin. The skins were saved from the garbage by pilot friend Tony Jarvis and the author picked them up in Edmonton, Alberta, in 2004. The painting was replica 8th Air Force, England, B-17F of Hedy Lamarr [famous American actress, inventor, and film producer] but the pose came from the Esquire magazine Petty Girl Suit of 1940. This replica nose art was not completed until December 2020 for Peter Perrault collection.



WWII replica B-24 bomber, 8th A. F. England, Petty Girl nose art painted in 2020 for authors Blog nose art story. [Peter Perrault collection] Another B-25 skin saved from a garbage bin of the Alberta Aviation Museum, Edmonton in Alberta,. Their B-25J history can be read online, and the bomber contains excellent RCAF nose art history, a job well done.



Rare WWII RCAF Halifax B. Mk. V replica nose art painted on original B-25 skin for authors Blog nose art story. [Peter Perrault collection] Another original WWII B-25 skin panel from the Alberta Aviation Museum restoration, saved from garbage by Tony Jarvis.




Today [2021] the Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas, have 26 huge metal cases which contain the Esquire collection, 1,600 drawings and girl paintings. One-hundred and fifty are Vargas Girls and seven are original George Petty Girl Art. Above is the original June 1941 Petty Girl painting. [Peter Perrault collection]


Now – the early forgotten and rare George Petty advertising art history thanks to the amazing collection of Peter Perrault.

Clarence Simonsen

“Come with Me.”



American Artist George Petty and his French Connection

The Petty Girl became an American painted icon which captured the admiration of millions of males in United States and Canada from 1933 to 1956. Her creator, George Brown Petty IV, was born on 27 April 1894 in Abbeville, Louisiana, USA. The father, senior George Brown Petty III moved his new family to Chicago at the turn of the century, where he enjoyed success in the business of photographing and hand-tinting colour images of young children, ladies, and nudes.


An undated colour retouched nude image by George Brown Petty III. [courtesy Peter Perrault collection]



Young George junior grew up around the family photo retouching business and showed a natural talent in drawing, which prompted his father to enroll him in evening classes at Chicago’s Fine Art Institute. He also excelled in track and field events, and became the staff artist at McKinley High School monthly “The Voice” in 1911. George won High School peer approval through his excellent art drawings and his star quality inter-class Track Meets. He was always sketching in class and not the best academic student.


This George Petty sketch “The Runner” is possibly 1912, where he won the 100-yard, 220-yard, and half-mile dashes in an inter-city tournament. [Internet public domain]


In 1913, George won second in a world-wide poster competition and his father recognized his growing talent required further artistic training. In 1914, George Jr’s most favorite American cover artist was Joseph Christian Leyendecker, who created 322 cover paintings for The Saturday Evening Post magazine. Joseph Leyendecker was born in Montabour, Germany, 23 March 1874, and the family immigrated to Chicago in 1882. Joseph and brother Frank studied art in Paris at the Académie Julian studio in 1896-97 where they developed their artistic styles. Jean-Paul Laurens stressed hours of study on the male and female anatomy, and considered the knowledge of the human body especially important in drawing or painting of all action figures. The school trained both sexes in separate classes, while both received the same hours of studies drawing and painting fully nude models.

Photo – 1896 Académie Julian, J.C. Leyendecker, American student school painting of French male model, public domain.



The Saturday Evening Post, 4 July 1914, cover art by Joseph C. Leyendecker, author collection. He painted hundreds of American military images and Arrow Shirt ads showing the perfect All-American male, including full male nudity mainly posed by his model Charles Beach.



Public domain of Leyendecker front cover poster [Charles Beach] painting for Chevrolet Review, January 1922, featuring American nude male art.

Leyendecker painted over 400 magazine covers during the Golden Age of American illustration and defined the perfect image of the sleek nude All-American muscle-men. Norman Rockwell worshipped his fellow artist and even copied his style plus a few of his cover ideas, until after his death, when he learned Joseph and brother Frank were both Gay. These All-American men paintings were mostly modeled by Joseph’s twelve-year junior lover and lifelong companion, Charles Beach, a Gay muscle-bound Canadian. It is highly possible the decision to send George Petty IV to train under instruction of Jean-Paul Laurens in his Paris studio was largely influenced by the realistic cover art of J.C. Leyendecker, who created hundreds of perfect American male and female paintings until his death in 1951.



Joseph Leyendecker was an amazing artist, who also had the gall to paint his Canadian lover on the front cover of major American magazines and make him the icon of American masculinity, which he was also able to hide from the world. The Leyendecker brothers Paris Académie Julian training inspired the Golden Age of American illustration and influenced hundreds of future American and Canadian artists, including George Petty and his new pin-up girl which became another American female icon. [2021 – Petty original paintings sell for over $100,000 and the work of Joseph Leyendecker for over $400,000.]

After graduation from high school in 1914, George Petty IV traveled to Paris, France, rented an apartment, and studied art at the Académie Julian under principal instruction from Parisian Jean-Paul Laurens.


Free domain self-portrait painting of the master French artist Jean-Paul Laurens.




Free domain of Académie Julian Paris, France, date unknown.

Laurens was a painter of French historical scenes who established “Académie Julian” in 1868, a private art school in Paris, France. His paintings and complete history can be read on many websites. The school played host to painters and sculptors from over fifty countries and never required they follow any particular line of art studies; they were free to develop their own style; from which they were graded.



Man and women were trained separately, however, both participated in the very same studies, and equal hours of drawing and painting French nude models. Laurens stressed the study of anatomy, and considered it a most important asset in the artist’s new knowledge, especially when painting or drawing action figures from imagination. The students were each given a vote in picking their next nude model and learned in a progressive and liberal style of art teaching. These modern teachings attracted at least ninety-two Americans, of which nineteen were female, all benefitted from his free-style instruction which they took back to the United States. For over forty years, 1890-1930, American Cultural Art strongly reflected the teachings of the Académie Julian schools in Paris. Forty-five Canadians were also trained at this famous private art school, and their paintings are displayed across Canada today. Laurens became the most sought after French teacher for both Americans and Canadians and today his teachings are part of both countries North American cultural art painting styles forever.





This famous painting by American Jefferson David Chalfant, titled “Bouguereau’s Atelier” was painted at Académie Julian in 1891. A male and female nude model pose for the artists and American Chalfant included himself [bottom right corner] in his own painting. This image captures the roof lighting, air venting, and the stove which supplied the heat. This is a public domain image and the original art can be seen in the Fine Arts Museum at San Francisco, California. This is believed to be the very same studio where George Petty IV received his first teachings. When you check the list of American trained artists you will not find the name George Brown Petty IV, but sometimes you need photo proof to correct an over-sight.









This rare photo was the property of artist George Petty IV, taken in Paris studio class of Jean-Paul Laurens, 1914, when George was twenty years of age. When the image was snapped, the face of George Petty [far right] was cut in half, and George then sketched in the missing half of his face and body. After the death of George Petty 21 July 1975, this photo became the property of close family friend James Camperos and was later purchased for the collection of Peter Perrault. Used courtesy Peter Perrault, a rare gem in the missing Petty years in Paris, France. At one time or another twelve different Laurens art schools operated in Paris, and this photo location is believed to be the original studio where German/American Joseph Leyendecker studied and painted in 1896-97. I believe his full nude male painting in the lead-in history was posed at the exact same spot as the young nude lady is laying. I’m also positive the young artist Petty realized the connection and importance of this location and treasured his photo.

Pages 16 and 17 of the Reid Stewart Austin book “PETTY” detail the art learning skills obtained by George at the Laurens school in Paris, however, his original sketches and paintings from Paris are still missing. I’m sure a few survive in or around Paris today, but will they ever be located or displayed? Images of George Petty art from Paris 1914-16 would be most appreciated by the author or Peter Perrault.





In 1903, the United States of America became the cradle of the world’s first powered aircraft flight, however by 1909, France became the new baby’s nursery. This brilliant [public domain] cover painting by J.C. Leyendecker for The Saturday Evening Post shows a lot of hidden truth in regards to the American invention of powered flight, and their shaky development of the early airplane. Thanks in part to American pilot Wilbur Wright, France became the center of aviation on the eve of the Great War. The U.S. government showed very little interest in flying until 1909.



In 1909, the French aviation aircraft words” Aileron”, “Fuselage”, and “Nacelle” were admitted to the Oxford English Dictionary, and the following year the world’s first pilot flying instruction under military control took place outside Paris, France. Numerous other French aviation developments followed but only three are relevant to my story. In July 1912, the French Army recommended a three-ring red-white-and-blue “roundel” be painted on all aircraft for identification to ground troops, an aviation first. This was followed by the establishment of ten or more aircraft which were called “Escadrille” or Squadron. Each escadrille then received a number which remained constant, and a prefix which varied according to the aircraft they were flying. The French then created and painted an insignia for each escadrille and this was located mostly on the nacelle or fuselage of each aircraft. Birds were used 34 times, animals 12, Dragon 3, Star 3, letters 2, Knight 2, then a skeleton, Demon, fat girl, flower, and Dutch windmill. In 1916, the French introduced green and light brown “camouflage” to the fuselage and upper wings of aircraft and light blue or clear finish to the under surface. The French Air Force entered World War One with the best aircraft, best aircraft engines, best markings, and best organization in the world and most Allied countries would follow WWI French aircraft markings, which is a long detailed history. In short, the French took the American invention, improved the design, engine, named parts, organized squadrons, created insignia and introduced French art to airplane markings. The very beginning of future aircraft nose art paintings.


WWI French poster art.



French war poster art became a huge part of World War One.



George Petty IV spent over two years in wartime France, sketching, painting, and learning, yet, his art for this period is sadly missing. In July 1916, American Ambassador Joseph P. Herrick ordered all Americans in France to return home to the United States and George Petty’s art training came to an end. In the fall of 1916, father Petty III senior developed gall bladder blockage and with no known medical treatment, passed away. On 8 June 1917, American General Pershing landed in Liverpool, England, with his staff in route to France to organize the American Expeditionary Force. This produced a new poster blend of 1776 American revolution memories and hopes for the 1917 American participation in WWI.




In the United States a new war poster art Liberty Bond drive suddenly appeared.


This 1917 Liberty Drive poster by American artist Charles Nicolas Sarka [18 June 1879 – 27 May 1960] was more Knight’s Templar Catholic Military Order than WWI United States of America. [Author collection]


Charles Sarka spent most of his life in New York City where he created three Liberty Bond posters in 1917-18. This 1918 poster showed an American aviator as a Roman Warrior throwing bombs at German ground forces. [Author collection]



Cyrus Leroy Baldridge [27 May 1889 – 6 June 1977] became a war illustrator in France in 1915, was allowed behind German lines to record the battles. When America entered the war in 1917, he served as a painter for the Stars and Stripes and illustrated the common American doughboys expression after battle. Cyrus refused to paint American officers.


He painted fast with bold wide strokes and recorded many Belgium and American troops. In 1919, he enrolled in the Académie Julian Paris art studio and returned to U.S. in 1920. He shot himself in 1977, with his WWI issue pistol, after learning he had cancer.




James Montgomery Flagg [18 June 1877 – 27 May 1960] another American artist who took art instruction at Académie Julian in Paris 1898 to 1900. In 1917 he began painting American War poster art. [Author collection]


James Flagg painted the most famous American War Poster art [ever] in 1917, and he used his own mirror face reflection for that of Uncle Sam. [Internet free domain]


Orson Byron Lowell [1871 – 1956] studied at the Art Institute of Chicago 1893, moved to New York in 1905. Well known for his pen and ink humorous art and war poster art above in 1917. He was part of a close knit social group including Norman Rockwell and the Leyendecker brothers, however little else is recorded from this time frame. [Author collection]



Norman Percevel Rockwell [3 February 1894 – 8 November 1978] early 1918 war poster art. Rockwell admired and imitated the rich style of J.C. Leyendecker, and each enjoyed a warm friendship as neighbors in New Rochelle, New York. [Author collection]



The art of George Petty IV is missing from 1916 until 1918, and possibly some hidden treasures are still waiting to be found. George married Julia Donohue on 6 April 1918, which most likely explains his lack of painting, he was in love.


This 1919 painting of Gladys Engel Dobbrodt was done by George Petty as her wedding present. [Private collection courtesy Peter Perrault, unpublished]




In 1920, Van-Ess Laboratories, Chicago, produced a new liquid scalp dandruff message which sold in an amber colored glass bottle with rubber tipped nipples. The dandruff message was advertised for use by all ages and a number of half and full page ads were printed in black and white for magazines and newspapers. George Petty painted an early full color poster ad [1920-22] for the company, which contained his early signature in simple block lettering.

These black and white newspaper ads were very common until 1925.



This ad appeared in the Saturday Evening Post magazine for 1924.


Poster date unknown 1920-22 [Peter Perrault collection, unpublished]


The Marshall Field & Company imposing building was the second largest department building in the world, a Chicago, Illinois, tourist attraction and landmark. The company published six 32-40-page high quality catalogues each year, with no advertising, and the cover was always French Art Deco. [Internet 1922 cover image $225]




George Petty painted an Art Deco cover for January 1920 catalogue, [Petty book page 16] plus a June 1922 Art Deco cover for the Marshall Field & Company. [Reid Stewart Austin collection – Value $400]


In 1924, George received his first freelance work and painted two covers for “The Household Magazine” and Marjorie posed for her first painting, [Courtesy Peter Perrault] The other cover is found in the book “PETTY” page 13, by Reid Stewart Austin.



In 1925, George sold three pastel portraits of Art Deco French style Petty girls for Vesta calendars of 1926. [Three images – Courtesy Peter Perrault collection]





This American Petty Girl is so French looking you would think she was in Paris. The calendar girls didn’t pay that much and George turned to other illustrations where good money could be found. These three calendars were all signed George Petty, very rare.


In 1925-26 George secured a new contract with a very controversial female product, birth control. It’s possible he planned this painting knowing it would advertise his new nude lady to North America. For good or bad it worked.


This nude poster posed by Catholic raised wife Julie also appeared in American magazines and match covers. The Petty Girl was suddenly being noticed in U.S. and Canada. [Internet image value $3,000]



The long red stroke “Y” in Petty appeared in 1925 and this rare undated ad was likely 1926-27 for the Venus company featuring a new Art Deco French Silhouette Girdle. Found in pin-up collection of Pauline Harry, who Reid Austin called “Cissy.” [Peter Perrault collection]



In 1920, the French Flapper Silhouette became the new American design and the bone ribbed lady corset gave way to a new undergarment, the Latex Girdle. The new Venus Latex girdle created a flat-chested, no curves, boy-like appearance which focused on slenderness, requiring the use of starvation diets and fat ‘rolling machines.’ Movies and Hollywood styles helped create this new vision of beauty and for the first time weight loss ads began appearing in American fashion magazines. This continues today part of a billion-dollar super rich skinny robot stroll modelling industry. That was just the opposite image which George Petty was painting, but he had to think ‘thin’ for his Venus Girdle French Silhouette poster.


The famous 2 February 1922 LIFE cover art of “The Flapper” by Frank Xavier Leyendecker, [brother of Joseph] who also trained at Académie Julian in Paris, France. [Public domain]


In 1929, Julie Petty posed for her last paintings, daughter Marjorie [age ten] was ready to step up and take over as the Petty Girl. [Peter Perrault] This De Vilbiss perfume spray Art Deco poster sells today for $4,000.


A rare June 1929 Petty ad which also appeared in Canadian papers at Walkerville, Ontario. [Peter Perrault collection]


Princess Nariva, possibly the last nude posed ad by wife Julie 1929. Peter Perrault collection.




Marjorie Petty first posed nude for this Lesser Slim Figure Bath Salts ad in 1929. [Peter Perrault collection]


In 1930, George Petty openly stated he preferred to draw the male strong British types and his favorite American artist Joseph Leyendecker’s style. The male nude painting studies he learned at Académie Julian in Paris [1914-16] gave George the ability to draw his strong and appealing male, which provided much of his subsequent success and money in the 30’s. The Atlas Beer ads of 1930, 31 and 32 can be found in the book PETTY by Reid Stewart Austin, page 18 and 19. These paintings are powerful, bold, and clearly show the influence of Leyendecker’s males which dominated many American magazines [The Saturday Evening Post] and male fashion covers.

In 1932, George painted three program covers for the world’s largest indoor sports area, Chicago, Stadium. Two were for boxing events and one cover is described in the PETTY book on page 21. [left] A second [right] is displayed from the Peter Perrault collection below.


A second child, George Brown Petty V, was born on 8 July 1922, and it is possible he posed for these boxing covers showing a young fighter. Daughter Marjorie began posing at the same age.





The third Petty cover was painted for the Chicago Blackhawks NHL hockey game program and appeared in 1932-33 and 1933-34 seasons. [Image from the internet] This art shows his ability to capture a strong male figure in a fast action sport, created in black and white for two-colour printing in black and red.  The hockey player was created by Petty [not modeled on a real player] and the uniform is not created for any special NHL team, it was just magazine cover art for the Blackhawks hockey home game program. This original art is for sale on the internet for $17,000, reduced to $14,000 at time of my research. It is way over-priced and should be around $7-8 thousand range. The real artistic value in this painting is found on the face, which shows the strong influence Joseph Leyendecker painted males had on the style of George Petty. Most readers commonly assume the paintings of the Petty Girl in Esquire led to the fame and fortune of George Petty. In fact, it was the 1935 Jantzen advertising of both Petty Girl and brother George V which gave the artist his biggest advertising break. It’s possible this NHL Hockey painting was the very beginning of the Petty created male reaching a large man’s audience. The cover lettering and color changed slightly from one printing to another.




The Black Hawks won their first Stanley Cup in 1933-34 and their star goalie was Scottish born Charlie “Chuck” Gardiner. [front row uniform far right] He never played another hockey game, died from a brain tumor 13 June 1934. The Chicago Black Hawks logo also received first new colors for the 1934-35 season. A 1933-34 Hawks jersey sells for around $10,000 range, so the Petty hockey cover art is a bit over-priced. Now, if it had the Black and White 1934 logo, that would possibly raise the value.





The 1934 Jantzen bathing suit Petty Girl ads were both anatomically and politically incorrect for the time, but nobody noticed. In 1935, George Petty V began posing for his father and the male figure was introduced to create sexual chemistry for the bathing suit line. It worked, and men’s swimsuit line sales tripled, as a result, the Zantzen advertising began appearing full page color in Esquire magazine. While the new male figure was again anatomically incorrect, it is clear to see his admiration for Joseph Leyendecer’s male paintings were now appearing in his new Petty male art.



In 1935 a single Zantzen billboard painting sold for one-time usage at $600, five years later the same billboard painting, plus one magazine ad of this painting sold for $2,000. Jantzen sales had increased by 45 per cent over those five years and the Petty boy and girl had changed North America forever, in more ways than one.



While the original idea of using his Petty girl and boy was fully intended as sexual chemistry for the Jantzen bathing suits, they also became sexual chemistry for the large hidden Gay community in North America. I have no idea if George Petty ever understood or intended this powerful result. [Jantzen author collection]



From 1930 to 39 George produced a beautiful series of full-color pages in the Chicago Tribune and these are extremely rare and hard to find today. Mass produced on newsprint, they were short lived and most ended up in the dumpster, forgotten. Peter Perrault saved many from this series and a few are published now after eighty-plus years.


May 1933 “Chicago American” cover page. The first Petty cartoon appeared in the first issue of Esquire magazine August 1933, and editor Arnold Gingrich paid George twenty-five dollars.


The Petty Girl face was still appearing in June 1939 – new style Chicago American



June 1935 cover for New York Journal. In late 1934, the Old Gold Cigarette ads, with the rich fat old-codger, began appearing in major American magazines. The first Old Gold Petty ad appeared in Esquire magazine February 1935.




This beautiful “Raccoon Rah-Rah” also appeared in Vanity Fair magazine for November 1935, clearly showing the quickly developing Petty-Pin-Up with French accent showing in her face. [Peter Perrault collection]


These 1935 Old Gold cigarette ads and posters [above] proved so successful they became a major campaign for the new Petty Girl, even when his signature was omitted from his art. George received $600 for one-time usage of each painting, and retained his copyright.





The February 1935 issue of Esquire also produced a rare Petty cartoon first. This is the only painting with the fat-rich-old-codger where the Petty girl [Miss Dean] exposes her nipples. This airbrush pose is also very pin-up sexy style for Esquire male readers. I believe this is where George Petty recognized the power of the pin-up and the fact he was becoming a girl illustrator. [Courtesy Peter Perrault collection]



On 19 October 1935 Marjorie was featured in person on the cover of Saturday Home Magazine, she was fifteen years old. Years later [July 1996] she would sign this cover and mail to the author. Donated to Peter Perrault vast collection which contains many letters and signatures from George and Marjorie preserving their past.



George Petty not only described his favorite pin-up model, he began to realize he was creating the typical American pin-up girl with elegant and powerful sex appeal. From this point on George became a girl illustrative artist, who created a new American pin-up female icon which changed North America forever.




The sexy Petty Girl appeared in the 1933 first issue of Esquire as a cartoon and evolved into a true pin-up girl by 1936. She was not created by the artist; it was the public demand mostly by male readers who in fact forced the air-brush hand of George Petty.


3 July 1939, the Petty Girl continues to appear on newspaper covers showing her Patriotism. In two months the world goes to war, the U.S. remains neutral. In 1940, the U.S. Air Corps will begin to expand and advertising for Flying Cadets will appear in major magazines.



22 July 1940, full page two-color printing ads for Old Gold start appearing in LIFE magazine. [author collection]


1940 U.S. Army Recruiting Service begin with new mobile stations using the 1917 war poster created by James Flagg. [LIFE magazine author collection]


In the fall of 1940, the United States Army adopted a very impressive Army Aviation Cadet recruitment poster with the new motto – ‘KEEP ‘EM FLYING’ LET’S GO! U.S.A.



There is no advertising using the title U.S. Air Corps or the new U.S. Army Air Forces which came into effect on 20 June 1941. [author collection] These brave young Americans will be some of the first to enter WWII against the Japanese and Germans.




On 4 June 1920, an act in United States Congress created the American Air Service as a combat air-arm of the United States Army. On 2 July 1926, the new Air Service officially became the U.S. Air Corps, but they did not control their own aircraft combat units. Jurisdiction for training and combat came under control of Army ground forces, outdated principles laid down by the War Department back in 1919. This Air Corps structure was bitterly condemned by Billy Mitchell, and we all know what happened to him, he was court-marshalled. During the 1930s the Air Corps were always in conflict with the Army ground officers over organization and command of their American military aviation. The most important change in U.S. military aviation history came on 1 March 1935, the War Department established a General Headquarters of the Air Force, [GHQAF] under command of an air force officer. All Air Corps pursuit, bombardment and attack units came under direct control of the new formed [G.H.Q.A.F.]. Air Corps Observation units still remained under control of U.S. Army ground officers. In January 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt told Congress America’s air power was ‘utterly inadequate’ to protect the United States in time of war. In the next six months, the U.S. Air Corps began to rapidly expand, and by early 1940 they were composed of thirty groups. This sudden growth of the air arm required the total re-organization of group and wing levels plus created many serious problems of coordination between the combat organization [GHQAF] and the Air Corps, which were still operating as separate units.  This became confusing times for the air arm, which was all corrected by orders from the new officer in command, Major General Henry [Hap] Arnold. Arnold combined the combat organization [GHQAF] and the logistic organization [Air Corps] and they were officially renamed the U.S. Army Air Forces on 20 June 1941. On 9 March 1942, the old Air Corps and Combat Command were officially discontinued forever, and Gen. Arnold was made Commanding General of the newly formed U.S. Army Air Forces. [The correct spelling is Forces]

1941 is a very busy year for George Petty, as he completes his last twelve Petty Girls for Esquire magazine, and a host of other paintings. The list can be found on page 187 of the PETTY book by Reid S. Austin, and the last line reads – “George offers the War Department an air corps recruiting poster; there is no record of its use.

The Air Corps Petty Girl poster created on the motto “Keep ‘Em Flying” was presented to Major Frank Lane on 6 November 1941, while George Petty had no idea the U.S. Air Corps was now a title from the past. The air arm officially became the United States Army Air Forces [20 June 1941] and the Japanese will attack Peal Harbor in thirty-one days. It appears both of these events resulted in the possible unknown fate of the only painted air force Petty Girl recruiting poster.



Peter Perrault photo of artist George Petty presenting his original U.S. Air Corps recruiting poster to Major Frank Lane of the U.S.A.A.F [War Department] on 6 November 1941.

This original girl painting was never seen or displayed and the Army Air Forces never published the poster, or at least no records can be found the poster was ever used by the new U.S.A.A.F. Due to the “incorrect title – U.S. Air Corps” it could not be displayed by the newly formed Army Air Forces and was possibly just lost as the United States went to war. It remains a mystery why the air force never changed the wording and used this powerful Petty Girl poster art. The Petty Girl was the best viewed pin-up in 1941 and her finger motioning you to join the air force was an effective recruitment idea. If you happen to find this in an old book store or antique shop, it could be worth a few dollars. [maybe around $150,000]

A color image or further information on this lost Petty pre-war poster would be appreciated by the author.


