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The World War II Photo of the Week
for 16 February 2004

The Photo Queen ...

   Photo Queen, a B-24 Liberator (F-7A 42-73049) assigned to the 20th Combat Mapping Squadron (CMS) and flying out of Nadzab, New Guinea and Okinawa, provided the "aluminum canvas" for another stunning nose-art creation by Al Merkling. The Queen, according to Ray Bowden, "portrayed the mission of the 20th CMS in a new and very appealing light to men incarcerated on remote Pacific islands. His work on the titling style alone would have been a fine embellishment to any aircraft, but his figure work was simply magnificent. It is hard to appreciate the extreme conditions under which he worked. Burning temperatures instantly dried the paint which was a mixture of shellac lacquers, house paint and USAAF official airplane paint, thinned with high-octane fuel and applied with a rough and ready collection of available brushes. In spite of all this, Merkling's skill reigned supreme and he produced some of the finest examples of nose art to be seen in the Pacific region. Photo Queen flew her first combat photo mission on April 16, 1944 and completed a further 13 sorties before being retired due to combat damage." In the photo below, we see the crew of the Queen with her nose art not yet completed.

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