Research and story by Clarence Simonsen
All rights reserved
World War Two aircraft nose art has conventionally always been undervalued in serious aviation research material because it is seen merely as humorous, political, or heraldic in design. The nose art images used by the Luftwaffe in WW II included all of the above, and some can be strongly linked to British symbols and early events in aviation combat history.
The German national colors “Black-Red-Gold” originated in the arly nineteenth century. They were officially replaced in 1852, but remained and continued to be honored by common German people until the Weimer Empire restored them again to official national colors in 1918. Adolph Hitler adopted the swastika as the official logo of the National Socialist party in 1919, and they soon became inseparable. When Hitler came to power in 1933, the three German national colors were banned and replaced by the swastika symbol. Emotionally and psychologically the swastika with colors red, white, and black became the most important German symbol from 1933 to 1945. Beginning in 1933, the German aviation industry designed, tested and produced aircraft on the cutting edge of aviation excellence and technical innovation. The new national German insignia of the Luftwaffe became the “Balkankreuz” or Greek cross which was commonly referred to as the Black Cross. This cross marked the upper and lower wing surfaces and the fuselage. It appeared in many forms from 1933 to May 1945, always painted in Black and white.
The Hakenkreuz symbol of Nazi Germany, the Swastika appeared exclusively on the aircraft tail, painted in various sizes on the fin or across the tail fin and rudder. From 1933 to 1939 the Swastika appeared on the tail inside a wide red band. From 1939 to 1945 the Swastika appeared in solid Black or White, but usually with an outline in mostly White and occasionally Yellow.
The most common use of German political style comic nose art on Luftwaffe aircraft appeared in early 1938 lasted until the end of October 1940. The Nazi Germany political cartoons for a 1938 stereotype of the “Englander” always showed a man carrying a black umbrella and wearing a Bowler hat. Many times a Union Jack flag appeared on the Bowler hat. When P.M. Neville Chamberlain departed for Germany to sign the Munich Agreement in 1938, he carried his “Brolly” gripped tightly in his hand. To the British this visual impact showed confidence for peace, security, and the British way of life. When Hitler invaded Poland, 3 September 1939, the German view of Chamberlain and the British as a whole became a joke, and this appeared on aircraft in a political comic nose art style, as well as official unit Luftwaffe insignia. Chamberlain led Britain during the first eight months, the greater part of the ‘phony war’, and then resigned on 10 May 1940. Today his actions and reputation remain controversial among many historians. For the German Luftwaffe, his resignation triggered the beginning of the end to aircraft political, comic, nose art and emblems.
This Luftwaffe nose art appeared on a Do17 in March 1940. PM Chamberlain glares at the first Lord of Admirality Winston Churchill, while both hide under the PM’s unbrella. In his left hand Chamberlain holds a purse like an old British women. The circle of Britain is under attack from the Luffwaffe, and surrounded by German surface ships and U-boats. [author collection]Simonsen life-size replica painting of German political nose art, donated to Aero Space Museum of Calgary 1994.
This nose art appeared on a Heinkel He-111 during Battle of Britain, 15 August 1940. The Luftwaffe aircrew laughs at P.M. Churchill, the “pants farter” above the gas cloud reads “Like this silly.” [author collection]
Luftwaffe nose artist paints a jockey on a He-111, Battle of Britian 1940. [author collection]
German Federal Archives free domain image – Bomb marked with Churchill Aug-Sept. 1940.
Before and during the Second World War, two animals were primarily identified as the symbols of Great Britain and in general the English people. The British Lion was originally chosen as a Royal Badge in the 1100’s and became the symbol of courage, power, sovereignty, and the favoured heraldic image of the British ruling elite. When P.M. Chamberlain led Great Britain into World War Two, the German Luftwaffe created nose art images and official unit badges which showed the Lion as an unworthly creature. The British Lion became a cowardly beast, with a loud roar and no bite. Part of this was due to the failed Munich Agreement where Hitler made the British Prime Minister look foolish to the rising Nazi power in Germany.
German Federal Archive – free domain- 29 Sept. 1938. Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini and Ciano at the infamous Munich Conference.
