Category Archives: Nose art

LW207 “Willie the Wolf from the West – tail art “Ol’ Daid Eye” (PDF version)

Another Clarence Simonsen’s research

Click on the link below.

LW207 Willie the Wolf from the West

P/O Jack Ryan (Collection Réal St-Amour)


This Halifax bomber was air tested by S/L Bedford Donald Chase Patterson J10296, from Calgary, Alberta, on 17 June 1944, and then became his aircraft. Patterson was the Officer Commanding “B” Flight in No. 426 Thunderbird Squadron, and thus he could pick the bomber he wanted to fly. The nose art of pilot Willie the Wolf was also picked by Patterson, his name￾sake and the nose art name “Willie the Wolf from the West” in reference to his place of birth Calgary, Alberta. S/L Patterson would fly Halifax MZ674 on seven operations dated – 19 May, 24 May, 5 June, 9 June, 12 June, and 15 June 1944. Transferred to No. 425 Squadron and the crew of P/O Jack Ryan from Toronto, the pilot Wolf nose art remained but the named changed to “Nobody’s Baby” above image. Halifax MZ674 was shot down over Duisburg, Germany, 14 October 1945. The following log book pages from S/L Patterson records his operations flown in MZ674, 19 May to 15 June 1944.

From Clarence Simonsen’s collection

Updated 24 October 2022

Updated with Clarence Simonsen’s reply to this comment made about Spook N Droop…

Hi, Couple of things regarding entry for Spook N Droop. 427 Squadron code letters were ZL ( not KW). Lancaster ME501 was coded ZL-T. 427 flew Halifax until 3rd week of Feb 1945, then transitioned to Lancaster I and III. Commenced operations in the Lancaster March 11 1945. Most of Dad’s ( F/O FD Kaye) Ops were in ZL-T including Exodus and sightseeing flights with Leeming base staff and ground crew over France and Germany. Their final flight June 1 1945 over Dingle Ireland. ( dates from pilot’s log) 10 days later they were on a ship. When I saw the images on this page I immediately remembered seeing this as a child- I think as a drawing, not a photo. ( Should I find anything concrete I will share) A Germanic speaker relates that the context of « Spook ‘n Droop » could be best explained as a « Haunting from Above »

Clarence Simonsen’s reply

Nos. 427 and 429 were both formed in RAF No. 4 Group on 7th November 1942, located at RAF Stations Croft and East Moor respectively.

On 10 August 1943, the two squadrons came together when No. 429 moved to RCAF Station Leeming, where No. 427 was based. This was where they both similarly re-equipped with Halifax B. Mk. III aircraft. Later, on 19 February 1945, both squadrons again re-equipped with the British built Lancaster Mk. I and Mk. III aircraft. Both squadrons would again be disbanded together on 31 May 1946.

F/O F.D. Kaye J37990 was posted to No. 427 [Lion] Squadron on 14 January 1945 and began flying Halifax aircraft on 2/3 February 1945, Halifax “U” serial LW130. They flew this same Halifax on 4 Feb. and 13/14 Feb. 45. Next came Halifax “G” serial RG347, then “Q” LV942 on 20/21 Feb. and “R” MZ755 on the last operation #6 on 21 February 1945. The Kaye crew now trained and converted to the British Lancaster aircraft and flew first two operations in “R” serial NX555 on 11 March [day trip] and night trip on 14/15 March. Their third operation was in Lancaster ZL-T which was serial ME501. [This was not SNOOP ‘N DROOP] Never, never, never.

In No. 429 [Bison] Squadron J36547 H.A.M. Humphries was assigned to fly Halifax Mk. III, serial LV860 squadron code AL-T on 28/29 January 1945. This Halifax was painted with the original SPOOK ‘N DROOP nose art and they would fly nine operations with the twin Death-Heads. In early April Humphries crew were training and converting to the new British Mk. III Lancaster, and they were assigned squadron code AL-T, serial NN701. By the third operation on 10 April to bomb Leipzig, Germany, they had the local nose artist paint the same Halifax nose art on their new British aircraft.

The attached photo shows Lancaster Mk. III serial NN701, with the new nose art and the three bombs. This photo and the other [in the article] with F/O Humphries in the cockpit, were both obtained from his son at Calgary, Alberta, in 1999.

My history is very clear, and takes tons of research. 

Regards – Clarence

Everything on Preserving the Past II is to preserve the past for future generations. With this in mind, Preserving the Past II is the sequel to Preserving the Past which was originally created to help Clarence Simonsen publish his research mostly on nose art. Little did I know then was how much research Clarence had done. Preserving the Past has more than 150 stories and this one 35. 

This is post number 36 on Preserving the Past II.

Two messages from Clarence about someone’s father.

The color is from my 2001 book – RAF & RCAF Aircraft Nose Art in WWII. You can use no copyright problems. The other two were taken at ex-Handley Page Repair Depot at Rawcliffe, after 23 May 45, by F/L Harold Lindsay. Roll #5, Print #1 is the full image, Ottawa negative RE-77-82. The nose image was Roll #5, Print #2, negative RE77-83. These were obtained by me in Ottawa in 1977. They were all pushed together for scrapping, all gone in two months.
So – Sad.

Many thanks Pierre. A good English friend, who I last made contact with in Nov. 2005. His father Sgt. Bruce Devlin was the RAF Flight/Engineer on Halifax Mk. VII, NP714, in War Museum collection – called Drum Major Girl, but in fact named Veni-Vedi-Vici by her crew. His father had no idea the nose art survived, until I made contact, and he wanted to come to Canada to see her, but he was too ill. Now son Stewart will make the trip. He has no idea how big Canada is and how far away I live. This would make a very good story, but no luck.

In 2014 Clarence Simonsen had sent me this message with a request…

What I am attempting to do is to show aviation people that I have a passion for my research and the veterans. I always attempt to speak the truth and tell a new story. This was all done as a lead up to the next large story.While this true history is long, I have only sent you about one-third of the history I have, and it is an attempt to get some action from Ottawa.

The lead in history is very important and  I have worked on this for the past 37 years, and can’t get anyone to listen. I have approached people ask for their help to create a nose art museum to honor the WWII forgotten RCAF members who painted nose art.


I phoned and spoke to someone after the 2011 story came out in Ottawa Citizen newspaper on the wrong veteran pilot who flew Willie the Wolf, and I explained everything over one-hour. That is when I received his reply – “We have to watch what we do and say, in regards to Canadian Government, active squadrons and Ottawa museum’s, as we work closely with them.”Here is the message I wish to get out ……

In 1999, the American White House Millennium Council set the seeds for the protection of all threatened cultural treasures. This included the original and largest collection of WWII nose art cut from the American B-24’s and B-17’s being scrapped in 1947. This collection of 33 panels, 11 cut from the B-17 and 22 cut from the B-24 bombers, served with five American Air Forces in WWII. Thirty-one of the panels contain the image of the female form, and twelve are in fact full nudes. These 33 panels were painted on bare [no primer paint] aircraft skin and the paint was chipping. Each panel had to be saved at a cost per panel of $20,000 US bucks.On 5 October 2002, the world’s largest nose art galley opened in Midland, Texas. This museum records the identity of all the ground and flight crews involved with each nose art aircraft, the meaning behind the aircraft nose art, and most of all the history of the nose artist who pained each aircraft. I was involved in a small part, another story.

We, [Canadian taxpayer] own the second largest nose art collection in the world and it has been neglected for the past 70 years. Thanks to you, I can now tell the true story, and that is all I have left. The world war two bomber which most Canadians flew and died in is the Halifax British built four-engine aircraft, and that can never change. The art or name painted on the Halifax bomber helped fill a mix of psychological needs in WWII, some was to defy military authority, others to show crew success, to bring good-luck, and soon it became a huge Air Force morale builder.To see a true Halifax B. [combat] bomber you have to go to the Yorkshire Museum in England and see “Friday the 13th” which is the complex composite build from original parts. The RCAF Halifax in Trenton is a British Mk. “A” transport aircraft, not combat. to see the original RCAF Halifax nose art panels you have to go to the War Museum in Ottawa, but they contain no history. To understand the history you must go to my 37 years research page on the website at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada at Nanton, Alberta.

Can you please tell the simple fact: Canadians need a museum [like the Americans] to display  and record our WWII nose art history.


This is what Clarence wants to share with my readers…

Ottawa, we have a problem 

This is a text version…

“Houston, we have a problem”
The most famous misquotation in the world today, used to report any kind of major problem. Thanks again to Hollywood, USA, the original dialogue was edited from the genuine life-threatening report, in the same way they create and edit their own American film events of WWII.
14 April 1970, Apollo 13 is on her way to the moon and “Bang.” John Swigert to their base in Houston, ‘Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.’ This however is never used and the misquote is world famous, as it gets directly to the point. In 2001, when Whitney Houston died from health and drug addiction problems, everyone knew she had a problem, but …., it became world famous again. I now wish to use the misquote as my title to draw attention to this WWII Canadian dilemma ——-

“Ottawa, we have a problem.”

In 1977, I was deeply involved with the WWII aircraft nose art used by the American Mighty 8th Air Force in England. This led directly to my very first visit to the old War Museum and the RCAF archives on Canadian WWII nose art. First, you must process a great deal of patience to do anything in Ottawa, which I soon found included my nose art research. It was unknown to everyone I approached, and four out of five Government employees just didn’t care. Then fate stepped in to help me, and to this day, I can’t say enough good things about a lady named Mrs. Janet Lacroix. Janet worked for the Department of National Defence, Canadian Forces Joint Imagery Centre, Building M23, Montreal Road Campus, Ottawa. She loved her job and was an expert on the location of WWII negative images, [which were in different locations] including nose art. Janet understood my nose art research was about saving RCAF history, and it was my passion, with no support or funding. At the time I was a police officer in Toronto, and in my days off I would drive to Ottawa, rent a hotel, and spend two or three days going over files, etc. I never ask Janet to help me, but over the next 40 years she would search out material that I was seeking and mail it to me or make letter contact if money was involved. A part of the following RCAF history was found and saved by Janet Lacroix, and for that, I owe her many thanks. In fact the “War Museum” in Ottawa owes her thanks, but they have no idea.

The first Handley-Page Halifax prototype bomber flew on 25 October 1939, just after the start of WWII. A grand total of 6,178 four-engine Halifax heavy bombers were built in England during the war 1939-45. At peak production, which was reached in the summer of 1944, 41 British factories and 600 sub-contractors, with 51,000 employees, produced one huge Halifax every hour. As soon as they entered service with RAF and RCAF squadrons, a large number were shot down, and only four survived to reach the century club mark of over “100” operations. Thousands of young men in Bomber Command climbed into their Halifax and took off, never to be seen again. They spent six to eight hours in their metal flying machine, which for many became their casket. In the past fifty years, I have interviewed over one thousand of the air force survivors and it is only after listening to these veterans, that the true dangers of the air wars become apparent.

During the Second World War the Royal Air Force Bomber Command lost a total of 55,358 personnel, on active bombing flying operations. This included 8,240 RCAF aircrews killed on active bombing operations, and most were killed in the Halifax bomber. No. 6 [RCAF] Group flew 40,822 operations in WWII, with 73% [28,126] flown in Halifax bomber aircraft. No. 6 [RCAF] Group lost 814 bomber aircraft over enemy territory, 127 were Wellington bombers, 149 were Lancaster bombers and 508 were Halifax bombers. Many of these aircraft carried the most and best of the “Canadian” painted nose art images, and now only a few black and white photos remain.

With the end of the war in Europe [8 May 1945], the British Government ordered 1,376 surplus Halifax bombers to be cut up and scrapped in England. These included the combat veterans of WWII, many containing nose art, which were flown to a storage maintenance unit for the last time and parked. The following records tell the real story – Halifax Mk. II, 114, Mk. III, 533, Mk. V, 164, Mk. VI, 391, Mk. VII, 103, Mk. VIII, 54, and Mk. VIX 17. In just seven short months [January 1946] only 198 Halifax bombers remained to be scrapped. The destruction was complete along with their WWII nose art.

