Another Oscar winning story by Clarence Simonsen

Soon on this blog…

A trailer…

Crazy Rabbit

Hello Pierre,

Last week I received two emails in regards to the Lancaster with nose art “Rabbit’s Stew” and the serial number KB903 which came originally from Nanton and was used by Dave O’Malley of Vintage Wings, then copied by you. One email came from Mr. Troy Kirby of Edmundston City, New Brunswick, the man who worked on the history of KB882 since 2001. Please find attached the history I sent to him, and you may publish if you wish. It was from him, I learned KB882 was being given to Edmonton museum, a total surprise, but good news.


The Dark Side by Clarence Simonsen

War, Sex, VD, and “Piccadilly Princess”

The Dark Side 1

The Dark Side 2

These flying photos were taken on 18 May 1945, showing the nose art “Piccadilly Princess” on Lancaster NG347, No. 424 Tiger Squadron RCAF, artist was Mat Ferguson from Calgary, Alberta. This appeared to be a normal pin-up girl nose art but in fact it had a hidden message, and the code letter “P” could stand for “Prostitute” while the pin-up girl was a street-walker from Piccadilly Circus, London, England. After hostilities in Europe ended 8 May 45, No. 424 was assigned to No. 1 Group at Skipton-on-Swale, Yorkshire, and ferried British and Canadian troops from Italy to United Kingdom. I’m sure many of these same WWII combat veteran Army troops would soon visit the real Piccadilly girls in London.

The Dark Side 3

Image from Mat Ferguson photo album 2001, showing his normal pin-up girl art taken from Esquire magazine.

The Dark Side 4

During the war squadron artist Mat completed a number of Varga pin-up girls as nose art on the squadron Halifax aircraft, such as this March 1944 “Pistol Packin’ Mama” which became “Hellzapoppin.” In January 1945, Tiger squadron began to convert to the British built Mk. I and Mk. II Lancaster bombers, and three were painted with Varga pin-up girls, including QB-P, serial NG347, “Piccadilly Princess.”

The Dark Side 5 A Veteran at 20

The Dark Side 6

This RCAF ad appeared in the 1 November 1942, issue of Maclean’s magazine and enlistment was 17 1/2 years of age. In one year, many of these young men were fighting and being killed in the massive air war action over Europe. Many would also contact venereal disease, some deliberately to escape the known high aviation operational death.


From their unknown beginning, sexually transmitted diseases [STDs] have always posed a threat to military members throughout history. During World War Two, the impact of gonorrhoea and syphilis greatly affected the fighting strength of  male military personnel, while others deliberately contacted VD to escape high risk combat operations. Yes, there is a dark side to the high casuality air wars over Europe, shared by both Canadians and Americans.  Syphilis became the most feared by military leaders and society because of the symptoms, disfigurement, lack of proper treatment, and the simple fact it was so easily spread by an inescapable human behaviour for sexual intercourse. The origin of syphilis is still not known and disputed by researchers, however most agree it was brought to the Old World by the Spanish sailors of Christopher Columbus resulting from their sexual adventures in the new world.

Early in WWII, [1940] young twenty year old male Canadians in the RAF and RCAF were particularly effected by venereal disease which was contracted by one-night-stands and casual pick-up girls. This produced a variety of official Canadian Government attempts to combat the VD problem, using graphic color basic training films combined with education, prophylaxis, rapid personnel washing after sex, [Pro. Stations in England] cartoons, and warnings on match covers. [Everyone smoked during WWII]

The Dark Side 7

In 1942, new Canadian bases were being established in the area of Yorkshire, England, and this produced an unforeseen effect in the rise of VD. Due to the sudden large demand for sex, prostitutes doubled their price, their time with each customer was decreased, washing after sex was omitted, and the cleanliness of local brothels dropped. On 1 January 1943, No. 6 [RCAF] Group was formed and the RCAF medical staff discovered No. 6 Group of Canadians had a VD rate seven times higher than the other bomber groups in the RAF. There is little doubt that many aircrew deliberately contracted VD to escape death on operational flying, and some later admitted a dose saved their life. In December 1942, the British Government passed a Defence Regulation that any prostitute identified by two males who received VD, had to undergo an examination and treatment. This new law had little effect, plus another VD problem was developing, the Yanks were coming to England.

The 8th Air Force Head Quarters was officially formed at Bushy Park, 15 miles S/W of London, England, on 25 June 1942. The slow build-up of the U.K. American bomber force would take another year and no substantial bomber force would attack the enemy until mid-1943. The sudden large numbers of Americans arriving in Britain in 1943 caused a troublesome increase of gonorrhea and syphilis, and the Canadians would soon be pushed to second for the duration of the war.

In two and one half years of war, 350,000 Americans would serve in U.K. as part of the 8th Air Force and they were the highest paid of all armed forces. Well liked British comedian Tommy Trinder gave his version of the Yanks in England with his line – “Overpaid, overfed, oversexed and over here.” While the good humoured line stuck, it was also partly true. Conditions in wartime England were very harsh, and thousands of British men had been killed in the first two years of fighting. The British women of all ages supplemented their uneasy life with many sexual adventures involving the rich Americans and these liaisons produced over 50,000 marriages. Millions of other love matches were merely commercial transactions for money, food, drink, nylons, and cigarettes. Like the Canadian Government the American perspectives varied on how to combat this alarming high VD outbreak.


The Dark Side 8 V-Gals

The Dark Side 9

The Dark Side 10 Venereal Disease

In Canada, the Canadian Government took out full page ads, this one appeared in the 15 December 1944 issue of Maclean’s magazine. The new wonder drug penicillin [priceless discoveries] has become a magic cure for VD.

Piccadilly Circus in London was home to the British WWII streetwalkers and where the major spread of sexually transmitted disease took place during World War Two.

 The Dark Side 11 Piccadilly Circus

In 1943, the American 8th Air Force VD rate in Britain reached its highest WWII yearly level of 61 per thousand men, which was two times the U.S. rate [28 per 1,000] and six times that of the British Army rate in Britain. The British Army and Navy had very strict enforcement on unprotected sex, including forms which recorded all the info. for medical background. It is interesting to compare the 1943 WWII numbers with 1963-1970 U.S. Army VD rate in the Vietnam War, which was 262 per 1,000 American troops. VD also saved a number of lives from combat death in Vietnam.

From 1941 to 1945 the U.S. Army in Britain VD rate averaged 43 per 1,000 strength. The high 8th Air Force rate was a combination of removal of home life influence, too much to drink, and some aircrew who deliberately contracted VD to escape combat missions and possible death. The true explanations for the sudden higher rates of VD in the 8th A.F. may never be fully known but unprotected sex with the prostitutes of Piccadilly Circus presumably caused the largest increased spread of sexual disease in England.

These British girls soon earned the trademark names – Piccadilly Lilly, Piccadilly Warrior, Piccadilly Commando, Piccadilly Tilly, Piccadilly Virgin, Piccadilly Lady, and Piccadilly Princess.

These prostitute nicknames also appeared on at least 31 bombers in the American Mighty 8th Air Force which flew from bases in England. The 8th Air Force B-24 and B-17 bomber “Nose Art” became an unofficial reminder that unprotected sex with the girls of Piccadilly Circus would get you in big trouble.

The Dark Side 12 Piccadilly Commando


Piccadilly Commando, B-17 serial 42-3057 91st B. G.  A total of ten, 8th A.F. bombers carried this name. This British nude prostitute carries a bomb which stood for the exploding spread of VD, a time bomb.

The Dark Side 13 Piccadilly Lilly II

Piccadilly Lilly II, B-17G, serial 42-37800, 100th B. G.  A total of four, 8th A. F. bombers carried this name. This good time nude British blonde party-girl prostitute looks like an angel, but she will give you VD.



Phil Brinkman was an accomplished commercial artist who travelled North American painting huge murals prior to World War Two. He was drafted into the U.S. Army Air Force as a draftsman since there was no official ‘mural artist’ in the Army. He was transferred to the 486th Bomb Group just before they departed for England and painted the famous B-24 series of Zodiac nose art in the 834th Bomb Squadron. In August 1944, the group transferred to new B-17G aircraft and Phil painted four with impressive female art.

The Dark Side 14 Piccadilly Lilly

This is a copy of the original Piccadilly Lilly sketch done by Phil Brinkman in 1944, and received by Simonsen in 1982. I am still seeking any image of this impressive painting done of a British WWII hooker from Piccadilly Circus.

The Dark Side 15 Vargas January 1944

This gate-fold [center section] appeared as the January 1944 “Varga” [Vargas dropped the “s’ in all his wartime paintings] pin-up calendar in Esquire Magazine.

The Canadian RCAF serviceman soon discovered that British streetwalkers, [prostitutes] had a custom of having unprotected sexual intercourse standing up and “wall jobs” became part of their new wartime vocabulary. The Canadian RCAF aircrew always wore their raincoat while on leave and it was not totally for the British weather. The British street girls wore no underwear and just stepped around the corner for a quick ‘wall job’, while the rain coat covered the sex act from the public eye. One RCAF member informed me how he could never understand why all the men on leave in London were wearing a raincoat in the summer. Then it was all explained to him. In the last year of World War Two [1945] the RCAF VD rate reached the highest in the war with 7.6% personnel infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Some of these young men deliberately contacted VD in order to escape death in the late stages of the air war over Europe. Air Marshal Harris wanted these men charged as malingerers and their flight records destroyed, however the RAF Director-General of Medical Services disagreed and all were treated and released. The Canadian public and mom and dad back home were never informed of the high RCAF VD rate. It is interesting to note, the new introduction of penicillin and the rapid access to treatment [Pro. stations for washing after sex] clearly did nothing to lower the VD rate among Canadians in the RCAF aircrew during the last four months of World War Two. From 1943 to 1945 the VD rate in No. 6 [RCAF] ground crew remained steady, four times lower than that of aircrew.


This RCAF Lancaster Mk. II was named for a Piccadilly prostitute

Replica painted on original WWII Lancaster skin from Nanton, Alberta.

