The RAF has banned airmen from painting pin-ups on the noses of their aircraft. Harrier jump-jets currently launching daily air-strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan have been scrubbed clean to comply with the orders.
Nose art first appeared on warplanes during the First World War and enjoyed a golden age during the Second World War when thousands of American fighters and bombers were decorated with pictures of glamorous women. Military commanders tolerated the practice as a morale booster. Famous examples include the Memphis Belle, a U.S. Army Air Force B-17 bomber that was the subject of a 1990 Hollywood movie. Many RAF units picked up the practice from the Americans. During the Second World War it was common to see images of movie stars including Rita Hayworth and Jane Russell on British bombers heading for Germany.
The decision to ban the images followed a visit by glamour models to Afghanistan before Christmas. During the trip they signed paintings of themselves on RAF aircraft. Commanders decided the images were sexist and insisted there was no place for them in the modern armed forces and that they could offend the RAF's female personnel - despite the fact that there is no record of any complaints from the 5,400 women in the RAF.
There is also concern that the pictures could cause offence in a Muslim country where until 2001 all women were forced to wear the head-to-toe burkha in public.
The GOS says: So it's all right to bomb the bastards, but you mustn't offend them.
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