Amos Nicholson, born in November 1916, was a gifted artist who had won a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago while still at school. "I was only there a short time," he said years later, "My parents could not afford the train fare." With the onset of WW2, the Air Corps trained him as an airplane mechanic -- and a good one! He was despatched to North Africa with the 98th Bomb Group and once there his artistic talent was soon recognised. He was ordered to paint the noses of his squadron's B24s. "I was a crew chief, not a professional artist but they told me to paint, so I painted! It was either that or start peeling potatoes." His work helped to transform the 343rd Squadron into the "Snow White" squadron after being asked to paint the B24s by his line chief Jack Piper.
Nicholson's first Disney character was "Dopey" which he painted onto the left nose of a B24 he had already painted as "Arkansas Traveler". Then came "Happy" followed by the remaining dwarfs featured in the Disney classic. Amos worked with camel hair brushes he was able to buy in Libya. Other artists in the group also painted the Disney characters on other Liberators but all of Nicholson's figures faced forward towards the nose of the plane. "The lacquer I used dried quickly," he recalled, "so if I made a mistake I had to do it over quickly with some fast finger painting." In addition to the seven dwarfs, Amos Nicholson also completed nose art paintings for "Prince Charming" as well as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". He also painted a stunning mural for the Officers Club in Lecce depicting all the characters from the film including the witch and castle in the background, together with a B24 and the title "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Sqn". He was paid a fifth of whiskey for the painting but got little of it himself after passing the bottle around his tent, he recalled. "The other guys drank it all!"
Just before the famous low level raid on Ploesti, Amos was asked by one of the pilot's if he would stand in for his sick engineer on the upcoming secret raid. Good crew chiefs were in short supply and Operations would not approve the request -- Amos was "indispensable" they said. For Amos it proved a lucky decision -- the B24 he would have flown in crashed in Yugoslavia with eight killed and two wounded.
After WW2, Amos Nicholson re-enlisted and served as a crew chief, engineer and safety inspector during the Korean Conflict, based in Japan. On his return to the USA in the 1950s, he became a painting contractor specialising in stencilling, staining and graining and continued to put his considerable talent to good use.