This is an original painting on board of the Sky Cowboy nose art from the P-38-J Lightning that flew in the 55th Fighter Squadron which was a group of the 20th Fighter Group. 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 unsigned but was done the same year as the other painting.
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 20th Fighter Group was based at Station 367: King’s Cliffe in Northamptonshire England between August 1943 and October 1945. Assigned to the United States Eighth Army Air Force the Group’s role was to provide fighter support to the ongoing bombing campaign against Nazi Germany. The Group flew 312 missions using the Locheed P-38 Lightning and the North American P-51 Mustang. They escorted bombers and strafed ground targets as well as engaging enemy aircraft. The success with which the Group hit locomotive targets earned them the nickname of the “Loco Busters”.
- 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)