Peter Perrault collection, photo blow-up showing rare air force Petty Girl face. In June 2000, a fake U.S. Air Corps drawing appeared for sale on the internet. Reid Stewart Austin was not impressed and his post card to Peter Perrault is published.


Original November 1941                                                  June 2000 fake



The very same face and most of the Petty Girl pose were used again April 1942. [James Camperos from Peter Perrault collection]


On 6 April 1942, George Petty presented the Navy with a new poster – “Join The Waves or Spars.” The pose and face are the same girl as he painted for the rejected U.S. Air Corps poster 6 November 1941. If she was not good enough for the air force, the U. S. Navy had no problems with their recruiting poster.



Even with no wartime editorial outlet, Esquire magazine and Alberto Vargas controlled the pin-up art field, the “Petty Girl” still held her own in aircraft nose art paintings. These images can be found all over the internet, but finding an original Petty Girl is not always that easy.


In 1924 a young artist Alberta Vargas created this music cover for Ziegfeld Follies.


Twenty years later George Petty completed six paintings for the 1944 film version of “Ziegfeld Follies” which were described as his best work. [MGM Poster from internet]





The often delayed film finally opened on 15 July 1946, becoming a box-office success, and George and daughter Marjorie are seen getting off the train at Los Angles around the premier date. George created six paintings of his Petty Girl for advertising and six MGM lovelies, with white telephones, met the famous pair at the train. The film earned $5,344,000 but due to the large budge cost for the all-star cast, it in fact lost $269,000.  It is believed George earned $3,000 per girl painting, which were used extensively in film promoting by MGM. [Reid Stewart Austin collection]

From January 1945 until December 1947, the Petty Girl appeared in True magazine and these thirty-five paintings were again the best George created to that date. Reid Austin believed he was paid $3,000 per painting as no contract or known records survive. Two Petty Girl True calendars were also published, [1947-48] possibly part of the original deal. The two-page fold-out paintings were highlighted with an analysis by author and lecturer on female psychology, Dr. William Moulton Marston.



The TRUE Petty March 1946 girl was titled “MISS PADDY WHACK” also appearing in the March 1947 TRUE Petty calendar. [author collection]


In November 1971, retired artist George Petty was asked why the American Pin-Up had slipped so far down the list in calendar sales. George – “Today, everything must be shared with one’s wife and children, a man can not longer enjoy his girl calendar art in his own room.”

21 July 1975, George Brown Petty IV dies in the family home of Marjorie MacLeod in San Pedro, Southern California.


[Image from Reid Stewart Austin – Petty Estate] Photo was first published in June/July issue of Modern Maturity magazine for 1983, courtesy Marjorie MacLeod.


The June/July 1983 issue of Modern Maturity magazine publishes the first story told by the Petty Girl, sixty-four-year-old Marjorie MacLeod, written by Derek Gill. [Peter Perrault collection]




Marjorie [Mugs] Jule Petty born 21 September 1919 –


February 1948 True calendar [author collection]


The February 1948 Petty True magazine original can still be found for sale on the internet but it might cost over $100,000. [internet image]

Please don’t worry, if you can’t afford an original to hang in your special men’s collection, the Petty Girls are still selling in affordable calendar’s, pleasing men for over one-hundred years. George Petty would be very proud and the Petty Estate might still be making money. Petty Girls will always offend a few close-minded people, however once they get past that, the true nostalgic value is very positive.


In Memoriam Kaare

Updated 15 March 2021

Kaare Nevdal 1920—2021

On Saturday, March 13, 2021, Kaare Nevdal, 100, loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, uncle, brother and friend passed away at his home in Rockford, IL, with his children by his side. Kaare was born in 1920 and raised in Ytra Arne, Norway, surrounded by the love of parents, siblings, and friends in this small town just outside Bergen.

In 1941, after one year of living under the Nazi occupation, he escaped by boat to the Shetland Islands and enlisted in the Royal Norwegian Air Force in exile in London. While training in Toronto, Canada, he met his wife, Muriel Jones. They immigrated to Rockford in 1948, and raised three children, Karen, Sandra and Mark.

Kaare’s first job when he came to Rockford was at Ingersoll as a pipefitter and then a draftsman. He sold real estate in the evenings and eventually was employed full time for Lutheran Brotherhood as an insurance salesman. He then worked for Home Life of New York (Phoenix). In 1976 Kaare became certified as a CLU (Certified Life Underwriter).

The family joined Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in 1952, where Kaare served as Chairman of the congregation several times, taught Sunday School and remained a member for the rest of this life. Kaare was a past President and an active member of the Rockford Kiwanis Club for 56 years.

He was also a member of the World War II Combat Flyers Club. Kaare regularly and openly spoke of his many blessings. One of his final blessings he considered to be the wonderful care he received from Heartland Hospice, the family expresses special thanks to Robin and Rosa for their loving care.

Special thanks also to Vicky of Siena of Brendenwood, he really treasured her friendship and support.

Kaare is survived by his children, Sandra Rogers (Doug) of Marietta, GA, Mark Nevdal (Sue) of Davis, IL; grandchildren Eric Nelson (Mary), Jennifer Serrano (Jacob), Todd Rogers (Keri), Jake Nevdal (Kara), Aaron Nevdal (Kristen), Ben Nevdal (Breezy), and Luke Nevdal; and 15 great-grandchildren.

Kaare’s surviving siblings include his sister, Halldis, 96 and Arne, 83, who live in Norway. He was predeceased by wife, Muriel, daughter Karen, brothers Birger, Arnold, Johannes and Knut.

There will be a walk-through visitation from 11:00 to 1:00 on Thursday, March 18, 2021 with masks and social distancing required at Fred C. Olson Chapel, 1001 Second Ave, Rockford, IL. A funeral service with only family in attendance will be held at 10:00 pm prior to the visitation.

Those wishing to view the service may do via Zoom:

Meeting ID: 882 8436 5919

Passcode: 097363.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Kaare’s name to Samaritan’s Purse, PO Box 3000, Boone, NC 28607; Lutheran World Relief, 700 Light St., Baltimore, MD 21230; or Vets Roll, 1777 Gardner St., South Beloit, IL 61080. Please share your memories by posting on his tribute wall at

Original post

I have just received the sad news that my friend, even if we never meet, Kaare Nevdal passed away in his sleep, at home, yesterday morning. He had been brought home after a few days in the hospital after falling and broken his hip. His son and daughter with in-laws where at his side. He was very satisfied with his life here on earth and lately he had express no higher wish that the Lord would come and take him on the eternal flight. Greatly missed already , what a Guy he was !!

David Wold

STAI, DAGFINN MAGNE January 29, 1920 – February 12, 2021

David Wold message

Picture taken when he got a medallion from the Norwegian Government at the 75th anniversary at Little Norway, Muskoka 2 years ago.

STAI, DAGFINN MAGNE January 29, 1920 – February 12, 2021

Rest In Peace and Thank you

We announce, with sadness and with gratitude, the peaceful passing of Dagfinn the morning of February 12, 2021. He was much loved and will be forever missed by his daughters, Trish, Karen and Sonja; their partners Andy, Bill, Stephen and his grandchildren: Keith, Larry, Lisa (Sam); Laura (Aubrey), Corey (Joanne), Caitlin, Cesia, Grace, Emily and Spencer. Also missing his Sunday calls, his younger sister, Else, in Norway, and family there who knew and cared about him. Dagfinn was a good man… honest, decent, fiercely independent and hard working. He was a lifelong learner; a man who would much rather create or fix something than buy it new and his garage is testament to his ingenuity and creativity. He loved his sailboat; his cottage and he loved his family. He was born in Norway the eldest of six children. He joined the Army and then the Airforce and came to Canada during the second World War. It was here the handsome young Air Man met and married a dark-haired beauty named Grace. Together for seventy-five years, Grace died 2 years ago, and Finn’s life was never quite the same. We will celebrate their lives forever in our hearts and in our memories and it gives us great comfort to think of them reunited “on the other side.” We are deeply indebted to the LHIN/Dorothy Ley Palliative Care team and the wonderful care providers who blessed our lives in the last weeks of Dad’s life. Arrangements entrusted to Turner & Porter. “I must go down to the sea again… to the lonely sea and the sky… and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”… smooth sailing Dad ’til we meet again…

Published in Toronto Star on Feb. 24, 2021.

Petty Girl Aviation Nose Art

Updated 14 February 2021


In the PDF version…

Today a Petty Girl is worth $400,000… should read  from $100 to $120,000.

Research by Clarence Simonsen

Click on the link below for the PDF file.

Petty Girl Aviation Nose Art

Text version without images


Petty Girl Aviation Nose Art




 Although the earliest ink drawings and color paintings of the pin-up girl evolved from the printed underground newspaper and magazine illustrations in Europe, the name “pin-up” became an American concept and product of the 1870s. Historians seem to all agree, this was the period of rapid changing morality in United States of America. From 1880 until 1930 the exploitation of the female figure steadily increased and echoed what was being seen and happening on the stage in the United States. These unidentified and little-known young show girls, dancers, and hopeful actresses became the very first true pin-up girls, who were also used as sex objects to sell a product. The idea of using female sex appeal to attract people to various ideas and products has been around since the beginning of mankind, and like it or not, still makes billions of dollars worldwide today.

This most famous woodcut poster was created in 1491 by Belgian publisher Jean d’Arras’s “histoire de la Belle Melusine” and has been reproduced thousands of times. It is the first known illustration poster to use sex appeal in advertising and selling a product, a book. The word “Melusine” is French for a female spirit of a sacred spring or fresh water, and she is shown topless with a serpent or twin fish tails from the waist down. Most times she is shown with twin tails, sometimes wings, or both. Melusine’s bosom is exposed and she is bathing, which for the very first time also shows sexual eroticism in the gesture of her hands. [That’s what the experts say, and I fully agree]

The woodcut text below the poster reads – “A beautiful, pleasing, and most marvelous story of a lady named Melusine, of her ancestors and descendants, and the wonderful and devout works and deeds they wrought and performed.” By the end of the 16th century thousands of wood engraving illustrations were appearing in printed books and many showed a sexy female embroiled in sensual escapades. These nude females were used to enhance products or sell story books but never inviting the viewer to join with her in any sensual sexual pleasures, and it was never porn, just fine art.



On 31 March 1971, three students opened a coffee house in Seattle, Washington, USA, and they created a logo of a topless, twin tailed “Melusine.” As the company [brew] grew, they had to change their logo of the topless female spirit of sacred fresh water coffee, as she might offend the customs and religions in many countries they were now expanding their business. Today the third redesigned Starbucks logo appears in six continents and 75 countries. So, when you have your next coffee at Starbucks, look at the little Melusine who is 528 years old, the oldest known female pin-up in the world, still being used to sell a major coffee product.

I have been studying the subject of aircraft ‘nose art’ for the past 55 years, and for many of my early years of research I could never understand why the pin-up girl was created in the United States and not in France or Britain. The British culture was older, stronger, and much more established than the United States of America, plus the Americans roots came from the British, so they should share the same set of moral values, but that was not true. Why then did the United States become the leader in publishing pin-up girls in books, calendars, and pulp magazines? In the 17th century, the British had a flourishing underground publishing movement which printed playing cards, books, and magazines on pornographic themes, which was circulated around the country and even into France. The semi-literate lower working class British and French males got their popular stimulation from the underground publishing and the upper-class Englishman could privately purchase his more expensive illicit pornography and keep it a family secret. The British upper-crust official publishing world was stable, very conservative, and made its profit from just reporting the news or specialized world events. Everyone was happy and there was no need for any newspaper publication to fill the gap between pornography and the Victorian novels. Many cheap, poor quality, publications were attempted featuring tales of violence, crime and mystery, and they were called “Penny Dreadful”, however none contained anything related to sex and nothing at all featuring pin-up girls. That would all change in 1903, when a British publishing pioneer, Alfred Harmsworth began publishing beauty contests and the bathing beauties in his newspaper “The Mirror.”


This was the same year that French semi-nude postcards were first issued in the United Kingdom, combined with the fact that British publishing was far behind that of the Americans in printing pin-up girls. In 1889, a young Harmsworth began watching the American popular press and the fast developing publishing industry in the United States. He stated that the British newspapers and periodicals were for “high-brow classes” and that American newspapers and magazines were far ahead of anything being published in Britain or Europe in regards to pin-up girls. It is most important to understand that today most historians too often draw a parallel between 19th century America and Great Britain in respect to social, moral, and sexual exploration. Both countries had a class of domestic women serving their husband, cooking, sewing, washing, and bearing his children, combined with a lower-class of ladies who provided sexual exploration in dancing, burlesque troupes, and prostitution, many times preformed for the husband of the higher-class lady.  For two-hundred years’ British society had a source of pornography which showed up in various forms and female nudity was just a small part of British way of life. In the United States of America, there was little pornography and what was being published was under-the-counter ‘dirty books’, hidden from wife and children’s eyes. The American publishing industry in the 19th century was in a very rapid growth, and this included the huge untapped market of the American” Pin-up” girls. The American popular press had twelve well-established “Spicy” publications by 1895, featuring drawings of semi-nude chorus girls, cartoons, actresses in bathing suits and topless girls in a ‘nude-in-graphic-art theme. The growth of the American ‘girlie’ magazines continued until the mid-1930s, which became the heyday for American pin-up girls. This is a huge subject and I do not have the space or time to fully explain to the new reader, but the facts can be found on many websites. The main points to understand were American publishers took the sophisticated British/French style nude girl and gave their American nude a unique twist, which produced the fun-loving, girl next-door “Pin-Up” who was unconsciously pleasing to the American family eyes. The talented American artist took a racy subject and created the pin-up girl, but I feel more importantly created the active, athletic, ‘girl-next-door’ image combined with good old fashioned American virtues. It worked, and the talented girlie illustrator artist in American simply took a sexy subject and lifted it too a new level which was more attuned to the working class.

In the United States [and Canada] the pin-up critics, museum curators, and art school administrators drew a line between the new pin-up illustrator and the so called fine-artist of the twentieth century. While both artists were rigorously trained in the same American schools, the pin-up illustrator was rejected from showing his or her work in galleries, museums or history books, for the simple reason they painted sexy nude females. The magic talent of airbrush illustrator George Petty, created the “Petty Girl” which became an American icon from 1933 until 1956, and slowly changed the American public pin-up girl image forever.



In 1933, during the great depression, the rich American high society men’s clothing trade originally inspired the publication of a fifty-cent magazine named Esquire. The publisher’s decided to take a bold gamble and carry a number of pin-up girlie style cartoons in a magazine intended for the fashionable, elite, rich, male in North America. George Petty was paid twenty-five dollars for his first color cartoon in the first issue of Esquire and the rest became female pin-up history. The new Petty Girl appeared in a sophisticated, high society cartoon, where the level of humor was always upper class. Her alluring figure was always shown in semi-nude themes with marital infidelity, money, promiscuity, and sexual flirtation involving a much older, fat, American elite gentleman. Today these elite males would be called a “Sugar Daddy” and each cartoon was accompanied with a humorous caption. To enjoy the full history of George Petty just purchase the magnificent family approved first-ever biography of the artist, then set back and enjoy his priceless images, the fuzzy images on the internet hide the full talent of the most famous illustrative girl artist in America.

Reid Stewart Austin began his sixteen year “Petty” book research in 1980, and two years later the author [Simonsen] received a letter from Mr. Austin. Reid was looking for WWII aircraft aviation nose art images which originated from the Petty Girls, and we would remain in contact until 2003.

Artist George Petty began his pin-up girl with an outline in red watercolor and then he built up the skin tone in reds, yellows, and blues with airbrush layers. He would leave some part of his painting unfinished, a shoe, hat, and most times the telephone, which became his one-of-a-kind style and signature. Reid Austin borrowed this style as his letterhead and most of his hand written letters and cards were in red ink another Petty trademark.

My Deluxe Edition of “Petty” with Gatefold [1st April 1941 painting] Petty Girl arrived in September 1997, signed by Reid [below] in red ink.


Twenty-four-year-old George Brown Petty IV was married to pretty, modest, Irish-Catholic, twenty-two-year-old Julia Donohue on 6 April 1918. Julia or “Jule” became his first model, who posed for a number of pastel portraits first used in two 1925 Girlie Calendars. They never made much money, besides George was more interested in painting British style male’s ads. In late 1925, George signed a contract for a new American scientific birth control jell [Alpha Laboratory, Chicago] and strong Catholic raised Jule posted fully nude for his painting.

This part in the Reid Stewart “Petty” book history was omitted, possibly due to the fact American Policeman Timothy Donohue had strongly objected to the marriage of his daughter Julie to a non-Catholic George Petty in the first place. Now, this nude painting of his daughter advertising American birth control was being seen and read in tens of thousands of American magazines, pamphlets, and even match covers across the United States. George possibly made $400 for the painting which sells for $3,000 today [2021]. [Free domain]



Beginning in August 1933, the American [and Canadian] male saw something new, sexy, and irresistible in the Esquire Petty cartoons. The new Petty Girl Pin-Up was being born and the rich, fat, American guy was no longer required in the cartoon. [Author collection]



April 1935 Esquire cartoon. [Author collection]

In 1935, the Petty girl began appearing alone as a single female cartoon and the pin-up image was being created by public male demand. George Petty also had some hidden trade marks, he never painted a lady smoking, and even refused to feature a gal smoking in his Old Gold cigarette ads. Many Petty girls were painted appearing nude, but they were navelless and nipples never appeared other than the February and April 1935 cartoons. Above is the April 1935 cartoon which broke his rules, and in fact showed much more of daughter Marjorie, who was now sixteen years of age. She posed nude for her father beginning in 1929 at age ten years, and continued until she married in 1948. George was the master of the airbrush in creating life-like skin tones, which became the only reason for the full nudity posing, nothing else. He was also a great American businessman and knew how to retain his copyright and thus was able to sell the same Petty girl image over and over again, making a huge profit on his same girl art illustration. By 1938, a single Petty Girl painting was being sold by George for $1,500 to $2,000 each, [one-time usage] while other pin-up artists received $135 to $200 per girl image. Today it’s worth from $100 to $120,000.

When you turned the front page of Esquire in 1938, the inside cover contained a full color page ad for Old Gold with the Petty Girl, plus the Petty cartoon girl page. Some issues had three Petty girls as more of his advertising appeared in North America’s top selling Men’s magazine.

Inside cover page for September 1938, which was an ad, but also became a Men’s pin-up girl. [Reid Stewart Austin collection gifted to author]


World War Two – 1939


By 1939, Esquire stood alone as a top selling men’s magazine and the Petty Girl pin-up also stood by herself for a vast following of male readers in United States and Canada. The Petty Girl was seen all over the place and George was pulling in $1,500 to $2,000 for each painting, one-time-usage, from many clients. On 26 June 1939, the Petty Girl story appeared in LIFE magazine with family photos, and three Petty Girl paintings.



Julia [Jule] Donohue Petty, the original Petty Girl and George from the pages of LIFE magazine. In November 1939, tension between George and his publisher Dave Smart erupted over money and a gatefold painting. This marked the beginning of the end for the Esquire Petty Girl, while the world prepared for war with a man called Hitler. The United States of America remained neutral but not the Petty Girl.


At midnight on 16 December 1939, a group of men gathered in the office of Canadian P.M. Mackenzie King for the signing of a document titled “Agreement Relating to the Training of Pilots and Aircrews in Canada.” The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan [BCATP] was now official, a huge scheme that produced more than 130,000 trained aircrew members for the Allies during World War Two. This training took place in Canada, and the controlling authority was the RCAF, but the aircrew members came from all parts of the world, and unknown to even George Petty, his pin-up girl was going to war flying beside them.




The de Havilland 82C Tiger-Moth British trainer aircraft was built in Canada and a total of 1,384 were delivered to the RCAF, plus another 136 manufactured with the American built Monasco engine. In 1940, 1941, and 1942, this aircraft was the most used elementary Canadian trainer and most pilots took their first flights in the Tiger Moth. [Free domain image of Tiger-Moth]


The front engine cowling of the Tiger-Moth provided a large backdrop much like a school blackboard, containing aircraft identification letters and numbers, but rarely pin-up nose art. No. 2 E.F.T.S. at Fort William, Ontario, [Thunder Bay today] had on strength thirty-one Tiger-Moth trainers 30 June 1941. T-Moth 118827, RCAF serial 5028 arrived on 19 June 1941, and Cpl. Lloyd Carbert snapped this photo of her rare March 1941 Petty Girl replica nose art painting.



A large percenage of Canadian RCAF aircrew and 6,129 Americans who joined the RCAF in 1940 and 1941, had been raised with the Petty Girl gatefold from the pages of Esquire, and this is just a small example of the wartime inspired aircraft nose art. “Daddy’s Choice” flew and trained Allied pilots until 16 June 1945, when she was struck off strength by the RCAF and sold by War Assetts.

The original March 1941 Esquire Petty Girl “Key-hole” painting, with flower in brown short hair. This was changed to a long-hair red-head with no flower for the Esquire March 1941 gatefold issue. [image from Reid Stewart Austin American Heritage Collection ]




She also became “Miss Canada” painted on the nose of a Handley Page Halifax bomber in No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron of the RCAF, East Moor, Yorkshire, England, 1944.


No. 427 [Lion] Squadron RCAF were based at Leeming, Yorkshire, England, on 5 May 1943. They were adopted by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios on that date and Halifax B. Mk. V serial DK186 was painted with a large Lion, part of the official ceremony. From that date on each bomber in the squadron was named and painted for an actress under contract by MGM Studios in Hollywood. The June 1941 Petty Girl became “Joan Crawford” painted on Halifax Mk. V, serial LK644, code ZL-C, as nose art in August 1943.  The bombs were painted in a “V for Victory.” The Halifax aircraft was shot down sixteen miles S/W of Giessen, Germany, 20 December 1943, her fifteenth operation, all seven aircrew of F/O John Melrose Grieve were killed in action. 


Replica RCAF Halifax nose art by author painted on original WWII bomber aircraft skin.

Close-up image of 21-year-old Marjorie in June 1941 painting for Esquire gatefold. [courtesy of Peter Perrault collection]



In 1941, four life-size paintings of 1938 Petty Esquire girls appeared on the R.A.F. Officer’s Mess at Cairo, Egypt. The artist was most likely British and possibly took his pilot training in Canada, where he discovered the talent of George Petty. The unknown RAF artist wall art on left and the October 1938 Petty Girl on right. The power of the Petty Girl image was following the airmen at war to far points of the globe, and being painted on hundreds of Allied aircraft.

1941 became the year of change in many different ways. The last twelve paintings would appear in Esquire magazine as publisher Smart would dump George Petty for a new artist named Vargas. It had taken George forty-five years to achieve fame with his Petty Girl and now it would all be handed over to Alberto Vargas, the new pin-up artist of Esquire magazine.




Every Men’s magazine in the United States had a pin-up gal and many publishers did everything they possibly could to find an artist who would copy the style of George Petty. One New York publishing company went to the trouble of copying not only the Petty Girl but the complete Esquire magazine from cover to cover.


The first issue of SWANK Vol. 1, #1, hit the newstands in August 1941, from Elite Publishers Inc., New York, N.Y. The magazine type set, cartoons, stories, Men’s fashion ads, and yes even the Pin-up Girl were a copy of the Petty Girl from Esquire magazine.




The SWANK pin-up artist named Wesley Margot painted three girls for the first issue, the third [above] appeared on the last cover page as an advesrtisment for a new American Cola drink. He also copied the trademark of George Petty, unpainted areas with red ink outline. Have you ever had a Rum and Kooba, well don’t feel bad, nobody has.


This new American Cola was the brain dream of a man called Victor Fox, who owned Fox Comics. He would produce a soft drink with Vitamin B1, good for kids, and advertise in his comic books. He also understood the adult selling power George Petty had created with his Petty Girl and placed ads in the first issue of SWANK Men’s Magazine. Only four bottles of Kooba were manufactured and filled with Pepsi-cola, used for magazine advertising. The soft drink never went into production, so if you have a bottle of Kooba, it’s a rare gem for bottle collections. SWANK was only published in five issues, then went on to become a top selling pornographic magazine in the United States, today owned by Magna Publishing Group.



The last Petty Girl gatefold [above] appeared in Esquire magazine during the first week of December 1941, but Americans didn’t care, they had much more on their minds.



The conflict looming in Europe throughout the 1930s was a world problem, however Americans were against intervention and remained determinedly an isolationist nation. “America First” don’t waste lives and resources in Europe. On 7 December 1941, the American mind-state of World War denial was suddenly and deliberately crushed by the Empire of Japan.



