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Local Artist Tattoos Warplanes

A local artist has taken his talents to the sky, so to speak, to decorate some local military aircraft.

Fort Wayne tattoo artist Jeremy Selzer has taken his creativity to the Indiana Air National Guard base at Fort Wayne International Airport, decorating a couple of A-10 warplanes with his own unique paintings.

Selzer, who has made his living as a tattoo artist, said the chance to apply his creative touch to actual war planes was an opportunity he couldn’t pass up.
“They’re doing an awesome job,” he said, “and those planes are so cool.”

Selzer’s work adorns the inside of a door on the side of the plane, just behind a ladder the pilot climbs to get into the cockpit.

“It’s on the inside of the pilot’s door,” Selzer noted. “It’s kind of like a tattoo under your clothes.”

Selzer’s realistic work depicts a Medusa-like head – a woman with snakes for hair – with an aircraft machine gun underneath her face, pointed outward toward the viewer.

Selzer, 43, a Homestead High School graduate and a Fort Wayne native, said he hopes these paintings are only the beginning of the work he’ll do for the Air Guard.

“I really enjoy doing them,” Selzer said. “So I hope they’ll let me do more.”

Additionally, he did the art work gratis.

“A company would have to pay for it,” he said, “but I didn’t charge these guys anything.”

The Air National Guard base where Selzer did his work has been a fixture at Fort Wayne’s airport for decades, stretching all the way back to the days when it was still called Baer Field.

Founded in 1941 as a training airfield for the Army Air Forces, the base has since become a major training and aircraft processing base for C-47 Skytrain and C-46 Commando transport aircraft. Those planes help to equip troop-carrier squadrons with planes and train air crews for their operations.

After World War II, the location was turned over to largely civilian control, although the Air Force kept control over a small area of the airport for reserve training and Air National Guard use.

Since 1952, the base has been the home station of the Indiana Air National Guard 122nd Fighter Wing. That group is the home of several A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft.

In military service since 1976, the A-10 plane is nicknamed the Warthog, or sometimes, just “The Hog.” It was designed to provide close air support for friendly ground troops by attacking armored vehicles, tanks, and other enemy ground forces.

Selzer noted his work is very similar to the old-school nose art often painted on Air Force planes. “It’s kind of like a latter-day version of nose art,” Selzer said.

Plane art has a long history in the military, almost as long as planes have been flying for the United States armed forces. Perhaps the most famous example was the painting – and naming of the B-29 bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima in August of 1945. That craft’s pilot painted his mother’s name on the side, naming the plane the “Enola Gay.”

And while Selzer said he gets great satisfaction from applying his work to the A-10 aircraft; he’s just happy to be giving something back to the servicemen who give so much of themselves.

“These guys do so much for us; it’s nice to be able to do something to give back.

“If they ask me again, I’ll gladly do it.”

Michael Morrissey
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Michael Morrissey

Michael is a professional writer and journalist. He attended South Side High School and Northwestern University. He has written for newspapers in Michigan City, Indiana; Pekin, Illinois; and Bradenton, Florida. He also has written for and edited websites in Florida and San Francisco, California. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer