USAAF Nose Art Research Project


Billy Boy
B-17G-15-BO 42-31347

100th Bomb Group, 349th Bomb Squadron


Nose art painted by
Ernesto LOVATO
100th Bomb Group, 349th Bomb Squadron
Thorpe Abbotts, England

Billy Boy

This B17 flew its first mission with 100BG on 1st April 44 but it was a recall from Ludwigshaven. On 8 June, flown by Lt Gustafson, it was badly hit by flak over Calais when they dropped down through the undercast trying to pinpoint their position. They proved to be a target that the German gunners could not miss taking 20mm hits in the left wing, cockpit, two engines and the hydraulic system.

After extensive repairs the Fort was assigned to Joe Ricker and painted by Ernesto Lovato with its nose art depicting the baby boots that had been given to the pilot by his wife as a good luck charm. Ricker took the boots with him on every trip and eventually took them back home after completing his mission tour.

By January 1945, "Billy Boy" had clocked upwards of 50 missions and was retired from combat flying. It was fitted with a camera in the tail and continued to act as a gunnery training aircraft until the war in Europe ended and it flew back to the USA.


© Ray Bowden 12 August 2022