American fighter pilots painted small enemy flags or symbols on their planes to denote the number of victories over enemy planes that they are credited with. Bomber crews did the same, plus bomb symbols (was each bomb a hit on a target, a bomb dropped, or a mission?). Ship crews painted enemy flags or symbols for planes that their anti-aircraft guns are credited with shooting down, and depictions of ships that their guns (or airplanes, if an aircraft carrier) are credited with sinking.
Did airplane and ship crews from other nations do anything similar in displaying their victory tallies on their airplanes and ships?
Tallying of sucesses seems to have been universal:
US Sub crews printed 'sinking ship' outlines on their conning towers.
Luftwaffe fighters had small vertical bars painted on their rudders; the bar had the enemy's insignia, and a date (and sometimes the a/c type); some of the 'experten' had to have 'summaries' (an elaborately painted number, sometimes with the 'Knights Cross decoration) on the rudder to leave room for more bars. The Japanese Army AF painted (red?) stars next to the cockpit. Most other AFs painted enemy insignia near the cockpit
Bomber crews painted 'bombs' to represent missions, recce crews sometimes painted cameras or eyeballs. US transport crews used camels to represent supply missions (over the 'Hump'?).
Ground strafers of many nations painted locomotives, tanks, trucks, guns, etc
German anti tank crews painted rings (stripes) around the gun barrel to represent 'kills'.
There must be more examples and varieties- crews loved to take pictures of these markings 'to send home to Mom', so there are gazillions of them published during and since the Second Great UnPleasantness...just start looking in the dustier parts of the library...
....and have fun Wes
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Hello! Polish airmen fighting on the 'allies' side in Britain and then France and Germany also painted dark cross symbols on their planes. The bombers crewes have done it too (at least I've seen photos of polish bombers with small bombs' pictures outside the cockpit window). This is probably though a 'borrowed' idea. I don't know about polish navy. It seems it didn't depict the aircraft shot on a ship. However there was also another way of marking a ship victory common in many navies. A submarine returning from a patrol would carry small flags depicting sunk ships on the periscope. If a sub sunk the whole of a convoy it's crew would put a broom ( I think that's the word) on their periscope upon return IIRC. MArcin B.
The Japanese used Chrysanthamum blossoms to represent kills usually painted just below the cockpit.
The Germans used a vertical mark somtimes topped with the victim's national roundel on top of it painted on the rudder. When the German pilot hit a certain number of large kills a laurel wreath with Knight's Cross and ribbon was painted above the kill marks. A number like 50 or 100 or higher commemorating that special kill was in the center of the wreath.
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Finnish Air Force did.
See examples: http://www.mannerheim.fi/sotavari/jsdia263.jpg http://www.mannerheim.fi/sotavari/jsdia264.jpg
(Brewster pilots, btw)
They also painted small symbols of the enemy plane shot down. Silhouette of the plane from front.
2 engine bomber for them, etc. You could recognize the plane if it was a more identifiable type, like I-15, I-153, I-16 etc.
The custom of painting neat little national flags under the cockpit began with the AVG, the original 'Flying Tigers', in 1941-1942; through the publicity of the AVG, the practice spread quickly and became commonplace in the US forces. I do not believe the RAF or RCAF did so, but IIRC the RAAF and RNZAF did. RAF/RCAF bombers certainly did use bomb=mission symbols, as well as a milk bottle for 'milk runs' such as leaflet drops. Parachutes denoted paratrooping sorties, and chutes with boxes indicated cargo drops, for transports and bombers acting as transports for the Maquis, etc.
Soviet Air Force painted red stars on fighters for number of victories. Kozhedub and Pokryshkin fighters look very impressive on photos with 50+ red stars.