th bomb Group was composed of four squadrons, the 494 th, 495 th, 496 th, and 497 th Bomb Squadrons. They operated from Stansted Mountfitchet, England from February through September 1944, where the majority of these color photographs were taken. After the invasion they relocated to Cormeilles-en-Vexin which was just outside Paris until April 1945, finishing the war in Florennes Belguim. The Group was assigned to the Ninth Air Force and operated the Martin B-26 B/C. Most mission assignments were tactical targets in support of ground operations, the Group was very active during the invasion of Normandy and the ensuing breakout. These photographs display a selection of nose art applied to the Marauders.
Most USAAF aircrew applied names to their aircraft, and many featured accompanying artwork as well. “Valkyrie” of the 497BS features particularly professional examples of both.
This Marauder was 42-95875 assigned to the 495BS. Her port side carries her mission markers along with the name “Bunny’s Honey” …
… while the starboard side of 42-95875 carries the name “The Buzzard”. One has to wonder how many aircraft carried nose art or inscriptions on both sides, the markings on the unphotographed side which could now be lost to history.
The work of a talented artist, this is 42-95952 of the 497BS “You’ve ‘Ad It”. Airmen were conscripted from all walks of life, resulting in professions and trades from every part of society being represented in the ranks.
Often the aircraft carried humorous nicknames, this is “Facsimile” of the 496BG, which advertises “All the Comforts of an Airplane”. Many of the 344th’s aircraft featured very professionally applied lettering.
“Johnny Come Lately” shows off an impressive mission tally but no artwork. She was serial number 42-95896 assigned to the 497BS.
The 344th must have possessed a professional signmaker in their ranks, as evidenced by the quality layout of the logo on “Rosie O’Brady”.
Two ships from the 495th ready for take-off, “Rosie O’Brady” (Y5-P) in the background and “Lak-a-Nookie” (Y5-O) in the foreground.
A series of shots showing the “Terre Haute Tornado” 42-95906 of the 497Bs over time. Here she is after completing four missions.
The “Terre Haute Tornado” again, showing Lt. Jack Havener in April 1944 with his finger in a shell splinter hole. While the Marauder enjoyed to lowest combat loss rate of any USAAF bomber type, they were not invulnerable to enemy fire.
The “Tornado” again, showing an impressive mission tally and painted-out invasion markings on her wing.
Another spectacular example of nose art, this is 42-95903 “Hard To Get” of the 497BS.
Photographs taken at the Air Zoo, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The 322nd Bombardment Group (Medium) was composed of the 449
th, 450 th, 451 st, and 452 nd Bomb Squadrons. Their initial combat operations were as part of the Eighth Air Force operating from Bury St. Edmonds, England. They operated Martin B-26 B & C Marauders during the spring and summer of 1943, when photographers from LIFE Magazine took these color photographs.
A group shot in flight gear in front of a B-26B of the 450th BS, Pappy’s Pram. This photo shows the USAAF B3 sheepskin jacket to good advantage, along with other details of equipment and gear. Given that all these men are posing with cameras and show no insignia or markings on their gear they may well be the LIFE photographers who took this series of photos.
Marauders of the 322ndBG taxiing into take-off position. The red surround to the national insignia was authorized only during the summer of 1943. Note that the side codes and insignia are painted in the same Neutral Gray color as the undersurfaces to subdue the markings.
Nose art of 41-18022 “El Diablo”, ER-U, assigned to the 450th BS. Modelers note the hard demarcation between the upper and lower surface colors as well as the chipping on the nose wheel door.
Details of the defensive armament are visible as this B-26B taxies by. There were three gunners located in the aft section of the B-26 – a tail gunner, a dorsal turret gunner, and a gunner operating single hand-held .50 caliber guns in the lower fuselage to defend the beams.
A fine study of Lil Joe II of the 452nd BS in the air. The Olive Drab paint used on the upper surfaces was notorious for fading to a number of different shades, this was particularly apparent when component manufacturers used different paint mixtures. This B-26B shows significant wear and chipping to her finish, as well as evidence of touch-ups around the cockpit and ventral turret areas.