 The Dark Side 16 Varga


In private collection of Capt. Medvies, RCAF, 1 Wing, Kingston, ON.

The Dark Side…

Clarence Simonsen sent me this message yesterday.

Hi Pierre,

This is a story that most WWII RCAF vets will avoid, but some talk freely about it. This could be a book in itself, if you have the time and money to dig around Ottawa. The VD records will expose a dark side, but the death rate was so high for these young airmen.

It’s funny how nose art exposed this hidden truth.

To be continued…

The Dark Side 1

The Squadron Artist by Clarence Simonsen

Hi Pierre, 

Spring is here and I am getting busy. Here is a change of pace story, that proved to be very important in saving RAF and RCAF lives during WWII. The power of cartoons is sometimes forgotten, but their image remains forever in the mind and helped prevent stupid flying accidents. It’s amazing that stunting for a girlfriend, cost a number of pilot lives !

Cheers – Clarence


The Squadron Artist

The Squadron Artist - Copy

There is usually an airman in a Squadron who possesses some measure of cleverness with a brush. It is his job to paint the emblems and mascots of various pilots on the side of their planes. Sometimes the pilot suggests one himself, sometimes the artist suggests one: if he does and it doesn’t prove so lucky he better not be around when the “pilo” gets home. No doubt this strange trade has its opposite number in the German Air Force, but judging from our squadrons score last year, it must be a pretty discouraging job. We know what it’s like to spend a frosty morning blowing one’s fingers to retain some warmth to paint a Kiwi rampant on a field of oats, and if the plane “went for a Burton” the next day it would have been a most discouraging business. The squadron artist is guilty also of those somewhat risqué sketches adorning the walls of the pilot’s rest room, which show a healthy interest in feminine pulchritude, quite in keeping with the average “Erk”.

This appeared in the RAF book titled – “Behind the Spits” published 30 October 1941, from the collection of Sgt. D.W. Gray No. 234 Squadron, RAF, February 1942.

Far too often the RCAF aircrew in WW II received all the hero status and glory, while the role of the ground crews was overlooked by the media and movies. The RCAF Erks [rank below that of corporal] of WW II attended the specialised technical school at St. Thomas, Ontario and passed special apprenticeships before they were posted to an active squadron. No. 1 Technical Training School graduated 50,000 men and women for wartime service. Some of these ground crew processed varying degrees of artistic talent, and they would paint aircraft nose art in squadrons of the RCAF and RAF.

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While conducting hundreds of interviews with ex-ground crew, I learned single men were often posted to the most remote stations of the RCAF in Canada, where they were supervised in their new chosen trade. This appears to be the only division in the ground crew early training and after six months they were posted to an active Canadian squadron or directly overseas. At this point they generally knew intimately the workings of the aircraft and technical know-how of all aircraft systems. These ‘Erks’ worked long and hard hours around the clock, in the changing temperatures of the great airfields located all over the world. In their spare time many of these Erks painted unofficial nose art on the Squadron aircraft. During my research of 40 WW II RCAF and RAF nose artists, I found 16 held the rank of L.A.C., 3 were Corporals, 10 were Sergeants, and 11 were Commissioned Officers. Thirty-four of these men were Canadians and six were British.

I believe it is fair to state 65 to 70 per cent of WW II RAF and RCAF nose art was painted by ground crew members and most were Erks or Plonks. 

The following story appeared in a 1942 issue of Punch magazine in England.

They Just Let Me fly It

By Squadron Leader E. Fletcher-Allen, Royal Air Force

There is a collection of notable efforts by ground crews in our files. But it isn’t only the outstanding jobs that they build up the service. It is the routine, reliable, steady graft, as they say up North, that makes flying secure from preventable faults. “Preventable” is the operative word, said a veteran friend of mine; veteran in all its meanings. He is a Grouper now, and has flown bombers, fighters, and night fighters.

 “What I want to be sure of,” he said at Group Headquarters one day, “is that my bus [he objected to word ‘kite’] is as fit as good men can make her. They don’t need to think what the Hun is doing; only what they are doing and that we rely on them when we are airborne.

And they do.’

He has a few ribbons. “Shared,” he often said, “with the people downstairs who make them possible.”

Whether it is in the United Kingdom or overseas, the same high traditions are maintained by ground crews. I have seen these people at work, and I have seen them at play. I have seen them on their own, and when their pilots have come to talk, and they are an amazing lot. They hide behind stock phrases and expressionless faces. They have the habit of understatement and pretence at stolidity; but they are among the most imaginative, most resourceful of all people.

Should anybody doubt the truth of that statement, let him come, sometime or other, to an RAF station. Let him watch the kites go up, and then, unawares, he may hear a tough Yorkshire type mutter in an aside …..”MINE!” As he opens his first two fingers rather wide behind his back. If the mood takes him, he may swear. But swear or not, he will always grin. He is a humorist.

Preventive accidents and British humor created the most famous RAF pilot in WW II, P/O Prune.


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From collection of Edmonton born Jim Bodman, Wing Commander RAF 1936-48

Anthony Armstrong created the most famous WW II character Pilot/Officer Percy Prune #89008, who was introduced in the first issue of the RAF Training Memorandum [Tee Emm] on 1 April 1941. In cartoon form P/O Prune demonstrated all things that could go wrong if RAF procedures were not followed correctly. The misadventures of this clueless clot would teach thousands of young WW II pilot’s safety issues and possibly saved just as many lives. The P/O Prune finger also produced a special award – “Most  Highly Derogatory Order of the Irremovable Finger.” Halifax Mk. III, serial NR199 served with five RCAF squadrons and for this she received the “M.D.O.I.F. award as nose art.

The Squadron Artist - Copy (19) The Squadron Artist - Copy (18) The Squadron Artist - Copy (17)

In each issue of the Tee Emm, the winners of the “Most Highly Derogatory Order of the Irremovable finger” were published in the column titled ‘Without Comment,’ using the actual Air Force pilots names and events.

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His face would also appear as nose art on many aircraft, including the poorly researched and half painted RCAF Lancaster KB944 in Ottawa. This proud Lancaster has the face of P/O Prune, but sadly has been painted incorrectly for almost fifty years, with no sign of change from the bureaucrats in charge.

Another wonderful book was published by Anthony Armstrong which showed all the RAF ranks and special wartime RAF terms.

The book was titled – “Nice Types” and began —–

“SPEAKING GENERALLY, the Royal Air Force is all nice types. Speaking particularly, some are nicer than others. Speaking even less particularly, others aren’t as nice as some; but you can only mention this to them if they are of junior rank to yourself. If they are senior, it’s best only to think it. Thus No. 977949 Aircraftsmen, 2nd class, Plonk, whose rank is junior to anyone else in the whole Air Force – is never able to open his mouth on the subject.

But he does a lot of thinking.

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These are the ground crew A.C.2 Plonk’s which appeared in the book “Behind the Spits” October 1941, by Anthony Armstrong.

Flight Mechanic [Airframe] Usually known as a Rigger, in charge of the outer part of the aircraft, repairing slits, cuts, and damage to outside.

Slang – Heavies


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Flight Mechanic [Engine]. Is responsible for the efficiency of the engine.

Slang – Heavies, fitter.

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Wireless Operator Mechanic. This, a breed of its own, is often heard to be making funny noises into the microphone.

Slang – Fairies

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Armourers. The most placid specimen of airmen, nothing short of a thousand-pounder will cause him to more than blink.

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The Aircraftwomen

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From the very beginning of World War Two living and messing conditions in England varied considerably depending on which station you were assigned. The pre-war British stations offered a standard that reflected highly on the officers with private rooms, bat boy, and what would be considered normal living conditions. The new war time constructed buildings were mostly the hated Nissen huts, which were always cold, damp, long rows of bunk beds, no running water, and unsatisfactory sewage system full of rats. The ground crew’s straw filled pillow, flat mattress, combined with the lack of proper personnel hygiene, played a major effect on the morale in each different squadron. In some cases this was corrected by squadron commanding officers, but for the most part ground and air crew had to adjust and do the best they could. Most ground crew spent long hours working on their bombers and many constructed a home-away-from-home dispersal tent on the hardstand, next to the aircraft hardstand area. These provided shelter from the British harsh climate and also contained tent art.

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The RCAF ground crew [Plonks and Erks] in England constructed their own bomber dispersal tent structures near the aircraft they worked on. No. 419 [Moose] Squadron was formed on 15 December 1941, at Mildenhall, Suffolk, England. This 1942 photo records the dispersal tent art for the Vickers Wellington Mk. III, “O for Orange” serial Z1083. The Erk squadron artist has painted some risqué nude ladies on the tent walls, which show a healthy interest in feminine pulchritude. Note – the artist has also recorded the names of the crew who fly his Kite on operations.

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This No. 419 Dispersal Tent art taken at Middleton-St.-George in 1943 was directed at Sgt. D.M. Macpherson who was the only Australian member in the Canadian aircrew. The aircraft was Halifax Mk. II, serial JD158, code VR-H and named “Have Another”, with nose art of Kangaroo carrying a 500 lb. bomb. This Halifax was shot down on 17/18 August 1943 during the famous raid to bomb the V-2 site at Peenemunde, Germany. Killed was the crew of F/O Stanley Heard, from Saskatchewan. 

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The ground crew names that kept “Vicky” flying, painted on their hardstand hut.

This “Goldfish” ad appeared in the 2 April 1943 issue of The Aeroplane magazine.

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On 13 September 1942, F/Sgt. Russ Harling was rear gunner on the crew of Pilot Sgt. A.J.A. Cameron, No. 419 Squadron. The Wellington Mk. IC, serial X3308, code VR-O, was damaged by flak on the operation and had to ditch in the North Sea. One of the crew drowned and five were rescued by boat.

Again on 27 February 1943, rear gunner [now P/O] Harling was a member of the F/Sgt. Gray crew when they ditched in the North Sea flying Halifax DT615, VR-P. All crew were rescued and the Halifax was sunk by Royal Naval gunfire due to the fact in was drifting into a sea mine field.