The majority of the “Canadian” RCAF Halifax aircraft [Mk. III, Mk. V, and Mk. VII] were ferried to two large ‘graveyards’ in England. The largest number of RCAF bombers was stored at No. 43 Group, the former Handley-Page Halifax repair depot at Rawcliffe, Yorkshire. This grass landing strip [with club house] was first constructed near the village of Rawcliffe, at Clifton in 1935. In September 1939, when war was declared, the British Air Ministry took charge of the aerodrome and assigned it to RAF Station Linton-on-Ouse. In the spring of 1940, the RAF erected many wooden huts and buildings around the old club-house, situated near the south-east corner of the field. In 1941, a small wartime RAF airfield was constructed on the property with facilities for 500 airmen.

Due to the large number of Halifax four-engine aircraft based in Yorkshire [All 6 Group RCAF], the British Air Ministry of Aircraft Production decided to establish a civilian run repair unit [C.R.U.] at Clifton beginning in late July 1941. Three large concrete runways were constructed with a perimeter track, and 12 new buildings were added including new hangers and flight huts, all dispersed around the perimeter track. The new site was called No. 135 Halifax Repair Depot, Clifton, Yorkshire. In 1942, two large hanger complexes were built, one on the Rawcliffe side and one on the south end called Water Lane. During the remainder of the war over 2,000 Halifax aircraft [including all the Canadian 6 Group] were repaired or overhauled by a very large civilian staff of mechanics and engineers. In mid-May 1945, the British Air Ministry turned Clifton into a massive graveyard for storage and scrapping of the Halifax bombers and named it No. 43 Group.

A second site was selected by the Air Ministry [for storage area] and named No. 41 Group, which had been the former No. 48 Maintenance Unit, located at High Ercall, Shropshire, containing one of the largest airfields in England. With the end of the war in Europe, this site was selected for the storage and scrapping of the remainder of the Canadian No. 6 [RCAF] Group Halifax bomber aircraft.

Canadian Officer F/L Harold H. Lindsay, RCAF Operations Officer stationed at High Wicombe, RAF Bomber Command, suddenly realized that all of the Canadian Halifax nose art painted during WWII would be lost with the scrapping of the British built bombers. It was extremely important that some of the best looking nose art painted on the British Halifax bomber be saved for historical merit, and shipped to Canada. This single RCAF Officer took it upon himself to save this soon to be scrapped nose art form and approached Wing Commander W. R. Thompson, [A.O.C. of RCAF Operations Overseas] who in turn granted approval to do what he could to save the aircraft art.

F/L Lindsay first decided to record all of the Halifax aircraft nose art in black and white 35 mm film, and then he would select a number of the best to be cut from the bomber nose, crated and shipped to Canada. Lindsay arrived at No. 41 Group High Ercall, in a small British truck driven by a Mr. Robert Goodwin, an employee of the scrapping operation.

Ottawa, we have a problem 1

The date is unknown, but this is F/L Harold Lindsay standing under RCAF Halifax Mk. III, serial MZ655, that flew with No. 431 Iroquois Squadron during WWII. Found by Janet Lacroix

This deserted airfield contains the survivors of the veteran Halifax bombers that flew in WWII, and almost each one has a painted nose art image, containing operations with bombs, crew names, and most of them have flown with No. 6 [RCAF] Group. They are now standing alone, silent in the spring wind, wing tip to wing tip, no roar of engines, no dripping oil and no bombs to carry, the conflict is over. In a few short weeks they will be reduced to cut up sections, scrapped for pots and pans, and then forgotten. Lindsay is here to save what he can in photos and mark others for return to Canada.

This is Robert Goodwin, under the same Halifax serial MZ655. After a photo is taken, Lindsay will mark a nose art for removal, and later Goodwin will cut the nose art from the RCAF bomber, crate and ship to Canada. (Found by Janet Lacroix)

Ottawa, we have a problem 2

Like all war time RCAF Officers, F/L Lindsay records everything on file cards, which are shipped to Canada [1946] with the original nose art panels.

Each file card has a 35 mm negative number and all begin with RE77-?? This should be very simple to record, but it is not. Beginning in 1977, I attempted to place the file cards and negative numbers together and found that a good number were in fact missing from the Canadian Forces Joint Imagery Centre in Ottawa. In the following twenty years Janet Lacroix located a few missing negatives and file cards, which had been borrowed by the Canadian Aviation Museum and the War Museum and never returned.

Today [2014] some of the missing negatives and files are still gone, and I hope only misplaced. The fact remains – “How can Ottawa teach to the future generation, if we have forgotten and lost our RCAF past?

From the known info, I have placed together the record of photos taken by F/L Lindsay in early May 1945. He took four rolls of 35 mm film B & W, containing eight prints per roll. The total photos in Ottawa [I found] that were taken at High Ercall, in 1945 are 22 nose art images, 19 are RCAF and three are RAF. Thirteen 35 mm negatives with RE-77?? numbers are missing.

Here are selections from my research which began in 1977 at Ottawa. During the past fifty years, I have continued to conduct interviews, record photo images, and learn the truth of what Lindsay did in May and June 1945.

Ottawa, we have a problem 3

Here is the very first photo taken by F/L Lindsay at No. 41 Group High Ercall, Shropshire, in early May 1945.

Ottawa, we have a problem 4

and his file card for this Halifax bomber.

Ottawa, we have a problem 5

This impressive RCAF nose art was not saved and was scrapped on 29 May 1945.

This was the second Halifax bomber to wear this nose art in No. 432 [Leaside] Squadron during WWII. The first “Gremlin On A Double Eagle” appeared on Halifax Mk. III, serial MZ582, code QO-Z, with name “Zombie.” This RCAF Halifax bomber flew with No. 432 Squadron from February to July 1944, completing 34 operations. On 29 September 1944, a new Halifax Mk. VII, [above] serial NP812, bomber arrived with Leaside squadron and it received the same style “Gremlin” nose art. This new bomber flew 21 operations until 20 March 1945, when it was sent to No. 41 Group High Ercall, on 20 March 1945. In mid- May F/L Lindsay came to High Ercall and took the last photo of “Gremlin on Double Eagle.” It was soon scrapped.

The original old bomber Halifax serial MZ582, was transferred to No. 415 [Swordfish] squadron and survived the war. This aircraft and nose art was also scrapped in England.

This wall art mural was painted on a Mess Hall building at East Moor, Yorkshire, during WWII and remained until 1981. It is the same image of “Gremlin on Double Eagle” that appeared on two Halifax bombers in No. 432 Squadron, from the same air crew that ate in this very building.

Ottawa, we have a problem 6

Unfortunately aviation historians cannot ignore the simple fact the thoughts and general information of a large percentage of wartime Canadians was molded through the medium of American radio, Hollywood films, and most of all reading material. [It’s still going on] As Canada entered WWII, it became a logical conclusion that a great percentage of nose art ideas and paintings came from American publications. This unofficial USAAF insignia was created for the 339th Fighter Squadron and appeared in a 1944 issue of LIFE magazine.

 Ottawa, we have a problem 7

Ottawa, we have a problem 8

In May 1945, F/L Lindsay went to great lengths to save and preserved the WWII Halifax RCAF nose art original panels and photo images. They still remain on a wall in the War Museum Ottawa, but contain no history or teaching guide for future generations to learn and respect. In 2007, I was contacted by Mr. Don Smith who was designing the new Air Force Museum located in the Military Museum’s of Calgary. Don must tell the complete history of Canada’s Air Force but he only processed one original aircraft. I was ask to help and in the replica Nissan Hut, I created the “Gremlin on Double Eagle” complete with nose art history. This is a very simple way to use a RCAF nose art image and educate all ages of school children who pass through the door’s of Calgary’s Military Museum’s. You must understand the RCAF heroes of WWII were average age 17-24 years, that’s why this art impressed them, and it has the same effect on today’s youth.
Now let’s follow in the footsteps of F/L Lindsay in May 1945 and the third photo he snapped.

Ottawa, we have a problem 9

Ottawa, we have a problem 10

He snaps roll #1 image #3 Halifax serial RG478 “Utopia” with palm trees for operations.

Ottawa, we have a problem 11

Next he takes roll #1, image #4 Halifax, serial NP694. This was painted by LAC Thomas Dunn, who I interviewed in 1991, and along with this photo is another image showing the first painting without art work. A wonderful history to a proud veteran RCAF bomber that flew 78 operations.


The original file card Lindsay completed for the Bible Text nose art.

Ottawa, we have a problem 12

This is snapped on roll #1, image #6, a simple photo showing a line of RCAF Halifax aircraft ready to be scrapped.

Ottawa, we have a problem 13


The nose art has been painted over with black paint and Lindsay records on his file card “Beer” but that is all he can make out. Halifax Mk. III, serial LV967, and that is it. I have interviewed one of the original ground crew members and this bomber flew with No. 433 and No. 429 RCAF squadrons, completing 68 operations and her nose art name was “Beer is Best.” This is the last you will ever see of her, thanks to F/L Lindsay.

Ottawa, we have a problem 14
Photo Victor Swimmings, ground crew second from left.

This is the file card completed by F/L Lindsay in possibly June 1945. This RCAF Halifax had been transferred to RAF No. 187 Squadron on 2 February 1945, then went to No. 41 Group [High Ercall] on 16 Feb. 45, for scrapping. It was ready for scrapping on 20 Feb. 1945, but still remained parked on the field grass when Lindsay arrived in early May 45, to record the image which he noted as Roll 2 Print 2. City of London was –

Ottawa, we have a problem 15


Ottawa, we have a problem 16

Roll #2, print #2 as seen by the eye of F/L Lindsay, which has been sitting in Ottawa since 1946.
These images along with the history need to be displayed by our Government, in a special museum like the Americans do. How about the “Vintage Wings of Canada Nose Art Museum?” or the “Shell Canada Nose Art Museum?” NHL teams make bags of money to allow their home rink to carry a name, why not our RCAF Museums?

The Flying Dragon is the last photo taken by Lindsay at No. 41 Group High Ercall, Shropshire and this will become the only nose art selected for shipment to Canada. Film roll #4, print #4 “Dragon” serial LK947.


Ottawa, we have a problem 17

This “Flying Dragon” Halifax serial LK947 arrived new with RCAF No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron on 15 October 1943, where she completed eight operations.

Ottawa, we have a problem 18

On 1 February 44, she was transferred to No. 429 [Bison] Squadron, flying only four operations. Then transferred to No. 434 [Bluenose] Squadron on 4 March 44, coded SE-Y and after seven operations is sent to No. 1659 Heavy Conversion Unit for training, which began on 16 May 1944. For the last time she is transferred to No. 1669 H.C. U. on 19 October 1944. On 9 February 1945, she is flown to No. 41 Group, High Ercall, where Lindsay takes her photo three months later. This is the only nose art from No. 41 Group which was selected and shipped to Canada in July 1946. Today it is the War Museum collection, without a history.

A total of nineteen RCAF aircrews flew in this bomber during her 24 operations, beginning on 22 October 1943 when the crew of F/Sgt. E. O’Connor took her to bomb Kassel, Germany. This crew flew her three more times. On 19/20 February 1944, the crew of pilot/Sgt. E. L. Howland from USA, took her to bomb Leipzig. This same crew will be shot down by flak over Dusseldorf while flying Halifax LV963 on 23 April 1944. Five are killed including American pilot Howland. The last crew to fly her on operations is F/Sgt. W. Wood, and his crew on 7 May 1944, to bomb Frisian Islands. The bomber is then transferred to No. 1659 Heavy Conversion Unit on 8 May 44, to train new members of the RCAF.
This is the type of history we need with the original nose art panels in Ottawa.
F/L Lindsay and civilian Goodwin will now drive over to No. 43 Group at [Rawcliffe] Clifton, Yorkshire and record the nose art on these RCAF Halifax aircraft. [I believe the date was 8 to 16 June 45].

Lindsay will take 49 photos and 43 are ex-RCAF bombers. He will select thirteen of these nose art paintings to be cut and shipped to Canada. Robert Goodwin will later cut these nose art panels from the bombers, crate each one and place on a ship for Canada. They arrived in Ottawa on 7 May 1946 almost a year to the date Lindsay began his salvage mission. He has saved the second largest collection of original WWII nose art in the world, and preserved RCAF huge amount of Canadian aviation history. Nobody cares.

