USAAF Nose Art Research Project


The Shamrock Special (42-29591)

Bad Egg (41-24484)

Sunkist Sue (44-6293)

Destiny's Child (42-31812)


91st Bomb Group, 401st Bomb Squadron
Bassingbourn, England

Jack Gaffney, alias 'Kid Rock', was an Assistant and then Crew Chief in the 401st Bomb Squadron. Responsible for painting ten nose arts he named five of them himself including "The Shamrock Special" which carried three separate pieces of artwork. Raised in Barstow and San Bernadino, Gaffney took art classes before the war but saw little of the phenomena known as nose art until reaching Bassingbourn. It rapidly became a popular morale booster and Jack somehow scrounged the paint and found the time in spite of his heavy work load maintaining the battered Forts during the most difficult period of the air war.

He took about ten to twenty hours to complete a painting depending on interruptions, usually outlining the image in black initially then filling in areas during any spare moments he could find. Ideally, the work was done when the plane was out for extended maintenance. On one occasion, for a plane called "Stinky", paint was so scare that Jack had to complete the entire image in yellow. One of the early Forts painted by Gaffney was "Invasion 2nd". This B17F was a strong contender for being the first 8AF heavy to reach 25 missions and much film footage subsequently used in the "Memphis Belle" movie was shot from "Invasion 2nd". It was lost on its 23rd mission.

"Destiny's Child" was his first plane as Crew Chief and one for which he was awarded a Bronze Star for its maintenance record. "That was the only plane I ever cried over losing," reminisced Gaffney. "It had completed 53 missions when it went down."

After the war, Jack pursued a career in retail commerce but upon retirement took up the brushes again and continues to excel in his art, moving more recently into the medium of scratch board and receiving much acclaim. He has also painted a number of A-2 leather jackets which he adorned with his wartime noseart.

© Ray Bowden 22 July 2024
Information Update for Readers of
"Plane Names & Fancy Noses - 91st Bomb Group (Heavy)"