Aircraft In Comics

Aircraft have been represented many times in comics and this "medium" is perfect for this purpose! It allows the reader to see subjects in still condition rather than in movement like in Movies, thus allowing him to see all the details. The ability of the artist to reproduce those details and the accuracy of his drawing is what makes a Comic Artist a good aircraft specialist. Some Comics are focused on aviation while others only show a few planes. I'll start this series of features with the first category... are you ready to take off?

Buck Danny
The first Comic I want to present you is Buck Danny. The name of the series is also the name of the hero, a U.S. Navy pilot. He was created soon after the end of WW2 and is still flying around the world today! After more than 60 years, he is still in good shape... in fact he doesn't get older! That's the magic of comics! Victor Hubinon (art) and Jean-Michel Charlier (story) worked together on the "war years" of Buck Danny from 1945 to 1951. Needless to say, references about aircraft used during the conflict were not easily available. This led to some artistic freedom in the representation of some aircraft as we will see!

Aircraft in "Buck Danny" Episode 1 (WW2)
Picture 1 The first planes that appear in a Buck Danny comic are Japanese bombers during the Attack of Pearl Harbor. I show you the entire page so you can get an idea of the typical "style" of the early comics. You can also notice that one scene in the Pearl Harbor movie may have been inspired by this sequence! The bombers appears to be Mitsubishi KI-21 that probably easily took of from Japanese carriers!? The other plane looks like an A6M2 "Zero" and has a spectacular yellow paint-scheme!

Picture 2 The second picture shows Buck Danny aboard a SBD Dauntless fighting against a Japanese Aichi D1A. We can see that the Dauntless has three crew members: pilot, gunner and... special guest! The Japanese plane is anachronistic, as it wasn't used in operations during the Pacific War.

Picture 3 Later in the story, Buck Danny manage to escape the Japanese by taking one of their bombers and lands on an aircraft carrier!? The plane looks like a KI-21 in the first vignette but is completely transformed in the second one... front, canopy and spinner are different!

Picture 4 Our hero's new "toy" is this marvellous Wildcat prototype! The front fuselage makes it look more like a "Raiden"!

Picture 5 Once in the air, the plane is capable of transformation! The fuselage appears to be one of a Hellcat (typical front cowling) and the wings are those of a Corsair... another prototype! The fin stripes and the red cross inside the star have been removed between the two pictures but the number remains the same.

Picture 6 It is well known that the Martin Baltimore did see operational use on U.S. carriers during WW2!

Picture 7 Sometimes three view drawings are added in the comic book. Here we have a Mitsubishi S-03... in fact a Kawasaki KI-61 "Hien". It's the fighter most used by the Japanese in the Buck Danny stories, despite the fact they almost only used radial engine powered planes during the war!

Picture 8 This spectacular scene depicts the Japanese raid on the Yorktown during the Battle of Midway. The plane seems to be a mixture of a "Val" dive bomber and a "Kate" torpedo plane. If someone has a better idea...

Picture 9 Another spectacular action! A Kawasaki KI-61 collides with buck Danny's Wild/Hell Cat...

Picture 10 North American B-25s are bombing a Japanese base. The plane seems to be accurate!

Picture 11 Japanese (!?) floatplanes waiting for some action... If someone can tell me the name of these aircraft? They look like the mix of a Mariner and a Coronado... but these are American!

Picture 12 A beautiful and accurate B-17.

Picture 13 The attack on Dutch Harbour by Japanese... ??? What the hell is that? If someone could tell me? I don't have a clue! Looks like F3Fs...

Picture 14 PBY Catalinas are attacking the Japanese fleet with torpedos... though not common, the floatplane was able to carry torpedoes and did use some on operations during WW2.

Picture 15 The attack of Midway by the Japanese. It seems like they used all the planes the had available! Even the old Aichi D1A dive bombers!

Picture 16 B-26 Marauders attacking the Japanese aircraft carriers during the Battle of Midway! Strange... but accurate! The Marauder was tested as torpedo plane during this battle... for the last time!

Picture 17 A SBD Dauntless is going to crash on a Japanese Carrier... note the pilot jumping out of the cockpit!