For the next 60 years, only four of these original panels will be seen, and that will be for the eyes of only Air Force officers. On 8 May 2005, the fourteen original Halifax panels will at last go on public display in the new War Museum, however they contain no history and contain no learning for future generations of Canadians.

This is how Lindsay saved our Canadian original nose art collection.

Ottawa, we have a problem 19 Ottawa, we have a problem 20

The true story of the F/L Lindsay collection is still stored someplace in Ottawa today. However, it seems nobody cares, other than me. I have turned 70 years of age and have no funding to complete by 50 years of RCAF nose art research. The following is what I believe occurred at Rawcliffe, in early June 1945. I believe it was in an eight day period from 8 June to 16 June 1945.

The scrapping at ex-No. 135 [C.R.U.] Civilian Repair Unit, Clifton, York, began as soon as the war in Europe ended, mid-May 1945. Records show 1,376 Halifax bombers were scrapped and this included the most and best RCAF veteran aircraft. The photos show that when Lindsay and Goodwin arrived at Clifton, the wings, engines and tails had been cut from many of the Canadian RCAF Halifax bombers. At once Lindsay realized he would have to move fast to save this WWII RCAF aircraft history and nose art paintings. For that reason, he photographed and selected the thirteen [numbered above] panels that are in Ottawa today.
The people living in the village of Clifton, reported they could see the mountain of cut up Halifax aircraft, which reached 80 feet in height in just four short months.

Warning – the next photos are not easy to look at, as they are in fact the graveyards of our proud WWII RCAF Halifax history.

Ottawa, we have a problem 21

This is a photo-copy obtained in 1977, for the simple reason the original Ottawa negative could not be found.
Please note – the wings and tails have been cut off these once proud RCAF birds and they are in fact Penguins. This is the image Lindsay saw as he clicked his camera. He went from Halifax airframe to airframe, recording the image and marking to return to Canada. He had to hurry, as very soon the fuselage and nose art would be cut-up, and history would be lost forever. This is roll # 1, print #1, negative number unknown and missing.

While the original nose art painting in Ottawa shows this to be a No. 425 French-Canadian squadron with Quebec nose art, the correct history is obtained on the Lindsay record card and operations flown.

Ottawa, we have a problem 22

Ottawa, we have a problem 23

Ottawa, we have a problem 24

The Halifax flew with three RCAF squadrons and only completed ten operations with 425 Squadron and thus the nose art was painted very late in the war. It is clear to see that this info is required by the War Museum collection to form any correct part in the aircraft history, or just our Canadian history in general. Today the history of No. 427 and 429 Squadrons are totally lost, while the nose artist and his French-Canadian history are also forgotten. This is no way to run a world class Museum.

This is what Lindsay saw as he took roll #2, print #2, ‘Archie the Archer’ serial LL575, saved and today in the Ottawa collection. Again, the wing-less birds of the RCAF stand in line awaiting their fate.

Ottawa, we have a problem 25

This photo was taken at No. 1664 Heavy Conversion School, the finishing school for aircrews located at Croft, between 10 December 44 to 13 April 1945. The bomber would be flown from Croft on 15 May 1945 to No. 43 Group, her last stop. Lindsay would arrive about three weeks later and take the last photo, then scrap.

Ottawa, we have a problem 26


This was photo roll #1, print #3 Halifax “Bang On” flew with No. 425 Squadron but the nose art was not saved.

Ottawa, we have a problem 27

In the far background is another 425 squadron Halifax that appears in roll #1, print #8 and it is named “Nuts for Nazis”.

Ottawa, we have a problem 28

This is the 1977, photo-copy I obtained in Ottawa due to the fact this original negative RE-77?? is also missing. When I discovered this nose art is not in the Ottawa collection, I can’t believe it. I know that Lindsay would save this outstanding nose art. You be the judge. I believe it was stolen in 1946.
I spent many years doing research on this Halifax bomber and you can find the complete history on Bomber Command Museum of Canada, at Nanton, Alberta, website for 2007.

Ottawa, we have a problem 29

I have painted this Nuts for Nazis replica four times, beginning with far right, painted for Smithsonian lecture given on 18 July 2004. This was presented to Betsy Platt at the Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Drive, Washington, D.C., in tribute to the 704 Americans killed in action wearing the uniform of the Royal Canadian Air Force in WWII.

Ottawa, we have a problem 30

The image on left was taken by F/L Lindsay at No. 43 Group in May 45. The photo on right came from Richard Koval and this is the nose artist, rear-gunner Sgt. Fred Henry King. He also appears above painting the nose art. The Halifax Mk. III, serial NR271 was received new on 23 November 1944, receiving the code letters KW-N in No. 425 Squadron. It was flown twice by other crews – 4/5 December 44 to Karlsruhe, and 5/6 December to Soest. On 6/7 December 44 it was first flown by F/Lt. Charles Lesesne C3879 [French-American] and crew to Osnabruck, Germany. They will fly “their” Halifax on 18 more operations, until Easter 31 March 1945. On that fateful day, they are assigned to fly Halifax MZ418 and not “Nuts for Nazis” in a major daylight raid on Hamburg. The Luftwaffe launch a surprise attack of some forty Me262 jets, which was the largest force of the jets sent into combat, during WWII. No. 6 RCAF Group was attacked by thirty Me262 jets and lost five Lancaster Mk. X’s and three Halifax aircraft including MZ418 flown by American Lesesne. The crew jump and survive, pilot Lesesne is taken prisoner, beaten to near-death by German women and then thrown in the local police cells, where he is left to bleed to death. Nuts for Nazis, Halifax NR271, continues to fly operations with other French/Canadian crews, completing seven until the 25 April 1945. It is flown to No. 43 Group on 10 May 1945 for scrapping. F/L Lindsay records two photos of this bomber, roll #1, print #8, which is the last in that camera roll. He then takes a second photo of the nose art [above left] but that negative is missing in Ottawa.

The rarest and most valuable aircraft War Museum art work is in fact not even nose art, but tail art. The only original WWII tail art in the complete world and the War Museum have no history.
On roll # 4, print # 6 Lindsay records the following Halifax tail art called – “Ol’ Daid Eye”, serial LW207.

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On the very next photo he records the nose art with a “Wolf” head and no name, serial LW207. This is from one single Halifax bomber, the only nose and tail art in the world, truly amazing WWII RCAF bomber history.

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Want to build a rare WWII aircraft that’s not German or American. OK, then construct this rare Canadian flown RCAF Halifax, which has nose art and tail art, and both originals can be seen today at the War Museum in Ottawa.
This nose art story begins on a Halifax production line and a new batch started 13 May 1944. Two days later Halifax Mk. III, serial MZ674 is delivered to No. 426 [Thunderbird] Squadron of the RCAF and flies her first operation on 17 May 44. The aircraft has received the code letters OW-W and is flown on a number of operations by the Officer Commanding “B” flight, S/L B.D. Patterson from Calgary, Alberta. His log book shows he flew Halifax MZ674 on eleven dates, [beginning 17 May 44] which included seven operations, the last to Boulogne on 15 June 1944. During this period of time he had nose art of a Wolf painted on this Halifax, with words “Willie the Wolf from the West” [Calgary].

In mid-June 1944, No. 426 Squadron begin to re-equip with new Halifax Mk. VII aircraft, and serial MZ674 is transferred to No. 425 [Alouette] French-Canadian Squadron on 16 June 44.

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The original S/L Patterson nose art of Wolf remains, however the new 425 crew give her a new name “Nobody’s Baby”.
S/L Patterson in 426 Squadron receives a new Halifax Mk. VII, with code letters OW-W, serial LW207. On 23 June 44, he flies her for the first time to bomb Bientque, France. At some date he asks the squadron nose artist to repaint the same “Willie the Wolf from the West” on his new Halifax. He is pilot of his Halifax a total of seven times, the last on 10 August 1944, to La Pallice.

The nose art idea came in part from an 11 November 1943, film release of “Riding High”, staring Dorothy Lamour with a hilarious song by Cass Daley. The song had the title – “Willie the Wolf of the West” and this was changed to read ‘from’ in reference to Patterson’s birth city, Calgary, Alberta. Again the effect of American Hollywood movies had a major impact on RCAF nose art.

The nose art also came from wartime effect on life, death and separation from Canada. The members of the Royal Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force and American 8th Air Force, suffered the highest causality rate flying in the air over Europe during WWII. This fear of death provided a powerful incentive to make love at every opportunity while on leave in England. With so many aircrews seeking a romantic adventure, the British ladies stated they were stalked like a pack of wolves, and the term stuck. In January 1942, an American soldier began a cartoon series based on this very idea. A serviceman in Army, Navy, or Air Force, uniform was drawn with a wolf head. Each cartoon featured a sexy lady and a play on words, relating to sex. The Wolf was named “Willie”, thus it appeared on hundreds of aircraft, three of which are in Ottawa collection today.

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“Willie Wolf” NP717, “Willie the Wolf” NP707 and “Willie the Wolf from the West” LW201.
This photo dated 29 August 44, shows the impressive nose art of “Willie the Wolf from the West” as her pilot S/L Bedford Donald Chase Patterson speaks with his ground crew, [left] is LAC Jake Shantz, and right Don Forster. This print has been signed for Clarence Simonsen by the rear and mid-upper Gunner who flew in LW207, P/O William Francis Bessent J88434, DFM. [That is special as you read later]

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Halifax LW207 completes 41 operations until 10 October 1944, and then is damaged in a taxing accident. Repairs are completed on 28 February 1945, and the Halifax receives new code letters OW-K. The Halifax survives the war flying 58 operations. On 14 May 1945, the Halifax is transferred to No. 408 [Goose] Squadron.

For some unknown reason the ground crew of No. 408 Squadron paint over most of the original nose art leaving only a Wolf head. They also paint over the name and add extra bombs on the nose. The bomber never flies operations with No. 408 and is declared ready for disposal on 17 May 45. It is then flown to No. 43 Group at Rawcliffe, 30 May 45 where it is photographed by Lindsay, roll # 4, print # 7.

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It is clear to see where the 408 squadron painted over the Wolf body, hand on aircraft control and full name. Over the name they painted 14 white bombs. The next two rows of bombs were the original operations flown by 426 Squadron, which total 53, five short of her grand total of 58 operations. This is the panel [wolf head only] that Lindsay marked for Canada and today is in the War Museum. Without this history the Wolf Head means nothing, and students learn nothing.

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This is a replica of the original nose art on Halifax VII, serial LW207, painted on Lancaster wing panel for Bomber Command Museum at Nanton, Alberta.

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The man on the right is W/C C.M. Black DFC, Commanding Officer of No 426 Thunderbird Squadron from 29 Jan. 45 to 24 May 45.
The man on the left is P/O W. F. Bessent, DFM, the rear and mid-upper gunner in this very aircraft. [Author collection and nose artist]

This photo is from P/O Bill Bessent collection.

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From Bill Bessent collection, showing the position he flew in most, [rear gun] and the serial of LW207.

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While these images are not clear it gives a good view for model builders showing correct position of rare tail art. These have never been published before. Enjoy.

This is from the author collection, taken at No. 408 Helicopter Squadron, Edmonton in 1986. [Free to use for models]

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The rare tail art inspiration came from this wartime American Hill-Billy ad.

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This photo from Ottawa [PL40133] caused many problems for not only the War Museum but also historians seeking the truth.

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P/O C. L. Humphreys was the rear gunner with the crew of pilot P/O T.V. Barger #J86279, who flew twelve operations in No. 408 Halifax serial NP717 with name “Willie Wolf”. This panel was saved and today is in the collection in the War Museum. Gunner Humphreys never flew in Halifax LW207, nose art “Willie the Wolf from the West” and tail art Ol’ Daid Eye”, he only had his photo taken by the rear turret after 13 May 1945. Halifax LW207 was transferred from No. 426 squadron to No. 408 Squadron on 13 May 1945.

This is the Halifax serial NP717 that P/O Humphreys flew as rear gunner [twelve operations] from 7 August 1944 until 25 October 1944, named “Willie Wolf.”

