This is an original painting on board of the Top Hat nose art from the 94th Aero Squadron of World War I. The Squadrons nickname was “Hat In The Ring Gang” after their iconic emblem that graced the fuselage of their French biplanes. This original illustration is the work of Texas artist Ben James and was part of his personal collection. It is one of six original nose art pieces we have available. Each pieces was hand drawn by the artist and then painted in the bright vibrant colors you see her. This piece is signed and dated 2003 on the reverse.
The practice of having a painted insignia or design on the fuselage of an aircraft, usually on the front fuselage, are often referred to as Aircraft Nose Art or Bomber Art. Placing personalized emblems on fighting aircraft began in the early 1900’s with Italian and German pilots. The first recorded piece of nose art was a sea monster painted on an Italian flying boat in 1913. During World War II the use of famous actresses and pinup girls became very popular among the various groups and squadrons.
The 94th Aero Squadron was an Air Service for the United States Army unit that fought in WWI. The fighter squadron was one of the first American pursuit squadrons to see combat on the western front in France, becoming one of the most famous. The pilots flew the French Nieuport 28 and the French Spad XIII, both biplane fighter aircraft. One of the most notable Air Aces from this squadron was Eddie Rickenbacker, who was awarded almost every decoration attainable, including the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross. The Squadron was formed at Kelly Field, Texas on 20 August 1917 and flew until March 14 1921.
- Historical photos are for reference only and are not included with this artwork. Any copyright or trademark of these images remains the property of its respective owner(s)
ARTIST: Ben James (1949-2016)
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States
MATERIALS: Gouache on board
HEIGHT: 26 in. (66 cm)
WIDTH: 24 in. (61 cm)
DEPTH: .13 in. (.3 cm)
CONDITION: Excellent original condition.