USAAF Nose Art Research Project


Double Trouble
B-24J-190-CO 44-40989

7th Bomb Group, 493rd Bomb Squadron


Nose art painted by
Vernon DRAKE
7th Bomb Group

Double Trouble

A popular choice of title for nose arts in many squadrons, this version painted by Vernon Drake originally showed the two flying nudes with only two propellors. Someone for unknown reason decided to add the missing two props which, according Vernon 'ruined the whole point' since the two props only denoted two non-working engines. This change occurred at some point after the plane was flown by the crew of Gene Watson.

The image seems to have originated in the 319th Bomb Group when a crew member wrote to Zack Moseley, famed for his cartoon strip 'Smilin Jack', requesting a sketch of Jack's girl friend Dixie Lee. The resulting sketch duly arrived showing a flying nude with two spinning props, captioned as 'two Pratt & Titney's.' Drake must have seen the image somewhere and produced his own unique variation.

This was, in any case, the second time the title 'Double Trouble' had been applied to a 7th Bomb Group Liberator. The first having crashed at Pandaveswar in February 1944. The Drake-painted aircraft was one of the 493rd's ten Azon equipped aircraft which utilised the early azimuth only radio-controlled guided bombing technique with considerable success, particular when used against bridges -- a difficult target for aerial bombing. Drake, as part of Ralph Goodrich's crew, took part in 19 of the Azon missions.

Drake's later version survived the war and beyond. The nose art panel is preserved today, albeit as the amended 4-prop variation, at the American Airpower Heritage Museum. It is thought that the plane was flown back by Bill McDaniel and his crew. At Puerto Rico, they were told to cover up the more revealing parts of the artwork. This was done using red mud to paint on bikinis -- which presumably washed off as soon they reached cloud level.


© Ray Bowden 12 August 2022