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This image was taken at No. 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, Edmonton, in 1986. – author collection.

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This is the image taken by F/L Lindsay at No. 43 Group, Rawcliife, in mid-June 1945, on roll #6, print #1. Halifax serial NP717, “Willie Wolf” arrived at No. 43 Group on 2 May 45, and was scrapped on 24 May 45. This nose art is in the War Museum collection today. Now you know part of the correct history which should be displayed with this original panel in Ottawa.

Lindsay records the next Halifax, MZ857, named “The No Nuttins” No. 433 squadron as roll #6, print #2 and moved on to record Halifax NP755, “The Avenging Angel” No. 432 squadron, which is a full nude lady roll #6, print #3. Today this is in the collection but she is wearing a green bathing suit. Next in line is “Willie the Wolf.”

Ottawa, we have a problem 45

F/L Lindsay approaches the next Halifax serial NP707 and he was instantly impressed with the grand scale and bomb total recorded beside the nude lady running from a Wolf. This is the only time he took three photos of one single bomber, which are on roll #6, prints #4-#5-#6. The negative numbers are not known due to the fact they cannot be found. This is a 1977, photocopy image taken from the photo on file in Ottawa.

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[Harold Kearl collection] – This image was recorded on 10 April 45, after F/O A. R Nicholson J41957 had flown Willie to Leipzig, Germany, her 63rd Op.

This should be the centre attraction for the nose art collection in the War Museum, but it is not, and in fact it continues to be confused with the same style nose art that appeared on a Halifax in No. 415 Squadron.
Two years ago, just before Nov. 11th, a nose art story appeared in the “Ottawa Citizen” newspaper and the pilot was from Ottawa flying with No. 415 Squadron during WWII. He stood very proud and told how he flew this very nose art, on his Halifax during WWII. That was false, so I e-mailed the senior reporter who wrote the story for the Ottawa Citizen newspaper, and explained his mistake. His reply was – “Well, Clarence, we can’t embarrass an RCAF veteran can we.” No, we can’t, and I shut up, however this clearly again shows the problems with our display of RCAF history in the War Museum. If the Ottawa press can’t get it correct for a “Remembrance Day” story, it’s because the War Museum has screwed up, not me.

Here is the truth – so please Ottawa, use it and stop making our veterans look stupid. They were far too busy during WWII to recall the correct aircraft they flew and then come home and display it correctly in our national museum. That is what the taxpayers of Canada pay you to do.

In 1990, I interviewed Thomas Dunn, who was the nose artist that painted the No. 432 squadron “Willie the Wolf” displayed in the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. Thomas was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, on 23 December 1912, and during his High School days completed a correspondence course on hand lettering. On 31 October 1941, he put away his paints and joined the RCAF. After training he was posted to No. 6 [RCAF] Group in late 1943, and joined No. 432 [Leaside] squadron at East Moor, in Yorkshire. His artistic talents were soon discovered and he became the squadron nose artist, painting his first nose art in the spring of 1944. Tom charged 5 Quid which was around $25 Canadian [a lot of money] in 1944. He first marked the aircraft skin with chalk squares and then did his outline in chalk, followed by an outline with white oil based paint.

On 6 July 1944, a new Halifax bomber Mk. VII arrived at East Moor, serial NP707 and it carried out five operations until 26 July 44, when it was involved in an accident. The repairs would not be completed until 27 August, and during this month delay Sgt. Thomas Dunn painted the nose art of “Willie the Wolf” on Halifax NP707. This was completed for the crew of P/O A. Potter J877003, who flew Willie on 23 operations until the end of their tour 1 March 1945. The Halifax was then flown by ten different crews until 25 April 1945. On 25 March 1945, it was flown by a friend of mine in Calgary, Alberta, P/O H.E. Kearl J91181 who took her to Munster, Germany.

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[Harold Kearl crew photo]

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[Harold Kearl photo 12 April 1945]

P/O Harold Kearl flew Willie on the aircraft’s 60 operation, a very special event as the Halifax had completed two full tours, and now Thomas Dunn would paint a second set of wings with an “O” in the centre. On 12 April, Harold Kearl had his picture taken in Willie, which now had received her second set of operational wings.

Willie was a special bomber in 432 squadron and considered very lucky to fly, she would bring you home again, which she did 67 times. This Halifax completed her 67 operations over a nine month period from 11 July 1944 to 25 April 1945, during some of the heaviest air war combat over Germany. During this time period 23 different crews flew Willie and they all survived. In the same nine month period 112 other Canadian bombers were shot down and 784 aircrews were killed or became POWs.

In January 1942, S/Sgt. Leonard Sansone drew a cartoon of a soldier with a wolf’s head, for the camp magazine “Duckboard” at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, USA. This wolf soldier had a one-track mind on sex, and a play [double-standard] on words, which became an immediate hit, and by 1943 had expanded to 1,600 camp newspapers including England and Canada. In England, so many foreign servicemen were seeking a romantic encounter with the British ladies, it was like they were being stalked by a pack of wolves. The wolf took the name “Willie” and this had a major effect on WWII nose art in America, Canada and England. Today the War Museum collection has three nose art panels related to this Willie Wolf, and No. 432 had one.

On 26 July 1944, No. 415 [Swordfish] squadron was redesigned from Coastal to Bomber Command squadron and arrived at No. 62 Base East Moor, to share the base with No. 432 squadron. They received a new Halifax Mk. VII, serial MZ632, code letters 6U-W.

This is where the problem began and continues today in the Canadian War Museum.
The crew from No. 415 squadron walked across the same field at East Moor and ask Thomas Dunn if he would paint the same nose art on their Halifax serial MZ632. Tom was paid his 5 Quid and the work begin, which looked the very same as his original “Willie the Wolf” including the same name. However, it is very easy to spot when you compare the style of the bombs painted for operations, and the Nazi fighter shot down by 415 aircrews.

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[Author collection]

This is the Halifax VII, serial MZ632 that flew with No. 415 [Swordfish] Squadron as 6U-W, and became the 2nd painted by Thomas Dunn. It flew 47 operations and was scrapped England in January 1947. The nose art was ‘not’ saved.

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This is the 1st nose art painted by Thomas Dunn and today is in the War Museum – Ottawa, Halifax VII, serial NP707, QO-W.

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During my interview with nose artist Thomas Dunn in July 1990, he had no idea his original art work survived, he in fact believed it was scrapped. I informed him that F/L Lindsay had toured the grave yard at Croft, and picked his panel for shipment to Canada. It arrived in May 1946, and went into storage at Hull, Quebec, until 10 June 1976. This was the largest original nose art in the world, 11′ 3″” wide by 5′ 1″ high, and the RCAF Officer’s Club Mess on Glouster St., Ottawa, wanted it. They were loaned this huge nose art panel, where it remained, [seen only by Air Force Officer’s] until 8 May 2005.

On 7 August 1991, original artist Thomas Dunn and his nose art meet for the first time in 46 years. This is the photo he sent to me, very proud RCAF veteran, but still forgotten today. On 25 May 1945, P/O Harold Kearl was assigned to ferry Halifax “Willie the Wolf” to the graveyard at Rawcliffe, in his log book he wrote -“W” Willie the Wolf graced the sky for the last time. She was no longer needed as the war was over. I flew her to the Handley-Page, Clinton Dome, near Yorkshire, her birthplace and to her end. Hundreds of aircraft were assembled there to be scrapped. Such a fatal ending for a Halifax bomber that gave so much to so many Canadians in Yorkshire, and all over the wartime skies of Germany and Europe.

Harold Kearl had no idea another RCAF [Harold] officer would come along and save this nose art. A few weeks later F/L Lindsay took his three photos and marked the nose art for shipment to Canada. It was cut from the Halifax nose by Goodwin, crated and placed on a ship for Canada. It arrived on 7 May 1964, and today graces the wall in the War Museum. Harold Kearl has never made it to Ottawa to see his old bomber art. He was the very last RCAF pilot to fly her in WWII, and today in lives in Calgary, Alberta.

I am very proud to have met the artist and be a close friend of pilot Harold Kearl.

Ottawa, we have a problem 53

This is the first image taken by Lindsay roll #5, print #1, [Negative RE77-83] which is a new roll of film and besides the nose art, he captures the bomber line parked wing-tip to wing-tip on the perimeter track that runs around Clifton, possibly early June 1945. These bombers on the perimeter are still intact, while the bombers on the main runways have lost their wings, engines, and tail, only the fuselage remains. The New Halifax was delivered to No. 426 [Thunderbird] Squadron on 14 July 1944, but flew no operations. It was transferred to No. 408 [Goose] Squadron on 3 August 1944, and flew her first operation to Saint-Leu-d’Esserent two days later. The nose art was not painted directly onto the skin, but in fact was painted on fabric, possibly original Wellington bomber skin. The nose art is then glued to the nose of the new Halifax Mk. VII, serial NP714. On the aircraft’s third operation, 8 August 44, she is piloted by the crew of F/O R. E. Johnson, and from this date on it becomes their aircraft. The names are painted for each crew member – “MAC” F/O Paddy Wilson, Bomb aimer, “THE HEAD” F/O Gene Messmer, navigator, “THE VOICE” F/Sgt. Scott, wireless, “ROMEO” pilot – F/O Robert Johnson, “SMITH” Sgt. Bruce Devlin [RAF], “Doc” F/Sgt. Gordon McKnight, rear gunner, and “JERKS” F/Sgt. Kierstead [Dutch] Mid-upper gun.

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Rear L to R – Sgt. Bruce Devlin, [British Flight Eng.- plus supplied photo image of crew], F/Sgt. Gordon McKnight, [R-Gun] F/Sgt. Scott [Wireless], F/Sgt. Kierstead, [Dutch Mid Upper gun]
Front row L to R – F/O Paddy Wilson, [Bomb Aim] , F/O Robert Johnson [pilot], and F/O Gene Messmer [Navigator].

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Lindsay takes a second image of the complete Halifax, roll #5, print #2 [negative RE77-82]. He then marks the nose art for salvage and today it is in the War Museum collection.

Without research and recorded history, the above photo gives very little information in regards to location, who took the photo, and why it was parked on the air strip. That has been supplied at the beginning of my story but now let’s just look at the aircraft and markings without any history.

The Halifax has a serial number NP714, code letters EQ-A, a number of bombs and a nose art lady over a large letter “V”. You can guess the large “V” is for victory and that is about all I had for many years. On 22 October 2005, I made email contact with the British Flight/Engineer, Bruce Devlin at Heron Hill, Kendal, Cumbria, UK and that changed everything. To my complete surprise Bruce had no idea “his” WWII Halifax nose art still existed in Canada. I explained to him he was not alone, as thousands of RCAF veterans had no idea ‘their’ original panels existed, as they had been in storage for the past sixty years, and only went on public display 8 May 2005. These panels had flown over 700 operations during WWII, by 300 different air crews, made up of 2,100 Dutch, French, American, British, French-Canadians and Canadians in the RCAF. Bruce was suddenly coming to Canada to see his original art, but he never made it. Weeks later [3 Dec.] his son Stewart Devlin sent an email to advise me his father was serious ill and on doctor’s orders he could not travel. Bruce joined thousands of others who missed the chance to see their Halifax aircraft nose art, due to the fact it is not seen as an important historical paintings. How sad.
Bruce however left his mark in regards to missing history, and proved the value to interviewing and learning the truth from WWII veterans. Bruce had no idea where the nose art came from, it was all done by the ground crew. I believe the ground crew cut the original nose art from a Wellington bomber and when you study the original in Ottawa, you clearly see the zigzag scissor cut marks. The original code letters for Halifax NP714 were EQ-V and that is why the Drum Major girl is over a large “V”, and why the ground crew picked her. The Johnson crew gave her a name, which was never painted on the aircraft, but to them she was “Veni” [I Came], “Vedi” [I Saw], “Vici” [I Conquered]. All the bomb operations featured a “V” with a bomb painted over it, and they completed 25 operations in their Halifax, the last on 6 December 1944. Bruce advised me the aircraft was damaged two days later and when I checked the Lindsay files it confirmed that date, plus the damage was repaired on Christmas eve, 24 December 44 and she returned to 408 squadron with code letters EQ-A. All these facts are confirmed in the Lindsay photos.
On 6 December 1940, the Canadian Government passed the War Exchange Act, which banned all non-essential goods from being imported to Canada. This included all American comic books and resulted in the birth of Canadian comics started by Cyril and Gene Bell in Toronto. The “Bell” Bros. published the first, most, and best of the Canadian “Whites” and by May 1945 had printed over 20 million. The Drum Major nose art girl originated from one of the Bell comic characters who appeared with a fictitious Canadian big band leader “Drummy Young”. Young was fighting the evils of Hitler and featured many scantily dressed girls and drum major female marching band leaders. In 1946, the War Exchange Act was abolished and slowly the American comic publishers lured the Canadian artists to work south of the border. By 1947, the Canadian Comic book industry was destroyed, but one memory from the past still remains in the War Museum at Ottawa.