P/O Russ Harling was the only member of No. 419 [Moose] Squadron to ditch twice in the North Sea and twice became a member of the Goldfish Club.  

On 20 July 1943, Russ Harling was given a third special award by his ground crew, when they painted his last ditching on their dispersal tent shack. The aircrew had a 2nd Dicky pilot on board, so eight aircrew appear in the tent wall art. The beards stand for the many hours they spent in the dinghy before they were found and rescued.

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 Photo from P/O Russ Harling – 20 July 1943 The Squadron Artist - Copy (4) 

This painting from the publication “RAF Parade”
October 1944 shows the many types of the WW II RAF.


Now find the following – Fighter Pilo, [pilot] Air Commodore, Chiefy [Flight Sgt.] Flying Brevet [Cloth trade badge on uniform] Kite, Old Man [Sqn. C.O.] Scrambled eggs, [Officers gold braid on hat] and they all form the Mob [RAF].


The Reincarnation of “Nose Art” by Canadian Forces

Written by Clarence Simonsen

In 1933 Austrian-born, German politician, Adolf Hitler was appointed  the new Chancellor of Germany. In the following six years the world watched and waited as Germany became the Third Reich, a single-party dictatorship, based on nazism. In 1936, the British Government began to prepare itself for possible war, forming the RAF Volunteer Reserve, which trained 6,646 pilots [including many Canadians] by 1 September 1939.  The Canadian Liberal Government under P.M. Mackenzie King did little to change Canadian Forces, which remained small, and poorly trained, mostly due to 18 years of reduced defence spending.  King was the most dominant Canadian political leader from 1920 to 1948, but was reluctant to enter war unless Great Britain were attacked. In 1937, King traveled to Germany and met Hitler, the only North American head of state to do so.




He believed Hitler would do good for Germany and not cause any world problems. On 21 September 1937, the Government formed No. 1 fighter Squadron RCAF at Trenton, Ontario, for protection of Canada. Eleven months later the new squadron was ordered to move West to a new constructed airfield located at Calgary, Alberta. They were equipped with six [two were not in flying condition] obsolete Siskin bi-planes of post WW I vintage, and this was the new total fighter protection for all of Canada.




In the same year, the Royal Air Force began advertising for trained pilots to come to England and receive a Short-Service Officers Commission to fly with the RAF. Hundreds of Canadians answered the call, sailing for England and a new career in the growing RAF, while the RCAF pilots in Calgary could not even maintain normal training hours in their ancient aircraft. 

In February 1939, the Canadian Liberal Government began to see the threat from Germany and ordered 24 modern RAF Hurricane Mk. I fighters off the production line in U.K. These modern fighters were placed on ships and arrived one or two at a time at Sea Island, [Vancouver airport today]. They were assembled, test flown, with the first crossing the Rocky Mountains to Calgary on 1 June 1939. It was too little, too late, as before the total allotment of fighters could arrive on Canadian soil, Hitler invaded Poland, 1 September 1939 and the world was going to war. At 11:15 am 3 September, P.M. Chamberlain announced war had been declared on Germany, [followed by the famous ‘Kings Speech’] which was heard by over 1,000 Canadians now serving or undergoing training in the Royal Air Force. Canada officially declared war on Germany 10 September 1939, and three days later the British High Commissioner sent a telegram to Prime Minister Mackenzie King, requesting RCAF units in England as soon as possible. Due to the fact Canada only had a few modern Hurricane Mk. I fighter aircraft and no modern trained pilots [which was conveyed to the British], the Liberal Government could not send any trained RCAF pilots to England in the near future.

The Canadian Government did however wish to have early national presence overseas, and the idea of an RAF unit made up of all Canadians suddenly caught fire.

This touched off some memos, notes, telegrams, and tail-dragging, but no official Liberal Government commitment from Canada. The British did not wait for any Canadian Government approval, and proceeded to form No. 242 [Canadian] Squadron RAF on 30 October 1939. The flow of Canadian pilots from other RAF squadrons began on 5 November 1939, and the first four pilots from No. 242 flew to France on 14 May 1940.




The first Canadian fighter aircraft art appeared on Hurricane Mk I’s  in France, but due to the steam rolling advance of the German Army and Luftwaffe, unit log records were lost, Hurricane fighters were abandoned [the RAF destroyed and left 178 Hurricane fighters in France] and few photos survived. On return to England the Canadians of 242 had very low morale, having lost many in battle, but the new Commanding Officer [legless Douglas Bader] took charge and not only allowed squadron art, designed it himself. Each Hurricane in the squadron [a first in the RAF] received the art of a black 242 RAF boot kicking Hitler in the pants, painted on both sides of the nose area. The Battle of Britain began on 10 July 1940, and during the last week of August, five Hurricane Squadrons join the fray. Two of the Squadrons are Polish, two are Czech, and the fifth is No. 1 [RCAF] Fighter Squadron, which is now operational in modern Hurricane aircraft.  These five new squadron personnel are painting art on their aircraft and the British are not amused, but what can you do when these Allied airmen are risking their life to save the U.K.? You take control, and that is just what the RAF did. In early September 1940, RAF regulations stated

“New Allied fighter squadrons are allowed to paint national insignia on the pilot position of their aircraft, provided is will not exceed 30 square inches in total area.”

That is the reason the images and movies taken of fighter aircraft during the Battle of Britain show art under pilot position. Fact – Canadians in No. 242 [RAF] Squadron and No. 1 [RCAF] Squadron played a direct role in the creation of WW II combat fighter aircraft nose art.


Clarence Simonsen image 1


This July 1941 Star Weekly cover tells the full story, a Canadian Hurricane pilot paints under pilot position art on his fighter aircraft in England. [author collection]

Battle of Britain ace W/C Ian Gleed used the Walt Disney “Figaro” cat on first his first Hurricane [top] and later his Spitfire AAS742. This clearly shows the correct RAF pilot position art combined with the huge impact of Disney movies in WWII.

 Clarence Simonsen image


In a few short weeks this pilot position art moves to the front nose of WW II aircraft and receives the nickname “nose art.” 1940 to 1945 are considered the Golden Age of aircraft nose art, when almost every aircraft carried a hand-painted name or image, and Canadians came a close second to only the Americans in this nose art form. It would take another 64 years before full squadron nose art returned to Canadian wartime aircraft.


Modern Canadian manned aircraft nose art slowly reappeared with Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing helicopters, which became Canadian Helicopter Force Afghanistan [C.F.H.A.]. Beginning on 24 December 2008, six CH-47D ex-U.S. Army helicopters, from the 101st Airborne, landed at X-Ray ramp, Kandahar Airfield,  property of Canadian Forces, and three carried American nose art. The American CH-47D helicopters were officially named “Chinooks” and the Canadians now joined an elite group known as “hookers”. [a slang term for the huge loads they sling]


Clarence Simonsen image 3

Unofficial badge used in Afghanistan “Homeless Hookers”


The general policy of naming all U.S. Army aircraft after Indian tribes, Indian chiefs, or other Indian terms became official on 4 April 1969, [authority Army Regulations, A.R. #70-28]. The pre-production Boeing YHC-1B helicopter made its initial hover flight on 21 September 1961. The new helicopter was re-designated CH-47A in 1962, and given the Indian name “Chinook”, which became official seven years later.


 The CH-47 Chinook was named for the “Chinookan” Indians who inhabited the upper and lower Columbia River in the states of Washington and Oregon. They were coastal bay and river people, dependent on salmon fishing and small game animals for survival. For some reason they lacked the woodcarving development skills of other west coast tribes of British Columbia and Washington, although they lived in the same cultural location.


Their name also extended to the warm wind called “snow eater” in Chinook jargon [1840] and the large Columbia river “Chinook” salmon [1851].


Clarence Simonsen image 4

Chinook Salmon tribal symbol


Chinookan Indian tribe symbol featured the Chinook Salmon which was a sign of abundance and prosperity. They believed the Salmon were actually humans with eternal life, and lived in a large house in the ocean. Each spring, they put on Salmon disguises and offered themselves to the villages as food. When entire Salmon skeletons were returned to the sea, the spirits would rise again and change into Salmon people.


 The cycle could begin again, year after year, a renewal and provider. The Chinook were the first Indians to tell stories of the “Old Man South Wind”, “Snow Eater”, an unusually strong westerly warm, dry wind that sweeps over the Rocky Mountains of Wyoming, Colorado, Montana and is very common in the southwest corner of Alberta, Canada.


The Boeing CH-47C was a special heavy-lift tandem-rotor helicopter first acquired by the Canadian Forces in 1974, officially a CH-147C in Canadian service. Canada uses the designation of aircraft which is almost identical to the United States. The “C” stands for Canada, the next letter for the aircrafts role, H for Helicopter, a dash, and then the aircraft number. Today’s Canadian aircraft numbers are always greater than 100.

The first CH-147C, crashed on its initial delivery flight, while the remaining seven were used extensively with 10 Tactical Air Group, primarily with No. 447 and 450 Transport Helicopter Squadrons. In 1991, the highly versatile helicopters became part of Canadian Conservative [Mulroney] Government economic cutbacks and were retired from the Forces. The seven helicopters were purchased by Boeing, refurbished and sold to the Dutch Armed Forces. Next began a long complex series of cutbacks for our Canadian Forces, which continued year after year under the Liberal Government, [ 4 November 1993, Jean Chretien and ended 6 February 2006, John Turner]. In a little fairness to the Mulroney Government, they had ordered a new Agusta [Italy] Westland [U.K.] joint constructed EH101 helicopter in 1987, to replace the aging Sea Kings and Labradors.

As soon as the Chretien Liberals took power they cancelled the contract and Canadians paid $500 million in cancellation penalties.

Ironically, in the next fifteen years this slowly conditioned our Canadian Forces to years of do-much-more, with much less and less, perfect for bureaucrats, but not wise for troops at war.

