Sgt Charles CHESTNUT
22nd Bomb Group, 33rd Bomb Squadron
Charles Chestnut was an aerial gunner who joined the 22nd Bomb Group’s 33rd Squadron in the spring of 1944 as part of the replacement crew of Lt Francis Chaplain, one of the original B24 crews when the group traded its B26s for Liberators. At some later date he also flew with Capt Louis Perraud’s crew. Chestnut’s artistic abilities was soon recognised and he began painting 33rd Bomb Squadron B-24s with stunning nudes. His highly skilled and talented execution suggests that he had some prior art training but details are as yet unknown. In fact very little has been uncovered about Sgt Chestnut beyond the fact that he painted about 20 nose arts on his squadron’s Liberators and at least one B25, the personal mount of the 22BG’s CO Col Nicholson.
In some instances, such as “Our Sal III” and “Ole Tomato” he appears to have painted out the previous nose art in order to apply his own renditions. His early paintings embellished olive drab aircraft like the first “Round Trip Ticket” but his best examples went on to the shiny natural metal finish of later B24 replacement ships, including the replacement to the previously named aircraft.
All of Chestnut’s artworks were painted onto the right side of the nose thus allowing the group’s Red Raiders insignia to be added to the left side.
If anyone has photos of Sgt Chestnut painting his magnificent art works, or a good portrait shot of him, I would love to see it and to learn more of his life before and after service with the USAAF.
© Ray Bowden 27 May 2017