What’s that old saying – “A pictures worth a thousand words” in this case it’s the reverse, but will anyone in Ottawa listen?

Ottawa, we have a problem 56

Original image from Simonsen collection taken at No. 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Edmonton, Alberta, 1986.
Today she is in the War Museum and you can see she was painted on what appears to be original fabric doped aircraft skin.

This RCAF Halifax nose art shows a very good perspective in the effect a good painting had on a number of different squadrons in WWII.

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When F/L Lindsay snapped this image he also captured a white Coastal Command Halifax in the background. The image appeared on roll #5, print #3, and became negative RE77-84.
This Halifax Mk. III, serial LV860 was built between 10 January 1944 and 25 February 44, first delivered to No. 35 Squadron RAF and then went to No. 10 Squadron RAF. On 31 July 1944, it was transferred to the Canadians in No. 6 [RCAF] Group and began her new career assigned to No. 415 Squadron, and then on that same date it was sent to 427 [Lion] squadron, and received the code letters KW-U. The impressive ‘death heads in top hats’ was painted on LV860 by a nose artist in No. 427 squadron. No. 427 squadron began converting to the British built Lancaster B. Mk. III’s in March 1944, and the original crew of Halifax LV860, “Spook’ N Droop” received a new Lancaster in July 1944, serial ME501, code KW-T. On their new Lancaster, the aircrew ask the same nose artist to repaint his original art of Spook’ N Droop, which he did.


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On 2 August 1944, the Halifax LV860 was transferred to No. 429 [Bison] squadron and the original nose art remained. She flew operations until 5 December 44, and then was damaged in a Cat. “C” accident. Repaired on 14 January 45 she returned to 429 squadron and again was transferred to No. 420 [Snowy Owl] squadron on 16 March 1945. The following day she was transferred to No. 425 Squadron and flew until 21 April 1945, when she was involved in a second Cat. “A” accident. The Halifax still carried her original nose art when she was sent for disposal on 31 May 1945. The aircraft arrived at No. 43 Group Rawcliffe on 8 June 1945 for scrapping.

The records by F/L Lindsay are very important as it shows he arrived at No. 43 Group some date after 8 June 1945. The Halifax was scrapped on 16 June 45, now I know Lindsay took his photo in one of the eight days between those dates. This nose art was not saved by Lindsay, as far as I know.

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Simonsen replica donated to Western Canada Aviation Museum, Winnipeg, in 2009

To this point I have attempted to show the world [Internet] just a small selection of what F/L Lindsay saved for Canada, in May and June of 1945. He was not paid or ask to save this nose art collection, it was done for his love of Canada, including his Government, and he alone realized how extremely important it was to preserve this art for historical merit. Lindsay recorded a total of 63 black and white nose art images, and 54 were flown by the RCAF in WWII. Many of the crews who flew in these Halifax bombers would later be killed in other aircraft. I have turned 70 years of age and since 1977, I have attempted to save this huge Canadian Nose Art History, and have it properly displayed, with a complete history including a wall to honor the artists who painted the aircraft. No luck. The Americans have one complete Museum which holds the World’s Largest Nose Art collection of 33 panels, and it honors everyone from pilot, ground crew and most of all the artists who painted aircraft in WWII.


p_noseartaahm2 (1)






collection Clarence Simonsen

In Ottawa this has proved to be a -“LOST CAUSE” as Canadians just don’t care.

I now wish to show another forgotten part of what Lindsay did and saved on film. Nine of the Halifax bombers he recorded on film were not RCAF but French, Australian and British. I had to pay for all these nose art images, so feel free to use.

The most famous Halifax nose art from Australia, from which I received wonderful letters and info.

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Ottawa, we have a problem 63

Please look in the background and notice the other Halifax aircraft parked awaiting the chop.

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Yes, I know and have recorded the history of each Halifax, and now I would just like to see the reaction to these last three photos.

The famous RAF Halifax LV917, “Clueless” flew 100 operations and was soon scrapped. Her sister aircraft “Friday the 13th” was rebuilt as a complex composite, and can be seen in Yorkshire Air Museum today, a tribute to the British who built and flew this famous bomber during WWII. The original nose art panel [plus others] are displayed in the world class Imperial War Museum, London, England. The same RAF nose artist painted both “Friday the 13th” and “Clueless”.

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During my 37 years of original RCAF nose art panel research, I learned the main collection of ten original nose art images saved by F/L Lindsay remained in storage somewhere in Hull, Quebec. I could never get permission to see or photograph. In 1977, it was my first visit to the old War Museum where I met the curator Mr. Hugh Halliday, and to this man I owe many thanks. He was the person who spared my research and informed me I could see one original panel from the RCAF collection, in fact the largest, and it was located at the RCAF Officer’s Mess on Glouster St., Ottawa. This panel had just gone on display 10 June 1976, so thanks to Mr. Halliday, I became very lucky.

Due to the fact I was a Toronto Police Officer, they allowed me into the building, and just seeing this huge WWII nose art image made me realize what Lindsay had done for Canada. In the mid-1980s I also located the three missing panels which had been loaned to No. 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Edmonton, Alberta. These images were taken in 1986, and appear in this article. There is one other man who is very, very important to this collection being gathered and put on display in the new War Museum. The only person in Ottawa who would listen to my story was Mr. Daniel Glenney, Director of Collections Management and Planning of the War Museum. He listened and arranged to have the four missing panels returned to Ottawa. I met with Mr. Glenney in November 2004, and he gave me a tour of the new War Museum and showed me the original nose art panels hanging on the wall, but no history. He informed me he was retiring in 2005, and honestly felt the nose art would never be given its rightful place in Canadian RCAF WWII history. He told me the hard facts, the War Museum contains hundreds of “Official” wartime paintings, by official war artists who were hired and paid by the Canadian Government to record war scenes. The bureaucrats in charge of the War Museum have no interest in WWII RCAF nose art, period. I found this is also reflected by many of the post-war feelings held by many RCAF senior Officers, who have powerful control over our Canadian museum’s displays.

This nose art is displayed in Ottawa today, mostly forgotten, along with the complete Lindsay history. We have the postwar RCAF Officers, the politicians, and most of all the glory seeking bureaucrats, who run today’s Aviation Museums and treat them as if they were their own collection. It’s all about their title, “Curator”, “COE”, “President”, plus the six figure salary, and less and less about the RCAF veteran in WWII.

Ottawa, we have a problem.

The Forgotten “Vargas” Girls (Draft PDF Version)

Note from the author
I have done my best to use free domain images and my own material, but something might just be copyright issues. Just contact me through the
comment section.
Clarence Simonsen

The Forgotten “Vargas” Girls

Click on the link above.

Draft Text version (images to be added later)

 The Forgotten “Vargas” Girls

Note from the author
I have done my best to use free domain images and my own material, but
something might just be copyright issues. Just contact me through the
comment section.
Clarence Simonsen

The Forgotten “Vargas” Girls

Note from the author


I have done my best to use free domain images and my own material, but something might just be copyright issues. Just contact me through the comment section.

Clarence Simonsen


Miss Mara Corday TRUE magazine February 1952

The voluptuous Miss Mara Corday was 5’ 5” with a 35-inch bust when she first posed for Alberto Vargas in spring of 1947. Born Marilyn Joan Watts on 3 January 1930, in Santa Monica, California, like many pretty young American teens she began seeking a career in films, and arrived in Hollywood at age fifteen years. While working as an usherette at the Mayan Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, she fell in love with a Cuban bongo player [Lecuona Cuban Boys] and during their romantic affair he called her “Marita” which meant ‘my little Mara.’ She liked the new nickname and began to use it in place of Marilyn. In 1947, she took the stage surname Corday from a magazine perfume ad, advanced her age to eighteen years, and began dancing as a showgirl at the Earl Carroll Theatre on Sunset Boulevard. While the modeling and Hollywood actress career of Miss Mara Corday was just beginning, the life of world famous American women illustrator Alberto Vargas was slowly coming to a tragic end. On 30 April 1946, a four-year battle of bitter litigation began between Alberto Vargas and Esquire Inc. magazine, ending on 17 February 1948, in the Circuit Court of Appeals in California. In September 1946, [while the second appeal trail was in proceedings] Vargas formed “Varga Enterprises” and began preparing for a new special issue of his “Varga” 1948 calendar. Showgirl dancer, and model, Miss Mara Corday was found by Alberto and posed in early 1947, where later Vargas painted her on the sleeve cover for his new 1948 “Varga” calendar.


The Mara Corday letterhead created by Vargas in 1947. [Internet] Her right hand is holding a flower which was drawn inside the large circle on letter “g.”


Reid Stewart Austin collection – Varga 1947, second letter-head design. Pen in right hand.

Alberto Vargas had originally intended to use this V trade-mark with his new “Varga Enterprises Inc.” however Esquire took him to court and halted both the use of the name “Varga” and the 1948 Varga calendar due to copyright infringement. On 4 May 1946, Esquire, Inc., [lawyers and Alfred Smart] applied to the United States Patent Office for the trade-mark “THE VARGA GIRL” and in an Esquire countersuit on 8 June 1950, Esquire won, taking full control of everything named “Varga” including the 162 pin-up paintings he had completed during World War Two. The man, who had done so much for the United States of America fighting man, was now left with no income and no future. He owed Esquire, Inc., $4,260.00, could not pay his lawyer, who took ten per cent of what he could earn, then his loving wife Anna Mae needed a radical mastectomy and their bungalow was suddenly under a triple mortgage. Alberto tried to find any type of artistic employment for income, painting toiletries, lingerie, and sending his latest drawings to various men’s magazines and pin-up girl agencies. Alberto was most willing to work, but the realities of life in the United States had changed, there was no more need for the painted pin-up girl and the next months were very grim and workless. The art community had forgotten about Alberto Vargas and their heavily mortgaged home now faced imminent foreclosure. Sadly, the American general public had no idea what had legally taken place.

On Sunday, 25 June 1950, North Korean tanks crossed the border into South Korea and this massive attack caught Western Alliance completely by surprise. The strength of the North Korean Peoples Army, large quantity of Soviet built T-34 tanks, and their well trained forces were a formidable force in contrast to the South Korean Army and the weak United States military defensive weapons. This was the beginning of three years of war [United Nations Police Action] which still affects our world peace today. The history of the air and ground conflict up and down the Korean Peninsula can be read in hundreds of publications, and many internet websites, which recorded the United Nations airpower, mostly being the United States Fifth Air Force and naval air forces from the U.S. Navy Task Force #77.

This massive build-up of American airpower suddenly created a huge demand for bomber and fighter aircraft nose art, with Esquire magazine being the major source producing American pin-up girl paintings. This image was taken 17 August 1951, after returning from a bombing raid on Taegu, North Korea, where 98 Superfortress B-29s had dumped 850 tons of bombs on the north side of the Naktong River. Left is Lt. John Wood, navigator of “United Notions” and right is T/Sgt. Joseph Goslin, the flight engineer. Almost every one of these 98 American bombers carried impressive life-size nude and topless nose art ladies, which came directly from the pages of Esquire magazine painted by artist Al Moore. This story was published in LIFE magazine and if Alberto Vargas saw and read it, I’m sure it became a low point in his life. During WWII his Esquire Varga girls had been the inspiration for the majority of Allied aircraft nose art, and now the name “Varga” and his painted ladies were dead.

