Cpl Nicholas H FINGELLY
447th Bomb Group, 709th Bomb Squadron
Nick Fingelly was assigned to 709th Bomb Squadron after completing
armament training in November 1943 and joined the ground crew team of M/Sgt Michael
Kaschak. He had always been deeply interested in drawing and
his greatest satisfaction came from depicting wildlife and aircraft. Such a talented artist
attracted the attention of those in the 447th Bomb Group base who wanted someone to paint
nose art onto their Fortress. During his spare time on the airfield at Rattlesden, Fingelly
painted about ten aircraft. His first was the plane he was assigned to as ground crew.
Named "Lil Eight Ball" it was inspired by
a cartoon character featured in a popular comic strip entitled "Nazdrowie" -- Polish for
"To your good health". Others followed but his most famous nose art painting was undoubtedly
"A Bit of Lace", reportedly undertaken for John Bauman's crew. Working from a personalised
sketch sent to the crew by Milton Caniff, Fingelly completed his masterpiece in about
six hours and included Caniff's own famed signature block as part of the design.
He later flew with the skeleton crew who delivered the aircraft to the scrap yard.
Other aircraft known to have been painted by Corporal Fingelly were "Big Ass Bird",
"Bugs Bunny Jr", "Miss Minookey", "Sandusky Jo" and "Hurry Home". I have
been unable to locate photos of Mr Fingelly, and am always seeking more examples of 447BG nose art,
so if you can help I would be delighted to hear from you.
© Ray Bowden 29 February 2024