Monthly Archives: February 2021

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

Erratum

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.