Monthly Archives: May 2020

The Vulgar Virgin


This 31” by 31” replica nose art painting was completed by the author on original B-25 WWII U.S. Navy aircraft skin, the green paint is original American wartime color. This is from a special private collection of Mr. Nose Art, Clarence Simonsen, and at age 76 years, the artist has decided to give his little nude “Petty Girl” a new home. She is for sale, but must have a good setting, and please keep her warm. This was painted in honour of the aircrew of “The Vulgar Virgin.” The November 1941, Esquire gatefold pin-up [below] is also included.

Clarence Simonsen

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Research by Clarence Simonsen

The Vulgar Virgin (PDF document)


Text version (with all images in the PDF document)

The Vulgar Virgin


This attractive lady appeared as the November 1941 gatefold issue of Esquire magazine, painted by the most famous illustrative pin-up artist in America, George Brown Petty IV. In his “Petty Girl” George created an American female icon, a full-figured beauty, all-color with a sensual look combining sophisticated sexuality with the American girl-next-door smile and sweetness. The Petty Esquire pin-up established the first fold-out [gatefold] for all future pin-up magazines, such as Playboy. These gatefolds reached new heights in popularity during World War Two, and became a major world wide aircraft nose art subject. First born, daughter Marjorie ‘Jule’ Petty [21 September 1919] became his family model plus the real living “Petty Girl” posing fully nude [1930-1948] for each and every original sketch and airbrush painting.


The Esquire cartoon nude, April 1935, was turning into the “Petty Girl” pin-up of 1937.


The American B-24 aircraft which the Petty Girl ‘Vulgar Virgin’ appeared on was one of 18,482 Liberators constructed between 1939 and 1945, designated as they were built at five American factories. The Consolidated Vultee Model 32 Liberator prototype first flew on 29 December 1939, and was put into production in September 1940, for the British, [164 bombers] and French [120 bombers] governments. When France fell to Nazi Germany, their production order was taken over by the British and Canadian government orders. The B-24 progressed through several changes under British contracts before it went into large scale production for the U.S. Army Air Corps. When a change was made at a production factory that did not require a new model designation, the change appeared in the aircraft “block number.” The factories assigned block numbers in multiples of five, B-24D-20-CO, with an Air Corps Serial 41-24198. The last two letters identified the factory where each aircraft was built, [CO] Consolidated, San Diego, and [CF] Consolidated Fort Worth, [DT] Douglas, Tulsa, [NT] North American, Dallas, and [FO] Ford, Willow Run.


When the final aircraft production was withdrawn on 31 May 1945, the two Consolidated Vultee plants at San Diego and Fort Worth had produced over 10,000 B-24 Liberators. Between 1940 – 1942 these two plants manufactured 2,728 B-24D models including “The Vulgar Virgin.”


Image from Reid Stewart Austin collection 1996

The Consolidated, San Diego, California plant constructed one-hundred and eight B-24D-20 models in four different batches during June 1942.
Batch #1 – Thirty-nine aircraft serial numbers 41-24100 – 41-24138
Batch #2 – Sixteen aircraft serial numbers 41-24142 – 4-24157
Batch #3 – Eight aircraft serial numbers 41-24164 – 4124171
Batch #4 – Forty-five aircraft serial numbers 41-24175 – 41-24219
The factory block numbers for “The Vulgar Virgin” clearly appear in the above 1943 photo.


In the spring of 1942, American Air Force planners had agreed to schedule nine combat groups for the Middle East and North Africa campaigns, beginning in September. This was planned to allow the American Eighth Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress aircrews to become well established and trained for combat operations in England. On 15 June a crisis developed in North Africa, with the British port at Tobruk about to fall to Rommel’s Afrika Korps. Tobruk was a valuable prize, with water supply, military stores, and an excellent Mediterranean harbor, which British and Australian troops had captured just months before. By the end of June, the British forces had pulled back 300 miles from Tobruk, to make a last stand defence at El Alamein, and the fate of Egypt lay in their fighting skills. General Lewis Brereten, commanding the American Tenth Air Force in India, was at once ordered by Washington to gather every available heavy bomber and proceed to the Middle East. At the same time, three new stateside bomb groups received orders to prepare for movement to North Africa, and that’s how B-24D-20-CO serial number 41-24198 and the 98th Bomb Group arrived at Palestine in the last week of July 1942.

In 1926, the United States Army began to expand its air arm and many new groups were formed and activated. On 1 March 1935, the U.S. War Department established an important change in the combat organization of the air arm, creating General Headquarters Air Force, under command of an Air Force Officer. All the pursuit, bombardment, and attack units in the United States now came under control of a new organization called Air Corps. These units received an approved official unit insignia or air corps badge. The separation of the General Headquarters Air Force [combat organization] and the Air Corps [logistic organization] caused many serious problems in coordination. On 20 June 1941, the War Department created the U. S. Army Air Forces, with the General Headquarters and Air Corps renamed Air Force Combat Command. In January 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress to strengthen America’s air power. By the time the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, [7 Dec. 1941] the USAAF had expanded from 30 active air force groups to 67, with many more in the process of being constituted.

The USAAF 98th Bombardment Group was constituted on 28 January 1942, and activated on 3 February 1942. The Group squadrons were 343rd, 344th, 345th, and the 415th, which all trained in the early production model B-24 bombers. Formed at MacDill Field, Florida, 3 February 1942, training commenced at Barksdale Field, La, late February 1942. Flight training took place at Fort Myers, Fla, 30 March 1942, and lastly at Drane Field, Fla, 15 May to 3 July 1942. On 16 June 1942, the American assembled air arm near Cairo, Egypt, was given the official title United States Army Forces in the Middle East [USAFIME], containing a small number of American B-17s [nine] and [twelve] B-24 bombers, desperately needed to boost the British defence against the Desert Fox Rommel. Moving from Florida on 15 July 1942, the 98th [Pyramiders] ferried their new B-24D bombers across the South Atlantic route and began arriving at Ramat David, thirty-five miles east of Haifa, Palestine, on 25 July 1942, ready to join the 1st Provisional bombers in the United States Army Middle East Air Force.


