BOCKSCAR vs Bock's Car

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Alan Stevens

May 24, 2023
Why the differences? Various books have either rendering.

Even in Chuck Sweeney's recent book he calls it "Bock's Car" even though the plane itself clearly says "BOCKSCAR"
IIRC in 1945 the actual aircraft in question had BOCKS CAR (the letters in the individual words were run together with a small space between the two words, but no ' ) painted on the nose, not all the letters run together into one word like it is on the museum display.

:) There you go - a third variation.
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IIRC in 1945 the actual aircraft in question had BOCKS CAR (the letters in the individual words were run together with a small space between the two words, but no ' ) painted on the nose, not all the letters run together into one word like it is on the museum display.

:) There you go - a third variation.
It may have been painted and repainted again.

I can't find a good photo right after the mission, but I have heard that most of the 509th B-29 had the nose art scrubbed off for the atomic missions.
Found a couple of images.

BOCKS CAR in 1945
Bocks Car in 1945.jpg

BOCKSCAR in the museum
Bockscar in museum.jpg
I’ve been puzzled by some of this as well so dived into the library.

There seems to be confusion between sources, and even within sources, as to when individual aircraft might have been named.

“Ruin from the Air” by Gordon Thomas and Max Morgan-Witts consistently uses “Enola Gay”, “Great Artiste” and “No. 91” as the names of the three aircraft that flew the Hiroshima mission. They also refer to “Top Secret” as the standby aircraft on Iwo Jima in case Enola Gay went U/S. “Straight Flush”, “Jabbit III” & “Full House” are named as the weather planes.

“No.91” was of course “Necessary Evil”. So why not use its name as the authors did for all the other aircraft? It suggests to me that on 6th Aug it didn’t carry a name.

The Crowood book on the B-29 has a caption on a photo credited to Richard H Campbell (see below) and elsewhere in the text that the “Bockscar” nose art was not applied to the aircraft until until after her 9th Aug mission, and the name was not used in that book in reference to that aircraft on that mission. Elsewhere it notes only “Enola Gay” had nose art prior to the A-Bomb missions, with another 12 getting their nose art while on Tinian after both A-Bomb missions. The final pair it notes as getting their nose art after return to the USA. They were “Jabit III” and “Luke the Spook”. Some of this is then of course at odds with “Ruin from the Air”. “Luke the Spook” is illustrated with a photo dated July 1946.

Elsewhere the Nagasaki bomber is referred to as “Bockscar”.

And just to confuse everything “Big Stink” became “Dave’s Dream” for Operation Crossroads in 1946.

Anyone got a copy of “The Silverplate Bombers” by Richard H Campbell? It might provide some answers.

So it seems to me at the moment from the sources I have to hand that not every aircraft had been named by 6th Aug 1945.
Have no idea if this is a help ?

In the now old -
Squadron/Signal "Superfortress the Boeing B-29" by Steve Birdsall.
Pages 38/39 a list of the Atom Bombers

The 393rd Squadron B-29's were :
71 - 44-27303 -"Jabbitt III" - Capt.John Wilson.
72 - 44-27302 - "Top Secret" - Lt.Charles McKnight.
73 - 44-27300 - " Strange Cargo" - Lt.Joseph Westover.
77 - 44-27297 - "Bockscar" - Capt.Frederick Bock.
82 - 44-86292 - "Enola Gay" - Capt.Robert Lewis/Col. Paul Tibbets.
83 - 44-27298 - " Full House" - Capt. Ralph Taylor.
84 - 44-27296 -......................- Capt. James Price.
85 - 44-27301 - " Straight Flush" - Capt. ClaudeEatherly.
86 - 44-27299 - "Next Objective " - Lt.Ralph DeVore.
88 - 44-27304 - ..................... - Capt. George Marquardt.
89 - 44-27353 - " The Great Artiste" - Lt.Charles Albury/ Major.Charles Sweeney.
90 - 44-27354 - ..................... - ........................... . [ "The Big Stink"/"Dave's Dream"??].
91 - 44-27291 - " Necessary Evil" - Lt.Norman Ray.
94 - 44-27346 - .................... - Lt.Col.Thomas Classen.
95 - 44-86347 - " Laggin Dragon" - Capt. Edward Costello.
NOTE: Some of the aircraft nicknames the 393rd Squadron were not applied until after the atomic bombing missions.

