453rd Bomb Group, 735th Bomb Squadron
Alex Schindelheim was 34 years old when he enlisted in the USAAC at Fort Jay, New York in January 1942. It was just two weeks after he had been married. As a youngster he had been apprenticed to a sign maker in lower east side New York. He painted numerous road signs and then worked for a company commissioned to produce the famous Nathan’s sign in Coney Island, which he painted. As Schindelheim was a sign painter and commercial artist in civilian life it was logical for him to become the squadron draughtsman for the 451st, part of the 322BG.
When the unit deployed to England they were based at Andrews Field (Great Saling) in Essex. Alex acquired the nickname of “Schindy” and his talents were soon put to work painting several Marauder B26 nose titles and artwork as well as the dozens of everyday signs required about the squadron area.
In addition to the nose art work Sgt Schindelheim undertook, he was also responsible for designing the squadron insignia. “Schindy’s” design sported a colourful cartoon chimp football player hurling a bomb and used with the inscription “The Fightin’ 451st ”. He painted an enlarged 6ft high version especially to commemorate the squadron’s 2nd anniversary. His design was not replaced until 1955 when an official emblem, based on an Indian war shield, was approved by the Air Force.
Many of the nose arts “Schindy” painted were lettering in a variety of styles, often a cursive script usually with a shadow to give a sense of three-dimensions and, having been a commercial artist pre-war, he was able to replicate any image where necessary.
Once D-Day had passed successfully, the 322BG relocated from England to an airfield in France near Beauvais in late September. As the war moved on, the unit moved again to Belgium to a field near Le Culot at the end of March ’45 and, three months later, on to Germany at Fritzlar when hostilities ceased.
After the war, Alex Schindleheim continued his artistic pursuits and skills were in great demand from numerous businesses in New York City.
© Ray Bowden 18 October 2021