The nose of a U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt II displays a painted set of eyes and teeth over the aircraft’s 30-mm. GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon during the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron’s deployment in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve at Graf Ignatievo, Bulgaria, March 18, 2016. (U.S. Air Force)
Air Force fighters and bombers are soaring into the wild blue yonder with new paint jobs, quietly reviving an old tradition.The decorative painting and designs on the noses and wings of Air Force planes may not be as racy as they were during World War II, but they are just as meaningful, the Air Force Times reports.
“This is a tradition across the Air Force," Col. Jeff Smith, commander of the 173rd Fighter Wing in Klamath Falls, Ore., told the newspaper. “This truly is a source of morale and pride, especially for the dedicated crew chief to know that they have a little mark of themselves on the airplane.”
It took 31 days to transform one of the unit’s dull gray F-15 Eagles into a colorful work of art, commemorating the Oregon Air National Guard’s 75th Anniversary, the Air Force Times reported.
“Basically, we just wanted something bold that was going to make an impact,” Master Sgt. Paul Allen, the artist behind the paint job, told the paper. “The guys took a lot of pride in this. ... And people considering coming into the Guard who see this see we have a lot of pride in our unit.”
Nose art caught on among American aviators during World War II with images of racy pin-up models and cartoon characters, according to the paper. It died in the early 1970s when Air Force Chief of Staff John Ryan called for a moratorium on the practice. Today, there are strict rules in place and all nose art suggestions have to be vetted through a rigorous approval process, the Air Force Times reported. The nose art must be "distinctive, symbolic, gender neutral, intended to enhance unit pride, designed in good taste," and abide by copyright and trademark laws, the paper reported, citing a 2015 Air Force memorandum.