USAAF Nose Art Research Project


B-17G-20-VE 42-97546

303rd Bomb Group, 360th Bomb Squadron


Nose art painted by
Sgt Samuel P. RODMAN
303rd Bomb Group, 360th Bomb Squadron
Molesworth, England


Another fine example of painting done by Sam Rodman and signed by him just above the girl's right foot. This was a long serving Vega-built B17 which arrived at Molesworth in March 1944 and survived combat missions right through to the end of hostilities in Europe. 106 successful sorties have been recorded for this veteran bomber which flew to attack almost every major target in northwest Europe. It was well cared for by crew chief M/Sgt Norman Cote and his team. More than fifty flight crews manned this ship during its combat career and it is not known which of them named the plane. An official photograph taken on 15th September 1944 shows the artwork in place at that time. There is considerable likeness in the face to the actress Ida Lupino -- not surprising since Rodman used a press release photo as a reference for his painting.

Lupino had shot to fame as a teenager and starred in "Come on Marines" in 1934 at the age of 16. Co-starred with Gary Cooper a year later in "Peter Ibbetson" and then Bing Crosby in "Anything Goes" (1936). Her finest role was probably in "The Gay Desperado" and "Artists and Models" in 1937. Post war, in the 50s, Lupino made her name as the director of some of TV's best known series : "The Untouchables" and "The Fugitive". I wonder if she ever knew that she had also starred on 303BG's "Idaliza".

On 13th April 1944, Idaliza flew to Schweinfurt and was attacked by fighters in a fierce running battle. During this time the bombardier 2Lt Thomas Dello Buono was wounded but continued to man his guns and was ultimately awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross -- the USA's second highest award for heroism. At war's end, on 7th June 1945, the plane took off from England on its journey back to Bradley Field AAB in the USA and thereafter onwards to its ultimate scrapping at Kingman, Arizona at the beginning of December.

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© Ray Bowden 12 August 2022