After Vernon Drake had been transferred to the 9th Bomb Squadron at Tezpur, his CO asked him to paint the B-24 he was to fly home in. In an early interview, Vernon recalled that he had used a picture card as his reference after it was suggested by the CO. The card was one of Gil Elvgren's series of pin-ups which had originally been produced for the Louis F Dow Company's calendar of 1938. The image was reproduced during the war years in various forms including sets of 12 picture cards, as well as playing cards. Consequently, it cropped up on several nose arts around the world.
The original had been titled as 'French Dressing' but with the use of Drake's new title the image suggested an entirely new meaning. This use of a double meaning between title and image was one which was used throughout nose art. It was often useful to get around the higher echelons of command which from time to time requested lists of airplane names in order to censor more offensive wording.
Lt Joe Vinette recalled that his crew had picked up the B-24 as brand new from the base at Hamilton Field, California. They had taken the aircraft to Karachi via Manchester, Gander, the Azores, Marrakesh, Benghazi and Cairo. Vinette had also been on the crew when it returned to the US. He recalled that they had 'almost missed South America because we were off course!'
Vernon signed his nose art simply with the word 'Drake' and modified his version to a blonde instead of the original brunette. The salvaged panel chopped out when the plane was eventually salvaged is preserved today at the American Aviation Heritage Museum in Midland, Texas. One of the rare survivors and a beautiful example of the genre. The panel displays the name of the crew chief as R E Moss but in spite of this clue it has still not yet been possible to identify the serial number for the B-24 and thus start to unlock its service history.