Air Force Cheesecake

| April 30, 2009 | 3 Replies

A few weeks ago, I visited the National Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. I didn’t expect that I’d like the exhibition that much- my eyes tend to glaze over at the discussion of military specs. However, some of the museum, which is on a functioning Air Force Base, really surprised and impressed me. I liked that the museum had seven different Air Force Ones available,  four of which could be explored inside and out.

I also really liked looking at the ways in which different air force jets and planes of different eras were decorated. I took many pictures of the cheesecake-style pinup gals, critters and skeletons that adorned these big flying weapons. The gals are not surprising I suppose- they echo the centuries-old tradition of masthead mermaids on ships. What really struck me was the use of contemporary cartoon characters as happy icons of war.

I decided to string together my photos of airplane cheesecake and cartoon characters in another simplistic Youtube slideshow. Check it out, and look out for the Seven Dwarves, Donald Duck, Goofy, The Jolly Green Giant, Dennis the Menace and Dumbo, all emblazoned proudly on the face of military jets.

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Category: American Culture, Art, Cartoons, Culture, History, Military, photography, Uncategorized, Video by DI, Videos, War

About the Author ()

Erika is a PhD student in Social Psychology living in Chicago. Here on DI she most often writes about current events, psychology, skepticism, media and internet culture.

Comments (3)

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  1. Dan Klarmann says:

    I enjoyed this take on an air museum. Smithsonian did a pictorial on the girls of the Allied Air Forces a few years ago, but showed fewer examples.

    I've always been a fan of Air and Space Museums, probably in part because my dad worked for NASA. My most recent visit to one was in 2007, when I got to shake hands with four-time astronaut General Stafford himself (some pix and descriptions).

  2. Erich Vieth says:

    Good work noticing something that will, from now on, be much more obvious to me. These are machines that cause death, yet we pretty them up. What do you think is the psychological mechanism the makes this such a common practice? Is it discomfort with that fact that these technically incredible machines will cause many people to die, often civilians? Or is it just having a good time. Or is it an attempt to provide a symbol to personify the plane. Or is it a symbol to facilitate group identity? None of the above?

  3. Erika Price says:

    Erich: I almost think of them as talismans of some kind. This applies especially to those that resemble skeletons and skulls- they seem like little protective icons of death. And does the act of adorning our weapons with familiar creatures differ that much from an aboriginal or native american warrior carving the shape of an animal into a bow or spear? If more "primitive" peoples carried icons of their gods, does that mean our gods are Disney characters?

    Actually, quite strange to note that there is no religious iconography on these planes at all. When it comes to violent battles of the real, mortal world, do we trade in our lofty Christian God for a more pliant Disney god? One that can be made to say and support anything we want?

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