Aviation Art - Release Your Brakes and Hunt for Heaven by William S. Phillips

April 18, 2015
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Release Your Brakes and Hunt for Heaven by William S. Phillips

Aviation Art - Release Your Brakes and Hunt for Heaven by William S. Phillips“They came from our secret base at Shangri-la,” President Roosevelt claimed of Doolittle’s “land-based” B-25 bombers that attacked Japan on April 18, 1942. It is common knowledge today that they flew from the deck of the carrier USS Hornet. However, back then, the idea of a fully laden, twin-engine bomber taking off in less than 500 feet was just as much a surprise to the Japanese as it was just to the US airmen whose job it would be to fly the mission.

Beginning 1 March 1942, in preparation for the famous Doolittle Raid on Tokyo, twenty-four crews were selected to pick up modified B-25 bombers in Minneapolis and fly them to Eglin Field, Florida. There the crews received intensive training for three weeks in simulated carrier deck takeoffs, low-level and night flying, low-altitude bombing and over-water navigation, primarily out of Wagner Field, Auxiliary Field 1.

Here William Phillips’ Release Your Brakes and Hunt for Heaven depicts Lieutenant Henry Miller, USN, from nearby Naval Air Station Pensacola supervising the training which would prepare the crews for their carrier take-offs. Airmen were instructed to “drop the landing flaps, pour on the coal and pull-up on the yoke.” None of the assembled volunteers would have ever guessed that in just under two months, sixteen B-25’s, loaded to 31,000 lbs – a ton greater than its designed maximum load – would claw their way into the air in less than 300 feet from a carrier off the hostile shores of Japan.

Aviation Art - Knight of the Reich by Robert Taylor

February 13, 2015
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Knight of the Reich by Robert Taylor

Knight of the Reich by Robert Taylor – JG52

The morning of 15 October, 1943, dawned like many others over the Ukraine. The chill in the air hinted at the prospect of another winter of savage fighting on the Eastern Front. But it wasn’t the forthcoming winter that was on the minds of the fighter pilots of III./JG52, it was their Russian adversaries.

Ever since the battle for Kursk, the Wehrmacht had been on the defensive. The Russians counter attacked, beginning a military offensive that would eventually lead to the gates of Berlin. As the German Army fell back, JG52 was forced back as well, moving from one makeshift base to another.

JG52 still strong

However, JG52 was still feared by the growing numbers of an ever-improving Soviet Air Force. And for good reason, for within its ranks, JG52 held some of the highest scoring fighter Aces in the history of aerial warfare, including Günther Rall, one of the Luftwaffe’s most successful Aces.

Already highly decorated with the Knight’s Cross, Oak Leaves and Swords, the Kommandeur of III./JG52 now led his unit’s Bf109G fighters on their first sweep of the day. After their early morning scramble, they were looking for action and, like most days, it wasn’t long before they found it, spotting a group of Soviet fighters over the city of Zaporozhye.

JG52 triumphant

Before the enemy pilots could react, the Bf109s dived in and Hauptmann Günther Rall quickly downed a Soviet La-5 to claim his 222nd victory, and continue on, shooting down two more within the hour. It was the start of a remarkable month, in which Rall scored a staggering 40 victories and, a few weeks later on 28 November, took his personal tally past 250.

He would end the war with 275 confirmed victories, making this JG52 pilot the third highest scoring Ace in history.

Aviation Art - The Fleet's In by John Young

January 13, 2015
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The Fleet’s In by John Young

Aviation Art - The Fleet's In by John YoungL/E of 650
S/N by the Artist
Image Size: 20″ x 16″
Paper Size: 25.75″ x 22″

Plane Type: Boeing F4B-2

Cruising high above the city and harbor Navy fighters signal the arrival of one of the most important ships of the day, an aircraft carrier. In the late 1920s aviation began to bloom within the U.S. Navy and the aircraft carrier gained recognition as the warship of the future. The diminutive Boeing fighter, the F4B-2, was one of the most successful designs of the period. With an operational appeal to the Army as well, the Boeing design evolved into the well known P-12 series. Carrier aviation has changed as dramatically as the Manhattan skyline but Naval Aviation has a foundation as solid as the city below.