When the 509th CG arrived on Tinian they carried the Units distinctive marking, a black arrowhead in a circle. This was soon replaced by spurious markings - 497th Group insignia, a large "A" was applied to aircraft 71,72,73,84. Airplanes 77,85,86and 88 carried 444th Group markings ( triangle N )including the colored belly band; numbers 82,89,90 and 91 carried 6th Group tail insignia ( circle R); and the final three aircraft 83,94 and 95 bore the 39th Group's tail marking ( square P).
The aircraft were still easily identifiable - the phony 497th and 444th markings were applied in a rather less exact way than in the actual Groups and the stripped B-29's carried individual Airplane numbers in a far higher range than normal bomber Groups.

And in -
CAMOUFLAGE AND MARKINGS No.19 Boeing B-29 Superfortress USAAF 1942-1945 has on page 164 - " It is believed that each of these markings was applied to three aircraft of the 509thCG."
A photo of "Enola Gay" with the arrow/circle marking is also on this page and there is no name on the nose, only "82" on the after fuselage. There is a coloured tip on the tail(red).
After the dropping of the atomic bombs on the 6th and 9th August 1945 by, "Enola Gay " 44-86292, "82"(circle R); and "Bockscar" 44-27297,"77"(triangle N), the 509th CG reverted to its own Group device of an arrow-head in a circle.

Just to clarify the issue of how I have written the names of the aircraft in this post.
In no way am I suggesting that it is how the names appeared on the aircraft.
As to the information from Superfortress the Boeing B-29 and CAMOUFLAGE AND MARKINGS No.19 Boeing B-29 Superfortress USAAF 1942-1945. As far as I recall now, I copied the details as printed.

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When it comes to nose art, many times I've seen erroneous references. One word becoming two. All caps being reduced to initial caps, or vice versa. Double quote marks being used, when there were no quote marks. Or double quotes appearing when the actual aircraft nose art was with single quote marks. Spelling errors. Things like that.

And, of course, like with the "Up and Atom" case (or however it was spelled), sometimes nose art wasn't applied until a later time. And names changed. A new crew might scrub the old name off if they wanted different nose art. I know for a fact that this happened on a specific RAF Liberator.

Or a plane didn't even carry a painted name. For example, an RAF Liberator might have been aircraft "F", and it may have been known as "F" for "FREDDY", but that doesn't mean that the painted nose art even included the word "FREDDY". See the attached. This 159 Squadron Liberator was "Y" for "Yeoman" and had a Beefeater without the word "Yeoman" painted on the forward fuselage. It was known as "Yeoman", but it didn't carry the name as part of the nose art.

Sometimes researchers are to blame. The book "The Liberator in Royal Air Force and Commonwealth Service" has a number of author-caused errors, compared to the photo evidence, even photos appearing in the book. Attached is one example of that, where the photo shows that the nose art was DUMBO DELIVERS!, but in the caption it has become, in initial caps, Dumbo Delivers!

Another example of researcher/author error is with what POWs painted on the roof pitches of Rangoon Jail after the Japanese had force-marched the more able-bodied prisoners, in an attempt (abandoned near Pegu, Burma) to bring them with them all the way down into Thailand. The POWs who stayed behind in Rangoon Jail, upon realizing that there were no Japanese around, painted signs on the roof in large block letters. But then the outer wall of the jail was skip-bombed, so the very angry POWs painted "EXTRACT DIGIT" as a telltale sign that anyone intent upon bombing them should remove their finger from you know where. It was wording that, it was believed, all flyers would recognize was a non-Japanese expression. I have seen in more than one book/website that "EXTRACT DIGIT" had become "EXDIGITATE". The simple photo evidence makes the truth obvious, but apparently the writer of the book didn't check...or care. (You'll note in the photo that the whitewash used for the painting was running out, so the word "DIGIT", especially, is light. Part of that is a trick of the eye on this photo, I think; aircraft seemed to be able to read it fine.)

So, only by viewing contemporary photographic evidence can nose art be understood with any certainty, and even then, change happened.


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For B-24s there is an entire site of nose art to peruse.

Here is just one, named for its first pilot.

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