Nose Art
for 1/285 Aircraft

by Tom Sparhawk

Nose Art - Chow Hound

Being rather obsessive in much of what I do, several years ago when I became involved in WW2 air gaming, I thought that the bigger planes - US B-17s and B-24s in particular - would look more historical if they had nose art. After several rather disastrous attempts at painting something about one quarter inch square, I stumbled onto an idea that works fairly well - decals.

My first breakthrough came when I discovered a source for decal paper - Micro-Mark. This company sells small tool for modeling, plus supplies for decals. They are on line at

The second breakthrough was several reference books on nose art - most particular was Vintage Aircraft Nose Art by Gary Valant. This has a good selection of mostly black and white pictures of nose art - mostly taken during the war.

The third was learning to use a scanner and an image manipulation program. I used the Corel Presentations program, but most any would do. With this I could modify and color the artwork.

The final was finding a source of reasonably priced models so I could put together large flights of bombers. This was Spirit Games in the UK. Reasonably priced, even including shipping, and a very nice proprietor.

After the pictures of the nose art are created, I printed them out at four times the size I wanted. This is about two inches square on average. This retains good detail from my color printer, but is not excessively large. I put as many as I could on one sheet of paper. I printed out sixteen (16) sheets of pictures all together.

With these in hand, plus a pot of money and the decal paper, I went to a local print shop that had a color printer. I took the 16 sheets and, two at a time, reduced them by 50%. I then took these eight pages and, two at a time, reduced them by 50% again. These four pages, two at a time, were reduced by 50% again. I ended up with two sheets - each with 8 of the original sheets on it. I copied these again at 100% to have full sheets of decals. No reason to waste the decal paper. After some cutting and pasting I ended up with two full sheets of pictures.

Finally, I took these two sheets and put them on the copier. With the assistance of the worker at the print shop I inserted the decal paper into the machine and presto - with a 50% reduction I had a sheet of decals.

Some of the more advanced copy centers will allow you to bring in a disk with the images on it that can be reduced on the computer and printed directly to the decal paper. Check your copy center for availability.

These MUST be fixed with some spray or they very easily chip off. Once fixed, they can be treated like any other water slide decal - cut it out, dip it in water, and slide it into place.

Now for the hard part. Printers don't print white - white comes out clear. This leads to two options.

  • White Decal Paper - This allows white to appear on the decal, but you need to color the background to match your plane model. Either that or paint VERY carefully around the edge of the picture. In either event, extra work is needed.
  • Clear Decal Paper - This seemed to me like a good solution, but the color is not very dense and it disappears on any dark background. These work well if you are using aluminum or sand color, but otherwise the pictures disappear.

If this hasn't scared you away, there are a selection of nose art for B-17s and B-24s below that I have done up and used on my models. Some are "X" rated, so if you are under 18 you shouldn't look, I guess, but they are part of our military history. Whatever...

In any event, make sure you measure each picture as they are different heights and they will fit on the models in different ways. Copy the pictures you want to a picture manipulation program, go through the steps noted above, and create yourself some really miniature pieces of nose art.

If you are interested in this project, contact me (Tom Sparhawk) as I have quite a few more picture that you might find of use. Conversely, contact me if you create some nose art as I am always looking to increase my holdings. Nose Art - Rusty Dusty

A final note. Micro-Mark advertises decal paper that will work with a color ink-jet printer. I have not tried this paper since my printer does not have the resolution that allow a decent picture of this size. I will soon try this out to print out the plane ID numbers to go with the nose art. Did I mention that I was a bit obsessive?

B-17 Nose Art
Plane Name
Group and Squadron
ID Number
Nose Art
Virgins Delight94BG 410BS 42-3352
Nora 384BG 545BS 42-29529
A bit o lace 447BG 709BS 42-97976
Temptation 96BG413BS 42-30188
Delta Rebel No. 291BG 322BS 42-5077
Pakawalup 457BG ?BS not known
Whizzer 301BG ?BS 42-5419
Spare Parts91BG 322BS 43-38901
Screw not known not known
Shack Bunny 385BG 551BS 432-5914
Fickel Finger of Fate 385BG 42-3335
Chow Hound 91BG 322BS 42-31137
Iza Valiable Too303BG 360BS 42-97254
Lakanuki 379BG 42-5176

B-24 Nose Art
Plane Name
Group and Squadron
ID Number
Nose Art
Slammin' Spammy not known not known
Doodlebug not known 41-24223
TARFU not known 42-109933
Censored not known not known
Wango Wango Bird not known not known
Eight Ball not known not known
Celhalopods not known not known
Shoo Shoo Baby not known not known
Lizzy Belle not known not known
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