In the past, there was a tradition in the U.S. military to paint pin-ups on aircraft. Today, that tradition lives on in Japan. But there's an important difference: they're not cheesecake pin-ups. They're anime girls.
The annual festival at the Japanese Self Defense Force's Kisarazu base allowed visitors to check out the aircraft and vehicles.
One Cobra chopper from the 4th Anti Tank Helicopter Unit was covered with "Kisarazu Akane". The 1st lieutenant is an "image character" for a unit on the base—a yura kyara, if you will, with missiles.
On 2ch, the reaction to this has varied, with some wondering if it's okay to entrust these folks with Japan's defense. Others pointed out that these anime girls are similar to the aircraft pin-ups of yore in that they're not entirely serious.
In recent years, however, that sort of saucy nose art has been deemed offensive in the West. That doesn't seem to be much of a concern in Japan: At the Kisarazu event, there was a cosplaying Akane on hand and even a sheet that listed her vital statistics. Her bust-waist-hip measurements were listed as a "national secret".
This anime girl style painting on a military vehicle thing doesn't seem to be widespread in Japan yet—nothing like the pin-ups on American aircraft during WWII were. However, last year, the same division also had an anime girl on one of its anti-tank helicopters.
This year marks that unit's twentieth anniversary. Besides the otaku friendly helicopter, there were other geeked out vehicles, too, and even Akane Kisarazu stickers, buttons, and other goods. Several Japanese sites were on hand to enjoy the festivities. You can check out more photos in the links below.