The base of legendary Douglas Bader’s Fighter Wing during the Battle of Britain, Duxford became home to the 78th Fighter Group in April 1943. Today it appropriately houses the American Air Museum, and hosts the many summer air-shows where crowds thrill to the sight and sound of the glorious WWII warbirds.
First equipped with P-47 Thunderbolts then P-51Ds, the 78th Fighter Group was credited with 688 enemy aircraft destroyed, 474 in the air, and another 406 destroyed on the ground during low-level strafing missions. Charles London of the 78th became the 8th Air Force’s first fighter ace of the war and a 78th pilot, Quince Brown, was the first to down a Me262 jet in August 1944.
Nick Trudgian’s dramatic painting vividly captures the heady atmosphere of a take-off sequence from a busy wartime Duxford. It is March 1945. Led by Colonel John Landers flying “Big Beautiful Doll”, one of the 8th Air Force’s most flamboyant fighters, the 78th P-51D Mustangs roar off the field to begin an escort mission taking B-17 Fortresses – already airborne in the background – all the way to Hamburg.
Most of the hangars seen in Nick’s painting are still there today, beautifully maintained, housing flying examples of the legendary aircraft that won the Second World War.
This print was signed by two highly distinguished fighter pilots who flew P-51s from Duxford with the 78th Fighter Group.
Lieutenant Colonel CLARK W CLEMONS
Captain WAYNE L COLEMAN