The 98th Bomb Group aircrew members designed and applied for their official insignia during training, and their new shield with motto “For Freedom” was approved on 29 July 1942. They began the Egypt-Libya campaign just five weeks after it began, wearing their new official insignia. The above insignia is believed to be the original correct colors; however, the zig-zag black line was mainly painted yellow in North Africa.


This image shows a 98th B.G. B-24D in the period markings for August 1942 in Palestine. The national insignia star was type 2, diameter of 20 inches, tail serial number ten inches from top of fin and painted in yellow, for B-24s produced at San Diego, California, and radio-call letter “X” in middle of fin 16 inches high. These B-24Ds were painted in a special camouflage officially known as Sand and called “Desert Pink.” As the hot Mediterranean sun bleached the aircraft surface, the yellow pigments faded and the aircraft turned into a strong pink color, known as desert pink or more commonly called “tittie pink.” The 98th Bomb Group were able to go directly into action, [1 August 1942] and for these new American airmen, this was their first experience coordinating close air support with mixed [Australian, New Zealand, Canadian] British ground forces. The British techniques soon proved popular with the new American fliers, and they became instrumental in liberating both the RAF and American Air Forces from direct control of ground commanders. Air and ground staff in the British system shared the same headquarters and desert environment living quarters. This allowed the 98th to observe first hand the complex techniques of air-ground coordination which the British had developed over years of fighting in the Western Desert.

The American Egypt-Libya Theatre of war officially began on 11 June 1942, when the small Halverson Detachment equipped with twenty-five B-24 bombers began operations in the Middle East. American leaders had originally agreed that the Middle East was a British responsibility, however now American air support was essential for the region to remain in Allied hands. The 98th flew their first mission from Palestine on 1 August 1942, attacking Rommel’s fuel and oil supply convoy 90 miles north of Benghazi, Libya. They moved to St. Jean, Palestine, on 21 August, attacking German shipping convoys that same day and 29 August west of the island of Crete. The 98th continued to bomb shipping and harbor installations in Libya, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, and Crete. From 25 October to 5 November they took part in the Battle of El Alamein and helped stop Rommel in his drive towards the Suez Canal. On 11 November 1942, the 98th flew to their new assigned RAF landing ground at Fayid or [Fayed], Egypt. The next day Lt. General Frank M. Andrews assumed command of United States Army Forces in the Middle East. His first act was to dissolved the [USAMEAF] United States Army Middle East Air Force and established the Ninth Air Force. [12 November 1942] Below – RAF base [tent city] at Fayid, Egypt in 1942, where the 345th and 415th B. Squadrons were based until 25 January 1943. The 343th and 344th Squadrons were based at Kabrit, Egypt, until March 1943.


On 8 November 1942, operation TORCH, the Anglo-American amphibious invasion of western North Africa began, and the Axis armies found themselves squeezed between the two Allied desert offensives. In February 1943, the British, with American air support, pushed across Libya, and the Egypt-Libya campaign ended on 12 February 1943.

The following three images were taken by a German Luftwaffe [POW] member during an Allied air attack on German base at Berka, [Benghazi, Libya], appearing in a Canadian newspaper “The Standard” Montreal, 26 September 1942. [author collection]


As British Air Superiority in the western desert grows daily they are striking harder and harder at Luftwaffe bases. These series of photos taken from a captured German show RAF bombs bursting among Ju 82’s at a Nazi aerodrome at Berka. Germans probably named the base after a German town 150 miles southwest of Berlin. Allied planes also blast Nazi convoys in the Mediterranean. The Germans built three aerodromes south-west of Benghazi, all named Berka #1, #2, and #3.


Number 20 was Berka #1, 19 was Berka #2, and 18 was Berka #3. Number 21 was Lete, #22 was Benina North and #23 was Benina, where the Ninth Air Force were later based.



Luftwaffe groundcrew scamper over the runway toward undamaged gasoline drums as RAF bombs turn a German troop carrying Ju 52 into a blazing hulk. A Me 110 can be seen in the air above the volumn of dense smoke coming from the burning wreckage.



As more RAF bombs smash home, a whole nest of Ju 52’s goes up in smoke. Nazis have rushed a firefighting truck on the field in a vane attempt to control the fire and save something from wreckage. Two unexploded bombs lie on the field in the forground.


An American soldier examines two German 88 mm cannons which they destroyed before retreating from Egypt, July 1942. These images were possibly taken around Sidi Barrani, landing ground #2 in Egypt. The RAF operated over 120 landing ground desert strips in Egypt, summer of 1942.


The Canadian newspaper recorded American Black soldiers in the Ninth Air Force, something U.S. magazines avoided, 26 September 1942.


The American Ninth Air Force in Egypt, November 1942, the beginning of the push into Libya.


In the last week of January 1943, the four squadrons of the 98th Bomb Group began movement west from Egypt to RAF bases in the Libyan desert. The 345th Squadron arrived at Tobruk, landing ground Gubbi West on 25 January. The 415th B. S. followed, arriving Tobruk, landing ground Gubbi East on 25 January. The 343rd B. S. arrived at landing ground Gambut, Libya, on the last day of January. The 344th B.S. remained at RAF Kabrit until 3 March 1943, then flew to landing ground Lete, just east of Benghazi, Libya, on 4 March 1943. The 98th Bomb Group Headquarters moved to landing ground Benina, Libya, on 9 February 1943, and her two squadrons 345th and 415th were based 436 k/m east at Tobruk, Libya.
The Egypt-Libya Desert Campaign was one of the smaller, less well known U.S. Army Air Force battles in WWII. This campaign made a major contribution of the first Anglo-American cooperation for the later, and much larger combined endeavors in the European conflict.


In April 1943, LIFE magazine dispatched reporters to Benghazi, Libya, and six full pages appeared in the 17 May 1943 issue, eleven on the Ninth Air Force.





This young woman on the plane of Lieut. Jack K. Wood of Wichita Falls, Texas, has seen a lot of action in Tunisia. Name “The Vulgar Virgin” was picked by squadron vote. LIFE magazine.

This Petty Girl nude gatefold appeared in the November 1941 issue of Esquire magazine, the same week George Petty’s wife [Jule] and daughter [Marjorie] the living Petty Girl, were steaming toward Hawaii for a deserved five-week holiday. Their ship “Lurline” sailed for San Francisco on Friday, 5 December 1941, and two days later the captain called all passengers to the salon and informed them Pearl Harbor had been bombed. The two Petty Girl’s were going to war.


In October 1940, artist Alberto Vargas was signed to a three-year contract by Esquire magazine and slowly George Petty learned he would be sharing the spotlight in the magazine beginning January 1941. This complete history can be read on many websites and the excellent book “Petty” by Reid Stewart Austin. The Esquire paintings by Petty in 1941 are considered to be some of his best in both grace and nudity, direct artist competition can cause that. Above is the last Petty gatefold to appear in Esquire, December 1941, and now Alberto Vargas [Varga Girl, the “s” was dropped] would take over. A generation of American and Canadian males had grown up with the Petty Girl pin-up on their walls and now the acceptance of these early gatefolds allowed her to coast through the war years. Thousands of RAF pilots trained in Canada, and were exposed to the Petty Girl, combined with RCAF aircrew who accepted the Petty painted girls in the mid-1930s, then took her to war. Many of these 1937 to 1940 calendar Petty Girls in fact first appeared in North Africa on British RAF aircraft flown by Allied pilots.


[author collection]



[author collection]


This North African B-24D carried the title “Cielito Lindo” a most famous 1882 Mexican song which is translated into Pretty Little Sky. The full nude on a swing came from the September 1941 Petty Girl gatefold in Esquire magazine, appearing as nose art on many American aircraft.

In the Middle East a handful of British permanent aerodromes had been developed and constructed between the two world wars. However, the majority of combat missions flown in North Africa during WW II were conducted from temporary Landing Grounds, and the RAF numbered over five-hundred such locations. As soon as the Axis forces had been defeated in North Africa, these temporary Landing Grounds were abandoned and quickly reclaimed by the desert sands. The RAF now concentrated on a chain of selected landing grounds along the coast, and these were slowly improved with the erection of permanent buldings and paved runways. Many of these bases had been first occupied by the Italians, Germans, and British forces a number of times. Bengasi, Libya, was captured from Rommel by the British on Christmas Day 1941, then a month later the Germans recaptured it and held it until November 1942, when Mongomery again permanently kicked the German Army out, supported by 98th B.G. air power. Bengashi was home to three major RAF landing grounds, L.G. Benina, which was located 21 k/m east of Benghazi, and L.G. Benina [North] located next door just 1.5 k/m away. The third L.G. was Lete, located 5 k/m west of Benina, constructed by both Germans and British. On 9 February 1943, 98th B.G. Headquarters moved to L.G. Benina, Libya, with the 343rd B.S. and 344th B.S. moving to L.G. Lete on 3 and 4 March 1943. This was during the middle of the Tunisia campaign when the Allies were fighting to take Tunis and Bizert, before the Germans could send reinforcements to Tunisia. In late-July 1943, photographer and author Ivan Dmitri flew into Benghazi, Libya, and recorded the history of the Ninth Air Force in action color, appearing in his book Flight to Everywhere, published 1944.


Rommel’s Rubbish. All that’s left of a Nazi plane rots in the desert while in the background a Ninth Air Force B-24D starts on a new mission.


31The Other Fight – Dust storms. B-24D-85-CO, serial 42-40657, 376th B.G. became “GI Ginnie.”


The 376th [Heavy] Bomb Group was activated at Lydda, Palestine on 31 October 1942, and began B-24D operations immediately. Their unofficial badge was created during combat at Abu Sueir, Egypt, featuring a stylized yellow winged sphinx, on red sand, with a yellow 500 lb. bomb pointed downward from a dark blue sky, with motto – LIBERANDOS. Their four squadrons in 1942-45 were 512th, 513th, 514th and 515th B.S. [This WWII badge was not officially approved until 8 November 1951, while equipped with B-29s in SAC] Aircraft #100 B-24D-85-CO, serial 42-40664, was named Teggie Anne and became the Command Aircraft on the Ploesti raid 1 August 1943. They flew out of Gambut, 1 Jan. 1943, Soluch, 22 Feb. and arrived at Bengasi, Libya, on 6 April 1943, where this image was taken three months later. The bomber nose art name “Teggie Anne” was only painted on the port side.


Twilight on the desert. B-24D Liberators from the 376th B.G. dispersed for miles along the Libyan coast, comprise the fighting strength of IX Bomber Command. B-24D #41 was assigned to the 513th Bomb Squadron, wearing the official approved emblem, a gold stylized falcon riding a 500 lb. light brown aerial bomb, over a black diamond with yellow trim. They arrived at Bengasi, Libya, on 6 April 1943.


In Rommel’s Seat. General Ent, center, occupies seat in War Room where Rommel worked.



Captured Italian truck with four-wheel drive put to good use by Ninth Air Force.


Those letters from home. A real floor in the tent, a bomb-fin casing for a table. What more could any American airmen ask?


New arrivals prepare for life of war, sand, and scorpions, setting up tent.


Mess kits and cooking utensils must be rinsed in boiling water to keep tropical germs at bay.



B-24D serial 41-23661, 98th B.G., 345th Bomb Squadron, Black Jack, “Roll them bombs.”


Beneath a 1000-pounder, crew member dusts sand from ammo to prevent possible fouling.

The Ninth Air Force flew their last mission to Rome on 19 July 1943, and the following day began intensive training on the desert east of Benghazi, Libya.


This was the target practice area where the outlines of Ploesti targets were traced in the desert sand.



Some of the Ninth Air Force nose art was recorded in color – “Homesick Susie” 42-40409, “Little Joe” serial 41-24195, 98th B. G. 415th B. Squadron, “Ubangi Webangi” serial unknown and “The Little Gramper” serial 42-40722, painted by nose artist Staff/Sgt. Charles Cavage. They all went to Ploesti on 1 August 1943.



The B-24D “Ubangi Webangi” had a sister ship named “Ubangi Bag” serial 41-24194, “B” with the same nose art painted on both sides, 415th Bomb Squadron. Nose artist S/Sgt. Cecil Lippard.

On 1 August 1943, 178 Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers took off on a 2,700-mile round trip to bomb Ploesti, Romania. One-hundred and sixty-four bombers reached the target, and fifty-four did not return. Forty-one were lost to enemy action and fourteen to other causes, including eight interned in Turkey. A total of 1,725 airmen took part in this mission and 540 were lost in the skies over Ploesti, 310 killed in action. The tragedy of Ploesti has been published in hundreds of books and websites, measured only in the American airmen’s courage with no decisive combat results, or drop in German WWII oil supply.


The 389th Bomb Group [Heavy] “The Sky Scorpions” was activated on 24 December 1942, trained for overseas duty in the B-24 bomber, and arrived at Hethel, England, 11 June 1943. Almost immediately the 389th was loaned to the Ninth Air Force in North Africa, where they arrived at Bengashi, Libya, 3 July 1943, and prepared for the raid on Ploesti, Romania. This image was taken just before take-off, showing the nose art on “Wolf-Waggin,” [name recorded by Ivan Dmitri in 1943], B-24D-95-CO, serial 42-40775. She survived the trip to Ploesti and returned to temporarily combat in Tunisia on 25 August 1943, returning to England in October 1943.

The 389th B.G. had the least losses of all the Ploesti attacking groups, only six B-24s were lost from twenty-six attacking bombers.



At dawn [06:00 hrs] on Sunday, 1 August 1943, the first of 178 Liberators “Wingo-Wango” took off for the three-hour flight across the Mediterranean towards Ploesti.


Unknown B-24D pilot concentrates on flight to Ploesti, Romania.



The 98th Bomb Group [Pyramiders] were led by a tough, professional pilot from Texas, Colonel John R. Kane, [center] who carried the nickname “Killer.” This image [with his crew] was somewhat misleading as iron man Kane was never loved by his men, and was described as never fitting the image of today’s ‘officer and gentleman.’ Cold and ruthless, he was just as courageous, an amazing war leader of the Ninth Air Force in North Africa 1943. Kane crashed Hail Columbia “V” 41-11825 at RAF Station Nicosia, Cyprus. [below 2 Aug. 43]


The 1 August 1943, 98th B. G. flight crews which attacked Ploesti oil refineries, lead by [yellow marked] 344th B.S. Col. Kane in 41-11825 aircraft “V” Hail Columbia. B-24D #9, Nespor 41-11768, “D” Kickapoo, turned back and crashed, Gaston 41-11656, “H” Rowdy II, turned back, #2, Arens 41-11803 “E” Rosie Wreck’em, turned back, and #10 Edwards, 41-11040 “F” Big Operator, turned back. Circles B-24D #7 Hinch 41-24197 “A” Tagalong, and #6 Neeley 41-11819 “G” Raunchy, were both shot down over target. Four survived [#1 Kane 41-11825 “V”, #2 Hadley 41-24311 “L”, Hadley’s Harem, #5 Banks 41-40208 “K”, Sad Sack, and #8 LeBrecht 41-11761 “I”, The Squaw, only four out of the first nine aircraft, returned to land at RAF Station Nicosia, Cyprus.


Section “E” was a mix of squadron aircraft, two turned back, six attacked the target and only Lt. Weisler in a B-24D #026 “B” named “Baby” survived, landing at RAF Nicosia, Cyprus. “The Vulgar Virgin” never came out of the target smoke and flames, missing in action.
The five groups of B-24s aircraft took off 30 seconds apart, with the 98th Bomb Group [Sections A to E] in the third assigned group. The first 98th B.G. B-24D to become airborne at 07:09 hrs were 344th Bomb Squadron serial 41-24198, “The Vulgar Virgin” piloted by Capt. Wallace C. Taylor. [Missing in Action]


Lt. Weisler, B-24D serial 41-24026, named “Baby” followed at 07:10 hrs. [landed Cyprus]
Lt. Colchagoff, B-24D serial 41-11733, “Skipper” time 07:11 hrs. [Turn back – gas tank leak]
Col. Kane, B-24D serial 41-11825, “Hail Columbia” time 07:14 hrs. [landed Cyprus]
Lt. Arens, B-24D serial 41-11803, “Rosie Wreck’em” time 07:15 hrs. [Turn back – landed Malta]
Lt. Hadley, B-24D serial 41-24311, “Hadley’s Harm” time 07:16 hrs. [landed Cyprus]
Lt. Gaston, B-24D serial 41-11656, “Rowdy II” time 07:18 hrs. [Turned back – gas tank leak]
Lt. Banks, B-24D serial 41-24208, “Sad Sack”time 07:19 hrs. [landed Cyprus]
Lt. Neeley, B-24D serial 4-11819, “Raunchy” time 07:20 hrs. [Missing in Action]
Lt. Hinch, B-24D serial 41-24197, “Tagalong” time 07:21 hrs. [Missing in Action]
Lt. Le Brecht, B-24D serial 41-23795 “Sneezy” time 07:22 hrs. [landed Cyprus]
Lt. Nespor, B-24D serial 41-11768, “Kickapoo” time 07:23 hrs. [crash landing] Just after becoming air-borne 1st. Lt. Robert Nespor lost an engine with flames shooting out. Nespor turned around and headed back to base which was still obscured with clouds of red desert sand caused by all the bombers taking-off. Kickapoo landed, roughly bounced a couple of times, then over-shot striking a concrete telephone pole at the end of the runway.



Only navigator Polivka [left] and gunner Garner escaped the burning B-24D bomber.

Lt. Edwards, B-24D serial 41-24040, “What’s Cooking Doc” [Big Operator] time 07:24 hrs. [Turn back – #3 super-Charger out] The last B-24D in the 344th B. Squadron to take-off, then turned back, touching down at landing ground Lete, Libya, at 14:55 hrs.


Internet B-24 nose art collection

Killer Kane’s Pyramiders lifted off with forty-eight B-24D aircraft, in minutes “Kickapoo” crash landed, six others turned back, and now forty-one joined the others and headed for Ploesti. 165 of the original 178 Ninth Air Force aircraft hugged the sea for the first three-hour leg of the journey. The Pindus Mountains necessitated a climb to fourteen thousand feet where the next image was taken by photographer Ivan Dmitri.


