USAAF Nose Art Research Project


Nose Art Themes


The mythical and mischievous little characters called Gremlins seem to have originated in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the term was used to describe the multitude of problems often presented to mechanics servicing aircraft. My father, an RAF mechanic, recalled the term was in common use in the 1920s when he was serving in the Mediterranean on one of the early aircraft carriers. Gremlins caused mysterious blockages in pipelines, snapped wires, broke connections, froze instruments and generally created havoc.

It was an RAF officer Flight Lt Roald Dahl who is considered to have been the person who broke the Gremlins out of the RAF into the wider world. Dahl, who later became a famous children's author, became an Assistant Air Attache in Washington DC in 1942 and wrote his first story book 'The Gremlins' based on the tiny little characters who inhabited aircraft. He also called their wives Fifinellas which later became the popular name for the American WASPs (Women Airforce Service Pilots). The manuscript was shown to Walt Disney and the first edition from Random House sold 50,000 copies. A projected animated movie did not come to fruition due to copyright issues and was cancelled at pre-production stage in August 1943.

However, Dahl's Gremlins inspired several other movies during and after WW2. One such cartoon involved Bugs Bunny in conflict with a Gremlin at an airfield while another showed Russian Gremlins sabotaging Adolf Hitler in his airplane. Several USAAF training films used the characters to explain how to cope with the many situations which could occur during servicing and flying aircraft. It was natural, therefore, that the name and characters would appear in nose art in a variety of forms and titles.

Walt Disney Studios created the character of Gremlin Gus for their unfinished animated film which was used on a 388BG Fortress. They also designed a Fifinella emblem for the WASPs and which was copied onto a 91BG Fort, and some B24 Liberators.

NameSerial #TypeUnit
Big Gremlin (The)
43-35420UC-64A Norseman387th Bomb SquadronBig Gremlin (The)
Gerty the Gremlin
42-7649B-24H-1-FO446th Bomb Group, 707th Bomb SquadronGerty the Gremlin
The Gremlin
41-24110B-24D-2011th Bomb Group, 42nd Bomb SquadronThe Gremlin
The Gremlin
42-5145B-17F-35-BO301st Bomb Group, 32nd Bomb SquadronThe Gremlin
The Gremlin
42-104200P-38J-15-LO367th Fighter GroupThe Gremlin
Gremlin (The)
41-24035B-24D-15-CO376th Bomb Group. 514th Bomb SquadronGremlin (The)
Gremlin Castle
B-1799th Bomb GroupGremlin Castle
Gremlin Garage
UnknownB-2512th Bomb GroupGremlin Garage
Gremlin Gus
42-5904B-17F-30-VE388th Group, 560th SquadronGremlin Gus
Gremlin Gus II
42-30595B-17F-110-BO388th Group, 560th SquadronGremlin Gus II
Gremlin's Castle
C-87UnknownGremlin's Castle
Gremlin's Haven
42-40653B-24D-85-CO5th Bomb Group, 394th Bomb SquadronGremlin's Haven
Gremlin's Holiday
41-30041B-25D-5345th Bomb GroupGremlin's Holiday
Gremlin's Roost
41-29601B-24H-1-CF486th Bomb Group, 832nd Bomb SquadronGremlin's Roost
Gremlin's Roost
44-49577B-24L-10-FO392nd Bomb Group, 579th Bomb SquadronGremlin's Roost
391st Bomb GroupGremlins
Gremlins' Castle
41-18264B-26B-10-MA17th Bomb Group, 37th Bomb SquadronGremlins' Castle
Grisley Gus Gremlin
B-2512th Bomb Group, 83rd Bomb SquadronGrisley Gus Gremlin
Jersey The Gremlin
B-24Jersey The Gremlin
Red Gremlin (The)
41-24444B-17F-10-BO97th Bomb GroupRed Gremlin (The)
Unknown Gremlins
unknownB-17FUnknown Gremlins

© Ray Bowden 11 August 2022
Information Update for Readers of
"Plane Names & Fancy Noses - 91st Bomb Group (Heavy)"