First JB Charleston C-17s receive nose art, embrace heritage

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Megan Munoz
  • Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs
A Nose Art Unveiling Ceremony was held April 27, 2018 for two of Team Charleston’s C-17 Globemaster III aircraft during the Joint Base Charleston Air and Space Expo rehearsal.

A total of eight C-17s are scheduled to receive nose art over the course of the next few months as a part of the Air Force-wide initiative of squadron revitalization.

“We did this with the air expo and Family Day because it’s a really big deal,” said 1st Lt. Elie El Chartouni, 437th Maintenance Squadron Maintenance Flight commander. “The nose art really instills that sense of pride, so we thought what’s better than the Family Day to show it off to all our families?”

Nose art first became popular in the United States during World War I. Painting the nose of an aircraft originated as a way to tell enemy and friendly aircraft apart and later morphed into a way to express individuality while showing unit pride. Popularity in nose art declined during the Korean War and has regained popularity since the 1990s, now bringing the tradition to Joint Base Charleston.

“Since the beginning of the Air Force, our aircraft have been adorned with nose art,” said Col. Jimmy Canlas, 437th Airlift Wing commander. “It gives character and pride to the aircraft. We wanted to bring that back to Joint Base Charleston and our C-17s.”

Each flying squadron is permitted to have one aircraft with nose art. Only the two airlift wings’ planes were revealed during the ceremony, although there are plans for six more C-17s to receive nose art. The flying squadrons were able to create their own decals and worked with artists from the local community to finalize the designs.

“These designs were created by the squadrons, for the squadrons,” said Capt. Keane Carpenter. “They were born out of a proud history and aim to inspire and excite today’s Airmen. Nose art connects us to our heritage, inspires excellence and instills pride to all members of the unit who see their colors taxiing by.”

The 437th AW’s design includes an eagle in an attack stance with a streamer bearing the units designation flying over a globe to represent the wing’s worldwide mobility. This design was originally used for the 437th Troop Carrier Wing, which supported combat operations in the Korean Peninsula in the 1950s.

The 315th Airlift Wing’s design symbolizes their ability to provide rapid global mobility and their connection to the community as reservists. The design includes a modified version of the 315th AW emblem, wings and a C-17 flying over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

The decals are made out of a high-speed vinyl material meant to last approximately five years. According to Tech. Sgt. Richard Gravely, 437th MXS NCO in charge of the Corrosion Control Facility, vinyl was chosen instead of traditional paint because it is more durable.

“Our aircraft today are a lot faster and fly a lot more than they did in World War II,” Gravely said. “That’s why the paint wouldn’t have worked; someone would have to constantly touch it up. There’s no room for error when you’re putting them on. It’s really sticky so once the decal touches, it’s stuck.”

Members of the 437th and 315th Operations Groups and 437th Maintenance Group worked together to design and apply the vinyl decals.

“The nose art project has been a great collaboration between the operations groups and maintenance group, which we don’t get to see every day on the small things,” El Chartouni said. “At the end of the day it’s for the mission, our pride and heritage, so it’s been really cool to be a part of this project.”