The USAAF arrived in England in 1942 to join the RAF with one aim: The destruction of Nazi Germany. With a doctrine of high altitude daytime bombing, initially with sparse fighter protection, the Eighth Air Force went forth into battle. But the determined fighter pilots of the Luftwaffe, together with the fearsome anti-aircraft guns of the ground defences took a heavy toll. It quickly became obvious that fighter would be required to play a decisive role in the campaign. And this they did.
Under great Flight Commanders such as Hub Zemke and Don Blakeslee, the Eighth continually developed and honed their tactics, and it was only a matter of time before this mighty force achieved priceless domination of the skies over Europe. It is on record that the fighters probably made the biggest single contribution to the ultimate victory in the air war in Europe.
Robert Taylor’s spectacular painting features the fighters of the Eighth in a busy scene on a wartime airfield in England, as the fighter squadrons prepare for mission to Germany. The redoubtable P-47 Thunderbolts start-up and taxi out for take-off, while overhead P-51s climb out to join the bomber force, already en-route to the target. The scene is set in 1944, and the early model P-47s and P51s have already seen two years hard combat.
This print is signed by six of the most distinguished Fighter Aces ever to fly with the Mighty Eighth:
Major RICHARD PETERSON – 357th Fighter Group / 15½ victories
Colonel FRANCIS “GABBY” GABRESKI – 56th Fighter Group, top US ace in Europe / 34½ victories (incliding 6½ in Korea)
Colonel WALKER “BUD” MAHURIN– 56th Fighter Group /24¼ victories (including 3½ in Korea).
Colonel ROBERT JOHNSON – 56th Fighter Group / 27 victories
Colonel DON BLAKESLEE – Eagle Squadrons & 4th Fighter Group / 15½ victories
Colonel HUBERT “HUB” ZEMKE – 56th Fighter Group leader / 17¾ victories
50th ANNIVERSARY PUBLISHER’S PROOF
A specially published set of proofs issued to commemorate the Golden Anniversary of the arrival in Europe of the USAAF in 1942, and the Campaigns fought by the 8th, 9th, 12th and 15th Air Force during World War II.
Each Publisher Proof is issued with a matching numbered companion print:
Bringing up the rear of a flight climbing out on a strike mission, a P-38
Lightning of the 474th Fighter Group, breaks through the cloud.
First operated on a large scale in N.W. Africa in 1942, the P-38 saw
action in the Mediterranean Theater with the 12th, and 15th Air
Forces. It later became a mainstay of the 8th and 9th Air Forces
Additionally, this pencil print was signed by four top fighter pilots representing the 8th, 9th, 12, and 15th Air Forces.
Captain WILLIAM ANDERSON – 354th FG, 9th Air Force / 7 victories, first person to shoot down a V-1 Flying Bomb
Lieutenant Colonel FRANK HURLBUT – 82nd FG, 15th Air Force / 9 victories
Colonel WALTER C BECKHAM – 353 FG, 8th Air Force / 18 victories
Colonel HERSCHEL “HERKY” GREEN – 325th FG, 15th Air Force / 18 victories