With Col. Kane at the controls “Hail Columbia” entered the smoke and flame inferno, forty bombers followed, only twenty-three of the 98th Bomb Group B-24D bombers came out of the target area smoke. Eighteen bombers were shot down, one-hundred and eighty men killed or POWs. The cost to the Ninth Air Force for 30 minutes’ work was, indeed, too high, 54 bombers lost. Of the 164 Liberators which struck the target, 41 were lost to enemy action. Only 88 B-24D bombers returned to land at Benghazi, and barely half were still flyable. Fifty-five had been heavily damaged. Two hundred and sixteen American bodies were recovered with one-hundred and eighty-six captured.

LIFE magazine reported the raid on 30 August 1943, very brief in content.


Photos taken on 2 August 1943 by Ivan Dmitri recording the extent of damage.






B-24D serial 41-11766, “Chug-A-Lug” took six direct flak hits, instantly killing the engineer/gunner, but she made it home.


“Daisy Mae” serial 41-11815, had her tail shot-up, Sgt. Lewis M. Shields and T/Sgt. Chas J. Cammock repair the tail turret. Tail gunner Sgt. Nick Hunt from Las Animas, Colo. survived this 20 mm explosive shell.



Close-up of tail fin damage to “Daisy Mae” [nose art from internet] which somehow made it home to Lete, Libya.


This B-24D was in the 93rd B. G. called “Lucky” and the Panda Bear insignia was approved for the 409th B. Squadron on 16 February 1943. The Panda lived up to the bomber name, as the Ploesti flak hole [repaired and painted over] just missed the little running bear.



The B-24D repairs on 55 aircraft took weeks as some bombers had major flak damage.

In the fifty-five B-24s which returned to Bengasi, 54 aircrew members were wounded.



In September 1943, Jack Benny and his USO troop show landed at Bengasi and the special guests were housed in the officer’s mess, with fully topless pin-up wall art. Movie star Anna Lee talks with the Ninth Air Force officers, while her ‘look-a-like’ smiles from the wall.


These original buildings had been headquarters for the “Desert Fox” Rommel.


Blues singer Wini Shaw confers with Col. Nero [middle] and Col. Compton making plans for the evening outdoor show.



Jack Benny and Wini Shaw with the Ninth Air Force members after the evening open-air performance. Note the Corporal on Wini’s right who has turned away from the camera, possibly not wanting his wife back in the U. S. to see what is going on in North Africa.


Jack Benny has a B-24D named after him, serial 41-24112.


Jack Benny USO performer “Birdie Dean” becomes a living Ninth Air Force bomber pin-up girl. The Naples-Foggia campaign began on 18 August 1943, and continued until 21 January 1944. New B-24 bombers were arriving for the Ninth Air Force, joining Allied bombardment of communications and airfields in Italy. After the invasions of Sicily and Italy, the Ninth Air Force was ordered to England 3 October 1942. They would now become the tactical air force for the invasion of the Continent. Some of these new Libya painted B-24D desert nose art gals would become famous later in England, such as “Sack-Time Sally” of the 389th Bomb Group, 565th B. Squadron. This B-24D-95-CO serial 42-40749 took part in the 1 August raid on Ploesti, [without any nose art] and flew out of Bengasi from 3 July to 27 August 1943. The nose art nude was painted in early September possibly by ground crew artist S/Sgt. Cecil O. Lippard, taken from the September issue of Esquire “Varga” pin-up girl. Vargas [dropped the ‘s’] and took over from George Petty in January 1942 issue of Esquire.




The 565th began operations from Massicault, Tunisia, 20 September 1943, so that dates this image first two weeks in September at Bengasi, Libya.


American Air Museum Britain UPL15278

“Sally” flew from Hethel, England, and was shot down over Holland, on 26 November 1943. More detailed history can be found on the American Air Museum Britain website.


During the summer of 1943, two veteran B-24D bombers which survived the air war in North Africa, were sent home for American War Bond tours. This presented a major nose art nudity problem for the folks back home in the United States.


A most famous Ploesti survivor B-24D-20-CO, 41-117671, 98th Bomb Group, 343rd B. Squadron, with original painted nose art recorded on 16 mm film in July 1943, at Libya.


This little native nude flew with “The Vulgar Virgin” part of the infamous Ploesti raid on 1 August 1943, and survived seventy-three missions in North Africa. However, you could never show this to the American public [even in today’s museum’s 2020] so, the original nose art was [censored] repainted for her war bond tour.


This is the “fake” 1943 nose art painted on B-24D-2-CO, serial 41-11761, “The Squaw.” The full history can be found on a number of websites, but thanks to the internet, plus many professional model builders, the true history can now be told and shown in B-24D decals.


The true tragedy of what actually took place over Ploesti on 1 August 1943 would not be fully understood until postwar interviews were conducted with 186 American P.O.W. airmen.


The Bomb Group’s mix-up and military nightmare which took place afterwards has been recorded many, many, times and need not be repeated in detail here. The leading group to attack Ploesti were the 376th B.G. [twenty-nine B-24D] followed by the 93rd B.G. with thirty-nine bombers. These two groups made a turn too early, mistaking Targoviste for the [Initial Point] at Floresti, twenty miles further north/east. This pointed the two groups towards Bucharest, becoming the most fatal incident of the entire mission. The 389th B.G. [twenty-six B-24D] left the other four groups at the city of Pitest, [Initial Point] and at five hundred feet struck their targets at Campina. The 98th B.G. [forty-one B-24D] and 44th B.G. [thirty-six] bombers followed the correct flight plan, taking them directly over a heavily armed German flak train “Die Raupe” [caterpillar] on the main line from Floresti to Ploesti, which damaged several Liberators, shooting down seven B-24Ds in Killer Kane’s 98th Bomb Group. This German flak train [camouflaged as freight train] with a full head of steam, literally chased the two Bomb Groups towards Ploesti.
Col. Kane at the controls of “Hail Columbia” led thirty-four B-24s [the German flak train shot down seven bombers] of the 98th B.G. into the intense heat and flame of the target area, but only nineteen escaped the inferno and intense flak, twenty-two were shot down.
B-24D-20-CO “The Vulgar Virgin” led the last “E” Section of six bombers [two turned back] into the target and only Lt. Weisler in “B” serial #026 came out of the smoke and flame. Five B-24D aircraft were shot down.