Artist Al Moore was born in Chicago, Illinois, and played professional football with the Chicago Bears. After graduating from the famed Chicago Art Institute and Academy of Art he opened his commercial art studio in the fall of 1930.  During the war years he painted for the U.S. government, Saturday Evening Post, and Collier’s magazines. In 1946, he was painting ads for U.S. Rubber and Coca-Cola when he was chosen by David Smart of Esquire Inc. to replaced the hated Alberto Vargas. His skin tones and girls were so very different from that of George Petty and Alberto Vargas, but of course the quality of art did not really matter to Smart. In 1949, Al Moore painted the entire Esquire Girl calendar and when you examine the 1950 and 1951 calendars you will find each and every girl soon appeared as nose art on the American Medium and Heavy bombers plus Allied fighters in the Korean conflict.

What occurred next is the most over-looked and forgotten part of the entire Alberto Vargas career. Beginning in 1950, Alberto Vargas painted a series of large nudes [twelve] which were planned as a legacy to his wife and to please himself during these depressing hard times. This was explained in detail to me over the phone by Reid Stewart Austin [October 1995] and today five legacy nude paintings can be found in his 2006 publication, Alberto Vargas – Works from the Max Vargas Collection, forward by Hugh Hefner. The legacy nudes are found in the chapter titled – “The 1950s and the Vargas Girl.”

In an effort to find work to pay the bills, sets of these twelve legacy beautiful nude transparencies were mailed to various men’s magazines and agencies by Alberto. One set was mailed to “TRUE” the men’s magazine published by Fawcett Publications, and received by the Art Director Mr. Al Allard, who in turn contacted Alberto in fall 1949. Vargas explained he could no longer use the name Varga [owned by Esquire Inc.] and Al Allard made it very clear it was his famous girl art they wanted not his name. A nine-month contract was signed and once again Alberto received much needed income to save his home and career. What few Americans understand is Esquire Inc. and [bastard] David Smart instructed his company lawyers to halt this new series of TRUE “Vargas” pin-up girls, however their legal attempt rightly failed. That changed American nose art history. Alberto Vargas next posted an ad in Variety magazine looking for new models, interviewed, and selected nine for his new True Girl series, then began painting. For these new True Girl paintings [possibly ten or more] Alberto created a new signature trademark [below] which was painted on each canvas, however only nine girls appeared in True magazine. Over the passing years many publications have mixed and confused the legacy nude girls with the TRUE Girl paintings from 1951 and 1952.

Above is the new “Vargas” signature the artist created for the series of nine True Girls 1950-52. The “v” is small, and the tail of the ‘g’ is not slanted but painted straight downwards. This appeared only on the nine True Girls by Vargas plus one-or-two other paintings for the same period painting, 1950-52 era. [I believe ten paintings contained this signature]

Miss Gwen Caldwell appeared as the first True issue for October 1951, and Miss Mara Corday appeared in February 1952, the fifth pin-up girl Alberto selected. Google her name and you will enjoy reading the career of this natural beauty with the best body in Hollywood. She appeared in over 30 publications and had over 50,000 images taken, a few fully nude, earning the title “The Most Photographed Model in the World.” I also believe she became the only model to appear in the same pose [February 1947] as first a “Varga” Girl [1948 calendar sleeve cover] and then later in 1952 as a True Girl by Vargas using his new signature.  Only Mara Corday can truly answer those detailed questions, and today [2019] she is still living.

I feel the growing demand for American aircraft nose art during the Korean War indirectly led to saving the career of Alberto Vargas. The 1951 TRUE magazine nine-month series provided Alberto with much needed income [possibly $9 thousand] and at the same time reintroduced his creative women art style to the United Nations at war. Three of his nine True magazine Vargas girls appeared as nose art on three different B-29 bombers during 1952, and the power of the pin-up girl was back in United States of America. This was not missed by a young man in Chicago named Huge Hefner, who purchased [$500] the photos of an unknown nude lady named Marilyn Monroe, and placed her on the front cover of his new magazine called Playboy. Never before had the nudity of a young American girl been so vividly exposed in a national circulated magazine which was directed at the general public [U.S. and Canada] for sale. By 1954, Miss Mara Corday had also become the leading model appearing in numerous men’s magazines, but now Playboy was slowly changing the American attitude towards the nude pin-up girl. Miss Corday later appeared as the October 1958 Playboy Playmate.

In the fall of 1917, Alberto Vargas met a slender strawberry-blonde beauty from Soddy, Tennessee, named Anna Mae Clift. She became his model, his only true love, and they married on 9 June 1930.

This painting of Anna Mae Cliff 1920, from Reid Stewart Austin collection 1995.

Miss Cliff had come from a poor background and a broken home, arriving in New York with an unhappy and confused personal life. In search of security and a better life, she only found all-night-wild-parties, jazz, drinking, and sex, which represented America in the 1920s. In her ‘little artist’ [Alberto] she found an intelligent, handsome, perfect gentleman who truly loved her. During the bad times Anna Mae continued to model to support the couple while Alberto looked for painting work.

The tragedy of the Esquire years requires in-depth reading to digest just what took place, and this is best told in the 1978 book Vargas by Reid Stewart Austin and the artist himself Alberto Vargas.

By 1956, Anna Mae became aware of the increasing success of Playboy magazine, as she had modeled for fifteen educational years, fully understanding the change which was now taking place in America. She convinced Alberto that the only chance for publication of his nude girl paintings would be Playboy magazine. The couple took another loan from their mortgaged home and boarded the train for Chicago to meet with Huge Hefner. Hefner promised he would see if he could fit a few of the Vargas nude girls into his magazine, which in fact occurred in the March 1957 issue titled “The Vargas Girl.”


Reid Stewart Austin collection 1995. One of the March 1957 nudes by Vargas.

The five-page article included a full biography of Alberto with nude paintings of his work. This amazing nude appeared on page 56, and a copy was sent to me by Reid Stewart Austin. I believe this original Vargas artwork was owned by Reid Austin and sold to Charles Martignette around 1997. In 1995, during our last phone call, Reid told me he had a serious health issue [lung cancer] which required he sell some original Vargas art to Mr. Martignette for needed income.

In March 1960, I turned 16 years of age, a simple hard-working Canadian farm kid from Acme, Alberto. I was at last allowed to purchase a new adult magazine called Playboy and had no idea this would change my life forever, plus later place me in direct contact with Reid Stewart Austin.  The September 1960 [Vol. 7, No. 9] issue came with a new addition on page 100, a Vargas nude painting. The original [author] Playboy page appears below.


In September 1960, the name Alberto Vargas had no meaning or connection to my interest in World War Two aircraft nose art. That all changed in the next five years, when I served four years in the Canadian Army Military Police and while posted to United Nations in Cyprus in 1965, began painting life-size Playboy girls as large wall art. In 1966, I became a member of the Metro. Toronto Police Force and my main avocation became preserving, repainting and recording the history of aircraft nose art, which I soon discovered included Alberto Vargas. On 29 November 1978, I wrote to Esquire, Inc., 488 Madison Ave., New York, and received a detailed history of Mr. Vargas and a list of 162 “Esquire Girls” he had painted, cordially sent by Phyllis Crawley, Vice President of Corporate Communications. There was no mention of David Smart or what Esquire, Inc., had done to destroy the career of Alberto Vargas, however Ms. Crawley suggested I read three books one being a recent Harmony Books publication titled – “VARGAS” by Alberto Vargas and Reid S. Austin. The following year, I purchased this publication which is the “Bible” of all Alberto Vargas history books, told by the artist himself. The Vargas Esquire contracts are both published in full to read and digest, plus the last two pages contain the detailed technique used to create a “Varga” or Vargas Girl, told by Alberto himself. I still laugh when I read the last line written by Reid Austin.

“It can’t hurt if you do this before beginning [Alberto crosses himself] Page 127 Technique.


The book dust-cover contained an image of the author Reid Stewart Austin and a brief outline of his career, associate art director of Playboy magazine in June 1959, brought Hugh Hefner and Alberto Vargas together in 1961, became personal art director for Alberto Vargas for seventeen years, etc. Now, that was the man I wanted to talk to, however I knew he would never answer my letters, and tossed the idea from my mind. I continued my WWII aircraft nose art research and never realized I was making contact with a few important people who knew Reid Stewart Austin. In August 1981, an unexpected package arrived by mail.



The impossible had occurred, and I would now share photos, correspondence, questions, and lengthy phone calls with Reid Austin for the next sixteen years. Our last phone call took place in summer of 1996, he had at long last received the contract to publish the “Petty” story and pin-up girls from Esquire artist George Petty. This was the first time Reid mentioned he had a serious medical problem, and had to sadly part [sell] two of his original Vargas watercolor girls, to Charles G. Martignette. Martignette was an art collection and rich dealer with the largest original collection of American illustrators and artists in the world, based at Hallandale Beach, Florida. At the time, he was collecting the largest original gallery of Alberto Vargas drawings and paintings other than those paintings held by the artist himself. In October 1997, I was surprised by a first edition signed copy of the new book PETTY by Reid Stewart Austin. In return, I painted a large 1941 WWII Petty girl [40” by 40”] nose art on original aircraft skin from the year 1941, and mailed to Reid. I received a nice Walt Disney Christmas card from Reid, thanking me, and this became our last contact, 6 December 1997.


Postmarked Albuquerque, New Mexico, 6 December 1997.



Sadly, Reid died of lung cancer in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, early September 2006.

Reid was the kind gentleman who informed me about the series of TRUE magazine pin-up girls painted by Alberto Vargas, which became a turning point in his career and rebirth of his name “Vargas.” Reid wished to publish this history in a future book, however as far as I know nothing ever transpired. The following is my TRUE Girl small tribute to Reid Stewart Austin and the one-and-only Alberto Vargas.


Miss Gwen Caldwell became the first True Girl by Vargas, October 1951.





Miss Caldwell was born in Greenville, Mississippi, in the year 1927, and came to Hollywood twenty-one years later. She won “Most Beautiful Legs in the World’ in 1949, and posed for Alberto the following year, the same year she appeared in “Tarzan and the Slave Girl” seen in the RKO free domain picture poster.[above] A most attractive model, she appeared in two other movies and many pin-up magazines during the 50’s. Many of her original negatives and images can be purchased online today. I believe she became the first Korean War B-29 aircraft ‘nose art’ inspired and copied from her Alberto Vargas True Girl October 1951.


This appears to be the background sketch in True magazine photo showing Gwen and Alberto drinking tea, titled – Vargas is charmed. This image did not appear in True magazine, possibly due to the fact it was not finished in time. The Vargas signature [slanted ‘g’] on this painting is correct for the post 1952 year. Most beautiful legs, indeed.




Original True Girl by Vargas [with straight ‘g’] page 36, October 1951.


This aircraft painting image was taken from a video on a WB-29 nose art saved by Mr. John R. Edmondson, Yokota, Japan, in 1951-52. The video indicates she flew with the 56th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron, [serial unknown] with name “Never.” The original 512th Bomb Group was a WWII unit activated on 19 October 1942 and inactivated 26 March 1946. From 13 February 1947 until 9 January 1950, they flew as a weather gathering unit at Fairfield-Suisun, Air Force Base, California. They arrived at Yokota, Japan on 27 January 1950, flying weather reconnaissance and typhoon tracking in their area of responsibility. When the North Korean People’s Army struck across the 38th parallel before dawn on 25 June 1950, four WB-29 aircraft of the 512th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron were ordered to curtail regular flights, and begin reconnaissance missions over North Korea, code named “Buzzard.” On 21 February 1951, the newly created 56th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron replaced the 512th Weather Squadron, assuming its personnel and WB-29 aircraft. This nose art photo indicates the very first Alberto Vargas True Girl image [Miss Gwen Caldwell] October 1951, was copied by a very talented Japanese artist in Yokota, Japan, and flew with the new 56th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron over North Korea. The 98th Bomb Group station at Yokota, Japan, employed this unknown talented Japanese artist who painted life-size nudes on their B-29 bombers, and this style appears to be her painting. This history will be covered in detail later with True Girl December 1951. This “Never” painting was possibly the very first Vargas inspired B-29 bomber nose art to appear in the Korean War, October 1951.


