On June 19, 1944 American Navy pilots ripped into wave after wave of enemy aircraft. As each new onslaught arrived there were more fighters there to meet them. Other squadrons joined in the melee and the radio circuits crackled with shouts and cries of encouragement. “Hell this is like an old time turkey shoot!” yelled one pilot – and thus the battle became known as the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot.”
By the late afternoon two Japanese carriers had been sunk by submarines, and an incredible 373 enemy planes shot down. The U.S. Navy pilots had won an historic victory.
This powerful image features the F6F Hellcat of Lt. Alex Vraciu of Fighting Squadron VF-16 hurtling off the deck of the U.S.S. Lexington. With 12 victories already to his credit, Vraciu would add a further 6 to his tally in the space of just 8 minutes on that momentous day and would go on to become one of the US Navy’s foremost Aces.
This print was personally autographed by the artist Nicolas Trudgian, along with four iconic U.S. Navy Aces who flew the F6F in combat in the Pacific.
Commander ALEX VRACUI – 19 victories
Captain RICHARD “ZEKE” CORMIER – 8 victories
Commander HAMILTON “MAC” McWHORTER – 12 victories
Captain ARMISTEAD “CHICK” SMITH – 11 victories