In the past few years, we've seen the influence of World War II aircraft styles on early roadsters-such as Todd Kindler's Spitfire '32 in this very magazine. Historically, it makes sense since many of the guys who flew bombers and fighters during the war were the same guys who had been building rods just a few years earlier-or who would pick up mechanical skills and a taste for performance during the war and apply that to cars when they got stateside again. Although hot rods of the late-'40s weren't built to resemble war planes, they borrowed a lot of aircraft elements. Surplus parts were plentiful and were modified for use on those cars, and graphic elements (such as flames) quickly made the transition from the air to the street.

No bomber-inspired rod would be complete without some cool nose art somewhere. Todd Kindler borrowed his boxing eagle from the Eagle Squadron. For his own in-progress roadster, Frank Wallic has chosen to replicate the famous Memphis Belle nose art on the inside door panels, and commissioned his daughter, Christy Wallic, to do the job.

Most of the nose art created during the war was influenced by-or directly copied from-cheesecake pinup posters from magazines like Esquire and True, or from other sources like the Ridge Tool Company calendars. Painting these pinup girls on the fuselages of the aircraft-and giving them names-was a way to identify and personalize the planes, and to inspire the crews. The Memphis Belle is probably the most famous example. The original pinup was created by George Petty for the April '41 issue of Esquire, and copied onto the nose of the legendary B-17 bomber by Cpl. Tony Starcer. Cpl. Starcer depicted the famous Petty girl, almost life-size, as a blonde in a blue bathing suit on the left side of the plane, and reversed the image and changed her suit and her hair to red on the right side. The name Memphis Belle was taken from the name of a fictional Mississippi River gambling boat in the '42 movie Lady for a Night.

Christy's challenge was to recreate the famous pinup as it appeared on the plane, but closer to the size of the original magazine art. After studying old photos of pinups and original nose art, she painted this first sample panel, which is now proudly displayed in STREET RODDER Editor Brian Brennan's office.

"I would have preferred to actually see some of these planes in real life to get a sense of the size-the way it looks up close," she said. "I know the fellows who painted them didn't have a lot of time to put a lot of thought into it. They weren't trying to paint masterpieces, but they did."

We asked Christy to describe the process she used to create hot rod sized nose art that looks like the real thing.