Ex-Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hiller, [16 February 2007]  called it  “A Decade of Darkness.” Then suddenly came 9-11, which clearly showed the Liberal Government had failed both Canadians and their Forces, when it came to our military readiness for any war.

Canada did not [could not] participate in the invasion of Afghanistan on 7 October 2001, and would not make any significant troop deployment until January 2002. On 13 February 2005, newly appointed Liberal Defence Minister Bill Graham doubled the Canadian ground troop strength to 1,200, and that is when the unnecessary Canadian death toll began. Chief of Defence Staff, General Rick Hillier advised the government at once on the urgent need for medium and heavy lift helicopters for the protection of Canadian Forces, and even suggested the American Chinook. The Liberal Government of Canada did nothing but continued committing thousands of our men and women on the ground war in Afghanistan, knowing they did not have any Air Command helicopters capable of operating in the hot, high altitude of southern Afghanistan, in support of “their” ground troops. In September 2005, Minister of National Defence, Bill Graham, even acknowledged Canadian Forces did not have all the equipment it needed to deploy to Kandahar, but stated the needed helicopters would be furnished by other allies helicopter ‘pool’. NATO/ISAF had formed such a helicopter pool for ground troop transportation but remained short of medium-lift helicopters. Canada had contributed no helicopters to the pool and the Liberal government was accused of taking a ‘free ride’. True, Canada relied on favours from the U.S., British, Polish, Australian and yes – the irony of all ironies – Dutch pilots flying ex- Canadian CH-47D Chinooks, sold in 1991, and never replaced by the Liberals.  

Another Rick Hiller quote puts it this way –

“Nothing pissed me off more, than being ferried about Afghanistan by a Dutch chopper with its painted-over “Maple Leaf” still visible underneath.”

After four years of war, Canadian ground troops bore the brunt of the fighting in Kandahar, but still faced a complete lack of “Canadian” in-combat helicopter support. The new Tory Government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper, inherited the Liberal created Afghan helicopter problem on 6 February 2006, but continued to rely on their Allies for tactical helicopter support.

[It is important to take note that in May 2006, a Russian trade delegation in Ottawa, offered the Canadian [Harper] Government the chance to purchase the new more advanced Mi-17-V5 combat helicopter.]

The Russian offer was ignored and in June 2006, the Government ordered 16 new CH-147F Chinook helicopters from Boeing. This took care of the Canadian future long-term helicopter problem but did nothing for the present Canadian ground troops being killed on the unsafe Afghan roads.

In short – the present-day Canadian helicopters CH-146 Griffon and the ancient CH-124 Sea Kings [which troops called See Things’ – you had to see the f—–g things to believe them] could not carry useful workloads.  DND had sworn to never fly Russian aircraft with Canadian pilots, and 16 new CH-147F Chinook helicopters would not arrive until at least late 2014. If this trend continued, [and it seemed it would] more and more Canadian ground troops would be killed by roadside bombs, then two brave senior Canadian Officers began to speak out in the press. 

In July 2006, Canadian Lt-Col. Ian Hope, Commander of Canadian Task Force Orion in Kandahar, was quoted as following – Title – “Cemetery Side road: On the Ground in Afghanistan”

“It is quite possible [this lack of transport helicopters] has cost limbs, if not more, because we have had to sustain [resupply troops in remote areas using vehicles] on the ground.” “That has produced a risk that would be reduced if we could take helicopter flights. It does not take a military tactician to know this.”

This was followed by Canada’s senior logistician in Kandahar, [Lt. Col. John Conrad] who sent a clear message to the Canadian Government when he stated

“The Canadian convoys are now in harm’s way almost daily because supplies have to follow the infantry and we have to send those supplies by land. We bid on [available coalition helicopter support] but it is like coming to potluck. Everyone brings a dish and, instead of potato salad, we come with a jug of water. [our allies] help us when they can, but we are at the end of [their priority] list [unless the requirement is close air support or MEDEVAC].” This confirmed Canada was a ‘free loader’.

Both statements were polite, nice, but directly and powerfully worded to inform the Canadian Conservative [minority] Government, the M.P.’s in Ottawa were not allowing Canadian Forces to pull their own weight in ground combat, as they relied on coalition forces to provide helicopter transport. This not only limited the ability for Canadian [including French/Canadian] ground troops to conduct operations, but of more importance, it placed the troops at greater risk of death from land mines and improvised explosive devices. Canada could not even remove its wounded or dead from the battle field by air, unless it called for coalition MEDEVAC support.

This should have opened the M.P.’s eyes in Ottawa, but it didn’t.

It took 21 months of minority government, opposition party political football before any action was announced, and that had to be forced upon them. The Liberal and Bloc Quebecois M. P.’s should hang their heads in shame, as during this time period, Canadian troops [including men and women from La Belle Province] were dying more and more frequently in ever-increasing roadside bombings.  A war zone is not the place for bad French/Canadian politics. The Canadian military death total in Afghanistan gives the cold, hard facts.

Canada suffered the third-highest absolute number of deaths of any nation among the foreign military who served in Afghanistan, and the highest casualties per capita of all coalition countries since the start of the war. 157 Canadians died in the war in Afghanistan. 95 Canadians were killed by improvised explosive devices or landmines, 21 due to rocket-propelled grenade, small arms or mortar fire. 11 were killed by suicide bomb attacks and one fell from a cliff during a firefight. 22 soldiers died from non-combat circumstances.

In total 123 Canadians were killed from hostile enemy action, which could have been reduced or prevented by the American CH-47 helicopter. Early in the war [2003] the U.S. Army found the CH-47 was the more powerful helicopter in the high altitude thin Afghanistan mountain air. The Chinook was an excellent assault helicopter, which could carry more troops, plus moved faster and further than their famous UH-60 “Blackhawk”.

When Peter MacKay became Stephen Harper’s second Minister of National Defence in August 2007, his priority was to jump the queue on the new CH-147F Chinook order, but the U.S. needed them mostly in Iraq, and the answer was ‘No’, you have to wait your turn.

In January 2008, the problem was at last solved, [on paper] by the Manley report, which was an independent panel ordered [October 2007] by the Parliament of Canada. P.M. Harper had wisely appointed former Liberal Deputy Prime Minister John Manley to head the panel. John Manley came to power as a cabinet minister under P.M. Jean Chretien after the 1993 election and had been part of the years of Liberal military spending cuts and he knew the problem had been caused by his party.

This independent panel had no problem getting to the point, [which surprised many eastern Canadians and Quebec opposition M.P.’s] when they minced few words in the key points of their report.

“To improve the safety and operational effectiveness of the Canadian Forces in Kandahar, the Government should secure for them, no later than February 2009, new medium-lift helicopters and high-performance unmanned aerial vehicles. If this necessary equipment is not procured, the Government should give appropriate notice to the Afghan and allied governments of its intention to transfer responsibility for security of Kandahar.”

Finally, faced with this Parliamentary threat and total embarrassment for all Canadians, the Government M.P.’s came together and reacted. In August 2008, the Government of Canada purchased six CH-147D used Chinook helicopters from the U.S. Army under Foreign Military Sales Agreement with the United States Government, for $292 million. The six Chinooks were purchased to meet the immediate need of Canadian troops in Afghanistan, due to the March 2008 Parliamentary motion to extend their Afghan mission until May 2011. The six D-model Chinooks were employed with the U.S. Army [101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” Combat Aviation Brigade], at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, and when the delivery was completed December 30, 2008, three of the six came with their original American nose art.

[To understand what each CH-147D Chinook meant to Canadian Forces, [Air Command] please read the November 2009, article by Chinook pilot, Major Jonathan Knaul, titled “Above & Beyond: Canadian Helicopter Force, Afghanistan, published Smithsonian Air & Space magazine] Also found online. To get his facts published he had to turn to an American institution.

After spending the past 45 years on research, collecting, and repainting replica WW II nose art, including interviews with 83 men and women who painted in war, I feel it is not fair to compare the aviation art in Afghanistan to WW II images. During the Second World War, if a Canadian squadron earned the unofficial title “Hookers”, this would have produced a wide range of nude or semi-nude ladies of the evening with a huge play on words and double entendres. Today Canadians live in a much more politically sensitive world and the personalities of the majority of air and ground crews helped determined a much more appropriate helicopter nose art. That’s what I believed until I learned the truth.

The very first Canadian combat nose art [since 1945] was painted on a 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing, Griffon helicopter in November 2008. This art was ordered removed and censored by the NATO Canadian Officer in Command of all Canadians stationed at Kandahar.

As a direct result of this offensive helicopter nose art, a new formal line of command was formed to permit the use of ‘official’ Canadian aircraft nose art. While this special approval to paint the helicopters was not required by Ottawa, the Afghan Air Wing was required to notify the Department of National Defence on just what artwork personalized which aircraft. Senior Air Command officers also kept a keen eye on just what “nose art”  the aircraft carried. However, one point will never change in time of war, manned aircraft nose art paintings, no matter what shape or name, provide esprit de corps, and most of all the feeling of good luck for air and ground crews alike.  Both the Canadian modified American art and the new created nose art was painted on right [starboard] side between gunners door and pilot position. This was to avoid pilot glare and not interfere with helicopter identification numbers, in line with Air Command regulations. 

Air Command serial number 147201, was delivered 24 December 2008. Originally built in 1968 as CH-47C serial 68-16017, she was converted to a CH-47D in 1988 with new serial 89-00130. This helicopter contained no American nose art but later received impressive Canadian art “Miss Behavin”. [Artist Master Corporal Robert Bannen] 

[all photos 1 Wing – Kingston]

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A photo worth a thousand words – Proud to have served and their Lady that protected them – August 2011.

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This WW II sexy style pose nose art by Master Corporal Robert Bannen is “all-Canadian” and with name Miss Behavin”, and red dress, it could suggest a hidden crew meaning for ‘hooker’? This was the only Chinook painted by M/Cpl. Bannen, and by far the best. The lady pose originated from a poster used in a Quebec City, strip club. [1 Wing – Kingston]

Air Command serial # 147202, delivered 28 December 2008. Originally built as CH-47C in 1967, serial 67-188550, converted to CH-47D in 1984, new serial 84-24181. This 40 year old helicopter came with American nose art “The Magic Bus”.

