Subtlety and finesse would be the words that best describe the Romanian nose art style during World War 2, as opposed to the US Air Force’s „we’ll eat you alive” style.
Nose art – those drawings and writings airmen had on their machines. It started out in World War 1, the art reaching it’s peak during World War 2.
Romanian flyers, be them Fighters, Bombers or Stuka Dive-bombers, had a thing for Disney characters, girlfriends back home and cheerful Romanian sayings. I imagine Soviet infantrymen waving back and smiling after this Romanian Stuka planted a few hundred kilos of death into their trenches.
And if you’re thinking well, it’s nice that they kept a sens of humor during war time, the other side of this Romanian Stuka carried another message.
Some argue these are actually two different planes operating in the same unit – Dive Bomber Group 6. If it’s true, then the ladder should go: funny, funny how?, hilarious, Romanian Stuka Squadron bffs.
That’s pretty much it on deadly flying postcards, let’s talk women. And not the naked type sprawled across US bombers to distract enemy Fighters, but the kind that make your imagination run wild.
I’m talking about names, goddammit! Lucia, Jenny, Sybille, Ileana, Nella, Domniţa, Getta, Nina, Alice, Nadia – names that get your gears working faster than a Bf 109’s. You know for sure they’re all beautiful, sexy, intelligent women and that they can make one hell of a sandwich too!
Jenny & Sybille from the book „Cruciaţi ai înălţimilor” (Sorin Turturică), Getta – „Misiuni de sacrificiu” (Alexandru Armă, Sorin Turturică), Bich, Nadia II, Ileana, Nina, Nella, Lucia, Alice, Domniţa,
Just in case things were getting too emotional and romantic for you, here is a picture of fighter ace Ioan Di Cesare (Fighter Group 7 & 9) ready for take off in his Bf 109 named after a racing horse. He bet and won on „Hai fetiţo!” before deployment, so taking her good fortune with him was a no brainer.
Next to the five bars highlighting some of his personal victories, you might have noticed a few letters stacked one over another – IDC in this case, from Ioan Di Cesare, duh. Flyers from Fighter Group 7 used monograms to give their machines that extra personal touch. This doesn’t qualify as traditional nose art, but it’s worth mentioning.
Here’s one more from Fighter Group 7 – it’s obvious by now that these guys enjoyed spending quality time with their planes between missions.
And now for the main event: Walt Disney characters! These weren’t just your usual personal markings drawn on a few planes – Donald, Mickey and the crew were official logos of entire fighter units of the Romanian Royal Air Force. Why? Because American culture was hip in Romania back then too and because it was funny as hell for grown men to shoot down other grown men in planes painted with cartoon celebrities.
While Fighter Group 6 rode with Bambi even after the USAAF started bombing Romanian cities in April 1944, Fighter Group 7 kept Donald Duck on their planes from 1941 until the first few months of 1943, while Mickey Mouse was made famous particularly by the 53rd Independent Squadron assigned to defend the Black Sea coastline in 1941. The IAR 80s and Bf 109s on duty to defend the Ploieşti refineries had Mickey as a co-pilot throughout 1943.
OK, maybe Donald Duck doesn’t qualify as actual nose art, seeing how he was painted on the rear side of the fuselage and all, but life’s too short to get tangled in technicalities.
In the prime of their life, these guys danced more with women dressed in armour-plates and packing heat, and the only cartoons they ever saw were those when the sunset seemed to be bringing Mickey, Donald, Pluto and Bambi to life. They regret nothing!
P.S. I’m no aviation expert, so take this with a pinch of salt and don’t start yelling about stuff. When people start yelling, I jump into my imaginary IAR 81 and go hunting. Also, this is just a glimpse of the Romanian nose art of World War 2. Mentioning it just in case there’s someone out there thinking: „is this all?”. No, of course it’s not.