Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sheer Madness"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sheer Madness"

Design Requirements and Capabilities of the B-29

In late 1939, the Army Air Corps issued a formal specification for a "superbomber", capable of delivering 20,000 lbs of bombs to a target 2,600 miles away at 400 mph.

The winner of the competition was Boeing, and its B-29 Superfortress. It was one of the most advanced bombers of the time, with innovations such as a pressurized cabin, a central fire-control system, and remote-controlled machine gun turrets.

In wartime, the B-29 was capable of flight up to 31,850 feet at speeds of 350 mph. Designed as a high-altitude daytime bomber, the B-29 flew more low-altitude nighttime incendiary bombing missions.

As part of the World War II military buildup, 3,970 B-29s were built during production at four assembly plants across the United States.

The Superfortress was a popular plane for nose art during World War II, as seen in the examples below.

Nose Art Painted on Military Planes

The inscription of art work on military planes dates to World War I, when paintings were usually extravagant company or unit insignia. However, regulations were put in place after the war to stymie the practice.

As the United States entered World War II, nose art regulations were relaxed, or in many cases totally ignored. WWII would become the golden age of aircraft artistry.

Artwork was typically painted on the nose of the plane, and the term "nose art" was coined.

Nose art was a morale booster, and those in daily combat needed that boost. Facing the prospect of death on every flight, the crew deserved all of the encouragement, and smiles, available to them.

The art on the plane unified the crew, and identified it, and made it unique from all of the aircraft in their unit or on their base.

Pin-ups represented a dominant theme on the noses of WWII bombers and fighters. Artists often mimicked Vargas-style "fantasy girl" pinup art on the military aircraft they painted. Aircraft names like Lady Eve, Forbidden Fruit, Heavenly Body, Our Gal Sa, Miss Behavin, Double Exposure and Picadilly Lilly were based on pinup girl art.

But other subjects were also popular, such as cartoon characters, on aircraft such as Super Wabbit, Ruptured Duck, and Thumper.

Hometowns and states were also frequently used, on Miami Clipper, Memphis Belle, Carolina Moo, Arkansas Traveler and others. Names of wives of the crew, sweethearts, girlfriends, and mascots were frequent topics. Other bombers had nose art that was intimidating to enemies, on planes such as Surprise Attack and Axis Nightmare.

B-29 Nose Art from World War II

Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Fast Company"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Fast Company"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sweat'er Out"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sweat'er Out"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Southern Comfort"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Southern Comfort"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sheer Madness"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sheer Madness"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Little Gem"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Little Gem"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Straight Flush"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Straight Flush"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sic 'Em"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Sic 'Em"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "The Outlaw"
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "The Outlaw"

B-29 Nose Art on B-29 Surviving Aircraft ... Photographs from Our Archives

Nose art on the B-29A Superfortress "Raz'n Hell" in Atwater, California

Nose art on B-29A "Raz'n Hell" in California
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Peachy" at Pueblo Weisbrod in Colorado
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Peachy"  in Colorado
Nose art on B-29 Superfortress "Bockscar" S/N 44-27297 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio
B-29 "Bockscar" in Dayton, Ohio
Close-up view of B-29 Superfortress "Enola Gay" nose art
Close-up view of B-29 "Enola Gay" nose art
B-29 Superfortress "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force, with CAF flag and nose art
B-29 "FiFi" of the Commemorative Air Force, with CAF flag and nose art
Photo of nose art on the B-29 Superfortress "Tinker's Heritage" S/N 427343
in the markings of the 57th Weather Recon Squadron on display at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma City
Photo of nose art on the B-29 Superfortress "Tinker's Heritage" S/N 427343
B-29 Superfortress "Sentimental Journey" nose art - in Tucson
B-29 "Sentimental Journey" nose art in Arizona
Nose art on the B-29 Superfortress "Three Feathers" located at the March Field Air Museum in Riverside, CA
B-29 Superfortress "Three Feathers", S/N 44-61669
Nose art on the B-29 Superfortress "Legal Eagle II" located at the South Dakato Air Museum
Nose art on the B-29 Superfortress "Legal Eagle II" located at the South Dakato Air Museum
Nose art on the B-29 Superfortress "Hagarty's Hag" located at the Hill Air Museum in Ogden, Utah
Nose art on the B-29 Superfortress "Hagarty's Hag" located at the Hill Air Museum in Ogden, Utah