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[1 Wing Kingston]

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[1 Wing – Kingston]

“The Magic Bus” 147202 was shot down and burnt on 5 August 2010. It was replaced by a leased CH-47D, serial 87-00096 and became Air Command 147207. The nose art was not repainted on the replacement helicopter.

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Crash of “The Magic Bus” 

Air Command 147203, originally built as CH-47C, serial 67-18477, converted to CH-47D, new serial 87-00081.

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The red image of a Bat-winged female devil with spear on #147203.  [1 Wing Kingston] 

Air Command serial 147204, built as CH-47A, 1964, serial 64-13140, served a full tour in Viet Nam with “B” Company, 228th Aviation Support Helicopter Battalion, then operated with Thai Air Force, returned to U.S. in 1983, converted to CH-47D with new serial 84-24154. Had accumulated 3,598 hours as a 47-A, then logged 6,540 hours as a CH-47D, when purchased by Canadians. What an incredible aviation combat history.

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[1 Wing – Kingston]

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[1 Wing – Kingston]

Air Command serial 147205, built as CH-47A in 1966, serial 66-00103. Converted to a CH-47D, 26 March 1986, new serial 86-01650. Came with nose art of the Grim Reaper, which was modified by Canadians [under command of Sgt. Bob Patten, Kingston, Ont.]  given red hockey helmet, stick, and name “2 for Hooking”. 16 May 2011, rolled on landing in Panjwaii riverbed. Four injured, helicopter recovered and returned to Canada.

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[1 Wing – Kingston] 

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The artists took pity on the Toronto Maple Leafs fans and thus painted a red helmet. This could be the insignia of the 2015 Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Recovery of “2 for Hooking”

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[1 Wing Kingston  – after recovery, art returned to Canada] 

Air Command 147206, built as CH-47A 1965, serial 65-08015, converted CH-47D, 2 April 1986, serial 86-01651. Came with American nose art “Jack D Up”.

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CH-147D, 147206, in American markings with American nose art, 651 for serial 86-01651

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[1 Wing RCAF Trenton]

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[1 Wing Kingston] Inside door of 147206 with Canadian artwork in “Jack” theme, Yukon Jack, a Canadian whiskey distilled in Valleyfield, Quebec.

The six used Chinook helicopters with original modified and new ‘nose art’ became the undeniable stars of the Canadians in the new Air Wing and would save countless Canadian ground troop lives in their 31 months of service. While this in-theatre purchase had solved the main Canadian Forces problem, the fact remained, Canada had not added one single medium-lift helicopter to the ISAF pool. In November 2008, DND leased six civilian Russian Mi-8T helicopters from Skylink Aviation, Inc. of Toronto. These contractor-owned [Aero Stan Airlines, Kazan built] were civilian flown helicopters which carried supplies for the Canadian Forces but never transported Canadian personnel. That all changed in May 2010, and Canadian Aviation history may never be the same? Four new Russian military Mi-17-V5 helicopters were leased by DND and painted in sand camouflage, with full “Canadian’ markings, given the Canadian Forces designation CH-178, with serial numbers 178404-178407. Canadian Navy spokeswomen – Lt. Kelly Rozenberg-Payne, stated they were requested by Canadian Commanders for special operations. [This is still shrouded in secrecy for safety of Canadian troops who remain training in Afghanistan] Well, that’s what the DND state? At long last the Canadian Government had added four Russian medium-lift helicopters to the NATO/ISAF transport helicopter pool. Did any of the four Mi-17 helicopters  contain Canadian ‘nose art’? The answer I received from Canadian Officers was “No.” Did Canadian aircrew in uniform fly the Russian Helicopters? No one will answer that question, it is still classified?

At least 3 of these CH-178 helicopters were air lifted to Bulgaria on 18 August 2011, with all Canadian markings covered [taped over] by orders of D.N.D.

More information is required for a new “Canadian/Russian” helicopter painting.

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[photo from Canadian civilian [retired veteran] working on his fifth tour in Afghanistan 2011] 

Air Command serial 147207 CH-147D Chinook was leased from the U.S. Army serial 87-00096, and replaced burnt 147202 “Magic Bus”. This Chinook was returned to the U.S. Army when T.F. Afg. Air Wing stood down on 18 August 2011. This helicopter flew with American art on the front rotor area but never received Canadian nose art.

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[1 Wing RCAF photo] 

Damaged CH-147D 147205 “2 for Hooking” was returned to Canada, possibly to be used as a trainer for the new CH-147F’s beginning in 2014. The other four could not be sold and today are stored at Davis-Monthan, AFB in Tucson, Arizona, complete with their respective nose art. 


The CH-146 Griffon Helicopter Canadian Nose Art

The Canadian Government placed a $700 million contract for 100 CH-146 [Bell modified 412EP] helicopters in 1992. They were received by Canadian Forces from 1995 to 1997, and took the official title Griffon, the name and spelling being adopted due to its use by Agusta-Westland [Bell] which builds the military model 412 under licence in Italy. “Grifone” in Italian means eagle-winged, lion body, methyl bird.

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The January 2008, [Manley Report] Parliamentary threat of Canadian withdrawal from Afghanistan was preceded by a long vigorous Government and DND debate on the deployment of the Canadian CH-146 Griffon helicopter in the intense heart and high altitudes of Afghanistan. In March 2008, a Parliamentary motion passed and the Canadian Afghan mission was extended until May 2011. The Government then signed a contract with the Americans for the six used CH-47D helicopters, but the contract was not announced until August. The use of the CH-146 debate continued until 26 November 2008, when the Canadian Forces announced eight Griffon helicopters would be modified to act as escorts for the six CH-147 Chinook helicopters. The move began on 8 December from Mirabel, Quebec, in CC-117 transport aircraft, which holds three Griffon helicopters.

Serial numbers – 146401, 146414, 146434, 146438, 146465 146478, 146482, were the original Griffons that served in Afghanistan, but more than eight were used, as helicopters were rotated in and out of theatre.

During my research with active Canadian officers serving in Afghanistan, I learned of Canadian Forces “nose art” censorship involving the oldest veteran CH-146 Griffon Helicopter #146401. Joint Task Force Afghanistan Air Wing [Canadian Air Command] stood-up on 6 December 2008 and the first CH-146 Griffon mission flight took place on 6 January 2009. This Griffon helicopter carried the nose art image of the Ace of Spades or “Death Card.” The art work was painted by M/Cpl. Gordon Bennett of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, CFB Edmonton, Alberta, and the idea came from an American comic, “Lady Death.” At once senior Canadian Air Command Officers ordered the art removed and the official story became, the “Double Ace” was painted for bird strikes on the helicopter.

When I read this, I knew at once something was wrong?

The very first Canadian casualty of the Afghanistan War becomes the ‘truth.’ M/Cpl. Bennett should be credited with painting the very first Canadian combat helicopter nose art since 1945, but his work and history has been destroyed. We train young Canadian men and women to go to war and kill the enemy, but their Commanding Officer won’t allow the same aircrew to paint a ‘Death Card’ on their helicopter, because it’s obscene.

The “Lady Death” comic was created by Americans Brian Pulido and painted by artist Scott Lewis. In March 2009, the American Army 82nd airborne Division was stationed at Kabul, Afghanistan. These combat troops wrote to Brian Pulido and requested a special “Death Card” be created for them using the image of Lady Death. The card was completed and mailed to the troops in Kabul, where decks of 52 cards were printed and used against the Taliban enemy. The use of these cards was well known to all troops and inspired M/Cpl. Bennett to create his first helicopter nose art using the “Ace of Spade” image. This nose art represented the new Canadian 408 Squadron Helicopter Force bringing death to the Taliban enemy.

The NATO Officer in Command of all Canadian stationed at Kandahar on 2 December 2009 was Brigadier General Daniel Menard, a well respected family and senior Air Force Officer. The official orders to remove this new helicopter nose art came from B/Gen. Menard. At the same time B/Gen. Menard was having a sexual affair with a much lower rank female subordinate under his command in a war zone. When his sexual secret was exposed, Daniel Menard resigned from the Canadian Military in December 2010.

It is clear to see this senior officer showed much more concern for the Canadian helicopter nose art painting of “Double Ace” and much less for his “Double Standard” concerning  family, military career, and “CANADA?”

Sadly, this historical first wartime nose art painting by M/Cpl. Bennett and 408 [Goose] Tactical Helicopter Squadron, Edmonton, Alberta, has been censored and destroyed by high ranking RCAF Officials, the D.N.D. and our Canadian Government. I believe this was wrong, and for that reason completed the following painting.

This painting was completed on original WWII aircraft skin taken from Norseman Mk. IV, assigned to the RCAF on 9 September 1942 and given RCAF serial #494. It flew most of its wartime career at No. 3 Training Command, Montreal, Quebec. Sold by War Assets on 1 August 1946, it crashed into Allen lake, N.W.T. on 25 August 1947 and remained on the shore line for the next 46 years. Recovered in 1993, it was restored to static display in 1998, and can be seen in the Alberta Aviation Museum today. This original Norseman skin was saved from the garbage bin in 1999, by pilot Tony Jarvis and mailed to Clarence Simonsen.

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 [author painting]

This painting is based on classified facts which may not be correct, and due to the censorship on this helicopter art, no photos could be found? People have the photos but they are not allowed to expose them to the public? This painting honors all members of 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron who served Canada in their first rotation in Afghanistan fall of 2008, and for the forgotten artist M/Cpl. Bennett who made wartime nose art history.

Any corrections or future information, most of all any known nose art photo, would be most welcome by the author.

On 8 January 2009, a Canadian CH-147D Chinook made its debut flight from its base at Kandahar Airfield. For the next 31 months, a number of modified CH-146 Griffon utility Tactical helicopters provided escort and over watch protection for the larger Chinooks.

