Category Archives: Nose art

The Zodiac Squadron and the Two Virgos – Courtesy U.S. Air Force magazine

2017 Summer Journal V1.3-zodiac

The attached story by Mark Parkhill has been published in the U.S. Air Force magazine this month.

I have permission to use it in the Blog.

Clarence Simonsen


By Mack Parkhill

As my computer screen displayed a stream of photos arriving from a mountain crash site 2,000 miles away, it was obvious what huge strides technology had made since I was a kid living near the site where the crash occurred. My brother and his grandson had climbed to the location of a tragic World War II training accident to retrieve some pieces of “skin” (as the flat metal pieces of a crashed aircraft are referred to), one of which would eventually become a nose art reproduction of a famous B-24 squadron aircraft. They were fortunate to have enough cell phone signal strength to speak to me, as well as send photos of various pieces of wreckage remaining at the site. Based on their transmissions, I was able to determine the possibility of their use for the intended project, almost as if I was with them on the mountain. The lesser-known tale of a military aircraft accident which occurred within the 48 states during the war is part of the larger story of the Zodiac Squadron.

From my personal collection



Collection Clarence Simonsen


Colorised version by Pierre Lagacé

Painting by Clarence Simonsen

More of Brinkman’s nose arts



The Story Behind the Picture – Update by Clarence Simonsen

KB700 needs a little information with the photos. The story of the famous “Ruhr Express needs little repeating, but the photos tell a hidden story, known by few. 

The date is 6 August 1943, and the first Canadian built Lancaster will be christened by the wife [Mrs. C.G. Power] of the Minister of National Air for Air in Canada. A country wide radio audience listened to the voice of Lorne Greene, but nobody knew that the Lancaster was barely able to fly. The pilot [very famous] Sqn/Leader Reg Lane detailed the events in a letter to me during my research. This was a poorly organized public relations exercise and the crew in fact had never flown together. The Lancaster was not finished and the engine instruments were not even working, so he was forced to take-off in a bomber they had never test flown and so on. They flew to Dorval, Quebec, where the bomber was placed in a hangar and completed after one month.

Now the hidden nose art story.

F/Sgt. Burgar – Traynor, Sask., holding Bambi

This crew was made up of RCAF members who were flown to Ottawa and presented with awards, dinners, and publicity events. The mid-upper gunner Fl/Sgt. R.K. Burgar was from Saskatoon, Sask. and while they were in Ottawa, he found a white French poodle puppy, which the crew named “Bambi.” They then arrived in Malton and the big ceremony. Burgar said the white puppy was a major attracted for all the pretty young Malton aircraft workers, which got a few of the crew a date. The crew wanted to name the Lancaster “Bambi” but of course that would never happen.

The crash photo came from ground crew member Delbert Todd, taken the morning after the accident.

This is the only photo I have found that shows the British ditch digging machine that KB700 hit in the dark, bursting the fuel tanks, etc.

The Lancaster KB700 left for England in September, and the eighth crew member was Bambi, who made the trip inside a wool lined warm flight boot, with an oxygen mask fitted over the top. That is all that is known about Bambi, and with the strict British animal control laws…?

If you have missed the whole presentation… click Lancaster Mk. X

Footnote from Clarence

The very last page is an aerial photo of RCAF Station Penhold, Alberta, under construction for a postwar [1953] NATO pilot training base. The image captured the slow destruction of our last Lancaster bombers. I still have a hard time looking at this photo, as I lived close by on a farm, but I was only nine and had no idea.