Fast Forward Semper Fi Nose Art March 23, 2013

Not long after I stripped the plane of her 'Big Ole Brew' fame, our CAF wing gained a new member, Dave Fish. Dave brought to us a new revelation to the use of the B-25 Mitchell Bomber in WWII, that many were used in the South Pacific performing low-level strafing and bombing against the Japanese in the Philippines. His father, Doit Fish, was a Marine Corps pilot belonging to the squadronVMB 611, also known as"Sarles Raiders".  Doit was lost on a mission, along with his crew, after being shot down in the island of DAVO.  On that same mission, Col. Sarleswas also lost with his ship and crew.  It wasn't until the 1950's that the remains of Doit and his crew were found, recovered, and brought back to the USA for proper burial.

Dan Newcomb, researched the ID of our aircraft and found it was actually one of two thousand purchased by the U.S. Marine Corps in WWII and designated a PBJ-1J  (Patrol Bomber, J Class).There are a handful of Mitchell Bombers still in existence that are painted to look like a PBJ, however, this plane is the only one surviving that is authentic in it's title.  We decided to restore the plane and dedicate it to Sarle's Raiders, and pattern it after the plane flown by Doit Fish.

The Marine Corps, traditionally, were not allowed to place Nose Art on their aircraft, however a decision was made that we would break the rules and honor the Corps by titling the plane, "Semper Fi" (short for the Marine Corps motto:"Semper Fidelis"-- always faithful.  

It took me five hours to draw, place, and cut into the frisket, the Marine Corp symbol of the Globe and Anchor. Mike Hohlsmasked it off and sprayed the imron paint in less than a minute. He peeled off the mask and frisket, and viola, Semper Fi was born.  Now all I have to do is add the shadowing of the letters.

Last week we moved the plane out onto the ramp for a Mini Air Show, and the arrival of the only flying B-29 Superfortress, "FIFI". Semper Fi's colors showed keenly in the morning light. She's a beautiful sight.




Nose Art March 21, 2013

It's not always what goes into the artwork that makes it work, but what you choose to edit out.

Twenty years ago, one of approximately 45 flyable WWII B-25 Mitchell Warbirds flew into the CAF in Camarillo. After a varied post-war history (including being designated a corporate aircraft), Our goal was to restore this plane back to flying condition, and contribute to the education and memory of what sacrifices were made by the Greatest Generation.  I am happy to say we are less than two years out from that dream being realized.

We bought her (critically corroded) off the ramp in Florida, from Big Brew Brewing Company; her nose art, though not authentic, depicted it.

By Consensus we decided we were going to rename her "Pride of the Yanks", so hoping I would be the artist to paint the new name I had created a mock up of what the new nose art could look like.  For this to happen we had to remove the existing artwork from the plane's fuselage.  

As much as I hated to do it, it had to be done...  "BIG 'OLE BREW 'n little 'ole you", is now preserved in photographs, and as a memory in the minds of a few. But everything works out for a reason... 

A few years later we would discover this specific aircraft was the last one of it's kind. It seemed there was an alignment of the stars; our whole focus, intention and inspiration would be ignited and magnified by this revelation, and a new spirit would come to life.


Flight Jacket Reunion March 20, 2013

In WWII, young pilots in their late teens and early twenties flew high performance aircraft like the P-38 Lightning, P-51 Mustang, or Heavy Bombers like the B-24 Liberator. These courageous youth wore A-2 flight jackets of sheepskin, goatskin, and horsehidein order to keep them warm when flying at altitude, or as an impenetrable  "second skin" when flying on low level, (high risk) strafing runs over enemy territory.  Often times the pilots would find someone in their squadron to paint the nose of their plane to represent something or someone from their home life, in hopes it would bring them good luck, as they 'stuck-it' to the enemy. On occasion they would find an artist to paint that nose art on their flight jackets.

I have painted a half a dozen jackets over time, each representing some warbird that played a roll in winning the war for the allies. At Monday's event at the CAF where FIFI flew in to Camarillo, I was greeted by the owners of two flight jackets I was commissioned to paint a few years ago; "Lucky Lady", and "Dog Patch Raiders".  This picture shows Gino, and Joe wearing A-2's with my art work on them.  I of course am wearing the jacket "Batlin' Bet", a 50+ mission P-38 or the 15th AAF which had a caricature of my Mom painted on the nose, painted by it's pilot, Lt. Kenny Frost.  

Long gone are those days, however the legacy of these pilots lives on in the concept of the "Second Skin" A-2 flight jackets; especially those rare jackets  with nose art painted on them, honoring planes flown by the greatest generation. To see other items of this nature please check out: /tangents/

Flight: March 19, 2013

Nothing inspires me more than to see the art and design of Antique Warbirds. Yesterday, at the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Camarillo we were blessed to have the worlds only flying B-29 Superfortress land and taxi up to the museum, along with an excort of seven other WWII era Warbirds. It was a sight to behold.