The only survivor from B-24D, serial 41-24198 “The Vulgar Virgin” was the pilot Capt. Wallace C. Taylor. On 15 October 1945, Major [promoted postwar] #0-729382 Wallace Taylor was interrogated by 1St. Lt. Lucille Caldwell and the following was stated:
The Vulgar Virgin was flying as lead aircraft in “E” section of the 98th Bomb Group attacking formation. Over the target the bomber took a direct flak hit in the nose section and burst into flames. Capt. Taylor pulled out of the formation –

“I immediately called the nose and tail but could not contact either one. I then gave the bail out order and rang the alarm bell. I saw the co-pilot, engineer, and assistant engineer bail out. I do not know what happened to the other members of the crew. I bailed out and landed in the vicinity of Ploesti. I left the plane when those with me were out and it was impossible to stay longer in the flames and heat.”


F/O Paul W. Packer, Co-pilot [KIA], 1st Lt. Jack K. Wood, Navigator [KIA], 1st. Lt. Robert N. Austin, Bombardier [KIA], T/Sgt. Gerald E. Rabb, Engineer/top gunner, [KIA], T/Sgt. Alfred F. Turgeon, Radio Operator/left waist gunner [KIA], S/Sgt. Ralph M. Robbins, Gunner/asst. engineer [KIA], S/St. Louis Kaiser, Right waist gunner [KIA], S/Sgt. Donald H. Duchene, Tail gunner [KIA], Sgt. Arthur B. Van Kleek, Tunnel gunner, [KIA].
More than eighty brave American flyers who perished on that “Black Sunday” remain unrecovered.


This 31” by 31” replica nose art painting was completed by the author on original B-25 WWII U.S. Navy aircraft skin, the green paint is original American wartime color. This is from a special private collection of Mr. Nose Art, Clarence Simonsen, and at age 76 years, the artist has decided to give his little nude “Petty Girl” a new home. She is for sale, but must have a good setting, and please keep her warm. This was painted in honour of the aircrew of “The Vulgar Virgin.” The November 1941, Esquire gatefold pin-up [below] is also included.

“Oh, General, I bet you tell that to all the spies!”

The Power of American Aviation comics in the 1950s (PDF document)

Research by Clarence Simonsen

The Power of American Aviation comics 1950

See the link to a F-22 video at the end…

Text version (no images)

The Power of American Aviation comics

in the 1950s

Born on the farm in rural Alberta, Canada, 24 March 1944, I had no idea young Canadian artists drew, and Toronto publishers printed ‘our’ own Canadian comic books titled “Whites.” On 6 December 1940, our government passed the “War Exchange Act,” which banned non-essential goods from being imported to Canada.  This in short prevented the import of American comic books and the Canadian “Whites” were born, named because they lacked the color associated with their American counterparts. Canadians could only afford to print the covers in color. Our comics had a similar theme based on fictional Canadian war heroes and patriotic Canadian attitudes towards the Second World War.

The artists were mostly young Toronto art students, who created their own adventures, the most famous became “Johnny Canuck” by Leo Bachle. The artist in fact created Johnny Canuck in his own image, fighting the evils of Germany and Japan.

By 1945, the Canadian whites had been printed in over 20 million copies, but their end was fast approaching. The War Exchange Act was dropped at the end of World War Two and soon the American publishing power, combined with the mighty U.S. dollar, moved in to destroy the Canadian “White “comics. During the war years 1940-45, Canadian youth enjoyed their American comic heroes, which were printed in Canada newspapers, while they read their new Canadian comic heroes from the newsstands. Canadians in fact had the best of two worlds. The original Canadian “Whites” survive today in Toronto, and University donated collections, while much more can be read online about our wartime lost comic book past.

In 1995, Canada Post released a set of five comic book superhero stamps and one immortalized for all time a modern superhero “Captain Canuck.” Created in the 1970’s by 19-year-old Canadian artist Ron Leishman and story line by Richard Comely, they restored a small part of our lost past. The original Captain Canuck art comic designs are now kept at the National Archives in Ottawa. In 1995, Ron Leishman was teaching art class at Woodman junior high school in Calgary, Alberta.

By the mid-1950’s, I was a normal Canadian farm boy, however, I was hooked on aviation and my first interest became Air Force comics, American comics, there was nothing else. These American ten cent comics were 99% Hollywood fiction in content, and these American heroes never lost a battle, and very few were ever killed. Then from time to time [very rare] a story appeared featuring the R.A.F. and British aircraft, but nothing Canadian. It took a while for the farm kid to learn we even had an Air Force and they were involved in WWII. I was growing up thinking like an American, being educated like an American, thanks to their domination of comics, and the total lack of anything Canadian or RCAF to educate me otherwise.

Original American comic – “Lucky Lady.”

The B-17 “Lucky Lady” was named after RAF Sgt. Ann Chambers, by the American pilot who loved her.

The best education I received from American comics was the fact they introduced me to WWII aircraft nose art’ and a special feature on military insignia, contained in many issues.

These simple pages were a very powerful inspiration, even today. [May 1958]

In 1958, I was fourteen years of age and beginning to separate fact from fiction, plus a powerful urge to learn more about our Canadian Aviation History. Somehow, I heard Canada had built a jetliner that was far ahead of its time, but it was cancelled by our government. Why? I sent a letter to the Toronto Star Weekly magazine and to my surprise they answered my question, for all Canadians to read.

This was the beginning of a long quest to save RCAF WWII nose art, and also learn what I could about our lost C102 Jetliner aircraft. In 1965, I graduated from the Metro. Toronto Police College and two years later found myself stationed at No. 23 Division in Etobicoke, just two miles from the Malton plant where the Jetliner was constructed. I joined the local Malton branch of the Canadian Legion and my research began, very slow but very serious. I toured the Malton plant [thanks to being a police officer] asked many questions, and recorded what I could. At Malton, I would first learn a very important research lesson, the hard way.

Born and raised on a quarter section of mixed farm land in southern Alberta featured lots of hard work and very little money, but growing up was good, and I learned the value of life and a full day’s work.  When John Diefenbaker was elected Prime Minister of Canada, my father and his local Acme, Alberta, farmers were overjoyed with the Tory government victory. I believed all of Canada felt the same way, boy was I wrong.

