A Bit-O-Lace Painting
Photo taken May 12, 1945 by Charles E. Brown
Digital media, photo retouched, by author

 To her crew and fans, she is known as:

Miss. Lace

The most famous aircraft of WWII to bear Milt Caniff's artwork was the B-17G, 297976.

"A Bit-O-Lace"

Original sketch annotated by Milt Caniff
This is a reproduction, taken from a black and white Xerox copy of the original artwork and Lt. Bates (Pilot) memory.
(Click to see large image 85K jpg  of a retouched color photo of the original artwork -
use your brower's "back" button to return)


Miss Lace's
"Bates" crew co-pilot,
was Lt. John Bauman, a fraternity brother of Milton Caniff.
Lt. Bauman sent Caniff a detailed sketch of the proposed artwork.
The sketch was returned with Caniff's annotation:
"A Bit-O-Lace for Lt. John H. Bauman, and the rest of the gang,
with my best wishes - Milton Caniff  NY, Oct. 1944"

LT. John H. Bauman


Nicholas Fingelly, an artist attached to the USAAF 709th Squadron, 447th Bombardment Group,
carried out the work and completed the painting in about six hours and gave
Milton Caniff full credit for his his character.
K-Bird 976 with A Bit-O-Lace nose art
Bates photograph

Poster from San Antonio Military Museum
K-Bird, A Bit-O-Lace Photo
"Photo taken May 12, 1945 by Charles E. Brown
Note the dark olive drab color on the rudder, elevators, and  starboard  aileron.  These are
obviously replacement parts after she received extensive tail damage on
April 4, 1945.  Prior to April 4, 1945, the rudder and ailerons were painted silver.
Sent by Rob Kirkwood"

Miss Lace, flew83 missions.

"Bates" crew memories, color videos, and photos.

"Mustaleski" crew memories and photos

Historical fact: 4297976 was assigned to the Bates crew with the name of

Lt. Bates in Louie the Creep

"Louie The Creep"

" We (the crew) acquired #4297976 as a new ship. Our first mission as lead crew was with her. After St. Lo we flew as an 11-man crew. An extra radio was installed and manned by a German expatriate. One more glory for Louie The Creep - early electronic surveillance. "Louie The Creep" was a fictional character of the author Damon Runyon, and it was my bright idea to submit the name." - Donald L. Smith, ball turret gunner on Lt. James C. Ray's crew.

After the War

post VE day Lace flying over UK
 A Bit-O-Lace flying in a post VE flyover for the people of England.
Photo taken May 12, 1945 by Charles E. Brown
sent by Rob Kirkwood
Planes from upper left to lower right are; 43-38719 "A" (Blue Hen Chick), 44-8783 "X" (unnamed), 43-38768 "B" (unnamed),  42-31225 "G" (Scheherezade), 43-38230 "E" (Wolf Wagon), 43-37795 "H" (unnamed), 42-97976 "D" (A Bit O' Lace).  My father said this was a staged flyover by the 447th Bomb Group, for the English people.

Notes on above photos by Charles E. Brown

More Charles E. Brown Photos:

Miss Lace Starboard side.
Note: Large Photo

Miss Lace was flown back to the United States
and "retired" in Kingman, Arizona.

Miss Lace in retirement - Arizona
Photo  taken by Jerry McLain,
sent by Rob Kirkwood

B-17 , 297976,
was ultimately scrapped along with her surplus sisters.
Milton Caniff's comic strip, Male Call,
from where the, Miss Lace artwork was drafted,
was also scrapped at about the same time.

Miss Lace in Arizona
Miss Lace in Kingman Arizona.
close-up of A-Bit-O-Lace detail in Larkin photo
Photos taken on February 8, 1947, by William T. Larkins,
sent by Rob Kirkwood

The spirit of A Bit-O-Lace lives on.
Today, models of plastic or wood, and electrons are bearing Miss Lace stripes
and may be found in a majority of hobby or specialty shops
across the United States and the WWW.

Visit A Flying Bit-O-Lace Model

B-17 front painting
Painting by author -  airbrush and tube accrylic

Links to other B-17 information

Were you a crew member on the 1943/44 model of Miss Lace?
Drop me a line.
Happy Landings! - B. K. Bates