One famous Luftwaffe official emblem featured a cowering Lion being attacked by the powerful Luftwafffe Eagle. This appeared on a He 111 bomber in August 1940, the official emblem of 3./KG 1.
When Chamberlain resigned on 10 May 1940, the new Prime Minister of England became Winston Churchill, and with him came the symbol of the Bulldog, which replaced the patriotic lion in nose art and newspapers. This British ‘true breed’ canine found fame in the Roman times, for their vicious fighting ability in sport dog-fights and use in time of war. The bulldog shared a number of charactorists with PM Churchill, a round wrinked face, short but solid in build, gentle in temperment, but vicious in a fight, to win at all cost.
This 1/JG2 insignia featured a “Bonzo” dog running with tongue hanging out, also making fun of the new British Prime Minister Churchill. The Bonzo dog was created by British cartoonist George Ernest Stiddy on 8 November 1922, featured in many children’s books and became very famous.
The German Dachshund also appeared in early Luftwaffe nose art and official emblem art, portrayed as the German counterpart to the British Bulldog. This mixed breed of hound and terrier was developed in Germany for fox and badger hunting, becoming the only breed with true German roots. Some Luftwaffe units incorporiated the Dachshund, shown attacking and crushing a russian I-16 aircraft in its teeth, January 1942 [Z]/JG 5.
The Dachhund was used on five emblems, the most famous showing the dog peeing on a British top-hat, 8./JG 1. This German dog art insignia could never come close to the power of the Bulldog, and the Allies took full advantage of the German dog’s size and shape. RAF nose art images commonly showed the ‘sausage dog’, which frequently appeared with plump or fat Germans, like the over-weight head of the Luftwaffe Reich Marshal Hermann Goering.
On 10 July 1940, units of the Luftwaffe attacked England, and the Battle of Britain had begun. Many of these aircraft carried polictical comic art into battle, in both nose art and unit emblem form. These aircrews were very confident in total victory over England and the Royal Air Force. The famous battle ended on 31 October, with the defeat of the attacking German Luftwaffe, the first turning point of the war, which prevented Hitler from launching a proposed invasion of Great Britain. This also maked the end of political comic art in the Luftwaffe. From this date until the end of WW II, all German Luftwaffe nose and emblem art became German Heraldic symbols.
This insignia appeared in 1940 during the invasion of Norway, seen on a Bf 109T fighter in JG77. From German Federal Archives free domain. The Luftwaffe put a great amount of creative design into their unit insignia which provided a strong esprit de corps amoung the pilots and ground crews.
During World War Two the Luftwaffe squadrons created and carried over one thousand badges, emblems, and nose art images. In viewing over 920 images, not one single women appears in Luftwaffe aircraft art design.
Only two Luftwaffe badges feature a female, and both are a witch. Jagdgeschwader 333 [JG333] has it roots traced back to 1 October 1934, when it first began as an Kustenjagdgruppe I/136, [floatplane base] guarding the Kriegsmarine [U-boat] bases at Jever, North Germany. The original unit insignia became a young witch riding her broom. During the war in Spain, some of these pilots flew with the Legion Condor. On return to Germany these pilots converted to the Bf 109B and were renamed II/JG333 in 1938. The witch has an extra long nose, showing sexy garter belt and human hands in place of her feet. The unit was renamed on 1 May 1939, and became Stab II/JG77, they retained their witch insignia until end of WW II.
The second witch badge appeared on a Luftwaffe torpedo squadron, Erprobungsstaffel Torpedowaffenplaz der Luftwaffe, flying He 111 and Me 410 Gotenhafen/Hexengrund. They were part of the torpedo rooms testing facility built in the Baltic Sea, on Puck Bay, in Gulf of Gdawsk, Gdynia, Poland. Constructed in April 1942, and located in the sea this huge structure remains today. Built by the Lufwaffe and used for air-to-sea torpedeo testing in various aircraft based at the airfield at Hexengrund. They also were used for all new German submarine torpedo testing and may have a connection to the use of one witch on U-Boat conning tower?
