The aircraft art of US servicemen

Belton Wolf, an American serviceman
Belton Wolf, an American serviceman

The stories of American servicemen based in Chelveston during the Second World War who won the distinguished Flying Cross are being told in a documentary.

The film, entitled Nose Art and Pin-Ups, looks at the artwork and images they had painted on their aircraft.

It’s being released on the 70th anniversary of the start of the United States Army Air Forces bombing offensives against Germany on August 17.

The film explores the various themes of nose art through pin-ups of “gals” back home, as well as some more humorous images of animals and other cartoon characters. Nose art was the name given to expressive images painted on the noses of aircraft used throughout the war.

The film includes an interview with Belton Wolf, a crew member and bomber pilot based at Chelveston.

Made by former BBC Look East producer Gail Downey from Whirlwind Productions, who, worried living veterans were becoming few, self-funded a trip to the US to meet nose art crew members. She interviewed nose artist Don Allen who was a crew chief at an American base in East Anglia. The result is an insight into how the lives of military personnel were made that little more bearable with the morale boost that nose art provided.

Gail said: “These were young men, thousands of miles from home, who faced death every day and they told me the artwork personalised their aircraft and gave them something “to pat” before and after every mission. It was also much easier to talk about “Our Gal Sal” or “Turnip Termite” than plane number 123. People remember names, not numbers.”

It is available to pre-order from www.noseartfilms.co.uk and will be shown in select cinemas throughout the UK. From August 17 it will be on sale via Amazon UK, eBay and a wide variety of museum shops for £15.99.