Rare WWII Nose Art Exhibition at Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Museum

Share Article

Unique pieces from the history of aviation and World War II are featured in a rare WWII nose art exhibit at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The collection is designated by the National Trust for Historical Preservation as an official project of Save America’s Treasures, which seeks to preserve historic structures, art and published works throughout the nation.

EAA, museum, CAF, nose art

"Sack Time" is one of the more than 30 original pieces of WWII nose art on display at the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wis.

It’s difficult to put into total context today what pressure and danger the Allied crews faced during the war, but this nose art was deemed by commanders as an important part of the morale for these units.

The world’s foremost collection of World War II nose art is the focus of a special exhibit at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Museum through August 2017. The collection, which is on loan from the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) headquarters in Texas, has never been shown outside its home museum before.

Housed in the EAA Museum’s Eagle Hangar, the exhibit includes more than 30 pieces of nose art from actual WWII combat aircraft. The artifacts have been designated by the National Trust for Historical Preservation as an official project of Save America’s Treasures, which seeks to preserve historic structures, art and published works throughout the nation.

Although technically forbidden by the U.S. military, nose art was common on the bombers and fighter aircraft of the era, as most squadron leaders turned a blind eye to the creativity of their young fighter pilots. As was the custom during WWII, some of the nose art depicts slogans or places, but many of them included paintings of young women in poses from chaste to extremely provocative. Some of the most risqué art has been moved to the Eagle Hangar’s “Top Secret” area, which also includes a surplus atomic bomb casing from the end of the war.

“This collection is simply incredible,” said Bob Campbell, director of the EAA AirVenture Museum. “It's an honor to be the first museum chosen by the CAF to receive this priceless collection on loan. It tells a unique story of the common soldier and airman during World War II, how this artwork was created, what it meant to these young men mostly between 18 and 25 years old, and the individual tales of these aircraft that returned along with those that didn’t.”

Each piece of artwork in the collection includes an interpretive panel that describes the aircraft from which the artwork came, its history, and any back-story details to further enrich the visitor experience.

“It’s difficult to put into total context today what pressure and danger the Allied crews faced during the war, but this nose art was deemed by commanders as an important part of the morale for these units,” said Keegan Chetwynd, CAF museum curator. “When we began the plan to move our museum from Midland, Texas, to the Dallas area, we didn’t want these artifacts simply stored away in a warehouse, because it’s important that their stories be told. EAA and its museum was the first place that would display this art with the respect and context that it truly deserves.”

The Eagle Hangar section of the EAA Museum honors the service men and women of WWII, including 20 aircraft and more than 500 scratch-built figures. (See the 360 degree panoramic tour here.)

Overall, the EAA has a collection of roughly 200 aircraft, half of which are typically on display in the 150,000-square-foot museum. The collection spans eras and styles, from Wright Brothers-era craft, to WWI and WWII military planes, homebuilt and experimental planes, racing planes and space-related craft.

In addition to self-guided tours that generally last approximately 2 hours, the museum includes education programs for children and adults. There are four movie theaters within the museum, as well as a “hands on” KidVenture Gallery.

For the more adventurous, Pioneer Airport offers plane rides in a 1929 open cockpit aircraft from May through October. Through EAA’s Young Eagles program, flights for children age 8 through 17 are free.

The EAA Museum and its exhibits are open all year. The museum is included in event admission during the week of AirVenture Oshkosh, which is the EAA’s annual fly-in convention. Known as the World’s Greatest Aviation Celebration, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh typically draws more than 500,000 participants and 10,000 every year and is scheduled for July 24 through 30 in 2017. For more information about the nose art exhibit, the museum or AirVenture, please visit http://www.eaa.org.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Dick Knapinski
EAA - The Spirit of Aviation
since: 11/2009
Like >
Visit website