World War II 26th Fighter Squadron Nose Art

Value (2005) | $2,000 Auction$4,000 Auction

GUEST:
Well, I brought an insignia from a P-40 airplane. My husband was in the 14th Air Force. And someone brought this back from China when the war was over.

APPRAISER:
And gave it to your husband.

GUEST:
And gave it to my husband.

APPRAISER:
And he brought it home?

GUEST:
I do have the picture of the man who painted it. He was the designated painter for the squadron. Stanley...

APPRAISER:
Schirro.

GUEST:
Schirro.

APPRAISER:
Well, this is a picture of Stanley right here in front of a P-40. And I was doing a little research and it turns out he also not only painted the squadron insignia, he painted the shark's teeth on the planes.

GUEST:
Oh, yes.

APPRAISER:
He painted the men's flight jackets.

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
But he did this wonderful rendition of what they called the China Blitzers 1, the "aggressive reindeer." And it's been lost to history what the meaning of the character is, but that's what the insignia of the 26th Fighter Squadron was. And we've got a wonderful, wonderful piece of nose art here. It's on aluminum cut from the cowling of a P-40 aircraft. And it depicts the stylized... kind of a hybrid m between a reindeer and a P-40 airplane.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And then we've got a flight jacket patch painted on leather, hand-painted by the same artist as well, which would have been worn on the flight jacket of one of the members of this squadron. We've got a photograph of one of the crashed P-40s--

GUEST:
Yes.

APPRAISER:
--with the insignia. It may be the very plane it was removed from. It might be. Very possible. They took a hacksaw and just cut it away from the cowling. You can even see here the rivets from where the aluminum siding was...

GUEST:
Oh, yes.

APPRAISER:
Did you never notice that before?

GUEST:
No, I hadn't noticed that.

APPRAISER:
These are the aircraft rivets.

GUEST:
Yes, I see.

APPRAISER:
But an amazing piece that it was saved. So much of this stuff never made it home. And the things that were brought home were destroyed or discarded many years ago. And you were telling me you hang this with pride in your house.

GUEST:
Oh, yes. It was my husband's pride and joy. He really treasured that.

APPRAISER:
Well, it's a wonderful piece. Aircraft art has become incredibly collectable. In an auction situation where you have several collectors bidding against each other, something like this it would not surprise me at all this would bring $2,000, maybe $4,000.

GUEST:
Oh, my goodness.

APPRAISER:
In that range somewhere. Because the 14th Air Force, which this was part of descended from the Flying Tigers.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
So there's a tremendous amount of collector interest.

GUEST:
My husband would have been so proud.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Grenadier Military Antiques Auctions
Santa Monica, California
Appraised value (2005)
$2,000 Auction$4,000 Auction
Event
Los Angeles, CA (August 13, 2005)
Material
Metal

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