Picture 18 After the Midway Battle, Buck Danny fights with the Flying Tigers in China. Their planes are not Curtiss P-40s, but P-51 Mustangs with the famous sharkmouth!

Picture 19 During the China adventures, the British are helping our hero by providing a Bristol Beaufighter with the typical Mickey Mouse nose-art of Adolf Galland!

Picture 20 A flight of British Spitfires in... French markings! A common error in comics...

Picture 21 A Mitsubishi G3M bombs the submarine in which Buck Danny was rescued... The plane appears to have lost its twin tail-fins in the second picture!

Picture 22 An interesting image of a Sikorsky R-4B! One of the first helicopters to see operational use during WW2. It seems Charlier and Hubinon found more and more references. The war had been over for five year when this episode was created.

That's enough for the first episode! Next time we will see the post war planes used by Buck Danny and I can assure you the entire military and civil aviation history will be revisited in Comic "style"... to be continued...

All images reproduced in this article are Copyright © S.A. Éditions Dupuis
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About the Author

About Jean-Luc Formery (TedMamere)

I'm mainly interested in WW2 aircraft and I build them in 1/48 scale.


This article really brings back memories. Comics like Sgt Rock and G.I. Combat were among my first exposure to WWII. I also remember Terry and the Pirates, which looks quite a bit like this comic, in the Sunday funny pages. Great job. A very interesting article.
SEP 03, 2005 - 12:49 PM
Jean-Luc, Thank you! This is great! I wish I kept all of my comics. Love those bombers attacking the Japanese fleet--LEO-451s?
SEP 06, 2005 - 05:34 AM
A "cliffhanger" is when a series ends the current episode with an unresolved, perilous situation, leaving the audience yearning and anxious to see how it resolves in the next episode. What Steven probably means is that he hopes we do not have to wait long until you post the next installment. I agree
SEP 06, 2005 - 05:46 AM
Hi Fred! Thanks for the explanation... I'm learning something new every day! I thought Steven was refering to the movie! I said to myself "what the hell has Buck Danny in common with Sylveter Stallone!" :-) I think I will do some "episodes" from time to time. As I have enough material for 20 parts, I don't know if the editors will let me flood the site with comics features... Anyway, thanks for reading.. and guys if you have aircraft related comics hidden somewhere... just let me know! I'm interested... Jean-Luc
SEP 06, 2005 - 07:20 AM
Thank you Jean-Luc for this lovely insight into the early years of Buck Danny. Indeed, 60 years onwards he's still flying ( and colonel by then ). I suspect you'll be doing some Tangy and Laverdure aswell ?
SEP 06, 2005 - 09:02 AM
Hi Richard! Infortunately I don't have the Tanguy and Laverdure serie (... so far) but Francois Buis (fbuis) has and I think he would be pleased to jump in for the famous French duo! Jean-Luc
SEP 07, 2005 - 04:13 AM
Allo Jean-Luc! This remainded me that I am in debt with you (Ace of Pike) It's a great feature and now that the "By The Book" Campaign is comming, may these wonderfull illustrations serve as motivation! For those who want to pic up a little bit more of this theme: https://armorama.kitmaker.net/forums/57475&page=1 Thanks for sharing Rowan Skipper PS: I don't know how I missed this post
SEP 07, 2005 - 04:32 AM
In Spain in 80¨s it was published a serie of 10 comic books called "AS de Picas" ( Ace of Pikes) about a B-17 Flying Fortrres. Each picture notice lot of documentation about planes, airfields.. in general of Air forces in ETO. If you are interested in could send me an e-mail. Today it´s quite dificult to find it.
SEP 09, 2005 - 08:27 PM
show us more of your comic stuff..it brings back childhood memories..unfortunately i handed down my comics to some of my friends after reading then..sgt.rock,hunted tank,eerie,some i forgot the titles..i hope to see more of them. comicbooks profells one's imagination and knowledge same us classic and science books. thanks for sharing them.
SEP 12, 2005 - 01:57 PM
... hey hey don't forget Tintin! I forget the artist's name, but he was well known for doing lots of research about what he was about to draw. See 'Tintin in Tibet', 'The Ottokar Scepter', at least these two. Oh, and 'Flight 714'!
OCT 22, 2010 - 06:53 AM