The Petty Girl nose art was first involved in WWII with Canadians, painted for the past twenty-four months, and now the United States had declared war on Japan, 8 December 1941. These first young Americans going to war were still reading the comic pages, but they also had Petty Girls hanging on their bedroom walls. There was no more editorial outlet for the Petty Girl as Esquire magazine now held total control and the new Vargas Pin-Up girl was taking over as America geared up for a long war against the Japanese Empire and the Nazi Fortress in Europe. The twelve 1941 Esquire gatefold Petty Girls were soon appearing as American aircraft nose art in many parts of the world and a few became very famous in aviation history. The December 1941, [last] gatefold, appeared on a good number of B-24 and B-17 Heavy Bombers, plus dozens of A-2 leather jacket art of the 8th Air Force in England by the fall of 1942. The Petty Girl was a veteran nose art/pin-up lady and quickly led the American fighting man into battle.


The most famous American nose art “Petty Girl” appeared on a B-17F Flying Fortress [91st Bomb Group] named Memphis Belle, which completed the first twenty-five missions in the 8th Air Force, England, 7 November 1942 until 17 May 1943. It was later learned another B-17 [303rd B.G.] had completed her 25th mission a week before the Belle, however during time of war records are sometimes misplaced, and Belle justly received her WWII home-coming honor.

George Petty painted at least Fifteen girls with no face showing, August 1935, March and October 1936, October 1937, January, February, and July 1938, October 1939, and April 1941. This Esquire Petty Girl [April 1941] with no face showing, became the most famous 8th Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress nose art to fly from England, and for that reason survives today. [courtesy Reid Stewart Austin collection] [Inset – Author Invitation card to 17 May 1987 Memphis Belle dedication]


Newspaper clipping from Tony, July 1980, showing 1944 nose art mural at Bassingbourn, England, 324th Briefing room. Art painted by assistant Charles Frank Busa Sr.

The artistic talent of Tony Starcer was discovered by accident, he had no formal art training, just some high school classes. In late November 1942, Tony was assigned to spray paint medium green blotching camouflage, and fuselage yellow code letters on the B-17s in the 322nd and 401st Bomb Squadrons. This graduated to painting the names of loved ones on the various positions in the B-17, and next came nose art painting. Tony saw first-hand the attachment between airmen and their fighting aircraft, which spurred him on, plus it gave him good spending money. The third B-17 he painted became “Memphis Belle” featuring the April 1941 Petty Girl from Esquire magazine. When the 1943, William Wyler color film “Memphis Belle” was completed, 8th A.F. aviation bombing history was made, with a Petty Girl.

The author corresponded with WWII nose artist Tony Starcer from 1980 until his death from Leukemia in 1986. This photo has been sold on the internet thousands of times, however my image came from Tony, who painted the original Petty Girl and knew all the original aircrew.


Pilot Robert K. Morgan points to 25 missions as the original Memphis Belle [Margaret Polk] admires, Memphis, Tennessee, airport, June 1943. The red star above bomb indicates she flew as lead B-17 in the 91st B.G., red was when she flew lead B-17 in the Bomb Wing. In the next forty years the original markings were painted over with many layers of paint, with incorrect Petty Girl nose art. USAAF from Tony Starcer.

During 1985 restoration, the original Starcer WWII port and starboard side nose art were exposed for a few brief minutes, then removed forever. Director Dr. Harry Friedman was kind enough to capture these two last original Memphis Belle nose art images for the author.

Dr. Harry Friedman, 1985.


Tony Starcer art work 1984.                                        [courtesy Reid Stewart Austin collection]


When the original WWII color 16 mm film of the Memphis Belle by William Wyler was released, Tony Starcer instantly became famous for the painting of the Petty Girl. Tony painted over one-hundred replica nose art panels on original B-17 skin to raise funds for the restoration of his Memphis Belle and then in May 1982, he became seriously ill.

Tony Starcer was preparing to repaint his original [Petty Girl] Memphis Belle, when he was suddenly hospitalized with Leukemia in May 1986. He was undergoing massive blood transfusions and medication when he suffered a major stroke which paralyzed his right side. He passed away at 5:10 am, 9 June 1986, at Kaiser Hospital in Los Angeles, [Hollywood] California.


The Memphis Belle replica nose art [April 1941 Petty Girl] was repainted by the nephew of Tony, Phil Starcer [above] and the dedication ceremony was held at Mud Island, Memphis, Tennessee, Sunday, 17 May 1987. The full and modern history [16 May 2018] of the B-17 “Memphis Belle” can be read online at many sites with excellent video.  This original 1987 nose art painting by Phil Starcer remains preserved on the Memphis Belle today at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.




The September 1941 Petty Girl shed all her clothing and took flight on a swing, to the delight of millions of males. The swinging nude also appeared in a number of Esquire [mail order] issues wearing a very short concealing chemise, which still remains a printing mystery. [courtesy Reid Stewart Austin collection, Petty Estate copyright – bottom Peter Perrault collection]

The sudden Petty Girl effect on American aircraft nose art is no mystery, she was a winner, with a naughty play on words. [courtesy Vern Currie B-24 collection, Florida, 1988]

“Cielito Lindo” [Heavenly One] the most famous and popular Mexican song known around the world. Flew with the Fifteenth Air Force, 98th Bomb Group, Benina, Libya, November 1942, serial 42-41033. [Steve Birdsall collection via Jeffrey Ethell 1990]

George Peach, B-24D-120-CO, serial 42-40985, flew with 93rd Bomb Group, 331th B. Squadron. [Vern Currie B-24 collection, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 1988]

Replica painted by author for Reid Stewart Austin, 11 November 1997, today it hangs in Spruce Goose Café, Port Townsend Airport, Washington, USA. [photo Peter Perrault]

Old Blister Butt, B-24D-95-CO, letter “H” serial 42-40778, was painted by nose artist S/Sgt. Chas Doyle of the 389th Bomb Group. Inspired by the same Petty Girl on a swing, she flew the famous Ploesti Raid on 1 August 1943, and survived. The Vulgar Virgin [Petty Girl] never came home.


Esquire gatefold, November 1941, holding the “Book of Petty Phone Numbers” promotion booklet which contained thirteen previously published Petty girls.  [author collection]

This original Petty face first appeared in Esquire January 1940, then was republished on cover of 1941 Book of Petty Phone Numbers, which sold in the thousands. [courtesy Peter Perrault collection]


Lt. Jack K. Wood was the original pilot of “The Vulgar Virgin” serial 41-24198, photo taken by LIFE magazine and published 17 May 1943 issue. The November 1941 Esquire Petty girl was painted life-size on the B-24 nose.

On 1 August 1943, “The Vulgar Virgin” was the lead bomber in Section “E” to enter the smoke and flame on the infamous Ploesti Raid, and she never came out. Only the pilot Capt. Wallace C. Taylor survived, the rest of his crew were killed in action. This 31” by 31” replica nose art painting was completed to honour the brave crew and their Petty Girl. The full history can be read on Clarence Simonsen Blog Preserving the Past II – The Vulgar Virgin.


This Esquire inside front cover ad for Old gold cigarettes in October 1939, still inspired American aircraft nose art in 1943. [author collection gift from Reid Stewart Austin]

Author collection. 1939 “What-A-honey” became 1944 Maiden America.

The powerful male acceptance of the 1939 and 1941 Petty gatefolds allowed her to remain during the war years, even without an editorial outlet for artist George Petty. The bulk of the 1942 Petty advertising were all recycled girls which had appeared in Esquire magazine in 1938, 1939, and two from 1940. George held all his original trademark reproduction rights and just resold his finest images, and reversed other Petty Girl paintings.  In 1943, RKO motion pictures purchased the rights for making a film titled “The Petty Girl” and George received $25,000, plus painted four girls for advertising the picture. This motion picture would be shown to Allied troops fighting around the world and the Petty Girl was still alive and being painted on combat aircraft. In August 1943, George once again put his old Esquire Petty Girl paintings to work when he introduced a new portfolio of three previously gatefold published girls and one new Petty “Bathing Girl” painting.



[Left] – the new July 1943, “Bathing Girl” 12 ½-by-19-inch portfolio painting from the collection of Peter Perrault. This Petty Girl was used in advertising taken out in PIC magazine, [right] September 1943, New Yorker magazine, November 1943, and Popular Mechanics, October 1943, and February 1944. George Petty also had special packing for all orders going overseas to servicemen, which delivered his art around the world directly to battle fronts. The other three girls had each appeared in Esquire magazine gatefolds and were now reversed and renamed. These four girls sold in the thousands, and reintroduced the three reverse older image girls to a new generation of Allied fighting men.

The original Esquire December 1941, reversed and given a sun hat and shoes. “Sunshine Girl”

The original Esquire November 1941, reversed with book cover blank. “Boudoir Girl” – [both courtesy Peter Perrault collection]


Lt. Col. Gus Lundquist via Jeffrey Ethell collection, 1991.

In 1943, the RAF loaned a British Spitfire Mk. IX, serial MK210, to the USAAF at Wright Field, for testing long-range fuel drop tanks. On the return flight to England, September 1943, test pilot Lt. Col. Gus Lundquist belly-landed the Spitfire at Greenland, BW8 landing field. A base mechanic, Sergeant Petta ask if he could give the Spitfire some nose art while repairs were being done, and the end result was the August 1943, Petty “Boudoir Girl.” [Internet]


         Vern Currie collection, Florida, 1988.                             Author replica painting.

Photo [left] from Vern Currie, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who served in the 93rd Bomb Group, 331 B. Squadron. The 93rd “Travelling Circus” was assigned to the 8th Air Force, Alconbury, England, 6 September 1942.  They moved to Hardwick, England, 7 September 1942, served in North Africa, December 1942, and Mediterranean Theatre of war [Egypt-Libya] June and July 1943. The 93rd made the wrong turn in the low-level raid at Ploesti, enemy oil fields, 1 August 1943, returned to England in mid-August 1943. The August 1943, Petty Portfolio girls began to appear in England and the “Bathing Girl” was selected and painted on a B-24 in the 331st Bomb Squadron around this date. The nose art name, and serial number are unknown. This author replica nose art is painted on original WWII skin from a U.S. Navy B-25 Mitchell aircraft. The insignia was the unofficial 93rd Bomb Group badge used during combat in WWII, which changed in postwar era.

In 1932, an unknown eighteen-year-old Jewish-Austrian actress made a name for herself in a Czech-Austrian film titled “Ecstasy.” This young exotic beauty, Hedwig Eva Maria Kiesler, swam fully nude and performed the worlds first onscreen female orgasm in cinematic history.

The film was at once condemned by the Catholic Legion of Decency in the United States and the release was banned until 1940. The pure beauty and seductress power of this unknown female caught the eye of studio mogul Louis B. Mayer, who brought her to Hollywood, changed her name to Hedy Lamarr, and introduced her to American audiences. The full history, films, and talent of Hedy can be read online at many sites. Elegance, Beauty, Brains, plus an inventor with a real head on that erotic body. Watch the 2017 movie “Bombshell” – The Hedy Lamarr Story, it will blow your mind at what this lady accomplished and her own life tragedy.




Left is the movie poster for 1932 Czech-Austria film “Ecstasy” released 20 January 1933. In 1942, Hedy starred in the film “White Cargo” where she wore full body “Blackface” of a wild seductress dark skinned native girl named “Tondelayo.”  The movie made a profit of one and one half million dollars, mainly because of her sexy, erotic, screen actress beauty. The movie was also shown around the world to Allied males at war, which inspired many, many, aircraft nose art paintings.


B-17G, 398th Bomb Group.

Author B-25 collection from George Gosney, 345th “Air Apaches” converted to a cargo aircraft in 1945.

Original Kodachrome 35 mm slide film from Mark Brown collection.

The author obtained the 35 mm slide nose art collection from 8th Air Force photo interpreter Mark Brown in 1982. This B-24J-155-CO was serial 44-40284 and she flew with the 8th Air Force, 487th Bomb Group from Lavenham, England. The exceptional American nose artist was Sgt. Daune Bryers who painted “This Above All” – “Purty Baby” – “Classey Chassy” and “Tondelayo.” The image was taken at Lavenham, England, in early July 1944, after the bomber had completed one mission, orange painted bomb. On 19 July 1944, the B-24 was hit by flak but returned to England, where the aircrew jumped, the pilot turned the bomber around and pointed her towards the English Channel, then he jumped. The B-24 “Tondelayo” flew all the way back to Belgium before crashing. Hundreds of American aircraft were named Tondelayo and painted with Hedy Lamarr nose art images, however one 8th Air Force B-17 nose art named “Tondelayo” was different from all the rest. Hedy Lamarr became a one-time Petty Girl nose art.





“Tondelayo” B-17F-75-BO, serial 42-29896 flew with the 379th Bomb Group, 527th Bomb Squadron, code letter “Y”.  [8th Air Force Association]

On 6 September 1943, 8th Air Force Mission #91 to Stuttgart, Germany, two-hundred and thirty-three B-17s attacked, forty-five failed to return, four-hundred and thirty-three men missing in action. “Tondelayo” crew photo 12 July 1943 –  John Fawkes, [Co-pilot] Chas Mauldin, [Navigator] Elmer Bendiner, [Bombardier] Bob Hejny, [Flight/Engineer] Larry Reedman, [Radio Operator] Fred Reinhard, Ball turret] Walt Gray, [Waist gun] John Leary, [Waist gun] Harry Edwards, [Tail gun] Mike Arooth [Pilot]. On return to base they ran out of fuel and ditched in English Channel near Dover, all aircrew rescued and returned to active duty.


This Boeing built B-17F nose art contained two American Icons in the same nose painting. The pose came from the Jantzen 1940 Petty Girl bathing suit, while the name and dark haired beauty Tondelayo was in fact Hedy Lamarr. [Author collection from Reid S. Austin]


Author replica 31” by 31” painting on original WWII B-25 bomber skin.

The 379th Bomb Group was activated 26 November 1942, assembled and trained at Wendover Field, Utah, until 2 December 1942. Moved to Sioux City Air Force Base, Iowa, on 3 February 1943. Boeing constructed B-17F-75-BO was assigned to 527th Bomb Squadron [Crossed Bombs and Skull] on 20 March 1943, flew the North Atlantic ferry route to England on 15 April 1943, arrived Kimbolton, Station #117, five days later. “Tondelayo” first operation was flown 29 May 1943, ran out of fuel returning from raid on Stuttgart, Germany, 6 September 1943, ditched in English Channel near Dover, all aircrew rescued. The original Petty Girl pose came from the full page Jantzen ad in LIFE magazine May 1940. This original George Petty art painting [next page] sold by Heritage Auctions in August 2009 for $15,535.00, present owner unknown.




George Petty took two full weeks to complete this original 14” by 11” [36 x 27cm] painting for Jantzen Knitting Mills. [Courtesy Reid Stewart Austin from owner Charles G. Martignette] Original 1940 Petty painting, sold from Martignette Estate in 2009 for $15,535 U.S.


George Petty was a master in touching up his original Esquire gatefold paintings and reselling for advertising. The Esquire July 1941 gatefold was repainted in red wearing a pilot uniform for Shirtcraft Airman shirts. The insert Airman ad appeared in LIFE magazine in 1943, and now men also required a new tie to go with their new shirt.

In early 1944, George Petty negotiated a new contact with Hut Neckwear Company to produce Petty Girls men’s ties. This name royalty paid George $600 per month and twelve designed Petty original ties were sold across the United States at $2.50 each.

[Esquire July 1941 from Reid Stewart Austin as a gift. Inset from author LIFE magazine collection.]




Rothschild’s Petty Girl ad courtesy Peter Perrault collection. Insert [right] is original Petty Tie from his rare collection, featuring the Esquire October 1939 pin-up girl.

This fully nude Petty cartoon with no face first appeared in Esquire October 1939. She also appeared on the cover of Esquire for January 1940 and inside the same issue as memorial Petty cartoons. [courtesy Reid Stewart Austin collection]

Memorial Petty Girl cartoons January 1940 issue of Esquire. [courtesy Peter Perrault collection] These nine girls all appeared in 1937-38-39 issues of Esquire magazine.



The 1944, Petty Girl Original Ties came in twelve or more different designs, but the only pin-up girl was the original October 1939 painting. She appeared on thousands of Petty Original Ties. [courtesy Peter Perrault collection]



Another 1943 Airman Shirt stand-up display. [Peter Perrault collection]

[Author collection]


On 2 December 1944, a new B-17G-100-BO arrived at Bassingbourn, England, and was assigned to the 91st B.G., 323rd Bomb Squadron. Her first operation was flown on 15 December, given the nose art name “Peace or Burst” and art inspired from the Petty Girl Airman Shirt advertisement. This lady became the third and very last of three Petty nose art girls painted by Tony Starcer in England.  Note – the dark red telephone line was painted on the fuselage leading to the pilot position of Lt. Dean. The B-17G completed 37 missions until 11 April 1945, damaged by Flak she made a forced landing near an Allied base camp. Salvaged from her landing site in Germany, 10 December 1945, and scrapped in Europe.  

In January 1945, George Petty began a three-year span painting thirty-five new Petty Girls which appeared in Man’s Magazine TRUE.  [Author collection below – November 1947]

These paintings were the single strongest Petty Girl paintings since the beginning of WWII entry by the United States in January 1942. [Officially War declared 8 December 1941] By 1945, True magazine circulation was 440,994 and two years later it swelled to 1,066,877 which most likely was partly due to the new True Petty Girl gatefolds. George Petty painted his favorite 1930 and early 1940 models as being redheads and blondes, the Dark haired girl rarely appeared, then in True magazine three brunettes appeared, such as November 1947. Another first was the special painted “Super Size Petty Girl” [9.25 by 22 inch] which appeared in a one-time three-page gatefold of the December 1946 issue of True.


The December 1946 largest vintage Petty Girl “True” gatefold. [Author collection]

The True Petty Girl was also published in calendars for 1947 and 1948. [Author collection]

Author collection – January 1948.

The 1948 sketches and paintings were the last nudes posed by daughter Marjorie Petty, she married on 4 September 1948, becoming Mrs. M. MacLeod.

At least three Petty Girls from Esquire and True calendars appeared on a new line of Men’s Silk Varsity manufactured Petty Boxer shorts. Below is Esquire February 1940 Petty Girl.                                                 [Courtesy Peter Perrault collection]

This original Petty Girl appeared in Esquire magazine February 1940, then re-appeared as the December 1947 True Calendar girl, and lastly on men’s 1948 Varsity boxer shorts. [Author collection] The American Petty style glamour artist was slowly entering the new era of photographic pin-ups and the glamour photo calendar, which Petty fully understood. The end of the painted pin-up girl was fast approaching.

This rare [undated] Petty Girl display for Blue-Jay corn plasters once again shows the brilliant business smarts of artist George Petty. The original red phone cord [Wool Yarn] is still in mint condition. Just one of many items in the huge collection of Peter Perrault, who has spent a life-time preserving the Petty Girl past. Now, if there were just a Petty Museum to display, educate, and preserve this forgotten Petty Girl history which changed the pin-up girl in United States and Canada 1933 to 1945.





On a Sunday morning, 25 June 1950, South Korea calm was suddenly shattered with the roar of gunfire and the clanking of North Korean tanks. It was the beginning of three years of United Nations war which moved up and down the Korean Peninsula, a conflict which never ended. This ‘U.N. police action’ was the first American “political war” and this was reflected in some aircraft nose art. The American fighting man had been placed in a killing war he was not political permitted to win and I feel some protested with flamboyant nude girl art and names like “United Notions.” In 1948, Esquire magazine replaced the famous Alberto Vargas with Al Moore and he created the 1948 new “Esquire Girl.” By 1950, the Al Moore two-page gatefold girls and calendars were being collected by millions of American males, which inspired Korean War aircraft nose art to a large degree. The big surprise being the Petty Girls of True magazine 1947 and 48 calendars never appeared in the Korean War, while a few Vargas True magazine girls from 1952 did. I can only guess the 1930-40 Petty dream girls were no longer popular.

This October 1952 Esquire Girl was painted by artist named “Michael” and “Sweet Miss Lillian” appeared on a Douglas B-26C, serial 44-34334, 17th Bomb Wing, 37th Bomb Squadron, K-9, Pusan, Korea.

This photo came from Major Robert C. Mikesh in 1974, who reported the artist charged $15.00 per nose art painting and did most of the 17th B. Wing paintings in South Korea, September, October, and November 1952. Fine artistic talent. [Author collection]



Reid Stewart Austin collection gifted to author.



It is possible this Petty Girl [Pink Bunny, Esquire, May 1939] unconsciously inspired the dreams of a young Hugh Hefner who first worked as copy-editor for Esquire magazine. It has been documented [Reid Stewart Austin, who was 1960 art director for Playboy] Hefner hung Petty Girls on his bedroom walls and this rabbit-eared image hung above his bed. From the very start in December 1953, his new publication “Playboy” was aimed at the indoor, city-born, rich, sophisticated male in North America who enjoyed the best of female company. The world famous Black Rabbit was sketched for the second publication of Playboy and history was made. I suspect the original Petty Girl Pink Bunny connection may never be proven, however it sounds reasonable. Playboy magazine, their center-fold Playmates, and girl pin-up paintings by Alberto Vargas became the inspiration for a large number of Vietnam aircraft and helicopter nose art paintings.   



Vietnam became the first war in American aviation history to produce a new category in military aircraft nose art. The U.S. military found itself on the outside of a growing wave of isolationist and pacifistic attitudes and this provided a unique new aircraft art directed at the establishment. The F-105 Thunderchief first saw action over North Vietnam on 2 March 1965, and was affectionately known as the THUD. The F-105 fighter carried the most colorful combat aircraft nose art, [including anti-war rhetoric] ranking alongside the B-17s and B-24s flying in WW II. F-105D-10RE, serial 60-0504, had been operational in Thailand since mid-1965, then was taken over by Major ‘Buddy” Jones in April 1970. Flying with the 357th Tactical Fighter Squadron his Thud was painted and named “Memphis Belle II” for her last six months of combat missions. The “Belle” returned to the U.S. and became part of the 127th T.F. [Training] Squadron at McConnell A.F.B. Kansas.

[Wikimedia Commons image]

The original “Memphis Belle II” serial 60-0504 preserved at the National Museum of the U.S.A.F., with two red Stars on her nose for Mig-17 kills in Vietnam.




From 1972-75 James H. Farmer published a nose art column in the Journal of American Aviation Historical Society titled Art and the Airman. These well researched articles became a major reference base for my early research into American postwar aircraft nose art. Farmer became an expert on documenting the huge range of nose art painted on the F-105 Thuds flown in Vietnam. In the Spring of 1973, Farmer wrote – “The reason for the decline in nude and erotic ladies in Vietnam was perhaps an increase in the overall level of the 1970s pilot education, around 32 years compared to the WWII average pilot age of 24 years.” He suggested pilot maturity, education, and professionalism effected nose art aircraft markings. I had to wait almost twenty-years to find the answer to that question. No, it did not.

Kuwait’s invasion by Iraq on 2 August 1990, led to the largest deployment of world military hardware since 1945. The United Nations Coalition Forces numbered 700,000 troops from 32 nations and over 2,000 combat aircraft, in Operation Desert Storm, which began 15 January 1991. Seventy-five per cent of the coalition air forces came from the United States and almost every aircraft carried some form of nose art. RAF ground units in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain painted the first nose art and the British crossed many lines with the local religious police.

RAF Buccaneer S-2B [XW547] Gulf nose art by Cpl Letham became a most talked-about graphic art, and I don’t believe the veil did anything to appease the Saudi religious police?


Most of the RAF reclining nose art ladies wearing little else than a sweet smile, were Ok for the fighters in remote desert bases, but not for Lyneham’s Hercules transports based in Riyadh, the Saudi capital. Female nose art was definitely out, but somehow ground crew artist J.A. Osborough painted this “Foxy Lady” life-size on Hercules C.1P serial XV206.

XV206 moved British special forces around the Gulf War and the nude nose art remained for her complete combat tour, to the delight of all troops. The lady was in fact a “Femlin” which was created by artist Leroy Neiman for Playboy magazine and appeared in every issue beginning in 1957. Gremlins were a large part of WWII nose art, created by RAF pilot F/Lt. Roald Dahl [Charlie and the Chocolate Factory author fame] which was brought to book and cartoon production by Walt Disney artist William Justice in 1943. The tiny twelve-inch-high female Gremlin was called “Fifinella” and being good-luck, appeared on a number of aircraft as WWII nose art. Hugh Hefner wanted his 12” female Gremlin to highlight the pages in Playboy magazine and named her “FEMLIN” appearing over the next fifty years. So, there’s a lot more to aircraft nose art than just a nude pretty lady, which most times is only shared by pilots and aircrew/ground-crew. The Gulf War proved once again, if you are willing to die for another man’s country, you can paint what you want on your own government aircraft. Then the hero’s/survivors return home and everything must be removed at once.