I honestly had no real idea of what P.M. John Diefenbaker had done to thousands of families in Malton and Toronto, when he scrapped the $400 million Avro Arrow program in 1959.  I soon learned to keep my mouth shut about Calgary, Alberta, the Tory government, and most of all our ex-P.M. Diefenbaker. The Tory decision to kill the Avro Arrow and then demolish every last aircraft will always remain a subject of very bitter controversy, forever. I soon found it was still being passed on from family to family; anger appears in many eyes, along with tears as they still speak in disbelief. I fully understand the dirt of politics today, but again, this was just so stupid “Canadian.” Afraid to step forward and believe in something created by fellow Canadians. We could not even protect, or save, our WWII comic book industry, while our best artists were absorbed into the United States and their powerful American comics. Canadians can’t hang onto symbols like our American neighbors and we allow our Liberal government to change our national emblems every few decades because it was too British. In 1951, federal Liberal politicians decided to get rid of the first commercial jetliner in North America, built by Canadians [taxpayers] and created for government owned Trans-Canada Air Lines. It’s the people of Canada who make our country great, yet it is always the political class who impose their values on the people of Canada without asking. Canadians are too quiet, subtle, and just too political polite [uninformed] to prevent politicians from tinkering with our country. That’s why the Avro Canada Jetliner was cancelled and scrapped. Canadians had no idea until it was just too late, and today we only have two aircraft cockpit sections from our past.

In 1974, I met a lady named Betty Schofield and learned her [deceased] father had worked on the Lancaster Mk. X, Jetliner, and Avro Arrow at Malton. He was one of over 13,800 aircraft workers who lost his job and he never fully recovered from this heartbreaking Canadian history. Hundreds of top Avro employees were quickly absorbed into the United States space program and helped put Americans on the Moon, while others were taken by the American aircraft industry. It was a double win for the Americans, as these new bitter Canadians soon became citizens of the U.S.A. and our jet technology was gone forever. Betty Schofield was kind enough to pass on many photos from her father’s collection in 1980, and then six years later the best book on the Avro Jetliner was published by Jim Floyd. This book titled – “The Avro Canada C102 Jetliner” is the bible on the real story behind the demise of our one and only jet transport aircraft. Jim Floyd stated –

“The Jetliner is without a doubt the major fiasco in the whole sweep of the history of Canadian technology.”

This undated photo was taken in the Avro Experimental Department, where the wood sub-assembly of the C102 Jetliner sections all came together. The real prototype is almost complete and only needs her engines installed, fall of 1948.

  [Betty Schofield – 1980]

This special lunch was held in late 1948, and the first engine test run was conducted on 24 June 1949. The people in the photo are not identified other than Mr. Schofield, location pinpointed by daughter Betty in April 1980. Middle of the table wearing a sweater with black trim, right hand on left arm, man to his right is wearing a dark suit.

The marry-up of the various sections went very smooth and everything fit properly. Some of the names in the photo are – Eric Peckham, [General Foreman] George Cross, Elmer Taylor, Norm Wootton, Stan Gooden, Russ Dicken, Merv Honsinger, Tommy Thomson, Bob Johnson, Henry Garside, and Dave Wagner.

[Betty Schofield – 1980]              Crash landing 16 August 1949

The first flight of the Jetliner took place on a Wednesday morning, 10 August 1949, and is described in detail in the book by Jim Floyd. The honour of flying the first jet transport in the world went to Britain’s de Havilland Comet airliner just thirteen days earlier. While the British jet had only hopped a few feet into the air, if was obvious they had beaten the Canadians to their world record. This first flight took place during the plant vacation shutdown and most of the workers who built the Jetliner were not present to witness this special event.

Due to the fact the plant employees were away on vacation a second flight was conducted on 16 August 1949 and this provided a spectacular unexpected crash landing [photo]. The attached history sheet with the above crash photo gives the date as 17 August 1949. This came from the 1956 book titled “Vapour Trails” by Mike Lithgow and possibly gives the wrong date for the crash landing of Jetliner C102.

It is important to note the control tower at Malton wanted the Avro Chief test pilot Jimmy Orrell to ditch the one and only Jetliner in Lake Ontario, and he stated – “Not Bloody Likely.” The damage was soon repaired and the Jetliner made her third flight on 20 September 1949.

On 10 March 1950, a CF-100 fighter and the new Jetliner were flown to Ottawa for a special official demonstration at Rockcliffe airfield.

The normal flight time from Malton to Rockcliffe was one hour and 40 minutes, the Jetliner made it in 38 minutes. The best was still to come, when the Mayor of New York, [Joe Morley] invited the new aircraft to appear in an American air show scheduled for 20 April 1950.

Up until this date, the C102 jetliner had been painted as seen in above photo image. For the special appearance in New York, the lettering “Canada’ was painted above the name Jetliner.

The crew and passengers of the historic first flight of a jet transport aircraft to the United States. Left to right – Mario Pesando, Jim Floyd, Bill Baker, Don Rogers, Mike Cooper-Slipper [pilot], Fred Smye, and Gordon McGregor, President of Trans-Canada Airlines. Note new painted – “CANADA.”

On 18 April 1950, Mike Cooper-Slipper flew the C102 Canadian Jetliner from Toronto to Idlewild, [now called Kennedy] International airport in New York.  The flight time was 59 minutes and Americans were stunned. An American photographer hired a helicopter, and while position over the Hudson River, captured the arrival of the Canadian Jetliner, with the New York skyline in the background. This image appeared on hundreds of newspaper and the aviation magazines, including Canadian Aviation, June 1950.

The Jetliner carried a special cargo of 15,000 airmail letters addressed to people all over the world. Each letter was officially stamped – Canada Post, “First Official Airmail” Jetliner Toronto to New York, and Canada had pulled off a first for the Canadian post Office in the aviation world.                       [author collection original letter]

During the four days the Canadian Jetliner was in New York, it made several local demonstration flights, which attracted huge publicity in both Canada and the United States. While the average Canadian had no idea what was going on, the Americans understood at once, and “Uncle Sam” was not pleased.  Several American newspapers ran commentary that was very critical of their own American aircraft industry, questioning how a nobody country like Canada could build and fly a top of the world jet transport aircraft. The top-selling American Aviation magazine “Air Trails” featured a full page editorial in their August 1950 edition. There was no doubt that Canada, in 1950-51, were years ahead of any other country in the world in design and development of her medium-range jet transport commercial airliner.

