The Second World War was a golden age of nose art. The practice took on a personal importance to the pilots and crew who would use it as a way to express individuality, evoking memories of home, and perhaps to also provide a small distraction from the trauma of conflict.
Though not officially sanctioned, it was allowed by the upper echelons who regarded it as a good morale booster. It was painted by both professional artists and talented servicemen, with the content varying widely from the menacing or humorous, to classic images of alluring pin-up girls.
One of the most famous examples (and an R&E favourite) is the tremendous Memphis Belle, painted by Tony Starcer, the resident artist for the 91st Bomb Group. Based on a George Petty illustration in Esquire magazine, Memphis Belle was the nickname of a Boeing B-17F Flying Fortress and the namesake of pilot Robert K. Morgan’s sweetheart, Margaret Polk, a resident of Memphis, Tennessee.
As well as inspiring a Hollywood movie, this season Starcer’s Memphis Belle plays a starring role in the R&E AW15 narrative as the main inspiration behind our magnificent Liberty Belle print & Tiger Nose designs. In a landscape which favours ‘quicker and cheaper’ over authentic artistry, we’re taking it back to basics with a paint-brush and a steady hand to restore some of that special, traditional craftsmanship!