The 12” Walt Disney art of “Fifinella” by William Justice [left] and the 1957 Playboy Hefner “Femlin” both appeared on many aircraft from WWII until the Gulf War, where the “Memphis Belle” Petty Girl nose art suddenly reappeared on USAF fighter and bomber aircraft.

This Fairchild A-10A Thunderbolt II, serial 80-0229, became Memphis Belle III in the Gulf War.

Another “Memphis Belle III” painted on B-52G, serial 59-2594. These Stratofortress bombers flew 14 hour bombing missions to targets in Iraq and Kuwait, and carried impressive American nose art.


Memphis Belle IV, B-52H, serial 60-0001 flew missions in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Memphis Belle V today flies on a Lockheed C-141 Starlifter serial 67-0024. [both free domain]

“Memphis Belle X” flies [2021] on a C-5 Galaxy serial 69-9025 while “Memphis Belle XI” flies on a C-17 Globemaster III, serial 93-0600. [The photos can be found online; however, they are not free domain]

Anthony L. [Tony] Starcer, [16 September 1919 – 9 June 1986] the 8th Air Force nose artist who created the first nose art Memphis Belle. [1942 left and 1982 right]


Tony joined the Army Air Force in spring of 1942, and was shipped to Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, for his basic training and then graduated to mechanic training. One day Tony was assigned to general cleaning duties in the Officer’s Club, where he observed a man painting a large mural and told him he had too much blue in his color mix. He was told if he thought he could do better, then go ahead and finish the painting. Starcer finished the mural and during his spare time began painting air force insignia on ashtrays. After mechanic training Tony was posted to the 91st Bombardment Group [The Ragged Irregulars] in third phase B-17 training at Walla Walla Air Base Washington. The ground echelon took the train to Fort Dix, NJ and boarded the Queen Mary which sailed for England on 5 September 1942. The Air echelon remained at base waiting for new B-17F aircaft and flew the North Atlantic ferry route in late September, arriving Kimbolton, England, on 10 October 1942. The complete 91st Bomb Group began their move to Bassingbourn [American Station #121] on 14 October, where they remained until 23 June 1945. When the 8th Air Force arrived in U.K. [97th B.G. July 1942] the USAAF had no official form of unit markings for their aircraft, and the RAF visual code single letter tail fin system was adopted. In November 1942, the 91st B.G. began painting their B-17s with a medium-green blotching upper surface spray painted in a shadow-shade camouflage, and RAF three-letter squadron and aircraft single letter on both sides of the fuselage in 50” large bright yellow paint. Tony was assigned the task of spray painting the green blotching and painting the large squadron and assigned aircraft code letters on the fuselage of B-17s in the 322nd and 401st B. Squadrons.. At the same time, he began to paint the names of girlfriends and wives at the various positions of the ten aircrew B-17 aircraft stations. [This information was explained in a January 1983 letter from Starcer]

Painting by Hugh Polder, gift from WWII nose artist Nick H, Fingelly.

From December 1942 until March 1943, four 8th Air Force Bomb Groups painted their B-17F bombers with RAF style Medium Green blotching. [91st, 303rd, 305th, and 306th  Groups] The above photo and painting shows the Medium Green blotching on the Memphis Belle, first painted by Tony Starcer before he became an aircraft nose artist. Tony’s first nose painting appeared on B-17F, serial 42-2990, named “Dame Satan” followed by B-17F, serial 41-24639, “Careful Virgin” which was just lettering. His third painting was a B-17F, serial 41-24485, and pilot Robert K. Morgan picked the nose art name for his Memphis fiancee “Little One” Margaret Polk, the Esquire pinup gatefold girl was the April 1941 Petty Girl. This complete Memphis Belle history can be found on many websites, many, many, publications, and alongside the original “Belle” in the National Museum of the USAF at Dayton Ohio. However, one small part of aviaiton nose art history is still forgotten. During the American war years [1942-45] the pin-up art of Alberto Vargas controlled the market, along with many other fine American girl illustrators. George Petty only painted two new pin-up girls 1943, yet his other Esquire girls from 1939-41 retained their nose art male attraction.

Tony Starcer continued to paint nose art ladies [over 68 paintings] with at least 45 from the pages of Esquire magazine gatefold “Varga” Girls, only three were known Petty Girls. [Author collection]

“Boston Bombshell” was the August 1943 Esquire Varga Girl, reversed on nose of B-17G-10-VE, serial 42-39898, 91st B.G., 332 B.S., shot down 13 December 1943. [Ray Bowden collection]

A few of his Esquire Varga Girls were captured on color film like this 35 mm slide image taken by Mark Brown at Bassingbourn, England, plus painting real WAC American nurse presentation B-17G nose art, “Lady Helen [Lt. Pierson] of Wimpole, USAAF Hospital.



[Author collection]

Tony Starcer’s nose art was inspired and copied from many other famous illustrators such as Earl Moran, Rolf Armstrong, and a most respected glamour girl painter Gil Elvgren. Gil was in a class of his own with a brilliant painting technique, which was studied and copied by Tony, and as Stracer painted, he was also learning from the masters. In 1940, Elvgren worked for Coca-Cola and his full page ads appeared in mainstream magazines. The color insert was painted in 1941, titled “Net Results” which was reproduced [bubble gum cards, match covers, and calendars] a number of times during the war, becoming “Little Patches” with the 324th Bomb Squadron, B-17G, serial 42-31678. This original nose art [above] was repainted by Starcer after a fire in 1944, with longer hair and more rounded [OH!] lips appearing in the second painting. The full history of “Little Patches” can be found on the USAAF nose art project website. Starcer preferred to paint quality pin-up girls, rather than the topless or fully nude images requested by many aircrew, however he did paint half-a-dozen topless ladies.




This B-17F “Miss Minooke” 42-30712, was an early Starcer topless pin-up.

“The Keystone MaMa” #42-97455 was also topless and very rare black pin-up girl. Shot down by Flak over Berlin, Germany 19 May 1944.


The “Lady of Color” B-17G nose art was possibly inspired by this 1940 cartoon which appeared in Click magazine, artist Robert E. Lee. Cuddles and her dog appeared in every issue which was a direct spin-off from the Petty Girls in the 30s and 1940s, again inspiring many American aircraft nose art paintings.

The 91st B.G. would have 298 Flying Fortress bombers assigned and around 270 received some form of painting or nose art name. The author has identified at least 180 were painted by Tony Starcer and his assistant artist Charles Frank Busa Sr. Two other nose artists completed a dozen more paintings and Busa completed four of his own paintings. Cpl. T. Starcer painting “Heavyweight Annihilator No. 2” serial 42-5712. The lady was not a Vargas or Petty Girl, assigned a new crew and painted over becoming “My Prayer” salvaged 20 March 1944. [Paul C. Burnett collection]





B-17F serial 41-24505 arrived 26 September 1942, assigned code DF-E and was painted by Starcer from the Esquire October 1938 Petty Girl. No lit candle appeared on his nose art “QUITCHURBITCHIN” Petty Girl painting. Shot up badly on 8th A.F. mission #22, Lorient, France, 22 November 1942, the bomber became a ‘Hangar Queen’ raided for spare parts by ground crews. Repaired and transferred as a B-17 trainer aircraft on 15 March 1944.



This Esquire October 1938 Petty Girl became the nose art for B-17F “Quitchurbitchin” and is believed to be the second of three nose art Petty Girls painted by Tony Starcer. [Courtesy Peter Perrault collection]


Flying alongside thirty or more Vargas Girls in the 91st Bomb Group, the April 1941 faceless Petty Girl became the first of three painted by Tony Starcer, plus world famous. [Author collection]


The 91st Bomb Group suffered the highest loss of bomber aircraft in the 8th Air Force [England] with 197 Fortress aircraft missing in action. That’s two thousand aircrew killed or POW over thirty-three months of air war. On 17 May 1943, the little Petty Girl became the first B-17F honoured and filmed for completing twenty-five missions in the 8th Air Force. Charles Frank Busa Sr. [top right] the nose art assistant to Tony Starcer paint her 25th bomb [mission] symbol. This simple faceless Esquire magazine Petty Girl beat the odds in more ways than one, and now she is forever aviation world famous. [USAAF photo 1943]



The “Memphis Belle” history came by phone calls and letters from nose artist Tony Starcer, 1980-1986. This was first published thirty years ago in the book “The History of Aircraft NOSE ART WWI to Today, 1991, Jeffrey L. Ethell – Clarence Simonsen. The Petty Girl story and rare images are from the generosity of Reid Stewart Austin. Peter Perrault has assembled the largest collection of Petty Girl publications and Petty merchandise in the world. Peter was very kind to lend his Petty Girl knowledge and loan some of his rare forgotten George Petty items for first time Blog publication. Thank you Peter.

RCAF Staging Unit, Sandspit British Columbia – 1944-46

Research by Clarence Simonsen

RCAF Station Sandspit British Columbia

Click on the link above for the PDF version

Text version

Wild Milk Cow Mascot

RCAF Staging Unit, Sandspit British Columbia – 1944-46

Sandspit – “A small sandy point or narrow strip of land projecting into a large body of water from the main shoreline.”
By 1935, the Canadian government slowly began to receive disturbing evidence that a second world war was inevitable, and senior RCAF officers were assigned to examine the function of the Air Force in protecting Canada’s two coastlines. In August, Major General E.C. Ashton, the Chief of General Staff [Army Officer], received a lengthy memorandum from Senior Air Officer, Air Commodore G.M. Croil, RCAF. A long past forgotten point in his memo was a fact stated, the RCAF held a third position in the national defence plan of Canada but they were not being treated as an equal partner by the Army and Navy. A/C Croil next authorized S/L Mawdesley, three other officers, and thirteen airmen to be detached from RCAF Station Jericho Beach and formed a special west coast aerial survey reconnaissance unit. The information collected from these officers and airmen in 1936-37, laid the foundation for the future construction of five west coast RCAF Flying Boat Stations, which provided front line coastal defence during WWII. Near the end of 1937, the original memo sent by A/C Croil still set dormant in Ottawa, so he updated his 1935 report, and on 3 November 1937, he placed the new document in the hands of the Deputy Minister for Defence, for immediate consideration by the Minister of Defence. This time the Canadian government took action and the “Pacific Coast Development Act” was passed on 22 December 1937. The RCAF reconnaissance detachment original aerial survey [formed by A/C Croil] recommended locating an RCAF Flying Boat Station on the shore of Skidegate Inlet, at Alliford Bay, as this site provided a strategic central location and offered natural protection. RCAF Orders were received in 1938 for the construction to begin at RCAF Station Alliford Bay, B.C., by the forerunner of Western Air Command Wireless Transmission Party which later became RCAF No. 1 Works Construction Unit. RCAF Alliford Bay Detachment moved into the new base on 4 September 1939, during construction, and just six days before Canada declared war on Germany.

Air Vice-Marshal G.M. Croil, A.F.C., front cover of Maclean’s magazine 15 March 1940. Photo by H. F. Kells, author collection. This is the forgotten RCAF officer who fought to get recognition for the Air Force on the west coast and ordered the aerial survey for future west coast Flying Boat Stations in 1936-37. His facial expression tells a lot about the [man] officer.

Free domain RCAF image of Supermarine Stranraer #912, from Jericho Beach, B.C. The first official flying boat to land at RCAF Alliford Bay, as noted in the first Daily Diary records 4 Sept. 1939.
Alliford Bay Station was carved out of dense forest which grew on rocky terrain down to the edge of the ocean, which depth changed ten feet during low or high tide. The station was far from complete as Canada went to war, the pier, hangar, and most of the living quarters were still in half-finished state. The RCAF personnel were divided into work gangs which renamed themselves “Bull Gangs” after American prison work gangs of the 1930 era. Alliford Bay was the most isolated of all RCAF flying boat stations and for that reason no 48-hour passes were ever issued, as there was no place to visit. RCAF men’s wives were not allowed to live on the base and the only small part of civilization was the Haida Indian village on Skidegate Inlet, which was ‘out of bounds’ to all personnel. In 1940, a large number of new ‘single’ RCAF tradesmen were posted to Alliford Bay for twelve months, for obvious reasons, eat, sleep, and learn your new air force trade. With no wine, women, or sex, the new isolated station soon earned the nickname “Eveless Eden” and nobody wished to be posted to this all work and no play isolated flying boat station. Recreational programmes [basketball] and Y.W.C.A. scheduled entertainment provided the only break and at times the Vancouver Canadian Legion shipped a few kegs of ‘free’ beer. The RCAF managed to get one very important part correct, Alliford Bay had the best Flight Sergeant cook on the west coast and he prepared excellent meals for the isolated station. Please read the wonderful book “Jericho Beach” by Chris Weicht, the best publication on the life of West Coast Flying Boat Stations.

Author drawing of Eveless Eden, not to scale.
Alliford Bay would grow in size and by 1941 the number of buildings totalled around 50, shown above. The Ammo Magazine Depot was located [red] across from the main base and was out of bounds to all unauthorized personnel. Before a flying boat could be serviced, all ammo and anti-submarine depth charges were unloaded at the Ammo Depot dock and stored. The Marine section had three boats, M-199 “Godwell”, M-265 “Loon”, and M-430 “Puffin.” In the 1920s a small species of deer was introduced to the Queen Charlotte Islands, and they roamed freely around the base, with no fear of the airmen. Several were adopted and wandered in and out of buildings, all were given the name Kwuna, the Haida word for point, located at the ferry crossing dock.

The first postings to Alliford Bay lasted twelve long months, which was shortened to six months in October 1941. On 11 October 1941, Aircraftsman First Class Mathew Cecil Ferguson stepped off a boat at Eveless Eden. After six months training at No. 1 Technical School, St. Thomas, Ontario, Mat was ready to earn his new trade as an Aero Engineer [mechanic]. The image of Mat Ferguson was obtained from his wife Levina in 2001, and it was taken at Calgary, Alberta, before he left for Alliford Bay, B.C. The personnel photo album of Mat contained a drawing of the little deer which became the base unofficial insignia, and Mrs. Ferguson believed it was first drawn by her late husband. Sadly, Mat was murdered in his Calgary home he built and the teen who stabbed him was never even charged with his death. Mat Ferguson had artistic talent, creating two other RCAF insignia, and became Canada’s Greatest Aircraft Nose artist during World War Two. I believe for historical sake he should be credited with creating the first “Kwuna” deer insignia at Alliford Bay in 1941. By 1944, a totem had been added to the original deer design, appearing as cover art on their base newsletter “Victory.” Kwuna the original deer mascot died on 22 January 1944.

The burial site of Kwuana on her beach near a fresh water creek where the mascot drank. A willow tree was planted in her memory.

The March 1942 Alliford Bay front cover of Victory newsletter high-lighted the importance of the Queen Charlotte Islands in protecting the vast west coast of Canada during WWII.

Graham and Moresby Islands served like a giant Canadian aircraft carrier, with three radar locations and eight coast watch lookouts. The flying boats at Alliford Bay provided a wide range of anti-submarine air patrols. In 1943, construction of two land based aircraft airstrips began in support of Alliford Bay and the west coast of British Columbia. The beach front steel mat plate on sand landing strip at RCAF Masset was completed on 23 July 1943, officially opened two days later.


Western Air Command Order No. 5 for the construction of RCAF Sandspit, B.C. were issued on 4 August 1943. The RCAF construction operation was code named “Lawson” which was used on all official correspondence.


The pre-construction survey of RCAF Sandspit B.C. began on 9 August 1943, under charge of F/L Nesbitt, No. 9 [CMU] RCAF Construction and Maintenance Unit. The new airstrip was located 9 miles [15 k/m] east of RCAF Alliford Bay, B.C.
The original RCAF Western Air Command Wireless Transmission Party was redesignated No. 1 RCAF Works Construction Unit [WCU] on 1 March 1942. They were assigned construction of roads, buildings, coastal watch stations, and the new radar installions on the B.C. coastline. On 9 November 1942, No. 1 Works Construction Unit was renamed RCAF No. 9 Construction and Maintenance Unit, assigned all construction projects up and down the west coast of B.C. In early July they were assigned the construction of land based airstrip RCAF Station Masset, which was completed in the period 11 July to 25 July 1943. They next loaded their equipment on three supply barges and moved south to construct land base RCAF Sandspit B.C. Below is a list of No. 9 CMU construction equipment on charge 31 August 1943.

The RCAF No. 9 C.M.U. official insignia became an International “TracTracTor” model T.D. 18 with dozer blade, they had five on charge [see above] in the unit M.T. records.
F/L Nesbitt was selected the officer in charge and he arrived at Sandspit on 9 August 1943. Four days later, three [300-ton] Scows [barges] with nine International tractors, [five model T.D. 18 and four T.D. 14] plus seven other constructions heavy equipment machinery and fifty workers arrived at RCAF Sandspit, B.C. On the 15 August, their work camp was completed and airfield construction could begin. Their Daily Diary reads: 20 August 43 – Falling and piling of lumber 60% complete. 21 August 43 – Landing strip 500 feet wide roughed in and cleared of trees.

Maclean’s magazine 1943.
Five 1942 International “TracTracTor” model T.D. 18 Crawlers [above] with bulldozers and four model T.D. 14 Crawlers with winches and bulldozers carved out the new landing strip at RCAF Sandspit, 15 August to 18 September 1943. The heavy construction departed by barge and forty workmen with trucks were left to finish the runway with a gravel surface. All airfield heavy construction was completed by the end of the month.

Maclean’s magazine 1943.
No. 9 CMU had on strength seven International T.D. 14 “TracTracTors” with four-wheel scrapers, and four of these units constructed the landing site at RCAF Sandspit, B.C. The runway had a 500 ft. wide cleared flight path, 350 ft. of crushed compacted gravel and the length was 4,800 feet from beach front to beach front.

Maclean’s magazine 1943.
Five International 3-ton heavy duty dump trucks were used in the construction plus six GMC Army trucks 4 x 4 stake, spray truck, machine shop on wheels and general purpose truck. Two road maintainer graders, one rubber-tired packer roller and one gasoline driven shovel were employed in the gravel strip construction.
The three following Canadian built GMC 4 x 4 RCAF construction trucks were used on the site, the ones displayed are the Canadian Government issue which appeared in Maclean’s magazine for 1943.



The air strip was not used due to the soft covering of gravel which would not support heavy aircraft, and was only for emergency landings. Orders Western Air Command 3 April 1944.

In seven weeks, May and June 1944, six inches of gravel were added to the airfield, rolled, and covered with asphalt surface 150 feet wide, extended to 5,000 feet long.

RCAF Sandspit, B.C. became No. 23 Staging Unit on this date with No. 4 Signals Unit operating night and day, call sign Sandspit.

On 12 July 1944, regular scheduled RCAF flights were made three times each week by RCAF Expeditor #1404, #1386, and #1384. Mail flights were made by Norseman #2483, #2488, and #3536. Grumman Goose #396, and Avro Anson’s #449, #450, and #1245 made training flights. A number of U.S. Navy aircraft also stopped on the airfield for fuel or emergency repairs. These aircraft had to be warned to look out for wild milk cows on the runway, which led to the most unusual RCAF unit crest in the whole Canadian wartime air force. In 1886, British settlers from the Hudson’s Bay Company released cattle in the eastern side of Queen Charlotte Island and more cattle were abandoned in 1914, when settlers left to join during World War One.


These domestic animals had turned wild and freely roamed the airfield and sandy beach front area surrounding the paved runway surface. A number were shot and butchered for their meat.

The ‘unofficial’ 1944 RCAF airfield gate sign painting featured a wild milk cow.

Author replica gate sign painting.
I wish I knew the name of the original artist for this humorous but rare WWII RCAF No. 23 Staging Unit [Sandspit, B.C.] Landing Ground gate sign in use April 1944 to July 1946. The original art, painted on canvas, size was around eight feet wide by five feet high and hung on the top floor control tower hand railing. Replica painted on original aircraft skin from RCAF No. 8 [Musk Ox] Squadron. RCAF Bolingbroke #9041, the oldest RCAF Bolingbroke in the world, flew WWII patrols from Sea Island, [Vancouver], B.C. The aircraft was allocated to No. 4 Training Command in November 1943, and flown to Calgary, Alberta, placed into storage. Sold as war surplus it was purchased by a local Airdrie, Alberta, farmer in 1946. Rescued from his farm at Airdrie, in 1988, the full history can be found on the Bomber Command Museum website at Nanton, Alberta. A large part of this RCAF Bolingbroke is today in the replica rebuild of the Nanton Bomber Command Museum of Canada British RAF Blenheim aircraft.

These two public domain images were taken by photographer Donn Williams in March 1945, showing the construction of some twenty new [PMQ] Private Military Quarters units at RCAF Sandspit, B.C.

Above D.D. records the RCAF unit strength on 1 November 1945, total 44 all ranks, and a new home to live in with the wife and kids. Summer time was great, very little work, swimming, best fishing in the world, and living in the great outdoors. Flights to and from Vancouver arrived three times a week and mail arrived once a week. The only excitement recorded in the Daily Diary was the C.O.s house burned down on 4 May 1946. Three months later the RCAF were gone from Sandspit and the Canadian Department of Transport took over all air traffic duties.

The Commanding Officer F/L Inglis left a parting message in the Daily Diary – “I hope in the future the D.O.T. will be able to maintain Sandspit’s unblemished flying record of the past 20 Months.” Sadly, that would not be the case.

In 1952, the Douglas Aircraft Company, four-engine, DC-4 monoplane, had become the American choice for wartime military transport. Serial number N45342 was owned by TWA, and leased to Northwest Airlines to transport servicemen home from the Korean War.


Northwest Flight 324 crashed on a large sandbar in fifteen feet of water. The aircraft broke apart on impact and the upper fuselage was destroyed by tide wave force. The wings, engines, and belly section with cargo, remains buried in the sandbar today, covered by fifteen feet of water high tide and six feet low tide.

In 1787, British Captain George Dixon surveyed the islands and named them after his ship, HMS Queen Charlotte. American fur traders used the islands and called them “Washington’s Island” until 1846, [Oregon Treaty] and they became part of Canada. On 3 June 2010, B.C. legislation received royal assent and the name was changed back to “Haida Gwaii” to recognize the history of the Haida first nations people, meaning islands of the people. They have lived and called the islands home for the past 13,000 years. RCAF Station Alliford Bay is gone and forgotten, nothing remains except old WWII photos being sold for far too much money on the internet. The little Deer “Kwuana” remains in her unknown burial site, while a B.C. Ferry carries the same name as it sails from Kwuana Point, just a few miles north of the old abandoned wartime base site. Sandspit airport which was never really needed or used for protection during WWII, has become the major transportation gateway to Haida Gwaii, B.C. It has scheduled passenger service, air ambulance and provides many other services for the local population. Cattle still wander the Island, however they are branded and locally owned, and its against the law to shoot them.


RCAF “Umingmak” at Yakutat 1942-1943

Updated 26 November 2020


Error on the very last page with Brenda the balancing seal by Disney. She first appeared in LIFE magazine on 26 May 1941.

Clarence Simonsen

Research by Clarence Simonsen


In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, Sitka became the first seat of government in this new possession and first sight for a military base. In the late 1800s, many forts were constructed to provide law and order, and these Army units were also busy conducting geographic expeditions, communications, and a limited zig-zag rail and road network. Control of Alaska remained with the U.S. Army until 1877, then the U.S. Treasury Department assumed control and the U.S. Navy took over in 1884. During the Klondike Gold Rush, the U.S. Army returned for a short time and by 1912, [Alaska became a U.S. Territory] they were mostly gone and would not return for twenty-eight more years. In 1922, several nations signed the Washington Conference Treaty which limited the production of armaments by these countries, including Japan. In 1934, Japan suddenly renounced the treaty and this created no political reaction from the United States Government or more surprisingly no American military response. The following year, General William [Billy] Mitchell, an outspoken critic of military preparedness, spoke to an American Congressional hearing, and told them Alaska was the keystone to American peace and that Alaska was the most central place in the world for American aircraft.

 “Japan is our dangerous enemy in the Pacific” but the American Congress was in no mood to listen or appropriate funds for military construction in Alaska. Five years later, Congress allotted 48 million to start construction of the first new airfields in Alaska, and that marked the beginning of U.S. Yakutat Army Air Base, [Landing Field] Alaska.

Click on the link below for the PDF version

RCAF – Yakutat Army Air Base (PDF version)

Text version without images

RCAF “Umingmak” at Yakutat 1942-1943

In 1867, the United States purchased Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million, Sitka became the first seat of government in this new possession and first sight for a military base. In the late 1800s, many forts were constructed to provide law and order, and these Army units were also busy conducting geographic expeditions, communications, and a limited zig-zag rail and road network. Control of Alaska remained with the U.S. Army until 1877, then the U.S. Treasury Department assumed control and the U.S. Navy took over in 1884. During the Klondike Gold Rush, the U.S. Army returned for a short time and by 1912, [Alaska became a U.S. Territory] they were mostly gone and would not return for twenty-eight more years. In 1922, several nations signed the Washington Conference Treaty which limited the production of armaments by these countries, including Japan. In 1934, Japan suddenly renounced the treaty and this created no political reaction from the United States Government or more surprisingly no American military response. The following year, General William [Billy] Mitchell, an outspoken critic of military preparedness, spoke to an American Congressional hearing, and told them Alaska was the keystone to American peace and that Alaska was the most central place in the world for American aircraft.