“Colonel Rebel” of the 449th BS in the air.
A clearer shot of “Colonel Rebel” taxiing on the ground. She was a B-26B, serial number 41-18289.
Some Marauders were fitted with additional forward-firing .50 caliber machine guns, aimed by the pilot and serviced by the bombardier. This is reportedly the starboard side nose art of 41-31744 of the 449th BS, which carried the name “Hank’s Yanks” and mission tally on the port side.
A formation of 449th BS Marauders with 41-31757 “We Dood It” in the foreground. Three-ship groups formed larger squadron and group sized formations to concentrate their defensive firepower for mutual support.
Nose art of the 450th BS “Fightin’ Cock”, showing twenty mission markings as well as two decoy runs.
Nose art of the 449th BS B-26B 41-31767 “Ginger” showing nineteen mission markers and six decoy runs. Another study in uniforms and flight gear, the pilot is seen wearing a “flak jacket” and apron, designed to protect against shrapnel but an obvious liability in the event of a water landing.
Ginger’s pilot and co-pilot pose in the cockpit for the photographer, showing details of the glazing. One might be tempted to think of the upper surface color as a uniform Olive Drab, but study of close-up shots such as this one reveals several different tonal variations to the paint as well as areas which have been re-painted.
A formation photograph of Marauders from the 320th Bomb Group’s 441st Squadron. Modelers note the variety of camouflage and markings, remaining paint where the cheek gun packs have been removed, and the extensive oil staining under the nacelles.
A beautiful study of B-26F 42-96322 of the 441st Squadron.
Although not the highest quality photo, it is comparatively rare to have photographs of both sides of an aircraft – let alone in color.
A 441st Squadron formation banks away while their target burns in the background.
Another 441st Squadron ship, this is 41-34891 “Missouri Mule”, a B-26C. The red cowling faces and propeller hubs are a Group marking.
Thumper II is another 441st Squadron ship. She is B-26C 42-10778.
Here is a close-up of Thumper II’s nose art, note the mission markers extend to cover the landing gear door.
“Bell Ringer” was B-26C 42-107534. One of the cheek gun fairings remains in place on her port side but does not carry a gun.
A close-up of “Belle Ringer” nose art and scoreboard, which also extends to the landing gear cover.
A 442nd Squadron B-26G seen from above, showing fading and wear to her olive drab uppersurfaces.
Most of the 320th Bomb Group’s 444th Squadron carried shark’s mouths in addition to nose art applied by the crews. This is B-26C 42-107733 “My Darling”. Her formation number was 99.
Another 444th Squadron Marauder with the shark mouth is 42-10782 “Ol’ Folks”, which carried formation number 98.
Photographs taken at the Air Zoo, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Not all R4D’s were camouflaged. This is the aircraft of Rear Admiral Osbourne B. Hardsion, Chief of Naval Air Primary Training. His two-star flag placard is visible beneath the pilot’s window. (80-G-K-5297)
Another Navy R4D in a natural metal finish, this one is assigned to the Naval Air Transport Service.
Another mission frequently assigned to the Dakota was casualty evacuation, as being performed by the Royal Air Force example seen here.
A patient being transferred to a Skytrain with invasion stripes. This photo provides a good view of the boarding ladder and inside of the cargo door.
A similar view of a U.S. Marine casualty being evacuated from Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands.
Not the clearest of photographs but some interesting markings with yellow and red identification panels. An earlier “55” aircraft identification number has been removed aft of the yellow 25.
A paratrooper poses in front of a rather weathered C-47, the nose of which has been repainted. Compare the size and positioning of the Troop Carrier Command lettering with that of the photo of the paratrooper from last week’s post here: https://inchhighguy.wordpress.com/2021/06/09/douglas-c-47-r4d-skytrain-dakoda-color-photographs-part-ii/
42-92862, a Skytrain of the 32nd Troop Carrier Squadron.
Sad Sack hauling cargo is the subject of this nose art.
Puddle-Jumper displaying some interesting details of propeller markings. Note the white trim to the carburetor intakes. One has to wonder if the nose art is intentional or the victim of an over-zealous removal of another marking. (LIFE Magazine)