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Disney character Thumper used as nose art on Lincolnshire Lancaster

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: September 24, 2012

Restoration: Thumper, the rabbit from the 1942 Disney cartoon Bambi, holding a pint of beer, has been restored on the nose of Lincolnshire's Lancaster

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An aircraft restorer has recreated a 1940s Disney character for the nose art on Lincolnshire's Lancaster.

Clive Denney, from Vintage Fabrics Ltd, was asked to paint Thumper, the rabbit from the 1942 Disney cartoon Bambi, holding a pint of beer, on the aircraft.

The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Lancaster now bears the livery of 617 Squadron Lancaster B1, DV385, dubbed Thumper Mk III.

This plane was one of a fleet of new Lancasters supplied to the squadron after the Dams Raid in 1943.

It took part in the first Tallboy bombing raid on the Saumur railway tunnel in France, two missions against the German battleship Tirpitz and several attacks on V rocket sites.

Despite its impressive wartime pedigree, all Mr Denney initially had to go on was an old photo.

"Unfortunately, the nose art is a very poor impression of the cartoon character Thumper, but then again it was originally done by a member of groundcrew," said Mr Denney, whose firm is based in Saffron Walden, Essex.

"My brief was to copy the original, not improve upon it.

"But even doing that was quite a challenge. The BBMF sent me a black and white photograph of the original artwork and that was all we had to work with at first.

"You know that grass is green and what Thumper looks like so you go with that but we had no idea what colour the flowers were supposed to be.

"Then we found a colour guide through a modellers' website which showed some yellow flowers so we knew we had the right colour.

"It was a real pleasure to work on such a fantastic aircraft."

The new paint job was carried out in a hanger at Humberside Airport over two days.

Jim Shortland, a 617 Squadron historian, who lives in Sleaford, said: "In my opinion, the nose art of Thumper Mk III is an excellent choice for the BBMF Lancaster.

"DV385 has a great operational record, flying 50 ops and dropping 15 Tallboys and five, 12,000 high capacity bombs."

BBMF spokesman Yvonne Masters said: "We are absolutely delighted with the new nose art – it's so striking."

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