Luftwaffe fighter and bomber aircraft artists used almost anything for inspiration in creating unit insignia. Unlike the Allied Air Forces the Luftwaffe never used the image of a female and nudity was forbidden. The strong influence of the Nazi Party idealisted the German female as a wife or mother and frowned on any other useage, including unit insignia or nose art on aircraft. In 1945, Luftwaffe insignia began to disappear or was painted in a very small image. This was replaced by the names of wives or girlfriends which became the dominant nose art or fuselage painting. This was possibly ordered by the commanding officer or the German Propaganda Minister, to show they were now fighting for their families rather than the German Reich?
When you use the Luffwaffe insignia data as a comparison to the Peenumunde A/4 rocket tail art you will find two major differences.
The first known A/4 rocket image of a full front woman’s face occurred on the V2 launch dated 13 June 1942. The next twelve rocket launchs all contain tail art related to space tarvel, good luck in space, three pigs in space, two males, one fully nude, six females, two are fully nude and one is Frau Luna. In just thirteen rocket launches the Germans at Peenemunde have used the female image six times and two are fully nude, plus two males appear and one is fully nude. This use of the nude female was officially forbidden by the Nazi ideology of the German wife and mother, however Wernher von Braun allowed it to be painted on his test rockets.
On 25 March 1943, V19 is launched and this tail art opens up a new chapter which could be classified as German anti-British political art, but it also suggests for the first time the use of the German A/4 as a rocket of major destruction? [I prefer to use the term ‘major’ rather than ‘mass’].
The tail art displays a drunk and depressed P.M. Churchill on his second glass of red wine. Churchill was known to drink champaign, wine, and brandy from early morning to late at night. The threat of the German A/4 rockets being used against the United Kingdom will cause him to drink more to his death.
On 11 June 1943, V29 is launched and this carries the tail art showing the attack on the United Kingdom, Soviet Union, and the United States by a German A/4 rocket. This is the most daming art to this point and clearly shows the new test rocket being used to defeat three major allied powers.
This original photo came to America in 1945 in the HAP-11 BILD photo albums and clearly showed the German scientists ‘intent’ to use the A/4 as a weapon of major distruction against the Allies, including the United States of America.
This is a copy of the original black and white image which was in the original Peenemunde HAP-11 photo archive research album. It came from the private collection of Mr. Frederick I. Ordway III, and after his death  it was donated to the U.S. Space and Rocket Museum in Huntsville, Alabama. This is the only A/4 tail art to show a Peenemunde rocket being used to attack the United States of America.
Frederick Ira Ordway III was an American space scientist and author or co-author of some thirty books and three hundred articles on visionary spaceflight. Upon his death in July 2014, he was the longest-serving member of the American Rocket Society, becoming a member in 1939. He was a technical consultant on the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, part of the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency 1960, and worked for the Marshall Space Flight Center space systems at Huntsville 1960-63. He was a close friend with Wernher von Braun and personnaly knew all of the German Paperclip members in Huntsville, Alabama. He owned a large collection of original oil paintings depicting space and astronautical themes, and I believe he obtained a copy of all of the tail art paintings that appeared in Peenemunde, Germany, 1942 – 1944.
When you turn over the above photo image of V29 tail art it is part of the ARFOR Library and Picture Archives created by Fred Ordway III.
The last line states – “Such cartoons were painting on many A4s.” This proves that he knew, possibly in 1945, that this tail art was painted on the A/4 rockets in Peenemunde. Why was this tail art history never published in any of his books or released to the American citizens and world in whole? The full truth may never be known but my repainting of the original A/4 rocket tail art clearly shows six tail art images, V19, V28, V29, V40, V41 and V47 show the German intend to use the A/4 as a weapon of mass distruction. In the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s the image of the secret Nazi scientists brought to American in “Operation Paperclip” was directed at space flight and this tail art shows a much different image. In 1958, the original German Peenemunde HAP-11 BILD photo albums, with contains all the A/4 tail art photos, were returned to then West Germany, where today they remain at Munich Deutsches Museum. Out of sight, out of mind.
The 920 images of Luftwaffe insignia painted from 1933 to 1945 provides serious research image material to judge the art painted in Peenemunde by Gerd de Beek from 1942-1944. In viewing over 430 German Kriegsmarine [U-Boat] conning tower emblems and insignia we view and come to the same conclusions.