USAAF Nose Art Research Project


Lady Luck
B-17G-50-BO 42-102416

100th Bomb Group, 349th Bomb Squadron


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

Lady Luck

Many airmen were sent good luck cards when they were posted overseas and one of the most popular was based on Paul Benson's famous lucky girl cartoon featured in LIFE magazine. It was this image that Lovato chose to use to embellish 349BS's "Lady Luck". It was an image which appeared on dozens of US airplanes all over the world and an unusual choice for Ernesto since it was a straight copy, probably requested by the air crew.

The B17 arrived in England in April 1944 but did not fly its first mission until early June. Assigned to Lawrence Townsend's crew it was they who chose the name and probably the imagery. On 20th June it was flown to Russia as part of the 'Frantic' shuttle mission, then back to the UK via Italy.

A month later, bombing the German lines near St Lo, "Lady Luck" was caught by a direct flak hit and the entire bomb bay and left wing erupted in flames. The crew had no option than to bail out before the Fort crashed to earth.


© Ray Bowden 20 August 2022