486th Bomb Group, 834th Bomb Squadron
For six years before the war,
Phil Brinkman had been a commercial
artist with advertising agencies in Chicago and St Louis. On being drafted
into the USAAF he was assigned to a guard unit at the Davis-Monthan AAB
at Tucson, Arizona. It was not long before his artistic talents were
recognised and for more than two years Brinkman spent much of his time
painting murals around the base. Shortly before the 486BG was ordered
to England, the CO of the 834th Squadron, Capt Howell, had the artist
transferred into the unit. Together with Capt Howell, Phil Brinkman came
up with the idea of painting each of the unit's B24s with an image
based on one of the signs of the Zodiac. When the 486BG settled in to Sudbury
in England, Brinkman set to work. Group operations in the combat zone seemed
to do its best to disrupt the artist's plans. Three times he started to paint
a B24 with the title "Taurus" but each time the aircraft was transferred out
of the unit before he had completed his task. Eventually, Brinkman managed
to complete his project and paint all of the zodiac signs, including two
"Leo" Liberators as well as several other notable nose arts such as "Ding
Dong Daddy", "Hard t' Get" and "Silver Dollar".
In what little spare time the talented artist had, he also managed to paint
several watercolour paintings of the base at Sudbury and its aircraft.
Brinkman died in May 2000 but had continued to put his immense talent
to good use painting the tranquil environs of Florida until he was over 80 years of age.
© Ray Bowden 2 December 2023