Plane sailing for hearts, skunks and Donald Duck in Royal Air Force Museum's Nose Art

By Culture24 Reporter | 10 December 2012
A photo of a heart painted on to the wing of an ancient plane
Colonel William Barker's Heart on Sopwith Camel© Trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum

Exhibition Preview: Nose Art, Royal Air Force Museum Cosford, Cosford, until March 31 2013

As well as being a Victoria Cross winner and a World War I Ace, the Canadian Lieutenant Colonel William Barker was a dab hand at art.

One of Barker’s planes, in which he single-handedly fought more than 15 German aircraft during a critically-wounding combat, featured a lovingly-enshrined heart motif.

That symbol, painted on the wing of a Sopwith Camel previously flown by the man, appears here, having been given to his engine mechanic as a gift.

Donald Duck is also taken from a Mosquito, a Skunk comes from a Halifax and a Red Indian Brave was once the stuff of a Wellington’s façade.

“Many of the aircraft on display in the museum feature some form of artwork,” explains Assistant Curator Clare Carr, who has invited children to interpret and bring the art up to date in an accompanying display, augmented by clips from a film, Nose art and pin Ups.

“We’ve tried to place the pieces in context. It gives us the chance to bring some of the historic examples out from storage.”

  • Open 10am-5pm (closed December 24-26, January 1, January 7-11). Admission free. Follow the RAF Museum on Twitter @RAFMUSEUM.
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