USAAF Nose Art Research Project


A Bit o' Lace
B-17G-40-VE 42-97976

447th Bomb Group, 709th Bomb Squadron


Nose art painted by
Cpl Nicholas H FINGELLY
447th Bomb Group, 709th Bomb Squadron
Rattlesden, England

A Bit o' Lace

This famous B17G crossed to England on 18th June 1944 shortly after D-Day and began its combat flights in the afternoon of 6th July leading the 447BG to a target in the Pas de Calais region of France. It was the first of many lead roles for the Fort -- at least 20 have so far been recorded including one leading the 4th 'A' combat wing to St Dizier airfield on 18th August. The group commander Col Wrigglesworth also took the plane on 5th September to attack Brest harbour installations.

When newer aircraft took over the lead roles in mid October, "A Bit o' Lace" settled in to regular missions and was assigned to a number of pilots. Lt Warren Bates' crew completed 15 of their combat missions in the plane between late February 45 and the end of March. Shortly after this run of missions, Tom Mustaleski took the plane to Kiel on 4th April and suffered serious flak damage in the tail but managed to bring the ship home. It was back in combat four days later. In those final two months of war, the veteran B17 rarely missed a mission and finished out hostilities with a total of 83 mission markers painted on the nose above the artwork. In all of these not a single one was aborted due to any mechanical failure -- a remarkable achievement for its hard worked ground crew. When the Fort was finally flown to the breakers yard at Kingman, Arizona, Cpl Fingelly was amongst the skeleton crew on board. It must have been a particularly sad day for him.

The plane was named by Milt Caniff who responded to a request by Lt John Bauman for permission to use his popular comic strip personality "Miss Lace". Caniff sent a sketch entitled "A Bit o Lace" and Nick Fingelly used his considerable skill to apply it to the nose of the Fort. Long after the war was over and the plane melted back into ingots of aluminium, the popularity of "A Bit o Lace" lived on. Airfix Kits, well known to the baby boom generation of aero modellers, produced a 72nd scale kit of the plane complete with decals in glorious colour. It remained a big seller and favourite well into the 1980s ensuring that both plane and Fingelly's magnificent nose art were appreciated by thousands of keen aero enthusiasts.

Known Mission List

Date Pilot


6 Jul 1944Capt E T Nance / P E FaggPas de Calais (abortive)Group lead
8 Jul 1944M W FarsonNogent MY
11 Jul 1944M W FarsonMunich
12 Jul 1944Maj T J Rall / Capt J C RayMunichLed 4'A' group
13 Jul 1944Capt R P GormleyMunich
14 Jul 1944Capt E T NanceS France (Maquis)Led high group
18 Jul 1944Maj W C Allen / Capt J C RayKielLed 2nd group
24 Jul 1944Capt J C RaySt Lo (abortive)Led 3rd group
25 Jul 1944Capt J C RaySt LoLed low group
27 Jul 1944Capt R P GormlyOstend (abortive)
2 Aug 1944Capt L A Kinsinger / Capt J C RayParis areaLed low group
9 Aug 1944H J MilksAachen
11 Aug 1944D E MahlBelfort MY
15 Aug 1944Capt F H Bonham / Capt J C RayHandorf AFLed high group
16 Aug 1944Capt E T Nance / Capt J C RayRositzLed low group
18 Aug 1944Col H Harris / D E MahlSt Dizier AFGroup and 4'A' CBW lead
24 Aug 1944Maj T J Rall / Capt J C RayBruxLed high group
25 Aug 1944Capt E T Nance / Capt J C RayRechlinLed low group
26 Aug 1944Capt LewisBrest (abortive)
30 Aug 1944Capt J C RayBremen
1 Sep 1944Capt E T Nance / Capt J C Ray(abortive)Led low group
5 Sep 1944Col Wrigglesworth / Capt E T NanceBrest harbour installationsled low group
8 Sep 1944Capt R P GormleyMainz
9 Sep 1944Capt W B Goetz / Capt J C RayMaquis (S France)led high group
11 Sep 1944H J MilksLeipzig/Chemnitz
12 Sep 1944Capt R P GormleyBohlen
13 Sep 1944Capt E T BoissonStuttgart (abortive)
17 Sep 1944Capt J C RayArnhem flak towers
19 Sep 1944C R GageCoblenz MY
25 Sep 1944Capt W B Goetz / Capt J C RayLudwigshafenLed low group
26 Sep 1944Maj Logan / Capt J C RayBremenLed low group
2 Oct 1944Capt J C RayKassel
3 Oct 1944Maj Logan / Capt J C RayGiebelstadt AFLed low group
6 Oct 1944Craig / or MilksBerlin
12 Oct 1944capt L J Delle MonacheBremen
18 Oct 1944D W CraigKassel / Mittefeld
19 Oct 1944capt L J Delle MonacheMannheim
25 Oct 1944S J HrabovskyHamburg / Harburg
26 Oct 1944capt L J Delle MonacheHannover
30 Oct 1944H J MilksMerseburg (recall)
2 Nov 1944S J HrabovskyMerseburgLed contingent in high group 4'B' CBW
4 Dec 1944Capt L H WhitneyMainz MY
15 Dec 1944Capt Gunn / L S HatfieldHannover MYLed low group
24 Dec 1944A A KrugBabenhausen
21 Jan 1945T M MustaleskiMannheim
29 Jan 1945H G KearneyKassel
14 Feb 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Wesel RR bridge
16 Feb 1945T M MustaleskiWesel RR bridge
20 Feb 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Nurnberg MY
22 Feb 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Aalen MY
23 Feb 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Crailsheim MY
24 Feb 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Bremen
25 Feb 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Neuberg
27 Feb 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Liepzig
1 Mar 1945M S BoundsAugsburg
2 Mar 1945R A BrickerDresden
3 Mar 1945ColemanBrunswick
7 Mar 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Datteln-Emscher Lippe
9 Mar 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Frankfurt AFs
11 Mar 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Hamburg
14 Mar 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Hannover - Gebruder
15 Mar 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Oranienburg MY
17 Mar 1945C D SummersRuhland
18 Mar 1945R J DeweyBerlin
19 Mar 1945A L BlandZwickau
20 Mar 1945L D RobertsHamburg
22 Mar 1945R J DeweyMilitary camp
23 Mar 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Holzwickede
24 Mar 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Varrelbusch AF
28 Mar 1945W F Bates / (J H Bauman)Hannover MY
30 Mar 1945J F Baier JrHamburg
4 Apr 1945T M MustaleskiKielSevere BD -- hit by flak which shot away left horiz stab & rudder
8 Apr 1945J F Baier JrPlauen MY
9 Apr 1945J F Baier JrNeuberg AF
10 Apr 1945J Broughton JrBrandenburg AF
11 Apr 1945DreyerIngolstadt AF
14 Apr 1945J F Baier JrRoyan
15 Apr 1945J F Baier JrRoyan (napalm)
16 Apr 1945J F Baier JrRoyan harbour
19 Apr 1945J F Baier JrDresden RR target
20 Apr 1945J F Baier JrNeuruppin MY
21 Apr 1945J F Baier JrIngolstadt MYa/c 81st mission -- no aborts

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© Ray Bowden 19 June 2024