The second Vargas girl appeared in November 1951, Susan Ames.



Born Suzanne Marguerite Ainbinder in Chicago, Illinois, 31 December 1931, she was a straight “A” student and graduated with honors in 1948. She studied ballet and music in Cleveland, Ohio, and moved to New York where she became a member of the Metropolitan Opera Ballet at age seventeen. Dancing talent got her a chance to appear in a Hollywood film as a Goldwin girl and she would appear in seven films, but her actress career never took off. She met Alberto Vargas in 1949, with measurements 5’ 7”, 121 pounds, 37“bust, she became his favorite model.


Susan Ames far left in 1954, with Jimmy Durante, Angie Dickinson, Groucho Marx and Dawn Oney. [Internet free domain] Susan died on 6 June 2008 in Saratoga Springs, Florida.


Suzanne Ainbinder [Susan Ames] True Girl #2 by Vargas November 1951. [author collection]


“Irish” Nellie Elizabeth McCalla was born 25 December 1928, in Pawnee City, Nebraska, USA, appearing as the third TRUE girl by Vargas in December 1951. During WWII she worked in an aircraft factory and spent weekends on the beach as a lifeguard or sketching for her paintings. That’s where Alberto discovered her in 1949, she was twenty years old.



By age 16 years, Irish McCalla’s measurements were 39-24-38 and she stood 5’ 10” which attracted a number of pin-up photographers. Irish and Alberto [5’ tall] appeared together on the November 1950 issue of EVE magazine, and a year later she appeared as the True Girl by Vargas. Google her name and be prepared to read an amazing career from an equal amazing Vargas pin-up lady.


The comic book “Sheena” Queen of the Jungle originated in 1942, and Irish McCalla became the living Sheena in the T.V. series from 1955 to 1956. She was also a very talented artist and received private instructions from Alberto, became a member of Women Artist of the American West and painted over 1,000 paintings, one of which hangs in the [West Wing] of the White House. Irish survived a brain tumor operation twice, then passed away from a third brain tumor and stroke on 1 February 2002 in Tucson, Arizona, USA.


Irish McCalla was raised with strong Catholic values and only appeared nude in a series of images taken by her trusted friend Alberto Vargas, which he used to complete his painting for True magazine 1951. She requested those images only be published after her death, and that request was honoured. The set of nudes were published for the first time in Playboy magazine issue February 2008. Much more info, plus, many photos can be found on other websites if interested, and the complete set of nudes are online. This is the free domain 1950 image which Vargas used for his final painting, where he captured her full nude beauty. Alberto first completed the full nude body flesh watercolor tint which was the most important factor in all paintings. He applied glycerine to the water, keeping it wet for even color flow. His complete technique is explained in detail in the 1978 publication “VARGAS” by Reid Stewart Austin. The see-through red nightie was airbrushed on last.


True Girl by Vargas page 45, December 1951 issue, which inspired B-29 Korean War Nose Art, “Baby San.” It is most likely Irish McCalla never learned her topless image flew over and bombed North Korea in 1952. [author collection]



98th Bomb Group B-29 Superfortress 44-86290, Yokota, Japan, January 1952. “Baby San” was a Japanese meaning for very young. The lady is playing strip poker [three cards] and holds a lucky chicken wish-bone in left hand. Half of her panties are gone, however her cards read “21.”

The U.S.A.A.F. 98th Bombardment Group [Very Heavy] were a famous WWII unit which served in North Africa and Sicily earning Distinguished Citations for the bombing raids on the oil fields at Ploesti, Rumania, August 1943. A large number of the B-24 bombers they flew carried nose art pin-up ladies from the pages of Esquire magazine, painted by artist’s George Petty and Alberto Vargas. The unit was inactivated on 10 November 1945, as their services were no longer required.

On 1 July 1947, the 98th B.G. was activated, re-designated a medium bomber unit and began training in the B-29 Superfortress bomber, stationed at Spokane, Air Force Base, Washington, 24 September 1947, under Strategic Air Command.  In August 1950, the 98th moved to Yokota Air Base, Japan, attached to Far East Air Forces for duty in the United Nations Korean War offensive. They primarily bombed in support of U.N. ground troops, attacking oil centres, rail marshalling yards, troop concentrations, military installations and enemy airfields. Almost every B-29 carried life-size nude or topless elaborate American nose art paintings, which were painted by a local Japanese lady artist called “Rembrandt.” Just seven years before, this young lady had been hiding from the same American B-29s which burned Japan to the ground with a great loss of civilian life. Now this unknown Japanese lady was applying her artistic talent to some of these very same WWII American bombers. Each month she selected a new Al Moore Esquire pin-up girl page and created her own aircraft nose art for the American B-29 aircrew.

Note – on right, August 1950, page of Al Moore “Esquire Girl” taped to the B-29 nose skin.


[author collection from Herbert L. Zuidema, Yokota, Japan]


Al Moore painting “Esquire Girl” August 1950 issue [author collection]


The completed B-29 nose art pin-up girl – “Our Gal.” [author collection]



Sadly, the name of this Japanese lady artist has been lost with the passage of time; however with the power of the internet, her identity can possibly still be preserved for history. By early June 1952, the war in Korea was coming to a slow uneasy close and the 98th Bomb Group was in-activated on 16 June 1952, returning to the United States. Korea became the last battle ground for the B-29 Superfortress, as the massive bomber was no match for the Russian built Mig 15 jet fighters. The last RB-29 combat mission flown over Korea took place 27 July 1953.

The January 1952 True Girl by Vargas is a mystery, named by Alberto Miss Autumn Rice




The correct name and date of birth for Miss Rice is not known. Age 21 years, 5’ 3”, 35-24-34.

February 1952, True Girl by Vargas was Miss Mara Corday, featured in my cover story.





This original pose was sketched in 1947, when seventeen-year-old Miss Corday was a showgirl at the Earl Carroll Theatre, Sunset Blvd. This image was taken in possibly 1950, for True magazine publication, appearing in the February 1952 pin-up page 45. [author collection]


If there is one single model pose which was a trade-mark to Alberto Vargas, I feel it was this 1947 image. Alberto drew and painted this [V for Varga] image in at least four different postions, and had Esquire, Inc., and David Smart not destroyed everything with the name “Varga” Miss Mara Corday would still today be the most famous “Varga signature girl” ever.

Miss Corday was signed by Universal Pictures and received small roles in various class “B” movies as well as a number of Westerns. In 1975, she met and became a close friend of Clint Eastwood, possibly due to her western movie acting. She had a brief but very significate role in four of his film’s, 1977 “The Gauntlet”, 1983 “Sudden Impact”, 1989 “Pink Cadillac” and 1990 “The Rookie.”  In 1983, she played the waitress dumping tons of sugar into Inspector Harry Callahan’s coffee and the hostage being held by a black thug when Dirty Harry said – “Go ahead, make my day,” What a lady, what a claim to fame. Google the movie clip and count how many shots Dirty Harry fired. [Was it five or six?]

On 29 November 1978, I wrote to Esquire, Inc., New York City, and they sent me a list of 162 “Varga Girls” from their files, painted from 1940-1946. These girls were drawn three or four times on tissue paper before he began his final painting. During his 1960-73 Playboy years he painted 152 works, two covers, and these girls were drawn on one tissue paper before his final painting. For some unknown reason, the nine [1951-52] True Girls by Vargas are missing from publications, websites, and Vargas history in general. In the mid-1990’s, I ask Reid Austin what an original TRUE Vargas painting would be worth. He estimated around $100,000.

Charles Martignette possessed the largest collection of original Vargas paintings, other that the Estate of the Alberto Vargas. In 2008, Martignette died at Hallandale, Florida, and selected paintings from his vast estate collection have been auctioned off for millions, on three different dates. In February 2010, a Varga 22” by 18” Duotone color signature [below] painting of Miss Mara Corday sold for $101,575.00.





Alberto Vargas placed an ad in Variety magazine for models, and he received a variety of interesting ladies who wished to pose in the nude for his 1951-52 TRUE magazine paintings. The March 1952 True Girl featured a very mature [32 years of age] attractive Florence Marly, Czech-born, 2 June 1919, French trained actress, who had appeared in several films.

Movie ad photo for the 1949 film Tokyo Joe with Florence Marly and Humphrey Bogart.


The most attractive Florence Marly had just appeared in the film “Tokyo Joe” with Humphrey Bogart, which was the very first Hollywood feature film shot entirely on location in Japan. The above free domain image first appeared in Screenland magazine on 1 September 1950. The film had mixed reviews from the critics, writing it was – “little more than a Bogart parody.” Marly’s performance in the film received positive reviews, some stating she gave her best performance ever. It is possible Alberto Vargas saw the film and the natural beauty of this veteran actress caught his eye. Marly had escaped Nazi-Germany with her Jewish husband [Pierre Chenal] and lived in Argentina where she stared in several films under the name Hana Smekalova. She played a major role in the film Les Maudits, a fictional account of the fate of World War Two Nazi refugees. There is much more to this amazing actress, and Vargas pin-up girl, so please Google her name and enjoy. During the Korean War she returned to Japan to entertain American troops and justly was painted as nose art on a 98th B.G., B-29 bomber.


The 1951 pose of Florence Marly in Alberto Vargas private studio.


Reid Stewart Austin was in this studio many times and displayed [seen] on his left, Alberto had a wall covered with his WWII Esquire “Varga” girls, the ones legally stolen by David Smart. His studio contained a small washroom, and when you lifted the toilet seat, there was a large blow-up photo of David Smart. David Smart died at age sixty, [1952] unable to recover from a very minor operation, and the feelings of joy from Alberto can be fully understood. The man who almost destroyed him was now gone forever, and his Vargas Girls were being reborn in the pages of True magazine and once again painted on the nose of American aircraft in the Korean War. Vargas was back, but still largely forgotten.


Blow-up photo from True magazine March 1952. [Author collection]


She appeared in 23 films and T.V. in the 1960’s. Was blacklisted in Hollywood as a Russian spy, which later proved to be false, however it affected her American movie career.


The 32-year-old Florence Marly, March 1952 True magazine. Married twice, she died at age 59 years, Glendale, California, 9 November 1978.


Painted by the same unknown female Japanese nose artist at Yokota, Air Force Base, Japan, on B-29A serial 42-94022, in the 98th Bomb Group.


Skivvy Girl became the third Korean War B-29 inspired from a True Girl by Alberto Vargas.


The April 1952, True Girl by Vargas was another sunny blonde knockout, born 5 November 1931, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, named Marilyn Ardith Waltz. [Author collection]



The twenty-year-old was a pin-up model/actress who answered the Variety ad requesting new models, and its possible Alberto took some images to finish her painting. The above free domain was taken by Ace advertising photographer Hal Adams for the April 1954 Playmate. This is what Alberto saw, sketched, and painted just three years earlier.


Page 45 True Girl by Vargas, April 1952. [Author collection]


Marilyn Waltz first appearance in Playboy magazine for February 1954 issue under the name Margaret Scott. She appeared in a number of men’s magazines in the 50’s including the above taken for a British pulp. Her sole movie actress appearance came in 1954, a very obscure film titled “Love Me Madly.” She became a more successful TV commercial actress appearing in several ads, and then owned a successful real estate firm in Southern California. In 1993, she moved to Medford, Oregon, working in real estate and retiring in 1993. Miss Waltz died at age 75 years on 23 December 2006, in Medford, Oregon.



The Original “Esquire” Varga Girl 1941 to 1947 appeared as the May 1952 True Girl.



From Reid Stewart Austin 1995 phone call – “Alberto had initially used his wife Anna Mae as his main model until late in 1940. He then found a fifteen-year-old petite beauty with glorious flaming red hair, and Jeanne Dean became his primary “Varga” model during 1941 and 1942. She was chaperoned by her mother for the first meeting, where Alberto introduced her to his wife and explained his intentions. Alberto was a perfect gentleman and Jeanne’s mother never played guardian again.


Jeanne first posed in the Vargas apartment at 936 Lake Shore Drive, where Anna Mae was always close by. Alberto preferred petite models as he found their bodies were more evenly proportioned than longer legged ladies. Jeanne was 5’ 3” and her body had an indelible effect on all future Varga girl’s paintings during the Second World War.




Jeanne Dean was born 30 May 1925 in Chicago, where she was working as an usherette in the Studio Theatre when discovered in late 1940. In 1941 and 42 she became the primary model appearing as the Vargas Esquire girl in the monthly magazine plus over 250,000 Esquire calendars published for WWII troops each year. In 1943, Jeanne went to Hollywood and signed a contract with MGM, appearing in five motion pictures from 1952 to 1957. From 1946 to 1950 she returned to pose for some incredible nudes in the Vargas Legacy series.


This is Jeanne in Legacy #4 a 22” by 36” masterpiece titled “Cordillera de Los Andes.” You can find the complete nude image online and reproductions for sale on the internet.


In late 1951, Jeanne returned to pose for Alberto, [girl eight] she was 26 years of age and working on two films which both came out in 1952, “Never Wave at a WAC” and “Voodoo Tiger.” In August 1958, the government of Peru invited Alberto and Anna to Lima for a major exhibit of his girl art. Some thirty paintings were crated and placed on a freighter, including the above True Girl of May 1952. This True painting original did not return to the United States until 1990, where it sold for $35,000.00. Someone rich and famous has it today and it could now be worth $135,000.00. Jeanne Dean [Kotler] died from lung cancer at her home in Malibu, age 68 years, 20 August 1994.


Author collection.


The May 1952 True image later appeared in a deck of Vargas playing cards. I suspect this image also appeared on aircraft during the Korean War, however I could never find any photo proof, and I do not have a large collection of Korean War nose art. [Over to you American experts]



The Ninth and last TRUE Girl by Vargas, appeared in June 1952. This beautiful lady posed as a Miss and appeared in True as a Mrs., the mother of a new baby boy.




The last True Girl became Miss Maxine Avis Ewart, born 22 February 1929, in Los Angeles, California. In 1949, she was a student attending the University of Southern California, winning two beauty awards and Miss Pasadena in 1950. In 1951, she answered the Vargas ad in Variety magazine and was selected for the last True Girl painting.


In 1951, Miss Ewart posed for Alberto and a few months later, [October] learned she was pregnant. The father Frank Gifford and Miss Ewart were married on 13 January 1952, and a son Jeffrey Scot Gifford was born on 15 June 1952, two weeks after his mother appeared in True magazine. The full story of Football great Frank Gifford and his three wives can be found on many websites if interested. In the late 1960s, Johnny Carson [Tonight Show] discovered his wife Joanne was having an affair with ex-NFL star Frank Gifford, and this led to divorce in both families. Miss Maxine Avis Ewart [Mrs. F. Gifford] died on 6 December 1998, in Fairfield, Connecticut, at 69 years of age. In the mid 1990s, Reid Stewart Austin estimated this original painting of Mrs. Maxine [Frank] Gifford could possibly sell for as much as $150,000.00. Lies, sex, and fame, sell for big bucks. This original 20” by 30” painting is believed to be in the Charles G. Martignette estate collection, and could be auctioned off in the near future.




The Frank Gifford family in happy times, Christmas 1963 [free domain]



Original True Girl by Vargas, page 45, June 1952. It is possible this image also appeared as aircraft nose art during the Korean War. [author collection]


The Nine Forgotten Vargas Girls 1951-52


October 1951 – Miss Gwen Caldwell, [1927- living] actress, [three films] pin-up model. Korean War B-29 Nose Art painting “NEVER.”


November 1951 – Miss Susan Ames, [born Suzanne Marguerite Ainbinder, 31 Dec. 1931 – 6 June 2008] actress, [seven films] pin-up model, Opera dancer.


Dec. 1951 – Miss Irish McCalla, [born Nellie Elizabeth McCalla, 25 Dec. 1928 – 1 Feb. 2002] T.V. actress, [Sheena 1955-56] pin-up model, artist who also painted nude ladies. Korean War B-29 Nose Art first painting named Phippen’s Pippins, later became “Baby San.”


Jan. 1952 – Miss Autumn Rice, [born unknown, age given as 21, name unknown] pin-up model. Possibly became an actress.


Feb. 1952 – Miss Mara Corday, [born Marilyn Joan Watts, 3 Jan. 1930 – living] actress, [ten films] pin-up model. Playboy Playmate 1958.


Mar. 1952 – Miss Florence Marly, [born 2 June 1919 – 9 Nov. 1979] actress, [23 films and T.V.] pin-up model. Married twice, blacklisted in Hollywood for a number of years. Korean War B-29 Nose Art painting, “Skivvy Girl” serial 42-94022.


Apr. 1952 – Miss Marilyn Waltz, [born Marilyn Ardith Waltz, 5 Nov. 1931 – 23 Dec. 2006, actress, [one-film 1954] singer, T.V. commercial actress, pin-up model. Playboy Playmate three times – 1954, Feb., 1954, April, and again April 1955.


May 1952 – Miss Jeanne Dean, [born 30 May 1925 – 20 Aug. 1994] actress, [five films 1952-57] pin-up model, original Vargas girl at age fifteen years.


June 1952 – Miss Maxine Ewart, [born Maxine Avis Ewart, 22 Feb. 1929 – 6 Dec. 1998] pin-up model, housewife to famous NFL star [All-American halfback] Frank Gifford.

The Korean War [1950-53] is often called the “Forgotten War” by Americans in publications and historical websites. This was the very first armed conflict of the Cold War, setting the tone for the Soviet-American rivalry, Space Race, and profoundly shaping the world we live in today. Sixty-six years later North Korea and United States continue to mount missile tests and taunt each other with threats of total nuclear war.

In 1946, Alberto Vargas and Esquire, Inc. went their separate ways and many court battles took place in the next four years. In 1948, Alberto published his “Varga” calendar, and Esquire obtained a court order to bar the artist from selling or distributing any product with the name “Varga.” In 1950, a District Court ruled [#10216 and #10217] that artist Alberto Vargas had to sign all his subsequent girl paintings with his full name “Vargas.” The artist and his Varga Girls were dead, and all his paintings were now property of Esquire, Inc. Thanks to American greed, David Smart and Esquire had maliciously taken the Varga Girls and disposed of the creator Alberto Vargas, just what they wanted. Alberto Vargas had nothing to show for his past five years of his work, plus the wartime Esquire Girls were no longer his property. The desperate couple slowly realized they had to start all over again, as Reid Austin said “treading water in an ocean of debt.”

For some unknown reason, [I can’t find the answer] the nine-month series of Hollywood starlets painted by Alberto Vargas for TRUE magazine are lost and forgotten. Even famous art dealer and fine art collector Charles G. Martignette fails to mention the True Girls by Vargas in his publications. Why? Martignette in fact owned a number of these original True Girls, now property of his huge millions estate.

My history on these nine Vargas starlets began in my simple search to find if they appeared as nose art in the Korean War, and yes three in fact were nose art. Two of these ladies are still living, and only one remains unknown. Six appeared in a total of 49 movies and two in a T.V. series. I am a huge fan of Turner Classic Movies and now and then one of these young pin-up girls appears in a movie, however even the TCM historians have no idea they were a Korean War pin-up lady or appeared on nose art. They are truly the “Forgotten Vargas Girls.”

Many thanks to Reid Stewart Austin for his friendship and answering my many questions.


Red or Green

Research done by Clarence Simonsen

There is no possible way to confirm the original colors, and black and white film [British and American] each turned out a different shade of dark colors. Yellow on British film showed up very dark, and so on.
Over 50 years, I have a pretty good guess at what colors look like, etc. Then I just go with the info. I have gathered by interviews, photo collections, etc. If someone offers good proof of the colors, that is what you go with. These young men were fighting a war and dying.

Mat Ferguson of Calgary created this first 416 Cougar, and it was in his photo album, [which I had in my hands] but Mat had been murdered years before, and the nose art info. is lost forever. If you look at the Mat Ferguson nose art paintings, in 416, and 424 Squadrons, his trademark became the background with a large “RED” Maple Leaf. Born in England, Mat was raised in Calgary and very proud to be a Canadian, that’s why he painted the Maple Leaf, and that came from Mrs. Ferguson. The Spitfire is camouflaged with dark green in this area, and I know Mat wanted contrast in his colors, so I believe the large Maple Leaf, [which some people believe was three, it was not!] was dark and light red. No artist would paint green on a green aircraft background unless he wanted camouflage.

In 1940-42 the RAF single-engine monoplanes used Pattern No. 1 [above] and the land scheme was Dark Green/ Dark Earth color.

This Ferguson nose art featured his same Maple Leaf background, which was Dark Red, with a trim the same shade as the cougar skin, tan or light brown. Again, the Pattern No. 1 camouflage should be a Dark Green Spitfire skin in this area. The RAF Pattern was just a guide for the spray painters to follow, and that’s the best I can offer.
The Maple Leaf in circle, on many RCAF WWII bombers was always Dark Red, which by 1945 had replaced the red circle in the British Roundel, today the Official RCAF marking.

The official WWII badge, by British Chester Herald contained a Gold Maple Leaf, surrounded by gold Maple Leafs, only approved for use by RCAF Squadrons in WWII.



Click on the link above.

Research by Clarence Simonsen


This is the front cover of the Royal Air Force “Official Programme” for Saturday, May 20, 1939, Empire Air Day. This would be the last Empire Air Day before the beginning of World War Two. This copy was found in an old book store in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, in the mid-1980, and the front cover contains the signature of Squadron Leader D. H. Carey, who was the R.A.F. Press Liaison Officer for the Empire Air Day, Acklington. The Flying Program has 66 pages, cover to cover, and while the front page of the issue features the color art of three Hawker Siddeley Hurricanes, the contents of the programme are mostly directed at the possibly of war with Germany, the new Vickers Supermarine Spitfire fighter, and the powerful Rolls-Royce Merlin engine.

Vickers Stranraer

79th Fighter Squadron “Wildcat riding a Barracuda fish” (text version)

B-24 Clarence-8

The 79th fighter Squadron was a WWI Aero Squadron [flying training] formed in Texas on 22 Feb. 1918, and demobilized on 15 November 1918. It was activated on 1 April 1933, and became the 79th Pursuit Squadron 6 December 1939. It provided trained personnel for other squadrons and helped in pilot training. From 1940 until the United States entered WWII, 7 Dec. 1941, they flew antisubmarine patrols from Oakland, California, from where they submitted a request to Walt Disney for a squadron insignia.

B-24 Clarence-4

This is the Walt Disney Burbank, artists design, [Hank Porter] sent to the unit who painted a Wildcat riding a Barracuda fish, which represented the West Coast antisubmarine patrols of the then titled 79th [Composite Squadron]. American intelligence knew that Japanese submarines were up and down the west coast of the United States, possibly operating from secret bases in Canada and Mexico, and that was the reason for the antisubmarine patrols. The year 1940, was also the period of time where Walt Disney artists were creating hundreds of Army, Navy, and Air Force unit insignia for both the Allies at war in Europe, and the still neutral United Sates. This original design is on file at Burbank, California, and would never became the official insignia. The composite squadron became the 79th Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942, and arrived at Kings Cliff, England, on 11 January 1943. The new official insignia became a Tiger’s face, with one paw grasping a red and black lightning bolt, emitting six red flashes. The Disney insignia was forgotten, and never flew combat with any American unit during WWII.

B-24 Clarence-5

B-24 Clarence-6

Somehow, the Disney insignia made its way to Salbani, India, and was painted as nose art on Liberator Mk. VIII, serial EW258, in 1944. It flew at least 37 operations [missions for Americans] in RAF No. 356 Squadron. The nose art replica painting was donated to Airdrie Nose Creek Valley Museum in 1995.

B-24 Clarence-7

This image was taken in December 1944, one of three PL60046-PL60049 and PL60051, showing RCAF WO1, H. C. Irvine taking with the local people.


This is an update from another research done by Clarence Simonsen when Barry Kennedy shared these pictures from his father’s collection.

The updated story is here.