Yes – CANADA had designed and constructed the first Jet Transport in “AMERICA.”

Never again will a Canadian designed and constructed aircraft dominate the front cover of so many American publications.

The Korean War began in June 1950, and that is one of the reasons the Canadian Government gave for the cancelled of the Jetliner project. This chapter in Jim Floyd’s book makes for long and traumatic reading, but it in fact is only to me another political fiasco that destroyed Canadian aviation technology forever. The Liberal Government of Canada did not have the guts to take advantage of our Canadian lead in Jet Transport aviation, and Mr. C.D. Howe abandoned the Jetliner, which he in fact created with his Liberal government support and financial backing. In the fall of 1952, all funding for the jetliner was cancelled and no further flying was authorized. The Jetliner appeared in the 1953 and 1954 air shows at the Canadian National Exhibition on Toronto waterfront and then on 23 November 1956, flew her last check flight. The Jetliner was grounded immediately after this flight, and then ordered to be dismantled, as quickly and quietly as possible. The complete aircraft had first been given to the National Research Council in Ottawa, but they had no place to store the aircraft, and no brains to understand it was a one-of-a-kind, so it was scrapped. Two engines, the landing gear, and the cockpit were saved, placed into storage in Ottawa and forgotten.

In three short years the new rigid, paranoid government of P.M. John Diefenbaker would kill the complete Avro Arrow program and scrap the five aircraft produced and tested. Unforgiveable as this still is, Diefenbaker also ordered every blueprint, photo, film, document and trace of the Avro Arrow to be systematically destroyed.

Sorry Dief, but I still have one original memo pad from the Avro Arrow, even if I have no idea what it means.

This is Boeing B-47B, serial 51-2059, which was loaned to the RCAF in 1956 for Iroquois engine testing. Given RCAF number X059 she flew 35 hours of test flight, [Project North Wind] the only American B-47 to be flown by a foreign country

Diefenbaker was surely the most dominant Canadian political leader of that decade, but for all the wrong reasons. When he killed the Avro Arrow program, it turned out to be Canada’s biggest contribution to getting Americans on the Moon. The most important being when Dr. Werner von Braun surrendered his brains and Nazi rocket research to the Americans in May 1945. Other top Avro engineers went to Britain and helped develop the supersonic Concorde jetliner. The political backlash divided Canada, the government, and southern Ontario turned against the Conservatives. The elections in 1963 and 1965 produced unstable and ineffective minority governments. Canada lost half of its aerospace industry and most of its technological edge at the same time, plus it rendered Canada totally dependent on the United States for 80% of its defence needs. Ottawa had to quietly purchase 66 used Voodoo fighters from the United States for $260 million, and they were totally inferior to the Avro Arrow. In 1959, it was estimated $335 million was required to complete the Avro Arrow project. The most insane waste of Canadian taxpayer money was the purchase of the American Bomarc missile but without any warheads. They cost 1.2 million each in 1960, and “Dief” purchased 56 missiles.

Duncan Macpherson cartoon Toronto Star Ltd – title “Blast Off.”

The Diefenbaker Cabinet then somehow [wrongly] decided the Canadian Bomarc missiles should not be equipped with nuclear warheads, and they were filled with sand. This became an editorial cartoonist’s dream, and led to the collapse of the crazy Progressive Conservative government in 1963. The Liberal government under Lester Mike Pearson, wisely reversed their position on the nuclear warheads issue, and won the 1963 election. No. 446 SAM Squadron in North Bay, Ontario, and No. 447 SAM Squadron in La Macaza, Quebec, received fully operational American nuclear warheads in December 1963. Few Canadians understand this aviation history, even today.

Duncan Macpherson Toronto Star Ltd editorial cartoon 1961.

In 1972, the Department of National Defence closed both bunkers and the nuclear warheads were returned to the United States. Today the bunkers and facilities remain intact at both former sites. Three original Bomarc missile casings remain on display in Canadian museum’s, but none tell the true political facts or cost to Canadian taxpayer. You can also find an old American Voodoo fighter in almost every Canadian museum, again very short on telling their true history connected with our unforgiveable Avro Arrow past legacy. Most Canadians have no idea that many American aviation historians still enjoy a good laugh on what John Diefenbaker did to our world class aerospace industry.

Today more and more new generation immigrant Canadians are learning, thanks to the internet, this heartbreaking history of what might have been. [They will vote and form the next political Canada] This mess all began with the Liberal [C.D. Howe] destruction of the Avro Jetliner and finished with the Conservative cancellation and deliberate destruction of the Avro Arrows. It became the greatest social, economic, political, and military blunder that has ever befallen on Canadians and it involved both the Liberal and Conservative governments of Canada, imposing their values on an ill-informed Canadian public.  Today, [2020] many well researched aviation books tell the truth, if you have the heart and guts to read. The effects of 1959 can still be seen today, however, the majority of new Canadians are unaware as our major aviation [DND] museums do not educate or expose the complete truth.

 In 1958, Canadair Ltd. began to design and construct a jet aircraft intended for training Canadian pilots from elementary to wings parade. The first two prototypes were built as a private venture, with the first test flight on 13 January 1960. With the destruction of the Avro Arrow program the year before, Canada lost half her aerospace industry and technical experience, so the Canadair design team had no competition, and the RCAF [government] just ordered 190 Canadian trainer aircraft built. They were designated the CL-41A “Tutor” and the first, serial number 26001 was delivered to the RCAF on 16 December 1963. The last Tutor, serial 26190, was delivered on 28 September 1966. Today our “Canadian Ambassadors of the Sky”, the Snowbirds still fly the vintage Tutor, a last gasp of our past Canadian aviation industry. Today these same aircraft airframes are 55 to 57 years of age, old, vintage, unsafe jets from a forgotten Diefenbaker era.  The RCAF CF-18s are forty years of age, American jets P.M. Justin Trudeau’s father purchased in 1981. So, what did our Liberal government do, they purchased second-hand twenty-year-old American built CF-18’s from Australia.

If Canadians want the best trained pilots in the world, then our government must buy the best built aircraft in the world, and that will cost taxpayers big bucks.