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A shark's-teeth pattern adorns a Bell UH-1C Iroquois (Huey) helicopter at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
A shark's-teeth pattern adorns a Bell UH-1C Iroquois (Huey) helicopter at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
A shark's-teeth pattern adorns a Bell UH-1C Iroquois (Huey) helicopter at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
A shark's-teeth pattern adorns a Bell UH-1C Iroquois (Huey) helicopter at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a Northrop F-89J Scorpion fighter at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on a Northrop F-89J Scorpion fighter at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The markings on this B57 nuclear bomb at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, are simple and ominous.
The markings on this B57 nuclear bomb at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, are simple and ominous. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art, taken from scrapped planes, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art, taken from scrapped planes, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
A rhino motif breaks from the usual shark theme at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
A rhino motif breaks from the usual shark theme at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a Consolidated B-24J Liberator at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. After World War II, this plane was turned over to the Indian Air Force by Great Britain.
Aircraft art on a Consolidated B-24J Liberator at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. After World War II, this plane was turned over to the Indian Air Force by Great Britain. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a Consolidated B-24J Liberator at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. After World War II, this plane was turned over to the Indian Air Force by Great Britain.
Aircraft art on a Consolidated B-24J Liberator at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. After World War II, this plane was turned over to the Indian Air Force by Great Britain. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art, taken from a scrapped plane,  at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art, taken from a scrapped plane, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art, taken from a scrapped plane, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art, taken from a scrapped plane, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art, taken from a scrapped plane, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art, taken from a scrapped plane, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on the B-29 "Quaker City" at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on the B-29 "Quaker City" at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a Curtiss C-46D Commando at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on a Curtiss C-46D Commando at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a B-29 Superfortress at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on a B-29 Superfortress at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on an F/A-18A Hornet from the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on an F/A-18A Hornet from the U.S. Navy's Blue Angels, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
A Beechcraft UC-45, decorated as part of "The Boneyard Project," at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
A Beechcraft UC-45, decorated as part of "The Boneyard Project," at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a North American F-86H Sabre jet at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on a North American F-86H Sabre jet at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a Republic Thunderstreak from the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on a Republic Thunderstreak from the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a Douglas C-54D Skymaster at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. This plane was used in te Berlin Airlift in 1949.
Aircraft art on a Douglas C-54D Skymaster at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. This plane was used in te Berlin Airlift in 1949. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a Soviet MiG 29 Fulcrum A Interceptor jet at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on a Soviet MiG 29 Fulcrum A Interceptor jet at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The red star like this one on a MiG-23MLD Flogger-K fighter at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, was a symbol of the Cold War.
The red star like this one on a MiG-23MLD Flogger-K fighter at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, was a symbol of the Cold War. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a Boeing KC-97G Stratofreighter aerial tanker at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on a Boeing KC-97G Stratofreighter aerial tanker at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a Douglas EA-1F Skyraider from the USS America, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on a Douglas EA-1F Skyraider from the USS America, at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a Boeing EB-47E Stratojet at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on a Boeing EB-47E Stratojet at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a Boeing EB-47E Stratojet at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on a Boeing EB-47E Stratojet at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
The familiar lettering and blue-and-white paint scheme on a Douglas VC-118A Liftmaster at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, traditionally indicates an important aircraft, and this one certainly was. It was used as Air Force One by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson before being phased out in favor of jets.
The familiar lettering and blue-and-white paint scheme on a Douglas VC-118A Liftmaster at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, traditionally indicates an important aircraft, and this one certainly was. It was used as Air Force One by Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson before being phased out in favor of jets. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a Teledyne Ryan AQM-34L Firebee drone at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on a Teledyne Ryan AQM-34L Firebee drone at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Aircraft art on a Boeing NB-52A Stratofortress at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Aircraft art on a Boeing NB-52A Stratofortress at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
Marvin the Martian, from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, is featured on an MH-53 Jolly Green helicopter at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.
Marvin the Martian, from the Bugs Bunny cartoons, is featured on an MH-53 Jolly Green helicopter at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)
This P-51 fighter at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, features an odd addition to the symbols of planes shot down by Capt. Louis E. Curdes ... and he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down the American plane. He forced a C-47 that was about to land on a Japanese-held airstrip to ditch at sea, after which all its passengers were rescued.
This P-51 fighter at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, features an odd addition to the symbols of planes shot down by Capt. Louis E. Curdes ... and he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for shooting down the American plane. He forced a C-47 that was about to land on a Japanese-held airstrip to ditch at sea, after which all its passengers were rescued. (Joe Gromelski/Stars and Stripes)

TUCSON, Ariz. — The symbols on the P-51 Mustang are familiar to anyone who has seen World War II fighter planes up close. A marking on the side for each enemy aircraft shot down. Seven swastikas, a rising sun, Italian fasces.

And an American flag.

That one gets your attention.

The "Bad Angel" is only one of many planes at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson that are decorated with unique artwork, as is a tradition in the U.S. military. But this American flag in an unusual location pays tribute to an exceptional pilot, Army Air Force Capt. Louis Curdes, one of only three pilots to shoot down at least one plane from each of the three Axis powers.

As for that American flag ...

On Feb, 10, 1945, Curdes was circling the area where a fellow pilot had been shot down when he spotted an American C-47 with its wheels down, preparing to land on what he knew was a Japanese-held airstrip on Batan Island. To prevent this, he shot out the C-47's engines, forcing the pilot to turn around and ditch at sea, then wait for a Catalina flying boat to pick up the crew and passengers — one of whom was a nurse Curdes had gone out on a date with the night before.

Curdes was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts.

Other planes at the museum feature artwork that is sometimes functional, sometimes whimsical, always interesting. Here are a few examples.

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