History of nose art in the AAC, USAF, & ANG

Please allow time for images to load. Updated - 6 July, 2020

See also...
B-25 Noseart
French Air Force
Other Armed Forces

Bats have appeared in nose-art, or have contributed to aircraft nicknames painted on the sides of individual airplanes for over a hundred years.
The 185th Night Pursuit Squadron of the American Expeditionary Force would seem to be the first unit to display a 'bat' on their aircraft during
the last month of WWI. The insignia was sequentially refined to be a bat against the yellow disk of the moon.

Sopwith Camel (12 October, 1918). Canvas section of fuselage bearing the squadrons' Insignia (www.earlyaviator.com).

The second documented example of a bat painted on an aircraft is on this Nieuport 17 of the 30th Air Detachment, Red Army (Winter 1920).

The first post-war use of bats as Squadron insignia was by Observation Squadron VOS-3S US Navy (circa 1923). This squadron had been supplied
with scout aircraft (Vought O2U-1 Corsair) that were so poorly suited to observation duties that crews complained of being 'blind as bats'. During
this time, several observation squadrons were flying out of Guantanamo Bay and all designated a Cuban bat (perhaps Artibeus?) to represent their
'blind' status. VOS-3S retained this insignia throughout its history, even as its designation changed to VS-5S, VS-5B, VCS-2 (see below) and finally
VS-6S. The aircraft pictured below is a VOS-3S O2U-1 attached to the USN Cruiser SS Raleigh.

Collectors stamp from the late 1930's: Scouting Squadron VCS-2 [See also: The Plane that wouldnt fly]

US Army Air Corps

Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress from the 97 BG (?) - Bat outa hell.

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortresses.
LEFT: 'Wicked Witch'- 92nd Bomb Group (small bats and witch; USAF Museum)
RIGHT: 'Hell's Angel' (with bat wings) flew for both the 381st and the 601st BS

LEFT: Northrop P-61A-1 Black Widow. 'Jap Batty' - 6th Nightfighter Sqd. Note: Bat with gloves on hind feet (E. Mcdowell)
RIGHT: Consolidated B-24-J Liberator 'Bull Bat' of the 578th BS.

Middle photo: Dave White

This Consolidated B-24-J Liberator first appeared as 'Bat out of Hell - 39th BS.
A/C was subsequently renamed when the squadron became the 819th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy).

Consolidated B-24-J Liberators.
TOP: Left unknown. Right, 'Bat out of Hell' of the 819th BS(?).
BOTTOM: B-24 of the 819th BS, 'Bat out of Hell' seen at different points in time: 25, 64, and 70 missions (left photo: Lloyd, 1986)

'Bat-outa-Hell II'
was a Martin B-26 Marauder that flew with the 387th BG, 557th BS.http://www.b26.com/marauderman/billh/02.htm
Note the increasing number of missions that appear below the cockpit, 59(?) on the lower right photo.

The Blind Bat - Consolidated B-24-J Liberator of the 479th Antisubmarine Group.

Two different Lockheed P-38 Lightnings with nose sections painted to look like the head of a huge bat, cat, lion?

Republic P-47C Thunderbolt 'Bat Out Of Hell' of the 63rd Fighter Squadron. Piloted by Lt. G.E. BATdorf.

North American P-51B Mustang flown by Capt. C. D. Sumner, 364th FS.

US Air Force

LEFT: Republic P-47(N?) Thunderbolts of the 44th Fighter Squadron (Photo: Time-Life via Google)
RIGHT: F-86 Sabres of the 44th Fighter Squadron (Photo: Time-Life via Google)

F-86 Sabres of the 44th Fighter Squadron (Photo: Time-Life via Google)
If interested in patches of the 44th, please visit this PAGE.

Republic EF-105-F Thunderchief was the a/c designated to fly Wild Weasel surface-to-air missile suppression missions
during the Vietnam war. One of these flew with the 44th Tactical Fighter Sqd. (Vampires) and displayed a caricature of
a bat on its wing-root 'Sinister Vampire' (J. Robinson). If interested in patches of the 44th, please visit this PAGE.

McDonnell-Douglas F-15 Eagle of the 44th Tactical Fighter Sqd. (Vampires) (via T. Williams).

Blind Bat Operation: Martin RB-57D (Bat Nose art and Blind Bat Patches):

Lockheed C-130 Hercules of the 43rd Electronic Combat Squadron (small logo on forward fuselage)

Lockheed C-130 Hercules of the 43rd Electronic Combat Squadron.

Lockheed C-130 Hercules of the 435th TAW: (Photo by A. Kreager) More Herky Noseart!
Note two signs in the lower windows: 'For Sale' and 'BAT-60'.

Lockheed MC-130 Talon II's (photos: (L) F. Rocha, (R) M. Stares).

Lockheed MC-130 Talon II's (Photo credits: (L) M. Dunning, (R) Snodgrass).

LEFT: KC-135 Tanker, 351st ARS named 'Bat outta Hell'
RIGHT: Rockwell B-1B, 13th Bombardment Sqd (28th BW) named 'Dark Knight'.

Rockwell B-1B 9th Bombardment Sqd (Bill Spidle photo; Dryess AFB) Note: small bat on black band on tail.

B-1B - 9th Bombardment Squadron, Note World TradeTowers on patch (D. Hobbs).

Fairchild-Republic A-10 Warthog of the 422 TES (Photo by Jake Melampy)

Northrop F-89 Scorpions 325th FIW 59th FIS, June 1957 (C. Seevers). Sign-board (R. Guthrie). Note bats on wing-tip tanks and tail fin.

Lockheed F-94B Starfire 325th FIW 59th Fighter Interceptor Sqd.
(5/2020: Apologies to Frederic J. Adam for a long overdue photo attribution - http://www.airliners.net)

Frederic J. Adam and a Lockheed F-94B Starfire (1953) 325th FIW 59th Fighter Interceptor Sqd.
Unofficial patch used by the squadron mid-1952. Freicudan Du is gaelic for the Black Watch/Black Guard.

F-101B Voodoo of the 25th FIW 59th Fighter Interceptor Sqd., 1969.
[More information needed, please]

F-102A of the 59th FIS, 325th FIW [More information needed, please]. Thanks to Robert Beach for corrections on this page.

Air National Guard and...

Vought A-7D - Corsair II's of the 174th Fighter Sqd. (a/c 70-008 photo: K. Jackson)(small bat on fin).

Vought A-7K - Corsair II of the 174th Fighter Sqd. (small bat on fin).

ABOVE: F-16C's of the 174th Fighter Sqd., 185th FW, Iowa National Guard (Photo R. Launderville).

ABOVE: This KC-135R Stratotanker displays the yellow tail flash of the 174th ARS (Iowa National Guard).
Note: The bat-head artwork is the same as that used when this unit was 174th FS - a nice nod to the history of the unit.

F-16C of the 363rd TFW. This a/c flew 45 missions in Desert Storm. (Photo right by M. Steadman).

1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion (UH-60 BlackHawk), Co B From Dusk to Dawn. (Photo right: J Dermansky)

A Co., 5/159 AVN - Operation Iraqi Freedom. Boeing CH-47 Chinook noseart from a/c 90-00194

Honorable mention:

Information please!

341st NFS? First photo came from the apprently defunct Pacificvictoryroll.com

Northrop P-61A Black Widow of the 548th CTS? No image of a bat is indicated on the image,
but the name 'Bat Outa Hell' deserves honorable mention: