Names & Nose Art of the 323rd BG’s B-26 Marauders That Flew from the Forest


nose art of b-26 bombers

On the 21st of July 1944, the 323rd Bomb Group arrived at Beaulieu Airfield, replacing their USAAF colleagues, 365th Fighter Group. Whilst under American control, the airfield was known as USAAF Station 408, and for a short time was to be the airmen’s home until August.

The 323rd Bomb Group flew Martin B-26 Marauders, a twin-engined medium range bomber, flying missions over German occupied France to help the Allied forces advance into Europe.

The B-26 bombers of the 323rd were given unique names by their crew as well as distinctive nose art designs on the front fuselages. You can see the names they gave some of the planes at Beaulieu Airfield (USAAF Station 408) below.

323rd bomb group plane names
These are the names given to the B-26 bombers that flew from Beaulieu as researched by Roy Bozych, historian for the 323rd Bomb Group.

Nose art of the 323rd Bomb Group flying from Beaulieu

Airplane nose art came to prominence during WW2, becoming very popular with the US airman. Whilst it started out for practical reasons to help identifying friendly units, nose art design evolved to express the individuality often constrained by the uniformity of the military.

The nose art design and names of the B-26 Marauders seen below will have been painted to help evoke memories of home and peacetime life. They were also said to offer some kind of psychological protection against the stresses of war and the possibility of death.

According to the Wikipedia entry on WW2 airplane nose art, the appeal, in part, came from nose art not being officially approved, even when the regulations against it were not enforced. The USAAF commanders tolerated nose art in an effort to boost aircrew morale.

Here’s a selection of nose art from some of the 323rd Bomb Group that flew from Beaulieu Airfield during WW2.

41-31643 BAT-OUTA-HELL II
41-31643 BAT-OUTA-HELL II
41-31801 BLACK FURY
41-31801 BLACK FURY
41-34969 CREW 13
41-34969 CREW 13
41-35249 DINAH MIGHT
41-35249 DINAH MIGHT
41-34953 FIREBIRD
41-34953 FIREBIRD
41-34997 FLAMING MAMIE
41-34997 FLAMING MAMIE
41-35033 OLE 33 / GAL
41-35033 OLE 33 / GAL
41-31708 THE GREMLIN II
41-31708 THE GREMLIN II
41-31964 HADES LADY
41-31964 HADES LADY
41-34967 HELLS BELLE
41-34967 HELLS BELLE
41-31859 THE HOWARD HURRICANE II
41-31859 THE HOWARD HURRICANE II
41-34857 JILL FLITTER
41-34857 JILL FLITTER
41-34942 JOLLY ROGER
41-34942 JOLLY ROGER
41-34879 LITTLE LULU
41-34879 LITTLE LULU
41-34854 ROCK HILL SPECIAL / LUCKY GRACKI
41-34854 ROCK HILL SPECIAL / LUCKY GRACKI
41-34955 MISSION BELLE
41-34955 MISSION BELLE
42-96212 PATTYS PIG
42-96212 PATTY’S PIG
41-35250 TAIL END CHARLEY III
41-35250 TAIL END CHARLEY III
41-34865 WOLF PACK II
41-34865 WOLF PACK II

All images are credited to the Imperial War Museum, USAAF, with some from the collection of Roy Bozych.

M Heighway

I am not a historian. I am not an archaeologist. I have no association to the Royal Air Force. I am just a local guy with a kid, a dog, and video camera trying to create a lasting resource for other people to enjoy.

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