Did the “Death Card” nose art fly any Canadian combat  operations?

On 6 July 2009, Griffon helicopter 146434 crash landed, killing two Canadians and one British soldier. During the last Canadian rotation in 2011, a very talented Corporal Richard Aucoin  painted five of the of CH-146 Griffon helicopters with “Canadian” Squadron nose art, which showed heavy content of the Canadian “Maple Leaf.”   

[ photo credits – 1Wing Kingston]

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Corporal Richard Aucoin with his Griffon Canadian helicopter nose art “Dragon’s Breath” #146425.

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Griffon serial 146482 “Aggressive Eagle with Canadian Flag. 

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A very talented Cpl. Aucoin and his Griffon nose art

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Griffon [serial ] Gun Slinger Cpl. Aucoin

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Cpl. Aucoin, Popeye with Canadian tattoos – “To the Finish” serial 146414.

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The most impressive Griffon [serial 146410]  which featured the 1 Wing Badge flying bat and the M-134D mini-Gatling gun “BAT OUTTA HEL”. This was painted over and lost.

[1 Wing photo]

The completion of the last operational mission of Canadian Helicopter Force Afghanistan took place on 27 July 2011, ending an incredible 31 months of Canadian tactical aviation history. The most outstanding accomplishment by 1 Wing was the staffing of the air wing under extremely tight time restraints. New pilots were recruited for the Chinook helicopters, many whom had never flown helicopters, quickly trained in the United States and within weeks entered the combat theatre flying operations. New Griffon pilots were also quickly selected and entered combat weeks later. New air gunners where quickly trained for the high-powered M-134D mini-Gatling gun, which the insurgents called “Allah’s Breath of Death.” These Canadians were able to refine new combat tactics, procedures, and techniques which will be passed on when the 15 new CH-147F Chinook helicopters arrive in 2013. Canada’s first expeditionary force with helicopters in the Afghanistan combat theatre saved untold lives on the brutal Afghan roads, and now their nose art is part of the Canadian Forces history books.

Four of the five Griffon nose art panels have been saved and donated to the War Museum in Ottawa. Sadly the most famous “Bat Outta Hel’” was painted over and lost.

Today over 50 nations, [including Canada]  currently operate Unmanned Aerial Systems [UAS] for military activity. The United States, Russia, Israel, Iran and China have large Government manufacturing companies, while other counties like Canada depend on aviation firms, universities and government funded research projects for their military drones.  The world leader is United States of American [U.S. Department of Defense] with over 30 different known types that have been released for publication. What American flies at Area 51 may never be released to the public? They fly over 11,000 UAS vehicles, which come in a new generation of all shapes and sizes, from a 5 inch robotic hummingbird to a monster with a 160 foot wingspan. At this very moment, a young blonde haired American twenty something lady, sits in an air conditioned control room in the United States, and on command she can fly an unmanned aerial system aircraft to any point in the world and take out a target. [The pin-up girl of WW II has moved from nose art to the pilot seat] In 2011, the USAF trained more male and female pilots to fly unmanned aircraft than fighters and bombers combined, a first in American aviation history. The future is here and Canada joined the club in August 2003, with the purchase of six CU-161 Sperwer [Dutch for Sparrow hawk] unmanned aerial systems, manufactured by SAGEM firm in France. The CU-161 Sperwer was used in Afghanistan from 29 October 2003 until 18 April 2009 and became the first UAV operated by Canadian Forces, paving the way for future UAV systems such as the leased CU-170 Israeli built Heron. During its 67 month operation, 36 Sperwer vehicles were used but only four survived intact. The vehicle used a catapult launch, with a parachute and airbag recovery which caused 16 to be completely destroyed when they impacted the ground at too high a speed.  It took two C-130 aircraft to transport the entire system from one point to another. The launch required a ground control station, a transport hydraulic catapult, and a ground data terminal housed in a communications shelter, which had to be transported by a number of mobile vehicles. On 11 August 2009,  four surviving intact and two damaged but flyable vehicles, were sold back to the French Government. Thanks again to the January 2008 Manley report, [which recommended new high-performance unmanned aerial vehicles] the Canadian Government spent $12 million [May 08] and $30 [April 09] for new UAV aircraft, [the Israeli built CU-170 Heron] which highly improved intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for Canadian troops on the ground in Afghanistan. From the very beginning in October 2003, the French built Sperwer proved to be inadequate for Canadian troop protection requirements in Afghanistan. The D.N.D. [Liberal Government] chose badly and wasted taxpayer money for a quick fix to the large number of Canadian troops being killed by the roadside bombs. Forgotten in all this history is the fact the CU-161 Sperwer ushered in the first unmanned Canadian nose art in the Afghan combat theatre of war. Today five replica Sperwer drone UAS have been reconstructed from some of the 32 crashed vehicles. Displayed in Canadian Military Museum’s they tell the official story from DND point of view and totally omit the true failure of the first Canadian use of UAS vehicles, the combat nose art, or the names of the ground crew who painted them? More censorship?

The following images were obtained by 1 Wing H.Q in Kingston, Ontario, and show some of the Canadians UAV art used in Afghanistan. These were painted by members of the 6th rotation, but who were they?

The author would like to hear from anyone who served, painted, and can assist in telling the truth on this rare Sperwer art form in time of war? I believe some of the art work paid tribute to the high crash rate of the inadequate vehicle, but only the artist can reveal that truth.

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The creation of Canadian nose art on the CU-161 Sperwer was a pun on the fact so many of the UAS drones crashed. The Duracell Bunny used the alkaline battery which could function for a longer amount of time. This is Sperwer # 161011 which could not “Keep Going and Going.”

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Wile E. Coyote on his rocket and we all know the end results will be a crash, just like the CU-161 Sperwer will end its infamous Canadian career?

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Nose and tail fins of 161011 contained “Death Head” and Duracell Bunny with “We Keep Going & Going.”

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Serial 161021 was delivered in 2006. [history unknown]

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This most impressive WW II “Betty Boop” nose art appeared on 161027 which crashed after launch at Kandahar on 18 March 2008. Destroyed on ground impact. [artist ?]

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The famous Mad magazine “Spy Vs Spy” serial 161020. Destroyed at Kandahar 10 July 2007, parachute deployed too low, ground impact. 

In the winter of 2012, I painted a memorial to the men and women who served under 1 Wing in Afghanistan. The painting honors the two members killed in action on 6 July 2009, and the total images of helicopter nose art which flew in Afghanistan. This was unveiled by Colonel K. G. Whale, Commander 1 Wing, 10 November 2013.

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Image 1 Wing HQ Kingston, Ontario.

This painting was completed on the original fabric from RCAF WWII Norseman serial 494, which today can be seen in the Alberta Aviation Museum as CF-EIH.

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The painting contains the image of the original “Death Card” painted on Helicopter #146401 by M/Cpl. Gordon Bennett 408 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, Edmonton, Alberta.

The painting took three months to complete, and during this time a special request was received from Canadian Helicopter pilots who flew in Afghanistan. They requested the black silhouette of a Russian built Mi-17-V5, [CH-178] be painted in the dark clouds. The reason given was the Russian helicopter was tough, built for the combat conditions, cheap to operate, and most important, it – “Saved Canadian Lives.”

Five of the above original Afghanistan Helicopter war nose art images were saved and returned to Canada. It is not known it they will ever be displayed or the true history of the combat artist will be recorded for future history?

Art of War

Click here for the article written by Clarence Simonsen on Vintage Wings of Canada.

Clarence wrote me last month and he wanted to share the real story behind the story. At first I was a bit hesitant to post it as well as posting his introduction.

What follows is Clarence’s introduction. This is Clarence’s opinion and not mine. As a Quebecer, I have a different point of view, but I am not someone who will censor what Clarence thinks of Quebec’s history nor its future inside Canada. 


Modern Nose Art Introduction

15 February, is National Flag Day in Canada, a day to commemorate the inauguration of the red Maple Leaf in 1965. The history of Canada is a continuing struggle between the English and French wars, language, religion and gods. This has also turned into a battle of the history of the Canadian flag between the English, French and yes, even the Scottish St. Andrew’s Cross. For anyone interested, the past history of our flags flown in war and peace, makes for an enjoyable lesson in the forming of the iconic red and white Maple Leaf. The Maple Leaf is flown proudly across our country, but no outside the Quebec legislature unless a Federal ceremony takes place.

While the colonization of the Eastern Americas involved wars with the native Indians, French, and English, it also involved the battle between two powerful religions and their gods. This religious war still effects the political makeup of the eastern and western regions of Canada and still has a major effect on the operation of our Canadian Armed Forces today. This fact came to light during my research into the modern history of Canadian Helicopter nose art used in the Afghanistan war, and it came from the words of the men and women involved in this fight for Canada.

Popular legend taught in our schools is that Alberta was opened from the east when the railway arrived in Calgary, Alberta, in 1883. The railway truly spurred the agricultural settlement in southern Alberta and influenced the rural spread of homesteads but many immigrants also arrived by foot, horse, and covered wagon from the Northwestern United States. The 1911 Census of Canada, records the population born in Alberta was 44%, immigration from England and Wales 12%, Scotland 5%, United States 22% and Scandinavian countries 10%, the remainder came from Russia, France, Netherlands, Germany, and Ireland. My mother and father were immigrants to Alberta, born in Big Horn, Wyoming, USA, [Mother] and Holstebro, Denmark, [Father] they settled in the Calgary area and I was born on 24 March 1944. Today many Canadians believe that more Americans live in Mexico than any other foreign country, and that is not correct. A consulting tracking firm reports that 500,000 Americans live in Mexico, and 300,000 are living their illegally. In all of Canada we have over 750,000 Americans living as permanent residents, and 130,000 of these Americans live in the City of Calgary, Alberta. That’s over 10% of the population and the greatest American influence of all Canadian cities. So, don’t be surprised to see more flags with the “Stars and Stripes” flying in Calgary. Part of my family roots are American and my relatives live in Wyoming and Montana which shares much the same farm/rancher life style as southern Alberta residents. The most world famous Calgary Stampede was inspired by a famous American cowboy and special religious groups like the Mormons of Utah came to settle in Alberta for free land and freedom of their faith.

