Martlesham Heath: War veteran to appear in new film about American pilots

A NEW documentary is set to tell the stories of Second World War American servicemen, looking at the artwork painted on their aircraft.

Veteran Robert Barnhart, a fighter pilot with the US Army Air Force, paid a portrait painter $35 to paint a photo of his wife Margie on his aircraft during his time based at Martlesham Heath.

Nose Art and Pin-Ups explores the themes of nose art featuring pin-ups of girls back home and American states as well as humorous images of animals and cartoon characters.

Nose art was the name given to images painted on the nose of planes used during the war.

Gail Downey produced the film because she was worried that the number of living veterans was decreasing.

She self-funded a trip to America to meet nose art crew members and spoke to nose artist Don Allen, who was a crew chief at an American base in Essex.

She said: “These were young men, thousands of miles from home, who faced death every day and they told me the artwork personalised their aircraft and gave them something ‘to pat’ before and after every mission.

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“It was also much easier to talk about ‘Our Gal Sal’ or ‘Turnip Termite’ than place number 123. People remember names, not numbers.”

The documentary gives an insight into how the lives of military personnel were made that little more bearable with the morale boost that nose art provided.

Of all the bombers that fought in the war, only one in seven of the bomber and fighter crews returned.

Servicemen distanced themselves from one another for fear that a potential friend could be taken away.

Nose Art and Pin-Ups is being released on August 17 on the 70th anniversary of the start of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) bombing offensive against Germany in the Second World War.

The film is available to pre-order from and will shown exclusively in select cinemas across the UK. It will be available to buy from Amazon and Ebay.