​The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: Aircraft Mouth Nose Art

Everyone is familiar with P-40 Warhawks and their famous shark mouth nose art, but did you know that those aircraft weren’t alone in the world of aircraft with a face? It turns out there are more history and documentation of “mouths” or “face” painted on combat aircraft. In our post THE ORIGINS OF SHARK NOSE ART we explored some of the early influencers of the infamous AVG P-40 Shark nose art and during the process of researching, we dug up some unique and odd versions of early to late mouthed or face nose art that was too interesting to not share. Here is our take on the good, the bad and the downright ugly versions of Shark Mouth and other “mouth” nose art that we have crossed paths with on the web. 


Photo: archive.org/

A P-51 C Mustang with classic shark nose art, China. It’s no doubt that the P-51 Mustang had a huge part in the success of the allied victory over both the Japanese and the Luftwaffe during World War II. With longer range and a higher ceiling than the P-40, many pilots that once flew with Shark Mouthed Warhawks found the P-51 also took to wearing shark-toothed decor.

Photo Provided by: Paul and Judy Braun, Photo Restored by Steven Mckee.

P-51B Mustangs with wing tanks lined up during refueling in China. Possibly the 311th Fighter Group that had escorted the B-29s until the arrival of the 426th NFS P-61's

Photo: Paul and Judy Braun

P-51B Mustangs with wing tanks lined up during refueling in China. Possibly the 311th Fighter Group that had escorted the B-29s until the arrival of the 426th NFS P-61's 

Photo: The Encyclopedia of Alabama

Lt. Daniel “Chappie” James Jr. in Korea, with his F-51D and a rather unique and rare painted shark mouth design. Lt. James Jr. instructed Tuskegee pilots during WWII and flew combat missions in both the Korean and Vietnam war.

Photo: worldwarphotos.info

Crew chiefs can have fun too! Who wouldn’t want to drive one of these P-38 drop tank cars around on the tarmac in between sorties? This pic is of a 71st Fighter Squadron, Lesina, Italy crew chief who fabricated this neat drop tank racer (Probably inoperable) out of a scrapped bomb cart.

Photo: U.S. Navy

Now, this is a shark in its natural habitat! During the Pacific and Mediterranean war, PT boats were outfitted with a variety of paint schemes designed to elude and also terrify the enemy. This handsome nose art fits well on this PT boat, and it’s a popular option for many modern boats today. Note the “wave” camouflage markings on the starboard side of the vessel.


As noted in our previous article the “good guys” of WII weren’t the first to place the fearsome markings on their own aircraft. In fact, Axis powers of WWI were thought to be the first to paint their aircraft with such markings, but we aren’t looking at the morals of these fighters, but the rebels and the renegades. The following pics could very well be placed into this category.

Photo: Unknown source

Does this paint job most resemble a dragon or fish? We will let you decide! This Bristol Fighter was decked out with a full fuselage scheme from nose to tail and has pointedly been nicknamed the “Brisfish” We vote that someone, somewhere NEEDS to paint their biplane aircraft in this scheme. Would it be unique? Yes! Would it be a fan favorite at your local airshow? Most definitely!

Photo & Caption: All World Wars

Captain K. G. Pulliam, Jr., and His 15-Meter, Decorated Nieuport Plane, "The Jazbo". During WWI many aeronautical engineers were experimenting with different designs and this Jazbo design with painted wings is unique!

Photo: Unknown original Source

This German AEG G.IV could arguably also be one of the first “Shark Type” nose art paintings on an aircraft. The G.IV was WWI bombers used as a short-range tactical bomber for front line missions. The aircraft was most commonly used later in the war for “nuisance” raids to cause havoc and confusion during night time enemy movements.

Photo Source: Unknown

Another BF 109, only this time wearing the Swiss insignia. From down below and without the proper returning firepower most would run and hide at first sight of this bad looking aircraft.

Photo Source: Unknown

The Russian Tupolev ANT-9 Krokodil or “Krocodile” is one of the only passenger designated aircraft we found to wear the teeth of an animal, and you have to admit that the croc teeth fit it uncannily well with it nose cone alteration. The probable reason for the crocodile design was propaganda purposes.


Ugly doesn’t mean that you can’t do the job that you were designed for, or that the mission couldn’t be a success but when it comes to faces and teeth on aircraft, there are those that fit the bill of downright grotesque. The aircraft below are only those that only mothers or pilots could love.

Photo: World War II Database

P-40 “Little Joe II” strikes the fear into the hearts of those who made it through pilot school without braces. (We kid) This shark nose art for sure is an honorable mention for one of the ugliest mugs out there!

Photo Source: Unknown

The Messerschmitt BF 109 one of the most feared and advanced fighters in the Luftwaffe, fleet of combat aircraft. With sneering nose art like this, how could you not be a afraid?

Photo: USAF

B-24 Liberator “Flak Magnet” (nose art partially covered with armor plating). With a smile like that, this aircraft is begging to be teased! Nearly round teeth, a big beady eye, and silly grin, the artist was playing with the enemy’s gunners, begging to be shot at. Undoubtedly, the uncanny smile is the result of dropping its heavy payload and decimating its target.

Photo Source: Unknown

A Henschel Hs 129 is menacing on it own, but with a set of sharp and tiny teeth? The proper response would most likely be to shoot back! Designed for the eastern front, the aircraft was commonly over gunned as it was designed to be a ground attack anti-tank aircraft. The weight of the heavy guns made the Hs 129 slow and an easy target for Russian fighters.

Quote & Photo via the site- AncientFaces.com

This Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer patrol bomber takes the cake. It’s ugly, it is scary, and it’s a face only a mother could love! This U.S. Navy Patrol Squadron VP-772 PB4Y-2 (Affectionately known as "Victor Peter Double Natural Snake Eyes") Recalled by Chief Rbt. Cluff. - “This particular plane went down with a loss of 9 men.”