In June 1962, I joined the Canadian Army [Military Police] Provost Corps and after training six months at Camp Borden, received my first posting to the City of Kingston, Ontario. I soon learned, with no just cause, I was being labeled too cowboy, conservative, and a western red neck by some eastern Canadians. March 1963, I was ordered to the Capital City of Ottawa, and the increasing terror attacks of the FLQ and boy did I receive a shock of the events taking place in my Canada. These violent attacks, bombings, bank robberies, kidnappings and murder would follow my career into the Metro. Toronto Police Force in the 1970s. The rise of the political “Parti quebecois” became the new alternative to the terrorist activities and the FLQ lost momentum and appeared to die out. However the hard core separatism in Quebec would fuel the forming of the Bloc Quebecois, which would dominate the political scene of La Belle Province for two decades. During my nose art Afghanistan research I learned the Liberal Government had not prepared our troops for war and then came 9/11. Our men and women were deployed to the war in Afghanistan and had no helicopters for air support. The in-fighting of the Bloc quebecois, NDP, and Liberal parties delayed the purchase of proper air support, and more and more Canadian troops were murdered by bombs on the roads of Afghanistan. Today the past Liberal errors and lessons learned in Afghanistan have been corrected by the Conservative Government of Stephen Harper, and that is not a political statement, it is from the men and women who fly the new helicopters and modern equipment which will save Canadian lives in the present and future.


Today the people of Quebec can look back to the tragic events of the FLQ and “Revolutionary Army of Quebec” to understand they were the very same as fighting the radical Islamic movement in Canada today.  The Muslim terror attacks in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, and the Charlie Hebdo murders in France are just the beginning of a long war, involving another religion, god, and belief.  Quebecers do not need another referendum on separation from Canada, they need a strong Canadian Government that will be able to stand up to this new terror tragedy.  Immigration is more Muslim in the province of Quebec, which means another religion, language, and god is attacking the French/Canadian way of freedom and life. In the beginning of the Afghanistan War, the  Bloc quebecois party was more interested in separation from Canada, then saving the lives of French/Canadian soldiers serving on the ground in Afghanistan. They don’t care, but I do.

The events of the 1970 October Crisis ended the violent acts for Quebec sovereignty from Canada, and today the  people of Quebec should be concerned with their new Canadian neighbours and the fight against radical Islam. In October 2015, the large population of Quebec will once again decide the political climate in all of Canada, and this time it may well become another October Crisis.

In 2011, I was contacted by a Toronto publisher and ask to write a modern history on the use of aviation aircraft nose art. What began as a simple request soon turned into a surprise and new political history lesson on the Canadian war in Afghanistan. When I completed my story, it was read by members of the air helicopter war in Afghanistan and I was quickly informed it was too political, would not be allowed by the Department of National Defence and it could harm the Canadian troops still serving in the war zone. I then edited my story, and found it was now politically correct, but far too long for the publisher in Toronto. I then offered the story to Dave O’Malley of Vintage Wings of Canada, and it was published on their web site with title “The Art of War.”

I now feel it is the proper time to publish the original uncensored history.


The original uncensored history will follow later on. This post will not accept any comment from readers because I don’t want to start any debate on this blog.






Milton Caniff and the “Winco’s Lady”

Written by Clarence Simonsen, edited by Pierre Lagacé

Milton Caniff and the “Winco’s Lady”

Newspaper cartoonist Milton Caniff was the best in giving true life to his characters in both storytelling and illustration. His comic strip “Terry and the Pirates” began on 22 October 1934, based in China, which had been at war with the Japanese for years. Terry Lee is a teenager that matures as the strip goes on, later he joins the U.S. Army Air Force and becomes a pilot.

Madam X - Terry and the Pirates

The adventure strip becomes involved in fighting the “invaders” which were drawn by Caniff as Japanese, but the name was never used as the New York Daily News publisher did not want any politics to appear in the comic strip. The early daily newspaper strip was based around a sexy, cold, pirate queen named Dragon Lady, who is continually involved with clashes against Terry Lee and his pal Pat Ryan. As the [Japanese] invaders attack China, Dragon Lady becomes a resistance leader and turns from enemy to ally of Terry. Caniff decides to replace Dragon Lady with an American girl named Burma, [1936] which had much more appeal to Americans. The new girl Burma was based on a prostitute Miss Sadie Thompson, from the play “Rain” by Somerset Maugham.

 Madam X

This is the 1921 cover art from the book which American “Burma” was drawn by Caniff in the style of prostitute Miss Sadie Thompson. It is interesting to note that Caniff had drawn his first original female character Dragon Lady, based on actress Joan Crawford who played prostitute Sadie Thompson in the 1932 movie “Rain”, which featured her cold but beautiful looks.


Dragon Lady and Burma became close friends and good time girls in the comic strip, however each had a distinctive and totally different personality. The Dragon lady was very high class and unapproachable, while Burma was the sexy American pinup girl everyone could enjoy. In 1939, Caniff switched the lead character from Dragon Lady to Burma, plus drew a pinup for each of the girls. The many requests for the Burma pinup drawing soon left Caniff with only a stack of Dragon lady pinups which he continued to sign and mail out until 1945.

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Burma and her Caniff autographed pinup images would have a major impact on aircraft nose art from 1939 to 1945. At this period of time the Hollywood pinups such as Betty Grable, and Rita Hayworth were creating small fortunes for the publicist, so Caniff joined the trend and it had a staggering effect on early Allied aircraft nose art beginning in 1939. The British Commonwealth Air Training Plan was beginning in Canada, training thousands of young men, including Americans. It is impossible to measure the total effect this generated on the males in training, however it helped the early war effort, two years before America entered the world conflict in December 1941.

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The 1939 Dragon Lady pinup – mailed to RCAF member in training at the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan 1945 – author collection.

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Most of the requests for pinup girl art created by Milton Caniff came from Americans, however he also had a strong following in Canada, which began in 1939. This pinup was requested by LAC J. S. [Red] Harlock #R275946 in the RCAF taking gunnery training, course #94  at No. 3 Bombing and Gunnery School at MacDonald, Manitoba. This was created by Caniff  for the 1939 Dragon Lady Christmas card which featured topless Chinese serving girls.

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The cold but beautiful pirate queen “Dragon Lady” based on the natural  looks of actress Joan Crawford from 1932 movie “Rain.” During the war, it was hinted Dragon Lady was in love with Pat Ryan, but she was never willing to give up her Chinese empire for an American.


When America entered World War Two, after the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the real life adventures of Terry and the Pirates became evident to all Allied nations. As America prepared for massive training, the Camp Newspaper Service was formed which allowed civilians to submit material. Milton Caniff began to draw a free strip which did not include the “Terry” main characters but featured all the bad girls [Dragon Lady] and other characters from Terry and the Pirates newspaper strip. The first free strip for Camp Newspapers appeared in October 1942, and instantly became a huge hit with all serviceman. The free strip soon reached over 3,000 Camp Newspapers, including Army, Navy, and Air Force Camp Newspapers in Canada.

One of the members of the newspaper syndicate complained that they were paying big money for the strip Terry and the Pirates, and now Caniff was using the same characters in his free strip for the Camp Newspapers. Caniff was called in and told to stop using the Terry characters immediately,  but to continue drawing a strip for the war effort, just change the name. Caniff then created a free strip for the Camp Newspapers called “Male Call” featuring a new innocent lady, but sexy as hell called “Miss Lace.”

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Caniff pinup “Miss Lace” 1943


Miss Lace was not based on a movie actress or pinup girl, she was totally the creation of Milton Caniff and would always turn the tables on the hot pants G.I. or high ranking officer. Each set of three or four art panels contained a gag line, mostly with a military angle, and many were very raunchy for that period of time. The artistic power of Milton Caniff and sexy Miss Lace would even reach across the Ocean to England, and Canadians of the RCAF flying in RAF Bomber Command.

Allan Chester Hull was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, 19 April 1919, immigrating with his family to Canada, educated in Vancouver, B.C., and Ottawa, Ontario. From 1932 to 1936 he served with the Cameron Highlanders in Ottawa, then entered the Royal Military College at Kingston, where he rose to become top cadet as Battalion Sergeant Major. Due to the Canadian declaration of war, his class graduated early and he enlisted in the RCAF on 1 October 1939, winning his wings and commission in 1940.  He next served as a flying instructor in Canada and always took a keen interest in the aircraft and personnel under his command. F/L Chester Hull served as a distinguished bomber pilot with No. 420 Snowy Owl Squadron until 15 July 1944 when he was posted to No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron at Middleton St. George, England, as acting Wing Commander.  No. 428 Squadron flew the RCAF’s first Canadian built Lancaster X operation on 14/15 July 1944, when seven aircraft bombed St. Pol, France.

Lancaster Mk. X. serial KB747 was built at Malton, Ontario, in late October 1943, flown to England where it was modified for combat. In June 1944, this new bomber was assigned to No. 428 Squadron and flown to Middleton St. George, where she received code letters NA-X. The Lancaster was shared by squadron Flight Commanders “Gunner” Gonyou and F/O Mackie, who named her for a popular 1943 movie “Madame X” starring Gladys George.



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author collection

The ground crew nose artist dropped the “e” in Madame and painted the famous Milton Caniff 1943 pinup “Miss Lace” as the nose art lady. The new Madam X was soon identified by all squadron ground and aircrew as “The Winco’s Bomber.” The new Canadian Lancaster aircraft were spray painted black on bare aluminum skin with no use of primer paint. This image clearly shows the flaking of the new black paint on the nose area.

Lt. General [retired] Chester Hull sent me a copy of his log book and the story of how the Miss Lace nose art had to be painted on his Lancaster twice, due to the flaking black paint.

