We all know the Ferrari emblem. Well, that was inspired by the nose art of a fighter plane, which belonged to a man by the name of Francesco Baracca. Certainly this is a rare and incredible instance, but nonetheless this goes to show that nose art was nothing these soldiers took lightly nor anyone else for that matter. Many of them spent so much time in these planes that the planes themselves began to personify the fighters and pilots who occupied them.
That's where the attraction of nose art came from. There was character. Those planes embodied every bit of who they were. They were their livelihood, they were their family as well as their lack there of; they also could be their casket or a ticket home to their loved ones. To those who understood the burdens of war, they found the invincible and fighting spirit of the nose art to be a beautiful juxtaposition in the reality of war.
To those fighter pilots it was their last thread, they got into their plane and knew the best way out of this hell was thru it. Blazoned along the sides of these bombers you would find pin up girls, cartoon characters, patriotic characters and symbols of luck such as dice and cards. The type of symbols that said, "I don't give a fuck, I'm making it out of here alive and I want the enemy to know it." They may have been racy but they were honest. When you're walking that fine line, honest is all one could hope to be.
In teaming up with illustator Ben Kocinski, the goal was to capture the spirit of those fighter pilots and their crew. We hope you find the same beauty in their story as we did.
Photography by Noah Sahady.