“Japan is our dangerous enemy in the Pacific” but the American Congress was in no mood to listen or appropriate funds for military construction in Alaska. Five years later, Congress allotted 48 million to start construction of the first new airfields in Alaska, and that marked the beginning of U.S. Yakutat Army Air Base, [Landing Field] Alaska.

There are a variety of Indigenous Nations living in the Northwest coast of both Canada and the Alaskan panhandle of the U.S.A. They do not have any strict boundaries and live in areas which occupy territories in British Columbia, Yukon, Canada, and Alaska, USA. Their earliest settlement occupation is now known to be around 13,000 years ago, during the end of the last ice age. Archeological investigations discovered the Tlingit [pronounced “klink it”] lived around the village of Yakutat for the past 8,600 years and their oral history can be traced back to the eruption of Mount Edgecumbe, 4,500 years ago. That’s a First Nation heritage to be very proud of, and I know they are.

Their long peaceful occupation at Yakutat was first altered in 1780 with the arrival of the Russians, who came in search of riches, and lusted for Tlingit lands and their beautiful daughters. In 1790, the Russians established a fort and a prison next to the village of Yakutat, murder and rape followed thanks to the white man. This published story was obtained by Jack Spalding from Indian source Peter Lawrence who lived at Yakutat village in 1940. After the fort and prison were constructed, some visiting Russian Navy Officers abducted and carried off to their ship some of the female teenage girls and transported them to northern Alaska. To obtain revenge, the village males made plans and when the Russians went on a hunting expedition, leaving the fort unprotected, the Indians attacked, killed all on site and set fire to the fort. The returning hunting party were then attacked and all were killed. The native members of the Bear and Crow families, carved an image of a Bear on a large rock, in belief they would be protected from the returning Russians. When the Russian Navy returned in 1804, a short battle took place until the Tlingit ran out of gunpowder, and were forced to escape to Chatham Strait. The Russians then built Novo Arkhangelsk [Sitka] on the site of the Tlingit original winter village site, and this became their colonial capital and Russian Headquarters. After the purchase of Alaska from the Russians in 1867, the military policy of the United States did very little until the creation of Yakutat Bay Naval Reservation, which was constructed in summer of 1930. On 25 April 1939, Congress passed a Navy bill for the construction of air stations at Sitka, Kodiak, and a radio station at Dutch Harbor. In 1940, the very rapid escalation of the war with Hitler in Europe, and the increasing war-like Japanese activity in Asia, forced Congress to pass the Third Supplemental Defense Appropriation Act money [1.7 Billion] for construction of air bases at Anchorage, [Headquarters] Kodiak, Yakutat, and Annette Island in southeastern Alaskan panhandle. In July 1940, Lt. General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr. was assigned commander of the newly created [17 June 1940] Alaska Defense Force, which was in fact a non-existent force, one which he would have to build from the ground up. The first ground troops of the Alaska Defense Force arrived on 27 June 1940, 780 officers and their troops in the 4th Infantry Regiment. The first Air Corps personnel arrived at Merrill Field, [Anchorage’s municipal airport] on 9 August 1940, flying old Martin B-10 Bombers. Major Everett S. Davis became the Chief of Aviation for the new Alaska Air Defense Force, [17 June 1940] and the first Commanding Officer of the future 11th Army Air Force. The new Alaskan Air Force was constituted on 28 December 1941, and activated on 15 January 1942. They officially became the Eleventh Air Force on 17 February 1942, and participated in the offensive that drove the Japanese from the Aleutians. The Aleutian Islands Campaign took place 3 June 1942 until 24 August 1943, and also involved RCAF No. 8 Squadron, “X” Wing, [Anchorage, Kodiak, Nome and Yakutat], No. 14 Squadron, “X” Wing, [Umnak Island, Kiska, Adak Island, and Amchitka], No. 111 Squadron, “X” Wing, Anchorage, Kodiac, Chiniak Point, and Umnak Island], No. 115 Squadron, “Y” Wing, [Annette Island], and No. 118 Squadron, “Y” Wing, [Annette Island].

Gen. Buckner Jr. fully understood the importance of a unit badge or military insignia for his new force and turned to the artist’s at Walt Disney Studios for his “unofficial mascot” insignia.

Created by Walt Disney artist Hank Porter in May 1940, the new Alaska Defense Force Mascot was named “Brenda” and she balanced the letter “D” on her nose. On 4 February 1941, the War Department re-designated the title Alaska Defense Force and they became the “Alaska Defense Command” which caused the original Disney insignia to be changed. The Brenda seal appeared with a white chest on some [not correct] with letters ADC, and this insignia can be found for sale on the internet, in many different colors. The rare collector insignia is the one on the left, designed by Disney artist H. Porter and used for only eight months in Alaska, featuring the letters A-D-F “Alaska Defense Force.

In July 1940, the Quartermaster Corps began construction on the largest military establishment in Alaska at Anchorage, [Fort Richardson]. Fort Richardson was named for Brig. General Wilds P. Richardson, an Alaska pioneer, soldier, explorer and engineer. Next door construction had started on Elmendorf Army Air Field, which was located four miles Northeast of Anchorage, Alaska. The base would have two concrete runways, East-West was #5-#23, 7,500 ft. by 200 ft. and the North-South #15-#33 was 5,000 ft. by 150 ft. The airfield would have three permanent hangars 300 ft. by 275 ft., one small temporary building, with revetments for forty bombers and eighty fighters. The base would also have extensive barracks and messing for all. Elmendorf Field was named for Captain Hugh M. Elmendorf who was killed in a plane crash at Wright Field, Ohio, in 1933. The U.S. War Department would spend $12 million on these two projects.

By late July 1940, the U.S. War Department had acquired 46,083 acres of bush and rock covered muskeg for the establishment of an “Auxiliary Landing Field and Aircraft Staging Area” called Yakutat Army Air Base. In early September 1940, Lieutenant Robert W. Knox, Captain of the U.S. Navy coast and geodetic survey ship “USS Surveyor” dropped anchor in Yakutat Bay, and a construction layout survey plan was measured and marked for the construction of the new air base.

The initial Alaska Defence Force plans in July 1940, had Annette Island and Yakutat Air Bases being constructed by the Civil Aeronautics Authority, however these two airfields had now become a top air force military priority, and the Defense Force [Lt. Gen. De Witt] thought the CAA would take too long to construct. On 20 July 1940, the War Department reassigned the airfield construction at Annette Island and Yakutat to Major George J. Nold, Commander of the 28th Engineer Aviation Regiment, in order to give his new unit training in building airfields in Alaska. On 6 August 1940, the U.S. Department of the Interior was granted temporary [lease] use of the Metlakatla Indian land and now the construction of Annette Island could begin. On 20 August Major Nold, two battalions of the 28th Engineers, two companies of the Civilian Conservation Corps and thirty-five civilian technicians sailed from Seattle, arriving at Annette Island three days later. Construction of a work camp and a dock for ships began immediately, and fifty Metlakatla Indians were hired as laborers as part of the original agreement. The Indians lived in their own camp constructed some distance from the soldiers and this satisfied both sides and caused no friction during construction. The U.S. Coast Guard ship USS Surveyor completed her layout plan work at Yakutat on 9 October 1940 and now the second air base construction could begin, directed from Annette Island Headquarters.

The home base “Mud Turtle” construction camp of the 28th Aviation Engineers Regiment, built on Annette Island beginning 23 August 1940. This became the H.Q. of Major Nold and also served as the main equipment base during the construction of Yakutat Landing Field and Navy Seaplane Base. The insignia became the shared Aviation Engineers badge and served with American units building bases around the world during WWII. A ferocious looking “Winged” red bulldozer holds a piece of pierced steel airfield runway planking, while the helmeted U.S. Engineer has his machine gun ready to fire and wears a shovel on his back. This insignia remained until 1960.

On 23 October 1940, Capt. Benjamin B. Talley of the 28th Engineer Aviation Regiment, departed for Yakutat Navy station dock. This was the off-season for fish canning and many of his engineer troops were housed in the Yakutat Bay canneries buildings. By using U.S. aviation engineers the air force had gotten a head start on these two most important airfields in the Alaskan panhandle. This later proved to be a major part of Alaskan aviation history during the build-up for Aleutian war against Japan. The long subarctic winter had prevented much work from being done other than clearing the small bushes which covered the construction site. In March 1941, the tempo of work at Yakutat quickened, and additional money in amount of $1 million dollars were allotted for installation of aviation fuel tanks at Annette Island and Yakutat Army Air Bases.

In May 1941, General Buckner continued his battle to build up Alaskan strengths for the war he suspected was coming to the United States. At the same time, General De Witt [Commander 4th Army and Western Defense Command] received a report that little progress was being made on the airfields in Alaska and decided to see for himself, accompanied by General Buckner and Colonel Park. Their first stop was at Fort Richardson and Elmendorf Air Base where they found the construction was most advanced. The three officers arrived at Annette Island on 12 May 1941, and found only one emergency landing strip in use and on the whole the construction was not as advanced as that on Yakutat Army Air Base. Annette Island had many muskeg areas with holes eighteen feet deep and this had to be scooped out by the engineers before the large stone fill could be dumped by Army trucks. General De Witt hoped that at least one runway would be in operation at both Annette Island and Yakuata Army Air Base by December 1941. In June 1941, the 28th Engineer Aviation Regiment was disbanded and divided, becoming the 802nd Engineer Aviation Battalion and the 807th Engineer Aviation Company. General Buckner still had a tiny Air Force and a mere 18,000 troops spread along the Alaskan panhandle and the interior of the Aleutians. Alaska’s defences had one glaring weakness, there were no fully operational airfields on the Alaskan Peninsula or in the Aleutians. The construction of Annette Island [802nd Engineer Aviation Battalion] and Yakutat Army Air Base [807th Engineer Aviation “B” Company] were half completed when Japanese bombs fell on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941. On 29 December 1941, sixty-two men and two officers from the 807th Aviation Company were transferred from Yakutat Landing Field to begin priority construction at Umnak, Alaska. The forgotten war in Alaska was beginning along with the forgotten history of the Royal Canadian Air Force Bolingbroke bombers in Alaska, which began 5 May 1942.

For American readers to understand the RCAF Bolingbroke aircraft which served in Alaska, you must first learn the Royal Canadian Air Force was formed on the organization of the Royal Air Force in United Kingdom. The Canadian government then decided it was best to buy or build British designed aircraft and equipment which fit in much better [they believed] than American built aircraft and equipment. In 1935, the RCAF began to purchase Westland Wapiti bombers and Blackburn Sharks from Great Britain. These were WWI era open-cockpit aircraft which lumbered off the ground and struggled to get into to the air, neither were impressive aircraft to see or fly. The following year Supermarine Stranraer’s were ordered and these would later be constructed in Canada, more obsolete airpower. By 1937, seven modern Bristol Bolingbroke aircraft were purchased from U.K. and these would later go into production in Canada with 676 completed, the greatest proportion being model Mk. IVs.  The Bolingbroke Mk. IV met the RCAF coastal reconnaissance bomber requirements and thirty-one of these bombers came to Alaska beginning on 5 May 1942.

[For a more detailed history please read author Blog – Preserving the Past II, The Bloody Bristol Blenheim].

On 1 March 1938, RCAF Western Air Command was formed under Air Commodore G.M. Croil in Ottawa, who now commanded all RCAF units in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia. He was responsible for all phases of air defence on Western Canadian coast line and waters. After the Munich Crisis in September 1938, A/C Croil began to focus Canadian defence on the Atlantic coast and transfer RCAF units from the west coast of Canada. To cover more than 1,000 miles of west coast shoreline the RCAF had eight serviceable obsolete British designed aircraft. When Canada declared war on Germany, 10 September 1939, the government understood there was a possibly for war with Japan, but assumed the strong and effective American Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor would stand between the Japanese and the small ineffective RCAF aircraft in British Columbia. In mid-September 1939, the RCAF Home War Establishment was formed with two operational air commands, [Eastern and Western Air Command] with seven understrength squadrons flying a wild variety of obsolescent British aircraft.

With the greatest threat being the German surface and U-boats raiders against the Allied shipping in the North Atlantic, top priority was now given to Eastern Air Command, in re-equipping its operational squadrons with modern American Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk fighters and Douglas Digby long-range patrol aircraft. In October 1940, the Canadian-United States Basic Defence Plan [ABC-Pacific-22] was held [Seattle, Washington] to address a direct attack from Asiatic Powers and mutual support was to be given if needed for defence of British Columbia, Northwestern United States and Alaska. “This first report implied that it would usually be a case of American assistance being given to Canada.” [The Canadian government had planned on this since 1939, saving money which could be spent fighting Hitler] On 5 December 1941, American Lieutenant General John L. De Witt, commanding the Western American Defence Command, suggested a combined meeting be held to draw up a defence plan based on the original 1940 [ABC-Pacific-22] meeting. Both sides agreed and the date was set for the morning of 7 December 1941. Before the meeting could begin, it was announced that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor, and Canada declared war on Japan that night. The original Canada/United States ABC-Pacific-22 plan immediately came into force in the Pacific. The RCAF now rushed reinforcements west to fill the vast personnel and patrol aircraft shortages. No. 111 [F] Squadron [with new RCAF purchased American Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawks] were transferred from Rockcliffe, Ontario, to Sea Island [Vancouver] B.C. No. 8 [B.R.] Squadron [Bolingbroke] joined No. 111 Squadron after a coast to coast flight [with no cockpit heat] from Sydney, Nova Scotia, to Sea Island, B.C. Prince Rupert. B.C. now became the major port for the movement of American reinforcements to main land Alaska, as it had an excellent harbour and the most northerly railway in the north-west of Canada. Under the ABC-Pacific-22 agreement, the Canadian government gave full permission and on 5 April 1940, Prince Rupert, B.C., officially became an American sub-embarkation port. Senior Canadian RCAF and American west coast service commanders had discussed the air protection of Prince Rupert in Seattle, Washington, on 6 March 1942, but nothing was agreed upon.

Lt. General De Witt suggested an RCAF Squadron be placed on Yakutat Army Air Base where construction was over half finished, however the RCAF preferred the Army Air Base being constructed on Annette Island. In early April 1942, both sides came to an agreement that one RCAF [B.R.] Squadron and one RCAF fighter Squadron would be placed on Annette Island and they would provide close air cover for the major shipping port at Prince Rupert, B.C., and fly coastal patrols as far north-west as Yakutat Army Air Base. The Canadian aircraft would remain overnight at Yakutat or as long as the weather grounded the aircraft. Juneau Civil Airport, which opened on 1 July 1941, would be used only as a refueling stop. The new unit would be called RCAF “Y” Wing, Annette Island Army Air Base, Alaska, commanded by a Battle of Britain veteran, Wing Commander Arthur Deane Nesbitt, DFC, #C1327.

This RCAF image [PA140638] was taken at Patricia Bay, B.C., on 28 January 1942, showing the Bolingbroke Mk. IV [fighter] aircraft of No. 115 Squadron. These British designed aircraft were in fact obsolete when they were manufactured at Longueuil, Quebec, in 1941, but that’s the best Canada had against Japanese submarine coastal protection. The Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft were in fact twin-engine fighters, equipped with a modified belly-pack of four .303 cal. forward firing machine guns, which can be seen in this above image. RCAF Western Air Command recognized these old fighters were useless against submarines but they felt the Bolingbroke was more suitable for the rough airfield conditions on Annette Island which was still under construction. The true fact is Canada had nothing else to send and were not really prepared to defend her own west coast let alone Alaska. On 11 April 1942, orders were received at No. 115 Squadron to prepare for the move to Annette Island, and under command of Squadron Leader E. Reyno, fourteen RCAF Bristol Bolingbroke [fighter] aircraft landed on Annett Island, 5 May 1942. They enjoyed the special distinction of being the first Canadian force ever based in United States territory to directly assist with the defence of American homeland security.

As the RCAF squadron was settling into her new duties, Imperial General Headquarters in Japan had ordered a new surprise bombing attack on the Aleutians, and yes, the old RCAF Bristol Bolingbroke were going to war in Alaska.

The arrival of No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft on Annette Island, 18:00 hrs., 5 May 1942. Below control tower not constructed until 26 July 1942.

The Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft markings used on Annette Island, Alaska.

I’m sure the Americans were puzzled to see a twin-engine RCAF fighter aircraft with four machine guns in her belly, but for modeller’s this is in fact a rare aircraft that only flew in Alaska until 22 June 1942. This Bolingbroke MK. IV fighter also carried a number of rare markings under Alaska Command, and I have published my work sheet in case anyone cares to built this forgotten model, which you won’t find in British or American aviation magazines.

No. 115 Squadron is another forgotten part of RCAF history which all began as No. 15 [Fighter] Squadron “Auxiliary” on 1 September 1934, at Montreal, Quebec. It was re-numbered No. 115 Squadron on 15 November 1937, and trained many pilots who went on to serve Canada during WWII. One of these pilots was Arthur Deanne Nesbitt, born in Montreal, 16 November 1910. He learned to fly at the Montreal Light Aeroplane Club in 1933, and was judged the most competent pilot in the club in 1936, winning the James Lytell Memorial Trophy. He joined No. 115 Squadron on 15 September 1939, and obtained his RCAF Wings at Camp Borden, 11 April 1940. On 26 May 1940, all of the personnel of No. 115 Squadron were absorbed into No. 1 [Fighter] Squadron and sent overseas, joining the Battle of Britain in August 1940.

On 4 September, Nesbitt shot down a German Bf110 and a Bf109, then on 15 September he was shot down, wounded, but managed to bail out. He returned to action 9 October, but his Hurricane was shot up by a Bf109 and he bailed out again, uninjured. In March 1941, he took over command of his squadron [renumbered No. 401] and returned to Ottawa, Canada, 18 September 1941, having earned a DFC in combat, awarded 23 September 1941. On 1 November 1941, S/L Nesbitt commanded No. 14 Squadron, then on 15 December 1941, took over No. 111 [fighter] Squadron who received their new American Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawks on 3 November.  After the Japanese attack on 7 December 1941, No. 111 Squadron was moved to Sea Island, [Vancouver] on 14 December 1941, and they became operational for combat on 12 March 1942. On 17 March 1942, the West Coast Saanich Indians adopted the squadron and presented them with a 16” wooden carved Thunderbird Totem. This became the squadron nickname “Thunderbird” and the totem appeared as nose art on a few of their P-40 fighters.

On 15 June 1942, Nesbitt was promoted to Wing Commander and placed in charge of RCAF “Y” Wing, Annette Island, now in control of No. 115, the same squadron he joined as a young rookie pilot on 15 September 1939. His RCAF historical narrative of Annette Island follows:

RCAF “Y” Wing, No. 115 [B.R.] Squadron facilities showing the location of buildings which were shared with No. 118 [fighter] Squadron who arrived 20 June 1942.  U.S. Army Corps of Engineers drawing. The No. 111 Squadron Thunderbird Totem sat in the RCAF administration building office of W/C Nesbitt, DFC.

Each Canadian anti-aircraft unit were housed in their own camp area, shown on main map.

On 5 August 1942, the two RCAF Squadrons moved into this new location where prefab huts were being constructed. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map of new RCAF quarters, marked as area “C” on main map. The 65 tent area is clearly marked on this map.

On 10 October 1942, W/C Nesbitt was transferred to RCAF Station Boundary Bay, B.C. He retired from the RCAF on 27 November 1945. On 4 February 1978, he hit a tree while skiing in Montreal, and was left paralysed, unable to eat he died 22 Feb. 1978.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map in July 1943.

The No. 111 [fighter] Squadron “Thunderbird” totem carving became the identity of the squadron and many pilots had their photo taken with “their” Totem. When W/C Nesbitt left for command of RCAF Annette Island, Alaska, [12 June 1942] he took the Totem with him, and it was proudly displayed on his H.Q. desk. Presented to Nesbitt by the Saanich Indians, [17 March 1942] for protecting their coastal homeland from Japanese attack, the Thunderbird now protected the coastal lands of the Metlakatla [Annette Island] and the Tlingit [Yakutat] Alaska. It’s possible this original Totem survives today with the Nesbitt family somewhere in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

On 22 June 1942, the fourteen Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft in No. 115 Squadron were converted from a fighter to a bomber reconnaissance aircraft, and equipped with four American anti-submarine 250 lb. depth-charge bombs.

On 1 July 1942, the fourteen RCAF Bolingbroke [B.R.] aircraft began flying eight submarine patrol sections between RCAF Prince Rupert, B.C., and Yakutat Army Air Base, Alaska. The civilian airport at Juneau opened on 1 July 1941, and this was only used as a refueling point if required. Just before noon [11:58 hrs] 7 July 1942, a U.S. Steamship sighted a submarine periscope at reported position 55.5 North – 134 West. Due to bad weather conditions the RCAF aircraft could not take off until 14:17 hrs when Bolingbroke #9125 made a general search, negative sighting. At 16:56 Hrs. Bolingbroke #9118 took off to search assigned areas U-4 and U-2, and at 17:59 hrs pilot F/Sgt. Thomas, P/O Shebeski, and observer Sgt. Le Landais sighted a submerged submarine which was over 100 feet in length and proceeding submerged some twenty feet deep in the water. At a height of 40 ft. while the periscope was still showing, RCAF Bolingbroke #9118 dropped all four depth-charges and two were observed to make a direct hit above the conning tower, within a lethal distance. Five minutes later a large scum of yellow oil appeared on the surface covering approximately 50 feet in diameter. The RCAF action was reported to the U.S. Coast Guard at Ketchikan and two ships were dispatched, cutter WMEC-146 McLane and U.S. Navy vessel YP-251 Foremost.

The Coast Guard cutter WMEC-146 McLane which arrived on scene and conducted an 18-hour search and attack on the damaged submarine. It’s reported the submarine came to the surface once and also fired a torpedo at the Coast Guard cutter which dropped many depth charges and claimed sighting flotsam resembling Rockwool. The RCAF aircrew were mentioned in dispatches and credited with damaging the submarine and sharing in the kill by the cutter McLane. The American Navy reported the sinking as being Japan’s RO.32 but postwar records show no Japanese submarine lost around that date and the RO.32 survived the war. In 1967, the U.S. Navy confirmed the submarine R0-32 was being used as a trainer in 1945, and that seemed to be the end of the history. On 18 August 2008, Vancouver Sun Newspaper reporter Brendon Coyle published a new story [its online] on the sinking and had a photo to back up his claim. Mr. Jim Johnson was an RCAF Photo Tech. stationed on Annette Island and he saved a photo taken by the aircrew of Bolingbroke #9118, showing the enemy submarine with a detonation forward of the conning tower painted with a large number “8”. Dr. Robert Ballard [Titanic fame] works for the U.S. Navy as a Naval intelligence commander, and part of his secret work involves finding lost submarines. He has mapped the ocean floor of both the Canadian and American west coast and taken millions of images of hundreds of lost wrecks. I’m positive he has seen the mystery submarine located near the southern tip of Noyes Island, Alaska, and knows it is Russian. Why not release this information to clear up what submarine was attacked on 7 July 1942 and sunk by the cutter McLane three days later? Please!

In 2015, the world class Pima Air and Space Museum located at Tucson, Arizona, repainted their RCAF Bristol Bolingbroke in the correct markings of #9118, which flew anti-submarine patrols between RCAF Landing Ground Yakutat Army Air Base and their home base RCAF Annette Island, Alaska. Their information data in part reads – “This Bolingbroke has been restored from parts of several aircraft and painted to recreate the RCAF markings on serial #9118, which flew with No. 115 Squadron on Annette Island, Alaska. Bolingbroke #9118 was credited with assisting in the destruction of one Japanese submarine RO-32 on 7 July 1942, sunk by two U.S. Coast Guard cutters. In 1945, the very intact RO-32 was captured in Japan and the credit for the July 1942 sinking was rescinded. In 2008, a photo taken by the aircrew of Bolingbroke #9118 was discovered, which tends to prove they did in fact attack a submarine which appears to be Soviet. Both the Japanese and Soviet navies purchased a large number of submarines from the British-Vickers Engineering Co. between WWI and 1933. The Soviet submarine Shch-138 was reported missing 10 July 1942, and the Russians reported it destroyed by her own torpedo malfunction 18 July 1942. During WWII Soviet submarines were known to have conducted espionage operations along the coast of Canada and the United States. It is unlikely the Soviet government would ever admit that one of their submarines was caught spying and sunk by the U.S. Coast Guard. I feel it is very safe to say, on 7 July 1942, a British designed Bristol Bolingbroke, built in Quebec, Canada, and flown by the RCAF in defences of United States coastal waters, damaged a British designed submarine crewed by the Soviet Navy, while spying on the United States in Alaska. I also believe the Pima Air and Space Museum researchers and Dr. Robert Ballard can tell the free world a whole lot more?

