Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Get 'em off!

I've never been particularly fond of the "nose art" that adorns many modern RAF aircraft. Not because I'm a prude, but simply because it has always struck me that the Americans do this sort of crass vulgarity far better than us Brits.

But the news that the powers that be in the RAF have banned such art from RAF aeroplanes in case they offend women or Muslims strikes me as absurd. For a start, from my experience of women in the RAF, they are no shrinking violets likely to swoon at the merest hint of sexuality - visual or aural. The fact that not a single complaint from the RAF female personnel has been received by the RAF command tends to back this view up.

It also strikes me as odd that they are concerned about upsetting Muslims as well. Maybe it's just me, but I'd have thought that dropping 500lb bombs on villages would upset them far more than the fact the bomber that did it featured a scantily dressed leggy lovely - but I readily admit that I do not understand the Muslim mind set. Who does?

I don't think the sort of nose art we're talking about here has that much of a history in the RAF - not scantily dressed women, anyway. It was certainly a big thing during WW2 for the Americans - as characterised by the famous B-17 Flying Fortress "Memphis Belle", but generally British nose art did not feature women - though there were exceptions, one being the cartoon character "Jane". Most British nose art during WW2 was more restrained featuring squadron badges, motto's or images of something giving Hitler a kick up the backside.

Even so, nose art has been a boost for pilot morale as long as there has been fighting aeroplanes - and aeroplanes are always "she". So it's a natural progression from the impersonal "she" to give your fighter or bomber a name and to then give her a face - and men being men, they are likely to give her a body too and it isn't going to look like someones grandma.

The RAF have got a lot more important issues to deal with right now. Ageing equipment, overstretch, lack of resources. With all that going on, you'd think they'd find something more important to get on with. Most of all, it strikes me as incredibly daft to tell men who may be about to fly their last ever mission that they can't have a picture on their aeroplane in case it upsets someone.

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