Eugene Townsend was a fully trained B17 engineer by the time he was assigned to the fledgling 301st Bomb Group at Geiger Field, Washington, in early 1942. Having already had some experience in producing art works prior to his induction, his talents were soon recognised and put to work on the brand new B17Fs assigned to the 32nd Bomb Squadron. Starting with the nose art for "The Bad Penny" which utilised simple lettering, Sgt Townsend would paint more than 40 aircraft before the war was over -- working in four countries in three continents. These included "Leadfoot", "Play Boy", "Plutocrat(e)", "Hun-pecker", "The Gremlin", "Princess O'Rourke" and many, many more. Some of the Forts never even made it into combat, while others soldiered on long and hard.
The earliest works were completed at Westover AAB, Massachusetts, prior to the group being assigned overseas to England in late July 1942. Operating from Chelveston for just three months, the 301BG was then reassigned to 12AF and left for Tafaraoui (and later St Donat, then Oudna) in North Africa towards the end of November 1942. A year later, after the invasion of Italy, the 301BG moved to Cerignola.
In the extremes of all weather, freezing damp of an English winter to the scorching heat of the African sun, Townsend painted his impressively varied range of designs onto the B17Fs, later B17Gs, of the 32nd Bomb Squadron. His inspired talent produced every type of image, including gorgeous pin-ups and crazy cartoons which boosted the morale of air and ground crews who were battling against both an enemy and adverse living conditions. And more than fifty years on, Eugene Townsend continues to paint and exercise his remarkable talent.