Av you heard the story of Avgirl?
Avfuel’s Avgirl evokes the spirit of another era—the popular nose-art of World War II. At the time, it was common practice for American and British aviators to don their aircraft with back-home beauties. These became iconic light-hearted renditions known the world round.
These past 25 years, Avfuel has sponsored numerous WWII aircraft for use in airshows, museums and other aviation events. Why? Because we understand the educational importance of preserving the history of aviation.
To honor those who served and to remain true to the era, Avfuel wanted to develop its own nose-artwork in the WWII style. Commissioning the work of Greg Hildebrandt, a respected artist of the nose-art genre, Avgirl was created in 2007. She’s a reminder of an important piece of both American and aviation history—true to her time, keeping the spirit alive.
The History of Nose-Art
Warbird nose-art dates back to World War I with extravagant insignias. However, it wasn’t until World War II—the golden age of nose art—that it became a personalized morale-booster.
Before pilots ever started painting, they glued pages from popular men’s magazines, such as Esquire, to the nose section, fuselage and tail sections of their planes. From there, nose-art was born.
Not only did nose art help identify aircraft, it also unified the crew and gave them a way to rebel against authority (nose-art was not officially approved by the establishment, though little was done to discourage it). The art reflected the attitude of the time—positivity toward the war effort, patriotism and even propaganda.
At the height of WWII, nose-artists were in high demand and paid quite well for their work—ranging from civilian artists and talented amateurs to those working in Disney studios. Artists were asked to commission a number of types of works, such as the dominant pin-up theme (often in a Vargas-style or imitating movie stars); cartoon characters from comic strips and Disney; slogans using hometown, state or wives’ names; or intimidating artwork. This gave pilots some comfort when fighting their war.
The pin-up became an image central to nose art—an image representing free-spirited and daring times. She boosted morale, unified teams and provided comfort in a time of turmoil. She became an iconic image of patriotism and comradery—fighting the good fight against evil to make the world right.
In today’s aviation culture, the fascination of nose-art is well and alive as artists—such as Greg Hildebrandt—are commissioned to create reproductions or WWII inspired nose-art. In fact, aviation and history enthusiasts can visit nose-art galleries and studios.
University of Arizona (n.d.). Through our parents’ eyes: Military aircraft nose art. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
Airplane Nose Art (2016). Home: Airplane nose art. Retrieved March 28, 2016.