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Lt. Gen. Chester Hull collection

W/C Chester Hull log book

28 July 1944                        NA-X                      Hamburg, Germany

3 August 1944                     NA-X                      Bois de Cassan [Paris]

4 August 1944                     NA-X                      Bois de Cassan [Paris]

5 August 1944                     NA-X                      St. Leu d’Esserent, France

7 August 1944                     NA-X                      Caen, France

8 August 1944                     NA-X                      Chantilly, France

Promoted to Wing Commander, C.O. of No. 428 Squadron.

15 August 1944                  NA-X                      Soesterberg, Germany

8 September 1944             NA-X                      F/A, A/A, Bombing. [training]

9 September 1944             NA-X                      Air Testing [training]

11 September 1944          NA-X                      Fighter Affiliation. [training]

12 September 1944          NA-X                      Dortmund, Germany

30 November 1944           NA-X                      Duisburg, Germany.

On the 29 November 1944, W/C Chester Hull had been informed he was awarded the D.F.C. for leading his squadron on 26 operations, for a total of 137.15 hours combat time. His calm confidence and obvious ability had created a high standard of morale in 428 Squadron.

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Lt. Gen. Chester Hull [photo] on 4  December 1944, with missing nose art of Miss Lace,
50th Operation.

During the operation to Duisburg, Germany, on 29/30 November 1944, Lancaster ‘Madam X’ became engulfed by St. Elmo’s blue fire, which danced over the complete bomber for 20 minutes.  When they landed at base, the complete artwork of “Lace” and name Madam X had been stripped from the nose of the bomber. The ground crew painted over the bare skin section where the nose art had been with black paint and added the words “Beautiful Take-Off” in place of Miss Lace. Over the 50th operation white bomb they painted the ribbons worn by the Wing Commander including his new DFC. A mechanic explained – “The Winco wouldn’t have felt okay if he had his gong and his lady didn’t.”

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Ground crew mechanic member of Lancaster NA-X “Madam X” at Middleton St. George, Yorkshire, April 1945.

Lancaster “Madam X” completed a couple of operations before the nose art of Miss Lace was repainted on her nose. W/C Chest Hull flew her to Soest, Germany, on 5 December 1944, and the new nose art of Miss Lace made her first trip. The Lancaster NA-X was last flown by W/C Hull on 15 December 1944, to bomb Ludwigshaven, Germany. On 1 January 1945, 25 year old Chester Hull was promoted to the rank of Group Captain, and became senior operations controller of No. 6 [RCAF] Group of RAF Bomber Command. His Lancaster KB747 went on to complete 72 operations until the end of hostilities in Europe.

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author collection

This image was taken after KB747 had completed 67 operations, late April 1945. It clearly shows the new black painted nose area and the new second nose art of Miss Lace. You can see the chalk marked outline for the next three bomb operations. The Lancaster KB747 will fly only five more operations until the end of war in Europe.

Beginning in September 1944, the Canadian War Committee began plans for joining the Americans in the invasion of Japan. On 20 October 1944, this new air element of the Canadian RCAF contribution was code named “Tiger Force” by the RAF and the first deployment would involve only two Canadian bomber squadrons, No. 419 and 428 both based at Middleton St. George, Yorkshire. [On 12 July 1945, this was increased by six addition RCAF bomber squadrons].

No. 428 [Ghost] squadron had the honor to be the first RCAF squadron to fly the new Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X on an operation, when seven [KB737, KB704, KB758, KB725, KB742, KB705 and KB739] bombed St. Pol, France, on 14/15 July 1944.

On 25 April 1945, No. 6 [RCAF] Group took part in the last offensive operation of World War Two, an attack on two coastal batteries on Wangerooge Island, on the Eastern tip of the Frisian island chain. The last aircraft to return to base was Lancaster KB843, NA-D, “Dolly” from No. 428 Squadron, piloted by Flying Officer David R. Walsh. The crew were – Ted Taylor, Norm Pratt, Arnold Lindsay, Dave Walsh, Jim Hope, and Ken Daley, and when they touched down at 2036 Hrs. the Canadian Bomber war had ended.

 Now the invasion of Japan was about to begin and “Madam X” would be part of the new air bombing campaign.


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Delbert Todd photo 31 May 1945

With the end of hostilities in Europe, No. 428 squadron had been selected as part of “Tiger Force” and the first bomber squadron to return to Canada, for reorganization and training for the attack on Japan. The exodus of Canadian bound bombers began on 31 May, when Air Marshal Harris and McEwen journeyed to Middleton St. George to witness the departure of No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron. The above photo was taken by 428 ground crew member LAC Delbert Todd, showing Harris speaking to all members of Ghost squadron. He stated – “You leave this country, after all you have done, with a reputation that is equal to any and surpassed by none.”

The first Lancaster to take off became KB891, NA-F, [Fearless Fox] with pilot F/L S. V. Eliosoff, followed by thirteen other Canadian bombers.

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LAC Delbert Todd was ground crew to Lancaster KB848, NA-G, with nose art “Fightin’ Pappy”
and he captured the take off of his bomber on 31 May 1945.

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The crew of KB848 were – Pilot “Binding” Biden, F/O Don Carr, F/L Herb Farb, Sgt. George Laoney, P/O Jack Galloway, and Sgt. Ernie Wilkenson. On 8 June 1945, KB848 and eight other Ghost squadron Lancaster aircraft landed at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. She was originally named “Hollywood Caravan”.

Note – today this original KB848 nose section remains in the collection of the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa. I’m positive they have no idea this was the nose art and she flew 30 operations with No. 428 Squadron. How can our “Canadian Smithsonian” make such a mistake?

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KB843, NA-D, “Dolly” lands at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. F/O David Walsh was the last bomber pilot to land on 25 April 1945, at 2036 Hrs,  ending all WW II operations. [David Walsh collection]

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KB864, NA-S, “Sugar’s Blues” at Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, 8 June 1945. F/L R. Laturner pilot. [David Walsh collection]

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KB781, NA-U, Yarmouth, N.S., 8 June, Pilot P/O G.A. Johnson, “Lily Marlene” [D. Walsh collection]


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 KB744, NA-J, pilot F/L D. R. Brown and crew arrive at Yarmouth, N.S. on 8 June 45. [David Walsh collection] Flown to Pearce, Alberta, struck off charge 13 May 1947.


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The RCAF welcome ceremony held at Yarmouth 8 June 45, then the crews received 35 days leave. The Lancaster aircraft were prepared for the invasion of Japan, beginning 1 January 1946.


The American atomic bombing of Hiroshima on 6 August 45 followed by Nagasaki on 9 August, resulted in the Japanese Government acceptance of the Allied peace terms on 15 August. The official signing took place on 2 September 45 and RCAF “Tiger Force” units were disbanded on 5 September. The Canadian Government decided to place the majority of the veteran WWII [Tiger Force] Lancaster Mk. X aircraft into long-term storage in Western Canada. The RCAF picked an abandoned base at Pearce, Alberta, ex-No. 2 Flying Instructors School as the first point of arrival. On 8 September 1945, 83 veteran Lancaster aircraft arrived at Pearce, Alberta.

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author collection from Ray Wise

On 5 September 1945, the RCAF posted four mechanics from No. 10 Repair Depot at Calgary, Alberta, to ex-No. 2 Flying Instructors School at Pearce, Alberta. The NCO in charge was Cpl. Edge, LAC Cook, [in cockpit]  LAC Wyers, [hands on hips] and LAC Ray Wise, [hand on Lancaster prop]. The bomber is KB864 “Sugar’s Blues” from No. 428 [Ghost] Squadron, and the date is 10 September 45. This famous bomber would never leave Pearce, scrapped in 1965.

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author from Ray Wise collection, after first snow fall in October 1945

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Cpl. Edge, [cockpit]  LAC Wyers and Cook on Lancaster wing tips, Pearce, 10 September 1945.

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Each day the ground crew of LAC Wyers, Cook, and Wise had to climb into each of the 83 Lancaster aircraft and start the four Merlin engines, then let them warm up. That’s 332 engines running every day. This is the most famous Canadian built Lancaster Mk. X, KB732, “X-Terminator” which completed the most operations at 84 and two Nazi German fighters shot down. Ray Wise took this photo on 10 September 45. Left is LAC Wyers, middle NCO in charge Cpl. Edge, and right LAC Cook. Struck off charge by RCAF on 19 January 1948, scrapped. This replica life-size nose art was repainted by Simonsen on original WWII Lancaster skin and hangs in Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Nanton, Alberta.

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LAC Wyers in cockpit of No. 428 KB760 NA-P [P for Panic] and behind is NA-F, [Fearless Fox] KB891. Both are scrapped on 16 January 1947. The replica of KB760 Lancaster NA-P is today in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, painted incorrectly. Why would my Canadian Government hire people who can’t get our RCAF WWII Lancaster painted correctly, and it’s been displayed like this for the past 51 years?

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NCO in charge at Pearce, Alberta, Cpl. Edge in cockpit of Lancaster KB893, WL-X of No. 434 Squadron, “Xotic Angel, 10 September 1945. She is converted to a postwar 10 M.P. Lancaster and will crash at Goose Bay, Labrador,  on 25 April 1952, killing four.

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Simonsen replica nose art hanging in Nose Creek Museum, Airdrie, Alberta

Lancaster Mk. X, KB747, NA-X, “Madam X” was one of the 83 aircraft that arrived at Pearce, Alberta, on 8 September 1945. Miss Lace was flown by pilot F/O E. T. Lewis and parked, she would never leave, struck off charge by RCAF on 19 January 1948 and sold for scrap.

Today this replica painting completed by Clarence Simonsen hangs in the Military Museum’s of Calgary, Alberta. It is painted on original WWII Lancaster wing panel skin from the Bomber Command Museum of Canada at Nanton, Alberta. It honors Lieutenant General Allan Chester Hull C1256, whose career spanned 40 years, and reached the second highest Command position in our Armed Forces. The 6′ 4″ pilot who flew Miss Lace eleven times in WWII, passed away on 9 April 2012.

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The “Winco’s Lady”