Yakutat Army Air Base – June 1942

On 20 May 1942, U.S. Intelligence intercepted and decoded enough of a Japanese message to learn a mobile task force was about to strike in the Aleutians, followed a day later with an attack on Midway.  General De Witt was concerned about the defence of the Alaskan panhandle most of all the Army Air Base under construction at Yakutat, but he did not have any American combat units to defend it. Special joint meetings were held on 27-28 May and General Buckner request that RCAF No. 8 and No. 111 Squadrons be sent at once to Yakutat Landing Field, Army Air Base, and in addition Buckner wanted authority to move the Canadian RCAF units to Kodiak, Anchorage, or Cold Bay if necessary. [Smart U.S. Officer, planning well ahead] After discussing the possible effects of the move, [The RCAF barely had enough aircraft strength to protect the B.C. coastline] the Canadian chiefs of staff agreed with the American request, and within hours RCAF Squadrons were ordered to Yakutat. Alaska. On 2 June 1942, twelve Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft took off from Sea Island, B.C. for Yakutat Army Air Base, Alaska.

No. 8 Squadron was formed as a General Purpose Squadron at Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 14 February 1936. They moved to Rockcliffe, [Ottawa] Ontario, on 1 February 1937, as a photographic unit, but for some reason never designated as such. In preparation for war hostilities they were transferred to a coastal war station at Sydney, Nova Scotia, 26 August 1939. The new squadron official badge [Musk-Ox head] was approved by the King on 21 June 1941, arrived with the squadron in Nova Scotia [below] 10 September 1941. They had been flying anti-submarine German U-boat patrols for one year.

The Musk-Ox is a hoofed mammal which lives in the Canadian Arctic, Yukon, and Alaska, USA. When the badge was chosen, the RCAF members were based in Nova Scotia, and had no idea they would be flying in the Arctic regions of Alaska, which the Musk-Ox called “home.” On 23 December 1941, after Japan entered the war, No. 8 Squadron was transferred to Western Air Command at Sea Island, [Vancouver] B.C., for Japanese anti-submarine patrols.

No. 1 Flight departed Nova Scotia at 09:30 hrs followed by No. 2 Flight at 14:30 hrs. for Ottawa.  The Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft serial numbers were: #9001, #9003 to #9015, #9025 to #9028, #9030 to #9032, #9038, #9040, #9041, #9044, #9047, and #9048. Bolingbroke #9028 crashed at Callendar, Ontario, in a snow storm on 6 January 1942, and #9027 crash landed at Lethbridge, Alberta, 9 January 42.

No. 8 [B.R.] Squadron RCAF image taken at Kapuskasing, Ontario, [528 miles north-west of Ottawa] 26 December 1941. All aircraft arrived at Sea Island, B.C. by 13 January 1942, and sixteen remained on strength. [Below] No. 8 aircrew playing volleyball Sea Island, B.C., March 1942, Star Weekly Newspaper.

On 1 June 1942, No. 8 [B.R.] Squadron has twelve aircraft ready for transit to Yakutat Army Air Base, with fuel stops at RCAF Annette Island and civil airport Juneau, Alaska.

On 2 June the twelve Bolingbroke’s depart Sea Island for Yakutat followed by two Stranraers carrying twenty-three ground crew and essential spare parts and tools. The RCAF had no air navigation maps or charts of the terrain north of Prince Rupert, B.C., and flew the last leg to Annette Island with the route traced on a Canadian Navy depth chart maps.

No. 8 [BR] arrive Annette Island [paved runways] 19:00 hrs 2 June 1942. RCAF PMP79-780.

3 June 1942, No. 8 [BR] ten Bolingbroke’s and two Stranraer flying boats carrying ground crew and essential spare parts arrive at Yakutat Landing Field, Army Air Base, Alaska. [Concrete runway] L to R – Air Gunner F/Sgt. G.A. Anderson, pilot P/O J.M. McArthur, pilot F/O W.J. Smith, and air gunner F/Sgt. F.W. Johnston. Each Bolingbroke proudly carried the RCAF squadron official badge [Musk-Ox] on the nose section. RCAF PMP79-781.

RCAF air photo, looking south. W/C G.R. McGregor in Command of RCAF personnel.

As the Canadians settled into their new home on Yakutat Army Air Base, and all ten Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft were armed with bombs, a Japanese enemy task force had already launched air strikes on Dutch Harbor, Alaska, from carrier based aircraft.

The Japanese air attacks on 3 and 4 June 1942, changed all of the defence plans made by American General Buckner, who commanded all the Alaska air combat units, which in fact was comprised of one fourth being Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft. On 5 June, General Buckner ordered No. 8 [B.R.] Squadron to fly at once to Elmendorf Field, [Fort Richardson] outside of Anchorage, Alaska.

Neither No. 8 Squadron nor the American ground staff on Yakutat had maps of the route north to Elmendorf Field or more importantly knew the correct recognition signals when they arrived. In quick response to W/C McGregor’s urgent request, both arrived on the 6 June, and the Ten Bolingbroke’s arrived at Elmendorf Filed on the 7th, ordered to be held in readiness twenty-four hours a day. RCAF Wing Commander McGregor established “X” Wing RCAF Headquarters which became the direct contact point between RCAF and Alaska Defence Command. The Canadians were going to war in a British designed Bolingbroke twin-engine aircraft that was obsolete when it was constructed in 1941. The Daily Diary of “X” Wing RCAF Alaska would fill a large book, however they also published a short edition, and I will now publish three pages, recording the movement of RCAF aircraft to Elmendorf Field, Alaska.

The “Bearded One” is coming home to Alaska

The Musk-Ox is noted for its thick coat and for the strong ‘musk’ odor used to attract females during mating season. The musk-ox never runs from battle, they form a circle protecting their young in the middle and face their attacker. They also cover great distances in search of food and primarily live in Greenland, and the cold arctic regions of Northwest Canada. Their populations have been re-introduced in Siberia, Russia, Scandinavian Peninsula, Yukon, Canada, and Alaska, USA. In Inuktitut they are called ‘umingmak’ which translates to “the bearded one.” The RCAF “Bearded Ones” landed at Anchorage, Alaska, on 7 June 1942, and prepared to defend the coastal Gulf of Alaska from Japanese attack. RCAF “X” Wing Headquarters were based at Anchorage under U.S. Alaskan Command, and their fourteen Bolingbroke Mk. IV were based at Nome, [five to ten] Kodiak, [three aircraft], Cordova, [one] and Yukutat, [one bomber]. They would remain in Alaska until 26 February 1943, then returned to Sea Island, [Vancouver] B.C. on 4 March 1943.

On 4 July 1942, the Canadian minister of defence for air, Hon. C.G. Power, and chief of the air staff, Air Marshall L.S. Breadner, visited Anchorage and met with American commanders. Both sides agreed that “Canadian Squadrons will only find themselves in a location to see enemy action, if some unforeseen enemy attack takes place.”

When No. 8 [BR] Squadron arrived at Elmendorf Field, Alaska, the strength of General Buckner’s total Alaska Defence Command American bomber force was sixty-eight aircraft.

The first RCAF Alaska assigned anti-submarine patrol [“A” on map] began 13 June 1942, Bolingbroke # 9026, three Bolingbroke’s were later based on Kodiak, 15 November 1942.

The Second assigned coastal route [“B” on map] began on 13 July 1942, Elmendorf Field, to Seward and ending at Cordova, flown by Bolingbroke #9056. On 9 September 1942, one Bolingbroke #9111 was based at Yukutat and flew west [“C” on map] to Cordova, Alaska, weather permitting.

Twelve RCAF Bolingbroke Mk. IV bombers were on strength with “X” Wing at Elmendorf Field on 31 July 1942.

No. 8 [BR] began Northern patrol from Nome in early July with three Bolingbroke aircraft, [serial #9040, #9044, and #9032] joining the USAAF 404th Bomb squadron B-24 bombers. On 21 August 1942, the 404th were withdrawn from Nome for new operations in the Aleutian chain, and the Canadians took over their coastal patrols, Southern and St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. These three patrols show as #1, #2, and #3 on Alaska map. Ten Bolingbroke aircraft were now based at Nome, Alaska, and rotated from Elmendorf Field, new additions were Bolingbroke #9056 and #9111 flown by F/O J.B. Morgo, which arrived from Sea Island, 24 July 1942.

Navy artist Clayton Knight drawing of 404th Bomb Squadron at Nome, Alaska. [Free domain]

Nome, Alaska, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map October 1943.

The three new Nome Alaska Command assigned RCAF patrol areas came into effect on 22 August 1942, and continued until 5 December 1942. The St. Lawrence Island patrol were the most dangerous, as any aircraft forced landing was sure death in the freezing Arctic waters.

On 15 November 1942, U.S. Eleventh Air Force orders doubled RCAF No. 8 [BR] Squadron coastal patrols. Three Bolingbroke bombers were now stationed on Kodiak.

15 November 1942 new patrols for Kodiak, three aircraft.

A single No. 8 [Musk-Ox] Squadron Bolingbroke Mk. IV at Nome, Alaska, November 1942.

RCAF photo – PMR79-465.

U.S. Navy drawings by Clayton Knight at Nome, Alaska. [Free domain]

Yakutat Army Air Base now became a vital refueling staging stop for the large number of civil Lodestar passenger aircraft, C-47 transport aircraft, B-24, B-17 heavy bombers, and U.S. fighters proceeding to Elmendorf Field. On 9 September 1942, No. 8 [BR] squadron based Bolingbroke #9111, pilot F/O Bray, on Yakutat, and weather permitting, he flew daily patrols to Cordova and return. Construction of Cordova began on 19 March 1942, not completed until June 1943.

By June 1942, speed was essential in moving American personnel and supplies to the far north country and two Airlines entered into a contact with the War Department to provide scheduled service. Pan Am [Pan American Airways System] were a pioneer in cold weather aviation and knew the procedures used to fly in the extreme cold air and stay alive in these remote parts of the world. Pan Am would carry over three-million pounds of cargo and transported 77,000 military personnel from Seattle, Washington to Nome, Alaska, during WWII. The two yellow lines on the map show the civil aviation coastal route and display the importance of Yukutat Army Air Base for signals, emergency landings, and fuel. Yukutat was also the dividing point for RCAF “Y” and “X” Wing coastal patrol areas.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers map for 1 July 1943. The area marked 1200 contained over three hundred living quarter tents, barracks, mess hall for 2,000 enlisted men, mess hall for 125 officers, and officer’s quarters. Elephant shelter area 700, were concrete curved arches covered with five feet of earth, bombing protection for each aircraft.

All the points around Yakutat Landing Field were manned by 155 mm [above] or 75 mm heavy gun crews and these Aviation Engineers images show the gun at Point Carrow, North-west Navy Seaplane base, and the connecting beach front winding roadway. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers construction photos taken 15 July 1943.

Life magazine 2 June 1941, author collection.

United Airlines Lockheed Lodestar aircraft flew the same route and came under military contract of USAAF Air Command from Seattle, Washington to Anchorage, Alaska, 1,541 miles.

Hundreds of U. S. Military C-47 transport aircraft flew this Pacific coastal route and a number just disappeared, and have never been found. Others were found.

Seattle to Annette Island 563 miles, 431 miles to Yakutat Landing Field.

In September 1942, Lt. Gen. Simon Buckner Jr. ordered one RCAF Bolingbroke aircraft to be based at Yakutat Army Air Base and fly daily [when weather permitted] patrols to Cordova and return. These patrols began on 9 September 1942, and I believe the No. 8 [BR] Squadron Bolingbroke was serial #9111. This serial number first appears in Daily Diary 20 October 1942.

This RCAF photo captures No. 8 Squadron Bolingbroke #9048, one of ten which flew patrols from Elmendorf Field to Kodiak, Cordova, Alaska, and return. The last No. 8 Squadron patrol from Yakutat Air Base was Bolingbroke #9111 on 2 November 1942.

Yakutat Army Landing Field [official title] construction was completed on 15 June 1943, with two 7,500 ft. concrete runways, operation buildings, storage for aviation gasoline, oil serving pits, facilities for radio communications, and one steel hangar, 118,316 square feet for repairs or storage. The living quarters consisted of over three-hundred buildings, and a mess hall for feeding 2,000 personnel. Designed originally in 1940 as an advanced Army Air Field for supporting pursuit and heavy bombers against the Japanese invasion of the Aleutians, it cost ten million to construct and was never needed. For one year, June 1942 until June 1943, Yakutat Army Landing Field was a vital auxiliary airfield for refueling, repairs, and staging area, for hundreds of American and RCAF aircraft bound for Elmendorf Field, Alaska. For the RCAF, Yakutat became home, the only refueling base, and rest area for “Y” and “X” Wing Bolingbroke’s that flew six to ten hour patrols protecting the coast of the Gulf of Alaska, U.S.A.

This image taken in April 1944, shows the massive number of tents, and buildings which were constructed in area marked on map as 1200, never used, and most were just given to the Tlingit natives in 1948.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo looking north-west to seaplane base 1943.

Construction images taken by 807th Engineers Aviation Company showing their seaplane ramps at Annette Island, [above] and Yakutat Navy base in Yakutat Bay, Alaska, June and July 1943.

No. 8 [BR] Squadron Bolingbroke #9048 flew patrols from Elmendorf Field, Kodiak, and Cordova, Alaska. The outer yellow RCAF roundel ring was ordered painted black by Major Gen. Norman Sillin on 12 June 1942, and clearly shows in this image. The squadron two code letters “YO” were removed on 22 October 1942. The first Bolingbroke to fly a patrol from Elmendorf Field, Alaska, became #9026 on 13 June 1942. Bolingbroke #9048 flew her first patrol on 15 June, as follows:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers photo of Kodiak, Alaska, the main refueling point for RCAF Bolingbroke aircraft flying patrols from Elmendorf Field, June to November 1942. For some reason, the RCAF Daily Dairy for “X” Wing at Elmendorf Field never recorded the aircraft serial numbers for each patrol, and it can only be estimated Bolingbroke #9048 flew at least forty to sixty patrols from 15 June to 16 November 1942.

A Brief history of RCAF #9048 before it is gone forever and forgotten

Taken on strength by RCAF at Longueuil, Quebec, 8 October 1941. Flown to No. 11 Technical Detachment, Montreal, Quebec, and modified for Reconnaissance patrols. 26 October 1941, flown by pilot’s S/L C.A. Willis, F/Lt. J.K. MacDonald, and P/O H.H.C. Russell from Montreal to Sydney, Nova Scotia, taken on strength by No. 8 [BR] Squadron the eighteenth Bolingbroke. Flew anti-submarine [German U-boats] patrols until No. 8 Squadron ordered to Sea Island [Vancouver] B.C. with advance party leaving 19 December 1942. Aircraft departed Nova Scotia on 23 December and all had arrived at Sea Island by 13 January 1942. Bolingbroke #9048 arrived Sea Island, B.C., 2 January and flew her first anti-submarine [Japanese] patrol the following day, four hours. Seven more patrols were completed – 17 March 42, 20 April, 2,7,12,21 and 24 May 1942. The under surface of #9048 was never painted black like the other squadron aircraft, and it appears it was the aircraft flown by Flight Commander, S/L Russell. On 2 June 1942, departed Sea Island for Annette Island, Alaska, arrived 19:00 hrs. One of ten Bolingbroke’s which flew to Yakutat Army Air Base on 3 June 1942. Arrived at Elmendorf Field, Alaska, one of seven landed 7 June 1942. First anti-submarine patrol flown 15 June 1942, “A” on map, Anchorage [Elmendorf Field] to Portage Passage, to Gore Point, to Kodiak, and return. Continued to fly patrols in “A”- “B”- and “C” [Cordova Staging Field – below] sections on map of Gulf of Alaska, until 16 November 1942.

Beginning 16 November 1942, Bolingbroke #9048 began flying two patrols a day, [Red and Blue] detailed in orders, 200-mile radius from Anchorage.

With the Japanese being expelled from Alaska, No. 8 [BR] Squadron Bolingbroke aircraft returned south to Yukutat for fuel, then home to RCAF Sea Island, B.C., 4 March 1943. Last flight of #9048 was 3 June 1943, escort a flight of P-40 fighters from Sea Island to Annette Island, Alaska. Sent to No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School at MacDonald, Manitoba, she joined 46 other Bolingbroke trainers until it closed 17 February 1945. Struck off charge by RCAF on 21 August 1946, she went to War Assets for disposal. Sold to a Canadian farmer and sat outdoors for twenty-five years, then sold to an American collector in California, and another thirty years in the heat, and finally gifted to Bristol Aero Collection in 2006. Today she is being restored as a Bristol Blenheim and her RCAF war history in Alaska will be forgotten and lost. You can go online and see her wearing RCAF yellow and the outline of her serial number. I know the British will take good care of her and possibly [I hope] mention a bit of her past glory days in Alaska, protecting the USA coastline wearing her badge of a “Bearded One.”

The last RCAF Bolingbroke aircraft to fly at Yakutat Landing Field came from No. 115 [B.R.] Squadron.

The last flight to Yakutat Landing Field by RCAF No. 115 [BR] Squadron took place on 7-8 June 1943, Bolingbroke # 9122. No. 115 Squadron returned to Patricia Bay, B.C., 21 August 1943, and the Bolingbroke Mk. IV history at war in Alaska had come to an end.

With the Northwest Staging Route and the Alaska Highway from Edmonton, Alberta to Fairbanks, Alaska, in full operation, Yakutat Landing Field was no longer required and by December 1943, personnel and equipment were being transferred to other American bases in Alaska. The airfield was officially placed on caretaker status in April 1944, and the seaplane base was officially closed on 22 July 1944. Yakutat Landing Field was declared surplus by the Army in December 1945, with the Civil Aeronautics Administration becoming responsible for maintenance and operations of the base area. In June 1948, War Assets Administration began to dispose of the 443 military buildings and only the large hangar remained. Today Yakutat airport still leaves a large “L” imprint on the landscape just like it did during WWII, a most welcome sight to pilots, the same as it was for the returning RCAF aircrews in 1942 and 43.

Brenda the balancing seal draft drawing was created by Walt Disney artist Hank Porter in late April 1940, and can be found on file at Walt Disney Archives, Burbank, California. The insignia color art was completed by artist Roy Williams, Van Kaufman, George Goepperm, or Edward Parks, and appeared in the 2 May 1940 issue of LIFE magazine as Alaska Defence Force, left. On 4 February 1941, the War Department changed the title to Alaska Defence Command and the Walt Disney original colors remained the same as shown on right. The Brenda Seal “A-D-C” insignia which flew with RCAF in Alaska under U.S. Command in “Y” and “X” Wings for one full year. Three different American styles and colors of the A.D.C. insignia appear on the internet, including one with a white seal chest, which possibly could be fake.

The Bloody Blenheim (PDF version)

Updated 18 January 2021

A comment left on the blog today…

Hi Clarence and Pierre,
My Grandpa, F/O Norman Arnott Folkersen was a pilot with WAC from 1942-44, (120 Squadron & 122 Squadron) then was sent over to the UK. My Great Uncle, Flight Sgt John Brock Folkersen who was a MUG with the Cradle Crew, 408 Squadron Linton-On-Ouse (usual Halifax PN225).  As well, my other Great Uncle F/O Victor Roy Folkersen was a navigator who died along with his crew and an instructor in Lanc W4929 Sept 5/43 on a training flight out of RAF Winthorpe with 1661 HCU.  I just wanted to pass along that I have read many your books and online articles on the nose art and insignia.
If it wasn’t for your research, our family wouldn’t have known that the RCAF 122 Squadron unofficial insignia of Patricia Bay was the “Flying Nightmare” created by Disney Studios, or that 120 BR Squadron of Coal Harbour, also had an original unofficial insignia drawn by a squadron member or that Disney studios also provided a redone insignia (Pluto on a bomb).
Also discovered that the Cradle Crew flew one sortie I Halifax NP714, Veni Vidi Vici, the Drum Major Girl on Feb 9/45 to Wanne Eickel.  Lovely to find out that original piece of nose art is in the Canadian War Museum, also which you’ve written extensively about.
I have started a private family Facebook group (we are only 36 members), but have been providing research links and articles as my research goes along, as have one of Brock’s sons, Ross.  The family history we have is being shared and also researched further.  Your work has contributed to our family WWII history and remembrance, so no amount of thanks can be enough.
Thanks from the Folkersen Family tree

Research by Clarence Simonsen

This research is dedicated to all members of No. 115 [Fighter] and [B.R.] Squadron which numbered almost 300 Canadians in total. Photos would be appreciated to help preserve their historical past, there out there someplace. Thanks to denial by the U.S. Navy and the Russians, true Canadian RCAF WWII history was almost lost along with the actions of Bolingbroke #9118. Now, if we can just get any Canadian museum to save this true part of “Combat” history and paint one Bolingbroke correctly as 9118. Do Canadians have to drive to Pima Air and Space Museum to see their “Bloody” preserved past?


Bloody is mostly a British adjective word used to emphasize what they are saying, and it was spoken many times to describe the RAF Bristol Blenheim in the first two years of World War Two. During the British defeat in France in the months of May and June 1940, the RAF Blenheim suffered the highest loss rate, in operations of a similar size, that was ever suffered by the Royal Air Force, and that is the main and only reason for my title page name.

When the first Blenheim flew in 1935 it was capable of evading and out distancing the fixed wing undercarriage biplanes then in service with the RAF, and the bomber became a victim of British overconfidence based on the performance for the mid-1930s. Four years later the Blenheim was incapable of evading or fighting off the modern Bf109s and Bf110s of the German Luftwaffe. The 1939 sudden rise of the Luftwaffe was a remarkable German achievement, which has been detailed in hundreds of books, videos, aviation magazines and historical documents. The RAF Blenheim has best been summed up in one book “Tale of a Guinea Pig” by WWII pilot Alan Geoffrey Page. “For the RAF pilots sent to war in ‘Fairey Battles’ and “Blenheims” the best thing to say for them was a quiet ‘Amen.’

The Bloody Blenheim (PDF)

Text version without images

The “Bloody” Bristol Blenheim Bloody is mostly a British adjective word used to emphasize what they are saying, and it was spoken many times to describe the RAF Bristol Blenheim in the first two years of World War Two. During the British defeat in France in the months of May and June 1940, the RAF Blenheim suffered the highest loss rate, in operations of a similar size, that was ever suffered by the Royal Air Force, and that is the main and only reason for my title page name.

When the first Blenheim flew in 1935 it was capable of evading and out distancing the fixed wing undercarriage biplanes then in service with the RAF, and the bomber became a victim of British overconfidence based on the performance for the mid-1930s. Four years later the Blenheim was incapable of evading or fighting off the modern Bf109s and Bf110s of the German Luftwaffe. The 1939 sudden rise of the Luftwaffe was a remarkable German achievement, which has been detailed in hundreds of books, videos, aviation magazines and historical documents. The RAF Blenheim has best been summed up in one book “Tale of a Guinea Pig” by WWII pilot Alan Geoffrey Page. “For the RAF pilots sent to war in ‘Fairey Battles’ and “Blenheims” the best thing to say for them was a quiet ‘Amen.’

By 1939, the Blenheim Mk. IV long nose looked very impressive to the people of Britain painted on a British Post Card, which soon proved to be a lot of war propaganda.

The Blenheim Mk. IV was introduced to the public on 20 May 1939. Four months later the Fairey Battle, and Bristol Blenheim went to war. Amen.

At 11:00 am on the 3 September 1939, the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, announced on radio that Great Britain was at war with Nazi Germany. Thirty minutes before the speech, the first RAF operation in World War Two was undertaken by F/O McPherson in a Bristol Blenheim, [serial N6215] followed the next day, 4 September 1939, with the attack by fifteen Blenheim bombers on Nazi Germany naval bases at or near Wilhelmshaven.

The British people soon learned the first RAF Blenheim raid on Wilhelmshaven, Germany, took place at 6 p.m. while the crew of a pocket battleship where caught hanging out their wash. The British Blenheims roared in at 100 feet, letting their bombs go as the Germans scurried to their stations. One bomb fell amidships, smashing the plane catapult and seriously damaging the vessel. This drawing of the raid appeared in the Illustrated London News, and the British people were happy, just the performance they expected from the world’s fastest medium bomber.

This RAF propaganda drawing was in fact far from the truth. When the first five Blenheims returned they reported they could not find Wilhelmshaven, and then later a lone RAF Blenheim from No. 107 Squadron returned, the other nine had been shot down by the Germans, with the loss of twenty-four aircrew members. This was the beginning of a long pattern for future “Bloody” Blenheim operations.

