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David R. Hettema: Nose / Insignia Artist and B-17 Pilot

List of the Hettema painted aircraft and insignias

Old Battle Axe

Super Mouse


About David Hettema

(Taken from Planes, Names, & Fancy Noses)


David Hettema was assigned a brand new silver B-17G in August 1944. His ambitions was to paint the nose art onto his own ship. Others had told him to get in touch with Tony Starcer when he had decided on the name and artwork he wanted but he was adamant. It was his ship and he would do the nose art.

Having dabbled in cartooning, David set to work using some of the brushes he had been sent by Higgins Ink Company in the States. With suggestions from his crew he designed and painted a colorful and original nose art; "Old Battle Axe". 1st Lt. David R. Hettema, flying No. 887, "Old Battle Axe" 16 August 44, in the No. 3 position of the lead element, had a first inkling of what was taking place when his crew started screaming over the intercom that fighters were coming at them from above. He was helpless to do anything other than hold his place in the formation so as to provide maximum protection against the enemy aircraft. one element of three German fighters came in on "Old Battle Axe" at 0500 O'clock. The top turret gunner, S/Sgt. William L. Lothian, fired a continuous burst at the second FW 190 in the element from 600 yards out until it went behind the tail. As the enemy aircraft broke away at 0700 O'clock, S/Sgt. Lothian opened fire again. Smoke was pouring from the engine as the fighter nosed over and went straight down. No one else in "Old Battle Axe" was able to fire at the fighter.  

"Old Battle Axe" was taken away from him upon return. Unperturbed, he set about ; redesigning another nose art for his new replacement plane, "Super Mouse".





The photographs on the following pages can be downloaded by any visitor to the 91st Bomb Group (H) site.   However, we ask that permission be formally requested via email to use any of the photos on another  website.  Thank You 


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