Johnnie White was, by all accounts, a quiet and unassuming man but he was well skilled to take centre stage in the role of nose art painter. Self taught, he worked as a commercial sign painter during his vacations from high school. Contrary to some sources, Sgt White had not been working with the Walt Disney Studio pre-war.
Even before deploying to England with their combat aircraft many of the crews of the 96BG had already chosen names for their Fortresses. Some of his earliest design sketches were produced at Pyote, Texas, as the group prepared itself for combat overseas. Not all of his sketches made it on to the side of a B17. One, dated 19th Jan '43, showing a black cat riding a falling bomb does not seem to have been used. His "Ole Puss" does however sport the same black moggy -- but this time squatting and toting a machine gun.
Once ground and air echelons of the group were in place at Snetterton Heath, White was in great demand. Officially, much of his work was painting insignia and markings on the Forts but his innovative and imaginative mind, coupled with his trained artistic skill, also worked to produce some fine nose arts. In April 1944, Johnnie White painted a special display board to mark the 96BG's 100th mission and it is possible that he also painted other wall murals on the base. Years later the display board was reproduced and now hangs, with other group memorabilia, in Eccles Hall, near Snetterton.