The Bristol Aeroplane Company followed up with this impressive poster of the first raid on 4 September 1939. Pure British war propaganda, and the Blenheim fell victim in many ways, amazingly this print is still selling on the internet today. It can be ordered on tea cups, mugs, t-shirts, shopping bags, etc. and this war propaganda art is still confusing the main-stream average internet historian.

On 9 October 1939, American magazine LIFE reported the truth to Canada and U.S. strongly pointing out the conflicting reports about the Blenheim attacks on Germany.

This was Blenheim Mk. IV serial N6184, and much more can be found on many websites.

During the Battle of France, 10 May to 25 June 1940, the RAF Blenheim IVs and Fairey Battle Mk. Is suffered crippling losses at the hands of the Luftwaffe, and both aircraft were withdrawn from further front line combat. Seven-hundred and thirty-nine Fairey Battle aircraft were shipped to Canada, where five-hundred and forty were assigned as trainers at Bombing and Gunnery Schools. This has been fully recorded in my history of No. 9 Bombing and Gunnery School at Mont Joli, Quebec, where over one-hundred Fairey Battles flew. It became obvious to the RAF that the Blenheim Mk. IVs could not survive unless they had a fighter escort protection, and that was not always possible. When fighter escort was unavailable, daylight Blenheim operations were abandoned if the cloud cover was less than seven tenths. Another problem were the propellers which could not be feathered in flight, and the wind milling effect added drag to the wing and made the bomber difficult to control. The Blenheim IVs were best at night attacks against German occupied ports and installations in the British frantic attempts to disrupt the German planned invasion of the United Kingdom.

The German magazine Der Adler [The Eagle] was published before and during the Second World War, the main purpose was to publicize the growing might of the Luftwaffe to Europe. From 1939 to 1942, the magazine was also published in English, specifically designed to encourage the isolationism in the United States of America, and emphasizing the world airpower of Nazi Germany. Another German magazine appeared in 1940, titled Signal, it was supervised by Goebbels’s Ministry of Propaganda and published in twenty-five languages. Today this magazine is a living record of Nazi Germany in a highly illustrated format of colour and B & W photos, line graphs, drawings, and persuasive colour war paintings. Many Nazi magazines used different German artists and I consider the work of Hans Liska to be the finest. He served at the front lines along side the German troops and captured in sketches and water colours stunning images of the German forces in live action. [Look at his art online today] His paintings are in fact an historical document which is now becoming a great source for students and aircraft enthusiasts alike. Der Adler was a mix of straight war reporting and Nazi propaganda showing Goering’s Luftwaffe dominated the skies over Europe, and for the first two years Germany in fact did just that.

Signal was the most widely circulated magazine in WWII, with three million copies sold in 1943, most outside Germany. Twenty thousand copies in English were still selling until the English and French editions were closed with the liberation of Paris in 1944. Today it is unknown how many original German war paintings survived the war, and if they did, most are hidden away in small collections by the rich and famous. Today many issues of WWII German magazines are appearing for sale on the internet, but to conduct proper research an average historian would need bags of money to purchase. Many sketches and water colour art paintings of Austrian born Hans Liska [1907-1983] still remain hidden on pages of Der Eagle and Signal magazine collections.

Liska was dispatched to the front lines of German combat and for that reason most of his sketches and paintings were ground forces of the Heer [Army] but all branches of the Wehrmacht [Armed Forces] were included in his overall work. I believe most of this art was lost during the final days of the war and hope someone [German] will make an attempt to save what remains in German magazine issues. His record of markings, serial numbers, badges, and even Luftwaffe aircraft insignia are important to future historical research.

The destruction of RAF aircraft by the Luftwaffe appeared in limited editions, by different artists, scattered among stories featured in both magazines where ever the German editor decided to place them, part fact and part propaganda.

Artist Liska sketch in the pouring rain as a German Luftwaffe ground crew member attempts to keep dry under a Me110 engine, Signal magazine 1940.

This sketch appeared during the Battle of Britain where a squadron of Luftwaffe Do17 bombers attack British shipping. The surprise is the Luftwaffe emblem badge was in fact correct, no censorship as seen in insert. IV[ERG]/KG3 carried the badge of green hairy caveman with a trident in his right hand and a 500 lb. German bomb under his left arm. Even the jousting shield background is correct, with a top right curl. ERG was Erganzungs-Fernaufklaugs Gruppe, [Long-Range Reconnaissance] and KG was Kampfgeschwader [Bomber Group].

Hans Liska created many war time ads for Mercedes-Benz, which he continued to paint in postwar era. Today his rare originals sell for 5-6 thousand American dollars. Rich Americans just seem to love this Nazi stuff.

“Jagd in der Nacht” [Hunt in the Night] appeared in the October 1940 issue of Signal magazine.

A British Blenheim Mk. IV has bombed a target in German occupied France and a Luftwaffe Bf 109 is attacking in the dark. With both engines ablaze the three-man crew are leaving the Bloody Blenheim and will become prisoners of war. In the background you see the German search lights and the raising smoke and dust from the target area. This painting appeared in one million issues in twenty-five languages, and the British called it pure German propaganda. German artist Liska was posted to operational Luftwaffe units in France and it is possible his painting came from actual pilot reports. Fact – too many Blenheims were lost to enemy fighters in 1940, when the wing tanks were set on fire. Only the Blenheim main fuel tank was self-sealing, while the wing tanks remained non self-sealing, a death trap for many RAF aircrews.

In April 1918, the Royal Air Force introduced a new system of naming British aircraft, which remained in effect until 1932, when more appropriate names were allowed. RAF Heavy bombers were now named after inland towns in the British Empire, Short Stirling, Handley Page Halifax, and Avro Lancaster. The new medium bomber was named for the Duke of Marlborough’s 13 August 1704, victory at the Battle of Blenheim, during the Spanish Succession. Other RAF medium bombers had been named for places in France, Boulton Paul Bobolink, Airco Amiens, and Vickers Vimy. By 1942, the RAF Blenheim had found a new life as a radar equipped night-fighter, maritime patrol bomber, and aircrew trainer aircraft.

This ad appeared on inside cover of Empire Air Day 20 May 1939.

In Canada the great Depression had ruined the beginnings of any aircraft industry, and now the Canadian government decided the RCAF would be built on British type aircraft. Nobody seemed to understand bringing aircraft, guns, bombs, and instruments by ship from U.K. in time of war posed a problem, when American aircraft and products were right next door. This is fully detailed in the best book “The Creation of a National Air Force, by W.A.B. Douglas, Part One Between the Wars. In 1935, Canada ordered six Westland Wapiti bombers and four Blackburn Sharks from the U.K., followed in 1936 with five Supermarine Stranraer, all being WWI type open cockpit aircraft with unimpressive flight performance. Contracts were next obtained and Canada was happily constructing these British obsolete military aircraft, which presented no deterrent to the most faint-hearted enemy attack. In 1937, the Liberal government provided more lavish defence spending for RCAF aircraft and that is how Canada received the Bristol Bolingbroke and the Lysander, more obsolete British aircraft. Until England went to war in 1939, the RAF had for the most part, been trained on a generation of World War One aircraft and techniques from the past. The most serious unknown Canadian problem being that RCAF officers sent to Britain received this same outdated training in obsolete aircraft, and now Canada began manufacturing these same obsolete British aircraft. Its recorded page by page in the history books, all true, so political.

In 1937, the Canadian Government issued a license contract to construct the British Blenheim Mk. I and IV aircraft [Type 149] at Fairchild Aircraft Ltd. in Quebec, Canada. American owned company, French-Canadian constructed, [3,900 employees] while the British name “Bristol” must be retained in the original contract.

The original 1937 Longueuil, Quebec, plant [yellow] located 128 miles East of Ottawa, Ontario, was first expanded to accommodate the new production line, and the Canadian manufactured Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. I was born. The first eighteen aircraft were more British than Canadian, constructed with British instrumentation and other equipment shipped from U.K. The Canadian Bolingbroke was not an extension of the British Mk. I Blenheim bomber but developed as a British Coastal Command Reconnaissance Bomber to replace the obsolescent Avro Anson. British land-based maritime patrol aircraft were mostly named for British naval explorers – Lockheed Hudson [Henry Hudson], Avro Anson [George Anson], and Bristol Beaufort [Francis Beaufort]. This new type 149 extended nose aircraft first flew 24 September 1937, released to the RAF as the Bolingbroke Mk. I in 1938, then during the first 1939 production run the name again reverted back to Blenheim Mk. IV bomber. The RAF record the naming for a small Lincolnshire village [Bolingbroke] where King Henry IV [Henry of Bolingbroke] was born in 1399. The RCAF retained this British name or perhaps, as has been suggested, named it for the east coastal community of Bolingbroke, Nova Scotia, which is also possible. The RCAF officially named the American built Douglas “Digby” land-based aircraft and Canadian built “Canso” Flying Boat both for coastal communities in Nova Scotia, Canada.

The construction of the first four Bolingbroke’s began in 1939, and eighteen would be completed in the first production block, with the designation Bolingbroke Mk. I, II, and Mk. III, serial numbers #702 to #719. A good number of these early production airframes were used for experimental and development by Fairchild. Fifteen would be taken on strength by No. 119 Squadron [marked with yellow serial], seven were later passed on to No. 115 Squadron.

Two of these Mk. I aircraft would be used by the Canadian Government and the RCAF for press coverage as special presentation bombers for Canada.

The original first built Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. I serial 702, had been equipped with attachment points for floats but they were never fitted. Aircraft test flights began at the Quebec plant on 3 November 1939, civil pilot Mr. Lymburner and RCAF test pilot S/L Wray, 45 minutes. Accepted by the RCAF, and taken on charge 15 November 1939, it was next ferried to RCAF Test and Development Est. at Rockcliffe on 16 November. At 17:00 hrs, 17 November 1939, S/L Wray piloted the first Canadian built Bolingbroke Mk. I, serial #702, test flown for 25 minutes in front of senior officers and officially turned over to the RCAF at Station Ottawa. RCAF Press photo [below] taken on 22 November 1939, just minutes before S/L Wray took #702 on her very first high speed test in front of Senior RCAF officers, and the Canadian Press, the speed was not recorded in the Daily Diary. [probably around 260 m.p.h.]

This special RCAF event and aircraft images were published in many Canadian magazines, newspapers, and even aviation collector cards.

Test and Development Flight [RCAF Rockcliffe, Ontario] main test pilot S/L Wray signing the RCAF trial book after the fly-over ceremony at RCAF Ottawa, 17 November 1939. On this date, the bomber went to RCAF Test and Development Establishment at Rockcliffe, remained until 5 December 1939, then returned to Fairchild where it crashed on 20 August 1940. Repaired at factory cost, #702 was assigned to No. 8 [BR] Squadron on 18 November 1940 and received the code letters YO-A. Damaged in a Category “C” accident on 31 May 1941, at RCAF Sydney aerodrome. 1940-41 flew with No. 119 Squadron as DM-A and later No. 147 [BR] Squadron at Sea Island, [Vancouver, B.C.] Scrapped on 5 April 1944.

The first Squadron to receive a single Canadian Bristol Bolingbroke [serial #708] became No. 8 Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron based at Sydney River Base, North Sydney, Nova Scotia, on 3 April 1940. Formed at Winnipeg, Manitoba, 14 February 1936, they moved to Rockcliffe, Ontario, as a photographic unit on 1 February 1937. Mobilized on 10 September 1939, they moved to war station Sydney, Nova Scotia, on 14 September 1939. Flying obsolete Northrop Delta Mk. II aircraft, Delta #673 failed to arrived at their new posting. F/Sgt. J.E. Doan and LAC D.A. Rennie became the first RCAF casualities of World War Two, and the crash site and bodies were not found until July 1958, north of Fredericton, New Brunswick. The two other WWI style obsolete RCAF aircraft being flown were the Fairchild 71 and Bellanca Pacemaker, making the arrival of the new Bristol Bolingbroke Bombers a huge step forward.

On 11 July 1940, a second presentation Bolingbroke #714 arrived at RCAF Station Ottawa, and two days later a special presentation was made to No. 119 [B.R.] Squadron by Her Royal Highness Princess Alice. This became the very first Canadian built Bolingbroke purchased by donations from the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire, and the bomber was christened “Ida.” The bomber was taken on charge by Test and Development Est. at RCAF Rockcliffe, 11 July 1940, taken on charge by No. 119 [BR] at RCAF Station Yarmouth, 18 July 1940, delivered by F/Lt. Wigle. This was the very first Bolingbroke to be delivered to No. 119 [BR] Squadron at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and Bolingbroke #709 arrived later that same day.

Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire and Her Royal Highness Princess Alice on 13 July 1940, Bolingbrook #714 ceremony at RCAF Ottawa, Ontario. Special guest His Excellency, Governor-General, the Earl of Athlone.

The correct special aircraft nose dedication wording painted on Bolingbroke Mk. I, serial #714, 13 July 1940, RCAF Ottawa.

A Bolingbroke replica of this aircraft has been under restoration at Hamilton Warplane Heritage for the past thirty-years, and will be a most welcome addition to their vast collection. It is also a pure joy to read they will not fly this aircraft, as first intended, due to the fact it would cost around $500,000 to rebuilt the two engines. In 1940, it cost $100,000 to build this complete aircraft and that was the money gift collected from nickels and dimes donated by women from across Canada.

The Canadian Bolingbroke Mk I first entered RCAF Squadron service with No. 119 Squadron in July 1940, as a fighter aircraft, [not a bomber] but never designated such. Many problems faced No. 119 Squadron at Yarmouth, N.S., lack of rations, no water, no fences for security, no sheets or pillowcases for 160 men, and then a sudden rise in Venereal disease. The C.O. read the Station Orders regarding V.D. “protective measures” on the morning parade, and then read the names of several local ladies who were suspected of spreading the sexual infection. Two airmen fainted on the parade square, from Capt. Nora Bottomley, Canadian Armed Forces historian 1985. In mid-August the squadron were assigned their code letters “DM” and instructions for painting the fighter/bombers.

On 1 October 1941, an SOS was received from an USN aircraft which ditched 200 miles off the east coast and Bolingbroke #714 was dispatched with F/L P. H. Douglas as pilot and Sgt. L. C. Fulton as his navigator. They took off at 21:00 hrs and received a recall at 00:15 hrs. but never arrived at base on the estimated time of arrival. The navigator became lost and the crew flew around in the dark until shore lights were sighted, but fuel had become critically low. The pilot made a forced landing in the dark without engines running [no fuel] with aircraft wheels up. None of the four crew were injured but the famous presentation aircraft was seriously damaged. The crew walked for help and surprisingly learned they had landed at Greenland, New Hampshire, USA, just outside of Portsmouth. On return to base the red faced navigator received the nickname “Wrong Way Fulton.”

The 13 July 1940 presentation nose art was still painted on the nose.

The first correct markings of Bristol Bolingbroke MK I, [Fighter] aircraft #716 with No. 119 Squadron August 1940. Final Cat. “A” accident No. 115 Sqn. at Pat Bay, B.C. 30 January 1942.

The two-letter unit squadron codes were created by the RCAF in August 1939, and first appeared on aircraft in August 1940. The squadron two-letter code and single aircraft code letter were underlined with a solid white bar, identifying them as Home War Establishment aircraft. This marking remained in effect until 16 October 1942. The RCAF serial number was painted reverse white under main wing surface.

These Bolingbroke Mk. Is were all long range fighter aircraft, fitted with one Vickers K .303 cal. upper dorsal turret rear firing machine gun and one forward firing .303 cal. machine gun in belly gun packs. The first shipment of Browning machine guns, sights, and gun packs arrived on 14 September 1940, installed in Bolingbroke #709 on 23 September, and the 1st test firing took place on 26 September. These rare RCAF fighter gun pack photos must still be hidden away in the archives somewhere in Ottawa, but I never had the time or money to find them. This gun pack was fitted into the bomb bay of the RCAF Bolingbroke, author drawing below.

Bolingbroke Mk. I, serial 710, became the official RCAF fighter test aircraft assigned to Rockcliffe, Test and Development Est. on 8 June 1940 to 17 July 1940, returned to Fairchild for modifications. Back for extensive fighter testing including four .303 cal. machine gun belly pack testing 16 May to November 1941. A very nice photo of this test Bolingbroke Mk. I, with gun pack, can be found in the book “Canada’s Air Force” Vol. One by Larry Milberry, page 134, donated by David Thompson. The location is not noted, but I believe it was taken at RCAF Rockcliffe, Test and Development Est. after 16 May 1941. I believe these RCAF under-fuselage gun packs were obtained from England, the same as those used on the RAF Blenheim Mk. I [Fighter] aircraft in 1940. The British gun package contained four .303 machine guns and 2,000 rounds of ammunition, however for training the RCAF only installed one single forward firing machine gun, as recorded in the No. 119 Squadron Daily Diary. Test flying, front and rear gunnery training continued into March 1941. Bolingbroke #710 never served with any active RCAF squadron, but possibly was used by No. 119 Squadron for machine gun pack ground school training, transferred to Halifax Nova Scotia, 18 November 1940.

Imperial War Museum photo IWM107160 showing the belly gun pack on a Blenheim Mk. IV.

On 28 May 1942, Boley #710 was transferred to Western Air Command and placed into reserve storage on 25 November 1943. In the spring of 1944, the aircraft was flown to No. 3 Repair Depot, Vancouver, B.C., for scrapping or sale, her days were numbered. That’s where a second life began for #710, purchased by American film studio Metro Goldwyn-Mayer, [2 July 1944] for use in a new Hollywood movie called “Son of Lassie.” Saved from the very brink of scrap-pile oblivion the RCAF Bolingbroke became a feature player beside Peter Lawford and Lassie. The opening scenes in rich Technicolor preserve forever the real life of the Bolingbroke aircraft based at Patricia Bay, B.C., which Hollywood transformed into an operational RAF fighter base somewhere in England. The real RCAF base C.O. Group Captain B.D. Hobbs appears in flying scenes, and two real RAF veterans Wing Commander Eric Jones and pilot S/L Blair A. Fraiser have small speaking parts acting as flying instructors to Sergeant/Pilot Lawford. Flying over Norway, [Banff, Alberta], Bolingbroke #710 is hit by German flak and Peter Lawford is forced to parachute with Lassie in his arms, filmed over Patricia Bay, [15 August 1944].

Movie production began at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on 22 May 1944, then moved North to Banff National Park and Lake Louise, Alberta. [Which became Norway in the film] The German escape scenes were shot at Christopher Point in British Columbia and all the flying scenes were taken at RCAF Patricia Bay, B.C., 13 to 19 August 1944, using three Bolingbroke aircraft loaned from No. 122 [Composite] Squadron. Bolingbroke #9032, #9035 and #9068.

No. 122 Squadron was formed as a Composite unit at Patricia Bay, B.C., on 10 January 1942, and they were expected to perform a wide variety of menial tasks for the RCAF, flying an obsolete collection of British designed aircraft, Blackburn Shark, Westland Lysander, and ten Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft. For RCAF Senior Officers VIP flights pilots flew modern American Grumman Goose and a Canadian Noorduyn Norseman float aircraft. They soon earned the nickname “Flying Joe Boys” from other RCAF units and that was not appreciated by many members, so they applied to Walt Disney Studios for a new unofficial insignia and name. The Disney Artist’s at Burbank, California, were producing hundreds of Air Force insignia for units around the world and they just picked a character that seemed to fit the functions of the unit who sent in the request. When the new RCAF insignia arrived it featured a silver Knight riding a white winged horse and the name “Flying Nightmares.” The new name fit, as a few of the pilots had been involved in mishaps which caused nightmares for the RCAF brass, so the squadron loved it, plus it was in fact rare official Walt Disney designed nose art.

The Hollywood Studio directed painting of the four “Flying Nightmares” Bolingbroke aircraft took place on 13 August 1944, as recorded in their No. 122 Daily Diary.

The Bolingbroke movie star #710 was given the factious code letters DA-H and received a Canadian Maple Leaf roundel nose art painting. The three borrowed No. 122 Bolingbroke received painted code letters DA-D, DA-F and DA-J.

Take offs, landings, and other ground shots were all taken on 14 August 1944. Bolingbroke Mk. I serial #710, [above] was in fact owned by MGM studios and the other three were loaned from No. 122 Squadron, original “Flying Nightmares” aircraft in wartime west coast of B.C.

On 15 August 1944, the sequences of a Bolingbroke flying through simulated German Flak was filmed around Patricia Bay. These flying scenes were piloted by F/O H.R.K. West from Quebec City and his gunner P/O C.N. Kendall, flying Bolingbroke #9032, seen in film as DA-D.

These flying scenes [Boley #9032] are worth watching a number of times as you can see these RCAF pilots were truly a professional group of “Flying Nightmares.”

Just before the final shots were taken [19 August 1944] a special wing parade was held attended by AVM F.V. Heakes, AOC of Western Air Command. MGM Studios presented a cheque for $1,000 to the RCAF station and GC Hobbs received a new station mascot, a female pup from Lassie, named “Miss Patricia.” T

he first RCAF No. 119 Squadron [B.R.] operation took place on 16 March 1941, providing escort for HMS Ramilles. Three months later the RCAF were attempting to form more squadrons for the protection of Canada, [Home War Establishment] but they faced a shortage of fighter aircraft, and that is how No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron was reborn flying Bristol Bolingbroke Mk. I and Mk. IV fighter aircraft with four-.303 cal. belly gun packs. Rare forgotten RCAF history.

No. 15 [Fighter] Squadron originally was an Auxiliary unit formed at Montreal, Quebec, 1 September 1934. On 15 November 1937, they were renumbered No. 115 Squadron and called to full-time duty as Canada went to war 10 September 1939. Their RCAF personnel were absorbed into No. 1 [Fighter] Squadron at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, on 27 May 1940, and No. 115 was then disbanded the following day. On 31 July 1941, the RCAF decided to re-form No. 115 Squadron [Order #20] and they became No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron located at Rockcliffe, Ontario, on 1 August 1941.

On 11 August 1941, all of the Bolingbroke Mk. I [Fighter] aircraft in No. 119 Squadron had been converted with under fuselage four .303 cal. gun packages, and they were transferred to No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron in Rockcliffe, Ontario. Fighter training began including front and rear gunnery live firing exercises. The four .303 cal. machine guns’ belly pack reduced the Bolingbroke airspeed by 37 M.P.H. to around 220 M.P.H. On 15 October 1941, No. 115 Squadron was transferred to Patricia Bay, British Columbia, for coastal protection and conversion to the newer Bolingbroke Mk. IV [Fighter] aircraft. Nine Bolingbroke Mk. I fighters were flown across Canada to Pat Bay B.C. arriving 18 October 1941, serial #704, 705, 708, 709, 711, 712, 715, 718, and 719. Conversion to the new Bolingbroke Mk. IV fighters began on 19 November 1941, when six Mk. Is were flown out to Lethbridge, Alberta, [four] and Jarvis, Ontario, [three 705, 712, and 718] and Bolingbroke #9051 arrived at Pat Bay. By the end of December, No. 115 squadron had eleven new Bolingbroke Mk. IV fighters on strength at Patricia Bay, B.C.

This RCAF image [PA140638] taken 28 January 1942, shows No. 115 Squadron Bolingbroke Mk. IV [Fighter version] aircraft all installed with four-gun .303 cal. Browning machine gun belly packs. They had sixteen Boley Mk. IV on strength at Pat Bay, B.C., seven appear in this image. Boley #9059 was taken on strength by RCAF 5 December 1941, arrived with No. 115 Squadron on 23 December 1941, assigned code BK-J. The next aircraft #9060 arrived 4 January 1942, would have a Cat. “A” accident on 6 June 1942. The third aircraft #9122 arrived on 5 January 1942 and still wears sky blue painted under surface, the others were all matt black. The majority of Bolingbroke Mk. IV [eighteen] assigned to No. 115 Squadron came from serial numbers 9118 to 9178, and fourteen of these would serve in Alaska first as twin-engine fighter aircraft, [until 22 June 1942] a rare forgotten part of RCAF Alaska WWII history. Original fourteen to arrive Annette Island, Alaska, on 5 May 1942 – #9030, #9057, #9059, #9118, #9119, #9120, #9122, #9125, #9137, #9140, #9143, #9150, #9154, and #9157.

The first all-Canadian production block of 151 Bolingbroke aircraft were designated the Mk IV and they were constructed in serial numbers 9001 to 9151, with 905 h.p. Mercury XV engines, and American-built instruments and other internal North American equipment.

A number of aircraft in this production block were modified with different engines and propellers and predesignated Mk. IV-W on the records. These fifteen were built with American [825 h. p.] Pratt and Whitney Junior Wasp engines. The Bolingbroke’s were primarily assigned to RCAF Bomber Reconnaissance units and flew anti-submarine patrols along both Atlantic and Pacific coastlines of Canada. Simonsen work sheets with Bolingbroke Mk. IV serial numbers 9001 to 9076, record all the aircraft assigned to RCAF No. 8, No. 115, and No. 119 Squadrons.

