Navy Veteran, Aircraft Artist Gives B-25B A 'Nose Job'

Story Number: NNS070426-23Release Date: 4/26/2007 5:28:00 PM
A  A  A   Email this story to a friend   Print this story
By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Eric J. Cutright, Fleet Public Affairs Center Detachment Hawaii

FORD ISLAND, Hawaii (NNS) -- Hal Olsen, a former Aviation Mechanic 1st Class during World War II and professional aircraft nose artist, was greeted as a special guest April 18 at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Pearl Harbor's historic Ford Island.

Olsen's unique art work emblazoned a B-25B bomber located at the Pacific Aviation Museum and commemorated the historic aircraft's use on the 65th anniversary of the April 18, 1942, Doolittle Raid on Tokyo Bay.

His painting consisted of the "Ruptured Duck," a cartoon that closely resembles the Disney character Donald Duck. The "Ruptured Duck" wears radio headphones and is pictured above crossed crutches.

It took Olsen a little more than four hours to finish the aircraft's nose, but the final product was well received by the museum's guests and staff.

Before the museum opened its doors to the public, Pacific Aviation Museum curator, Mike Wilson, made some phone calls to the famous aircraft nose artist.

The museum had a B-25B bomber flown by Army 2nd Lt. Ted Lawson who was part of the famous "Doolittle's Raiders," and the seventh plane to take off from USS Hornet (CV 8) for the bombing raid on Tokyo.

Wilson felt the exhibit would need a special touch to showcase the authenticity of the historic warplane.

Olsen willingly agreed to the task at hand and the Albuquerque, N.M., resident flew out to Hawaii to a welcoming reception held by the museum.

"It's a feeling of great fulfillment and a great pleasure of having been involved in this project since the inception," said Wilson about Olsen's participation with the museum.

Olsen, whose works inspired good morale and esprit de corps to military personnel during World War II, started his aircraft nose-painting career after he had purchased a set of oil paints on an overcrowded liberty ship while his fellow Sailors were out buying souvenirs.

Liberty ships were used as cargo ships during World War II, and traveled to the different Pacific island bases with supplies, but service members could also use the ships' stores to buy personal items.

According to Olsen, he initially just wanted to paint the beautiful scenery of Tinian Island, but after decorating the nose of one fighter, his work gained recognition and pilots started paying Olsen for his art.

"I was making $78 a paycheck and $50 per plane, and I was doing about two or three planes a day," said Olsen.

The working artist's aircraft nose art would eventually don more than 100 fighter aircraft across the Pacific, from PB-4Ys to B-29B bombers. His work ranged from calendar girls to Disney-esque cartoon characters.

Olsen would later opt out of the Navy in pursuit of following his passion by attending art school, but later would be called upon again for his creative talents as an aircraft nose artist by the Pacific Aviation Museum.

The Pacific Aviation Museum resides on the National Historic Landmark of Ford Island in a 42,000-square-foot former seaplane hangar that survived the December 7, 1941, attack.

With actual aircraft from World War II, plus educational interpretations of the Pearl Harbor attack, the Doolittle Raid on Japan, the Battles of Midway and Guadalcanal, the museum and its exhibits represent aviation's dedication to the defense of freedom in the Pacific.

The Pacific Aviation Museum, which opened Dec. 7, has fast become a must-see historic attraction in Pearl Harbor.

For more news from Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, visit

For more information about the Doolittle Raid, visit

Hal Olsen, a professional nose artist, paints The Ruptured Duck on the nose of a B-25B bomber at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island, Hawaii, to commemorate the historical aircraft's exhibit.
070418-N-0995C-002 FORD ISLAND, Hawaii (April 18, 2007) - Hal Olsen, a professional nose artist, paints "The Ruptured Duck" on the nose of a B-25B bomber at the Pacific Aviation Museum on Ford Island, Hawaii, to commemorate the historical aircraft's exhibit. Olsen, a retired naval aviation mechanic, started his art career more than 60 years ago during World War II. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Eric J. Cutright
April 25, 2007
Navy Social Media
Sign up for email updates To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please click on the envelope icon in the page header above or click Subscribe to Navy News Service.