Collings Foundation

Nose Art Repaint

This was the most challenging and intricate nose art I've done on a warbird to date. The temperatures exceeded 100 degrees during the painting and most people who witnessed me doing this could not belive that I was in this heat with a flight suit on. The work was done at Frederick Municipal airport in Maryland from 8/11-02 - 8/14-02 and I had only a week to finish the B-25 for its first time appearance in the airshow circuit in its new scheme that same weekend. I was given creative licence in enhancing the girl since the original was two-dimentional and I am very satisfied with the results considering the circumstances and I believe that this was an excellent choice by the Collings Foundation. Although risque, this B-25 will be the focal point of the shows that it will appear in and I'm thankful to have been a part of it.

Gary Velasco

B-25D-1 s/n 41-30669
500 BS, 345BG

The most famous aircraft flown by the 345th Bomb Group was TONDALAYO, named after Hedy Lamar's sultry character in the movie "White Cargo". TONDALAYO was an early replacement aircraft assigned to the 500th squadron on August 23, 1943, while the unit was converting its medium bombers into strafers. The name and insignia appeared on both sides as did the Varga style girl with Hedy Lamar's face, and in fact, the artwork of the girl originally was done by Alberto Varga and appeared in the ESQUIRE 1943 calendar as Miss June.

TONDALAYO's fame was established on October 18, 1943, during the contraversial unescorted raid on Rabaul. Piloted by 1/Lt. Ralph G. Wallace, it was part of a three-plane flight which claimed the sinking of a 6000-ton freighter off Vunapope, New Britain. Then with an engine shot out, TONDALAYO fought a vicious seventy-five minute running battle with 50 Japanese fighters as it flew homeward down the New Britain coast. Both wingman were shot down during the flight. The plane's turret gunner, Sgt. Murphy, was givin credit for shooting down five Japanese fighters, and four others were awarded to the crew after they were seen crash into the water after misjudging passes on the damaged aircraft which was skimming the wave tops. Following the mission, TONDALAYO was out of action for about six months for extensive repairs, Including the replacement of a wing and both engines.

The aircraft rejoined the 500th in mid-May, 1944. It's scoreboard was updated and the Squadron Operations Officer, 1/Lt. Frederick W. Dick, became its regular pilot.

TONDALAYO did yeomen service as a combat aircraft until the fall of 1944 when the 500th re-equipped with B-25Js. It was then declared Class V (non-combat), stripped of its camouflage paint, guns and combat equipment, and as CHOW HOUND was turned into a transport for ferring food and personel between Australia and the 500th's base.

The aircraft was finally lost on a run from Biak to San Marcelino when it ran out of gas while flying around a weather front and crash-landed on the beach at Catanduanes Island in the Philippines on March 30, 1945.



The crew names have all been painted first followed by the black background where the kill tally will be with the credited freighter. White flags was then painted and when dry, a stencil was made to mark in the red rising sun to the flags (seen here). I have also located and measured he name "TONDALAYO" marked by the white tape. A stencil was made for the bombs and stars. As I waited for paint to dry, I added the stars.


I've started the red 'rising sun' in the flags. There seemed to be an audience at all times due to the plane being parked in front of the airport restaurant. I also bugged the line guys to constantly turn the plane so the sun would not be directly on the side that I was painting on. (just like the old days)


Here is a better shot of the scoreboard and names. On the original TONDALAYO, there was not a black anti-glare panel. The data stencil was in black and no red marks for the propellar line. At some point the nose windows were sprayed in OD as well and the scoreboard black background cropped closer to the flags.


I'm checking for name alignment before marking in the name. There are several sources used for reference. This happens to be the Squadron Signal "Walk Around" series for the B-25 in which there is a great shot of TONDALAYO.


The name is done and I have added the bombs. I positioned and marked out the 'girl'. I have started with the left foot first, then the right which happens to be the largest piece of the 'girl'. I approached the 'girl' in steps. There are good stopping points for each piece of the body and I worked from left to right. It was just easyier. Another reference was the Varga calander from which I made a reverse copy. This is how it was done in 1943.


The heat was not helping the cause. In fact, the surface of the paint was drying faster than the wet underside. In other words, Its a nightmare! I had to work extremly fast for blending even when linseed oil was added to the paint to slow the drying. Note the sun-burned hands.


Break time! Its starting to look like something.


The base coating and tail art was done by AV-Source in Midland, Texas. Nice Job!


A little closer look at the 'girl' so far. The original had the hand changed a couple of times for some unknown reason and the artwork had been done over as well. The final rendition represented here is how the aircraft appeared in May-June, 1943.


Finally finished! The face didn't take very long (about an hour) and the grass skirt went even quicker. Just several wisks with the brush in green, yellow and white for highlights. I signed it under the grass on the right. This day was short, 8am-7pm.


After the airshow that weekend, I came back a couple of days later and did the other side.

Thanks to everyone who supported me in the few days I was there. Special thanks to Kevin, Erv and Carroll for the beer runs.