The sudden and surprise entry of Japan into the war, with such a crippling attack on the U. S. naval and air forces at Pearl Harbor, quickly changed the plans of the RCAF Home War Establishment. In March 1942, as a result of heavy losses in the Pacific and the lack of immediate reinforcements for the American troops in Alaska, an agreement was signed where the RCAF would assist in the defence of Alaska, under U.S. Air Force Command. A decision was made by RCAF H.Q. to form “Y” Wing, consisting of one Fighter Squadron and one Bomber Squadron, based at Annette Island, Alaska. This decision was based on the fact 50% of all the American war and construction materials were being shipped through Prince Rupert, B.C. and its defence was most vital to Alaska and Canada. Annette Island was situated 75 miles N.W. of Prince Rupert and patrol aircraft could also cover the most important air transport coastal [panhandle] route to main land Alaska. On 11 April 1942, No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron received orders to prepare for movement to Annette Island, Alaska. The O.C. and Flight Officer flew to Annette the following day and the advance party arrived on 21 April. The main force arrived by ship on 27 April and began to set up tent camp.

Following Japan’s sudden entry into the war, the RCAF authorized the formation of ten fighter units and six bomber reconnaissance units. In mid-May 1942, new two-letter squadron code letters were issued, and No. 115 [Fighter] Sqdn. located at Annette Island received new code “UV”. The old letters “BK” were removed from the twin-engine Bolingbroke fighters in Alaska.

The first flight of six Bolingbroke Mk. IV [Fighter] aircraft arrived at 18:00 hrs 5 May 1942, followed by seven more at 18:50 hrs. The fourteenth and last Bolingbroke landed at Annette Island at 20:00 hrs and RCAF history was made. RCAF photo below first flight at 18:00 hrs.

Under command of S/L E. Ryeno, his fourteen Bolingbroke [two-engine fighters] were all fitted with a belly-gun-pack of four forward firing machine guns. All aircraft were in factory markings, RAF Dark Green and tan Light Earth upper markings and new painted matt black under surfaces, as seen in the above photo. The far Bolingbroke #9122 was still painted in sky blue under wing markings and her belly gun pack outline can be seen below the wing. Boley #9122 arrived with No. 115 Squadron on 5 January 1942, the aircraft of S/L Ryeno, which later flew in No. 4 Training Command until 22 February 1945. Why this single Bolingbroke [Fighter] was never under surface painted in matt black is unknown, possibly just to identify this aircraft as the Commanding Officer’s.

This British Blenheim internet photo gives a very good image of what RCAF Bolingbroke #9122 four-gun belly pack looked like in under surface sky blue colors. [internet photo]

This image shows the four-gun belly pack on the camouflage Bolingbroke #9059 of No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron. Boley #5095 was taken on strength by RCAF 5 December 1941, arriving at Pat Bay, B.C. with No. 115 on 13 January 1942. The two squadron letters “BK” with outlined bar were ordered removed in mid-May 1942, at Annette Island, Alaska. No. 115 were assigned new squadron code letters “UV” end of May, but I don’t believe they were ever painted on the aircraft. Converted to a target tow 3 August 1944, flew last with No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery at MacDonald, Manitoba.

RCAF Western Command recognized the Bolingbroke fighters of No. 115 Squadron were vulnerable, slow, [220 M.P.H.] and not a very good fighter aircraft, but in fact they had nothing else. The 1935 British Stranraers, British Shark floatplanes and Canadian built Hurricane fighters were all obsolete, and No. 8 [BR] Squadron sixteen Bolingbroke’s were the only effective submarine strike force on the whole west coast of Canada. The only modern fighter aircraft were American built Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawks, which were pried from American hands thanks to Major General H. H. Arnold. The Bolingbroke [Fighter] aircraft of No. 115 Squadron became the first Canadian force ever based in United States territory to assist directly with American defence of their homeland, 5 May 1942. A special distinction which also created many unusual problems, some funny and others very serious. The U.S. Secretary of State declared all the RCAF personnel ‘distinguished foreign visitors’ which granted free entry for all Canadian goods and supplies arriving by ship. At first No. 115 Squadron flew fighter air defence of Prince Rupert and covered the many water approaches, from 5 May until 22 June 1942.

No. 115 [Fighter] official orders dated 18 June 42, they became a Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron on 22 June 1942. The fourteen Bolingbroke four machine gun packs were removed and B.R. training began the following day. The original gun packs might still be in the muskeg at Annette Island today. It cost time and money to transport fourteen gun packs 563 miles south to Patricia Bay, B.C., during time of war and they were now war junk, never to be used again.

Over the passing years the RCAF Bolingbroke Mk. IV [Fighter] aircraft have been both lost in history and lack of photos showing correct aircraft markings. This Simonsen research work sheet was completed for a painting and I believe this to be close to correct fighter markings used in Alaska May-June 1942. Below are British RAF colours, the RCAF were darker in shade and brighter in colour, but I leave that up to the modeling world, the true experts who care.

Canada used the basis of the British Air Ministry and associated technical standards as a starting point for the RCAF. In 1938, the Canadian Department of Defence accepted the RAF Temperate Land Scheme two color upper surface camouflage of Dark Green and Light Earth colouring with an undersurface finish of Sky Blue for both land and sea-based aircraft. All of the Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft built by Fairchild Aircraft Division in Quebec, [above] were painted in the same RAF camouflage example known as Pattern No. 2, for all Twin Engine Monoplanes of less than 70’ wingspan. [The Bolingbroke had a 56’ 4 “wingspan] The painting of roundels followed the RAF in regard to composition and proportions but the Bolingbroke roundels were painted on the outboard wingtips both upper and lower positions. The fuselage type AI roundel was red, white, blue, and yellow, and this outer yellow ring were ordered [12 June 1942] to be painted over in black during U.S. Alaskan operations.

From the Fairchild factory RCAF ferry pilots delivered the new Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft to No. 115 Squadron at Patricia Bay, B.C. Boley #9051 was the first to arrive on 19 November 1941, followed by eight on 23 December, two more on 26 December 1941 and #9050, 9057, and 9120 arrived on 3 January 1942, #9060, 9118, and 9120, came the following day. Bolingbroke #9123 and 9122 landed on 5 January and the last two arrived from Montreal on 13 January 1942. By the end of the month they had sixteen Bolingbroke Mk. IV [Fighter] aircraft on strength and eleven were painted and ready for operations. Eleven [or more] of these fighter aircraft were painted RCAF Matt Black on the complete undersurface and large white serial numbers were painted, half cord wing size reverse, under each wing. This was a feature of RCAF aircraft marking which began in August 1940, and used on all operational aircraft. In 1940, [war declared] the RCAF also established three distinct colour schemes for the thousands of aircraft flying in Canada, silver and white for communications and reconnaissance, yellow for BCATP trainers, and land scheme [Green and Earth] for operational fighters and bomber aircraft. Two-letter unit codes were first issued to RCAF Squadrons on 1 August 1939, and began appearing on aircraft in August 1940. All Squadrons belonging to units in the Home War Establishment were issued code letters which were painted on the fuselage sides and underlined with a bar of matching colour. This remained on No. 115 Bolingbroke Mk. IV fighters until end of May 1942, when all two-letter squadron codes “BK” were removed, replaced with “UV” but never painted on aircraft.

When No. 115 landed on Annette Island, 5 May 1942, only the North-South [left] runway was completed the East-West was still under construction. S/L A.D. Nesbitt, DFC, reported that the RCAF aircraft [Bolingbroke’s] were parked on each side of the runway, which was also used as a road way and large American trucks loaded with crushed rock thundered by all day long. This rock fill base was dumped into the muskeg and quickly sank into the water and mud. Each runway and twenty-seven aircraft hardstands were constructed twelve feet about the muskeg water line, covered with two feet of fine ½ inch crushed gravel, then packed by American civil engineers. On 24 June 42, S/L Nesbitt wrote –

Twelve hardstands were also constructed for the placement of Anti-Aircraft guns, manned by Canadians of the 112th Battery, Royal Canadian Artillery. On 21 July 1942, the control tower was completed and commenced operations under control of the U.S.A.A.C., which had a different system from that of the RCAF. To add to general problems, on 4 September, the old RCAF Mess Hall caught fire and the kitchen was destroyed. At the end of September 42, the U.S. government cut overtime pay to the civil labourers, and most quite their jobs and returned to main land U.S. This caused delays in the much needed new hangar, just as wet, cold, winter had arrived in Alaska. The wind and rain caused major problems with the Bolingbroke ignition system and numerous engine failures resulted, with ten of fourteen aircraft grounded. No. 115 Squadron were issued new two-letter codes “UV” in July but unknown if any were ever painted on the aircraft in Alaska. It was not important, and war confusion ruled on Annette Island.

The base was constructed 6 miles South of Metlakatla, on the SW peninsula of Annette Island, at altitude of 50 to 100 ft. above sea level. Position Lat. 55 degrees 03’ N., Long. 131 degrees 35’ W.

This RCAF image PA140643 was taken around 15 June 1942, showing work on the N-S runway, and the maintenance area for the Bolingbroke fighters. The Americans in the foreground are jack-hammering the rock formation where the single hangar will be constructed beginning on 20th of the month. No. 118 [Fighter] Squadron were placed in tents at the intersection of the two runways on 21 June, right in this image, and No. 115 tents were erected to the right on 5 May, in the tree lined muskeg area, all being connected by wooden walkways. No American aircraft were based on Annette Island, but numerous C-47 transports and a few fighters stopped for fuel on a daily basis. On 20 June, the first five RCAF P-40 Kittyhawks of No. 111 Squadron touched down for fuel and stayed the night. The next morning fifteen P-40 Kittyhawks of No. 118 Squadron arrived and they had to find accommodation in a storeroom until their tent area was prepared. Next came the repainting of RCAF aircraft in Alaska.

The first modification of standard RCAF aircraft markings officially came on 12 June 1942, issued by U. S. Colonel Sillin, Officer Commanding Fighter Command. Col. Sillin served as a fighter pilot, flight commander, and squadron commander, before he moved to Alaska, 29 December 1941. Major Sillin organized and commanded the 11th Fighter Squadron in Alaska, including the creation of unit aircraft markings. This P-40E displays early [Lt. Blue] tail fin bar used by 11th Fighter Squadron and unofficial nose art of a mosquito flying over the Alaskan mountains.

On 12 May 1942, U.S. Combined Chiefs of Staff ordered the removal of all red circle and red and white rudder stripes from all American combat aircraft effective 15 May 1942.

This famous No. 111 Squadron image shows the correct marking change, 14” sky blue rear fuselage band, and outer yellow ring painted matt black. RCAF Squadron two-code letters ordered removed 17 October 1942, as seen below, under line white bar remained.

This RCAF image clearly shows the upper wing and fuselage outer ring painted in matt black and not dark green as some historian’s record.

When No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron arrived on Annette Island, 5 May 1942, they came under the same control [Major Norman Sillin] same as No. 111 Squadron P-40 fighters, so, the Bolingbroke’s fighter’s should have been painted the same markings. Right?

This original RCAF image [PMR 79-778] shows a clearer detail of markings.

In early 1942, as Japanese forces swept through South-East Asia, British aircraft camouflage and roundels changed in both colour shades and aircraft position. The most striking change became the upper Type “B” roundel, where the large red center was overpainted in light blue or RAF azure. They appeared the same as Japanese ‘meatball’ red national markings. The RCAF did nothing with upper wing markings until No. 115 and No. 8 Squadron Bolingbroke’s arrived in Alaska, and again, it was the Americans who ordered the repainting on the Canadian aircraft under their command. In May 1963, RCAF Roundel magazine published a history titled “The Aleutian Campaign” by RCAF Air Historian F/Lt. F.J. Hatch. When Major General W.O. Butler took over command of 11th Air Force in Alaska, 8 March 1942, one of his early orders were directed at the RCAF, to paint out all the upper Type “B” red circles, which had a confusing similarity to the red disc carried on all Japanese aircraft, also recorded in No. 115 Daily Diary.

The new formed No. 115 [Bomber Recon.] Squadron now flew eight new assigned patrol areas on the Gulf of Alaska coastline, with refueling bases at Juneau and Yakutat, Alaska.

Patrol flights began 13 May 42 with Bolingbroke #9060 as a fighter aircraft. Bomber Reconnaissance patrols began 1 July, no flying from 4 to 7 July due to weather conditions.

On 7 July 1942, No. 115 [B.R.] Squadron RCAF Bolingbroke #9118 made the first possible bombing of a Japanese [Soviet] submarine at 17:59 hrs., and a direct hit was scored. The U.S. Navy continued the attack and reported the sinking of one submarine R.O. 32. Postwar Japanese records did not mention any submarines lost around that date, and the training submarine R.O. 32 was still in service when the war ended. It appears the Canadians attacked a [spying] Soviet submarine, which were operating in the same area.

On 5 October 1942, Japanese submarine I-25 torpedoed and sank a Soviet Submarine L-16 North-West of the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, [Vancouver Island] in fact there were two Russian Subs L-15 and L-16 running side-by-side on the surface when attacked. The U.S. Navy denied the loss for the next fifty years, same as the sinking of the S.S. Coastal Trader by I-26 on 7 June 1942.

On 18 August 2008, Brendan Coyle wrote a story in the Vancouver Sun Newspaper – “Jim Johnson, an RCAF photo tech. stationed on Annette Island still had a photo of the attack taken by the crew of Bolingbroke #9118, showing the submarine and conning tower.”

The actions of Bolingbroke #9118 on 7 July 1942, were recorded by W/C A.D. Nesbitt, DFC, #C1327, in his own handwriting for a historical narrative of RCAF Wing Annette Island.

By 2009, [American/Canadian historians now suspect] No. 115 Squadron Bolingbroke #9118 damaged a Soviet submarine spying off the Aleutians. No.115 [B.R.] Squadron continued their patrols up and down the Alaska Panhandle under operational control of Western Air Command rather than the 11th U.S. Army Air Force. By July 1942, it was evident to both Americans and the RCAF, the real problem in Alaska was the supply and maintenance of British-designed Bolingbroke’s, when American spare aircraft parts were readily available. The shortage of Canadian felt oil filters and aircraft spark plugs grounded ten of fourteen Bolingbroke’s and the squadron never became fully operational. Other problems were the wet, cold, and freezing to death in tents, which is recorded in the Daily Diaries. Some Canadians went AWOL and others reported for duty drunk, [ninety-days detention and release from the RCAF] just to get out of Alaska. It’s all there in the Daily Diary records. Wing Commander McGregor wrote that Canadians were seen essentially as a convenient rear-area security force for the Americans, but they also recognized the old Bolingbroke aircraft played an important role in freeing other American units for the protection of Anchorage’s defence needs.

Like the British Blenheim the Canadian Bolingbroke was “Too Little Too Late” but she did the best she could. No. 115 Squadron returned to Patricia Bay on 21 August 1943 and converted to new American Lockheed-Vega Ventura G.R. Mk. V aircraft the same month. They were disbanded at Tofino. B.C. on 23 August 1944, and basically just forgotten by historians. The old Bolingbroke aircraft which flew in Alaska were transferred to RCAF Bombing and Gunnery schools where many became target tows, then sold for scrap, ending up in hundreds of farmer dumps. Today five or six old salvaged airframes have been restored back together and a new Bolingbroke once again grace’s many RCAF museums. Another group of scrap sections made their way across the pond and today form the basis of the original British Blenheim aircraft for British museum’s, constructed by French/Canadians in Longueuil, Quebec, Canada. The British never seem to mention that French connection in their history sheets.

Beginning on 19 November 1941, No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron received new Bolingbroke Mk. IV aircraft at Patricia Bay, B.C., and a total of sixteen were on strength by 5 January 1942. They were equipped with four-gun .303 cal. machine gun belly packs and trained as a RCAF fighter unit. No. 115 Squadron became the only RCAF Squadron to fly both the Bolingbroke Mk. I and Mk. IV twin-engine fighter aircraft, while both were based at Patricia Bay, B.C., rare forgotten history.

This image taken from the internet shows No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron, Bolingbroke Mk. IV, serial 9030 training over Patricia Bay early 1942. Ferried to Pat Bay on 23 December 1942, assigned code BK-U, fitted with four-gun .303 cal. bomb-bay belly pack and trained aircrew as a Bolingbroke Mk. IV fighter aircraft. Arrived at Annette Island, Alaska, 5 May 1942, removed code letters “BK” in mid May and converted to a Bomber Reconnaissance aircraft on 22 June 1942. I do not believe the new Squadron code letters “UV” were ever painted on the Bolingbroke B.R. aircraft, however that has never been proved. The following sixteen Bolingbroke serial numbers were taken on strength by No. 115 Squadron. Bolingbroke serial 9030 “U”, 9057, 9059 “J”, 9078, 9118 “V”, 9119, 9120, 9122, 9125 “W”, 9137, 9140 “P”, 9143, 9150, 9154, 9157, and 9159.

The proper place to preserve, educate, and display an RCAF Bolingbroke Mk. IV “fighter” flown by No. 115 Squadron should be where they operated, Patricia Bay, B.C. The British Columbia Aviation Museum, located at the old Pat Bay airport in fact own and display a beautifully restored Bolingbroke. They state their Bolingbroke is painted in the colours of No. 3 Operational Training Unit, which flew old British Lysander, Stranraer, and later twenty-eight Canadian built modern American Canso “A” flying boats. I think they mean No. 13 Operational Training Unit which in fact flew seven Bolingbroke trainers, serial 9033, 9034, 9036, 9037, 9013, 9042, and 9057. The serial number on their Bolingbroke is #9104, which in fact flew with RCAF No. 122 Composite Squadron [Flying Nightmare’s] at Pat Bay, B.C. They had ten Bolingbroke trainer’s serial 9032, 9035, 9040, 9068, 9084, 9088, 9090, 9092, 9094, and 9104 on strength. The Squadron code markings are shown as BK-L, which flew with No. 115 [Fighter] Squadron at Pat Bay and Annette island, Alaska. OK, they have three different aircraft painted as one, enough said. What do model builders think of that mess?

The only place you can find a properly painted RCAF Bolingbroke Mk. IV from No. 115 Squadron is at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, USA. They not only display a replica of Bolingbroke #9118, BK-V, but they explain the fact it was most likely a Soviet Submarine SHCH-138 which the Canadians bombed and damaged 7 July 1942. Many thanks to all the Americans involved in preserving our long forgotten past from RCAF Annette Island, Alaska.

Replica of Bolingbroke Mk. IV, serial 9118, Pima Air and Space Museum image from website.

Bolingbroke Mk. IV, serial #9118 was taken on strength by RCAF on 22 December 1941, delivered by No. 124 [Ferry] Squadron to Patricia Bay, B.C., on 4 January 1942. Assigned code lettering BK-V, fitted with a four-gun .303 cal. bomb bay belly pack, and became a [rare] RCAF twin-engine fighter aircraft.

y Diary from the War Room, RCAF Headquarters in Ottawa, record whAfter her minor accident repairs, Bolingbroke #9118 conducted training exercises and air to ground live firing of her four-gun belly pack. On 5 May 1942, #9118 arrived at Annette Island as a twin-engine fighter aircraft, code BK-V. In two weeks, mid-May 42, RCAF issued a new revised list of two-letter squadron code letters, and No. 115 Squadron were issued the letters “UV.” Due to the weather conditions on Annette Island, plus no hangar, it was not possible to paint on the new code letters. After 22 June 1942, all fourteen Bolingbroke fighters were converted to Bomber Reconnaissance aircraft and fitted with bomb racks to carry four American 250 lb anti-submarine depth charges. Flights in eight new patrol areas began on 1 July 1942, first patrol for #9118 was 2 July 1942, in areas U-4 and U-2 beginning at 09:30 hrs. Due to fog and rain weather conditions they were unable to complete their very first assigned patrol.

No patrols were carried out by No. 115 [B.R.] Squadron from 4 to 7 July due to bad weather. The WWII Dailat took place on 7 July 1942. At 11:58 Hrs a steamship reports sighting a submarine periscope at position 55.5 North 134 West, some 130 miles Northwest of the RCAF base at Annette Island, Alaska. Due to the weather conditions a submarine search was not launched until 14:17 hours when Bolingbroke #9125 took off, followed by #9118 at 16:56 hrs and #9140 at 17:05 hrs. Bolingbroke #9118 with Flight Sergeant William E. Thomas begin a sea search and Pilot Officer Leonard Shebeski spots a disturbance on the sea surface where the crew observe a submarine periscope, churning water, and puffs of white smoke. The submarine outline is over 100 feet long and submerged ten to twenty feet in the water. At a height of 40 feet the RCAF Bolingbroke drops her four American 250 lb anti-submarine depth charges and a direct hit is observed by two of the bombs. In five minutes a scum of yellow oil appears on the surface covering approximately 50 feet in diameter. The attack takes place at 17:59 hrs, or six hours after the first reported steamship sighting.

The RCAF on Annette Island contact the U.S. Coast guard and the cutter McLean and patrol vessel YP-251 “Foremost” arrive on the last known location of the submarine. These American vessels conduct an 18-hour search and attack at which time the submarine comes to the surface once, then dives and a periscope is seen. At one point the submarine launches a torpedo at one of the American ships, and many depth charges are dropped. Later “flotsam resembling Rockwool comes to the surface which results in a claim of the probable destruction of an enemy submarine. The RCAF Dispatches mention the actions of the crew of Bolingbroke #9118 and they are credited with a shared probable sinking of an enemy submarine believed to be Japanese. For some reason the American’s record this as being Japan’s Ro.32, which still survived in August 1945. The incident is forgotten until 2008, then a photo taken by the crew of Bolingbroke 9118 showing the control tower of the submarine is published. The submarine appears to be a Russian type “Shchuka-class” medium size Soviet submarine built in large numbers and used in WWII. The Canadians bombed a real submarine and I do believe the U.S. Navy know much more about this sinking then they wish to release, even in 2020.

The Canadian reports show No. 115 [B.R.] Squadron RCAF Bolingbroke #9118, sighted, attacked, and damaged the Soviet Submarine Shchuka-138 which was reported missing on 8 July 1942. Other websites carry more information in regards to this incident, which is at least worth reading. The U.S. Navy did not wish to report the sinking of a Soviet [Allied] submarine and the Russians did not want to release the fact they were spying on U.S.A. At this time in history the United States were supplying Russia with aircraft, tug boats, ships, and billions of dollars of other war material. So, both sides shut up and only sixty-five years later the facts start to come together. The Russian word Shchuka means “Pike” and it now becomes clear the Canadian crew of Bolingbroke #9118 went Pike hunting on 7 July 1942, and they got a medium sized one, with a large red star on the conning tower. Now that’s a rare claim for RCAF fame.

In 2010, the U.S. Navy began to survey deep sea wrecks along their west coast, including the S.S. Coastal Trader, which is located in Canadian waters and still has 8,088 barrels of bunker oil on board. Look out B.C. coastline. They surveyed Soviet Submarine L-16 and I’m sure they also found Soviet Shchuka-138 and know the full hidden truth.

Bolingbroke #9118 continued her bomber reconnaissance patrols and on 21 September 1942, took off from Annette Island for what should have been operation number eighteen. Just after lift-off the aircraft lost an engine and made a forced landing one and a half miles from the end of the runway.

This Bolingbroke accident is described [above] by W/C A.D. Nesbitt, DFC, in his own handwriting and a photo of the crash site can be found in the excellent book “Canada’s Wings” Vol. One, by Larry Milberry, page 139. Three of the crew were injured with broken bones and flown to Sea Island, [Vancouver, B.C.] never returning to Alaska.

Original art by Cpl. Vincent Barwood, front cover RCAF Shovel Magazine, Coal Harbour, B.C. 13 January 1944. Serial number and code “V” added by author.

No. 115 [B.R.] Squadron returned to Patricia Bay, B.C., on 21 August 1943, where they converted to modern American Lockheed-Vega Ventura, then transferred to RCAF Tofino, B.C. on 17 March 1944. They received their official RCAF Lynx’s head insignia in January 1945, five months after they had been disbanded on 23 August 1944. The history of RCAF No. 115 Squadron spanned four complete war years, yet few photos appear. They flew 9680 operational hours and lost two aircraft in Alaska, two more in training, one killed and six missing, non-operational accidents. They should officially be credited with damaging one WWII submarine, most likely a spying Russian.

This research is dedicated to all members of No. 115 [Fighter] and [B.R.] Squadron which numbered almost 300 Canadians in total. Photos would be appreciated to help preserve their historical past, there out there someplace. Thanks to denial by the U.S. Navy and the Russians, true Canadian RCAF WWII history was almost lost along with the actions of Bolingbroke #9118. Now, if we can just get any Canadian museum to save this true part of “Combat” history and paint one Bolingbroke correctly as 9118. Do Canadians have to drive to Pima Air and Space Museum to see their “Bloody” preserved past?