A fine art print by GARETH HECTOR. October 14, 1943: Deep into Germany and with their fighter escort gone, the bomber boys of the 8th Air Force are in the fight of their lives. More than three hundred "unrelenting" Luftwaffe fighters are trying to make them do the unthinkable: to turn back. The ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt lay ahead, it's a crucial target, and that leaves the 8th with one option: to fight their way through the maelstrom. Jousts ensue at 23,000 feet as JG 3 ace Alfred Surau attacks in his Bf-109G.
Sixty bombers will fall, including this B-17, "Wabbit-Twacks III, " of the 96th Bomb Group. Today, "Black Thursday, " will be the costliest mission in 8th Air Force history, but in a mere six days the "Mighty Eighth" will be back in action, and within five months American bombs will rain on Berlin. OVERALL PRINT SIZE: 32" x 22.5" /// EDITION: VICTORY /// SIGNERS.
Comes with 2 historical photos and replica 8th AF patch to frame in with your print! This print is numbered from a limited-edition of 290 VICTORY Edition prints and comes with it's COA which is signed by the artist.HAND SIGNED BY 4 VETERAN HEROES INCLUDING. Joining the Air Corps in 1942, Roland became a B-17 pilot at the young age of 19 and when he was assigned to the 525th SQD. 379th BG at Kimbolton, he was the youngest B-17 pilot in the entire 8th Air Force! He and his crew completed nine missions aboard their B-17F, named "The Iron Maiden, " which featured nose art of a nude woman on the side, a work-in-progress by a local Kimbolton artist that the crew had hired. The nose-art would never be finished as Roland's tenth mission was Black Thursday. " Hit by flak over Germany, "The Iron Maiden lost both engines on the starboard side and fell out of formation. Streaming gasoline and being attacked by JU 88s, Roland decided to force land "The Iron Maiden, " the best chance to save his crew. He safely put the plane down in a German farm field where he attempted to destroy the aircraft before escaping capture.
He and his flight engineer spent two weeks on the run, heading for Switzerland, until they were captured. Roland was placed in Stalag Luft I where he spent the rest of the war.Enlisting in the Air Corps at age 18, Mitch was assigned to the 333rd SQD, 94th BG at Bury St. Edmunds in England where he served as a left-waist gunner aboard the B-17 Pride of the Yanks. " He flew his first of 25 missions in October 1943 and would participate in "Big Week and several missions on heavily defended Berlin. Mitch's most memorable raid was on an aircraft parts factory at Brunswick, January 11, 1944. On that mission, the weather deteriorated and an 8th Air Force recall was issued.
Mitch's group and two others continued on to target anyway, fighting off fierce Luftwaffe attacks in and out of the target area, braving heavy flak, and making two bomb runs to guarantee they hit the factory in the bad weather. The 94th lost eight B-17s that day, some 80 men, and Mitch considers himself lucky to have survived the mission, which earned the group a Distinguished Unit Citation. He flew his last mission on March 8, 1944 to Berlin, a fitting end to his bomber tour. Following his brother, Bill joined the Air Corps in hopes of becoming a pilot.The Army had other plans and needed to replace gunners, since when a bomber went down so did five gunners. 1944, Bill headed to England and joined the 741st SQD, 452nd BG as a B-17 waist gunner. Bill flew nine missions and was shot down twice, the first time in the B-17 "Lucky Lady III, " on Feb.
9, 1945, when they lost an engine and their electrical system to flak and had to conduct a forced landing in France. 26, 1945, Bill's B-17, "Flatbush Floogie, " was hit over Berlin. Putting down the gear, his pilot brought the plane down in Soviet occupied Poland where they hoped the Soviets would repair the aircraft and let them fly home.
Instead, they seized the plane and locked up Bill and the crew and held them captive until April when they were freed in Odessa, Ukraine. After the war, Bill earned an ROTC commission and had a 30+ year career in the Air Force, including teaching Russian at the Air Force Academy and Air Attache deployments in Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union. Leaving the Air Force, Colonel Bill Roche then served for over a decade in the CIA, where much of his work remains classified to this day.Leaving his studies at the University of Nebraska, Fred enlisted in the Army in 1941 where he was assigned to the medical corps. When the war heated up he volunteered for the Air Corps and became a B-17 pilot assigned to the 508th SQD, 351st BG at Polebrook, England. There Fred flew his first mission to strike the railyards of Cologne on October 17, 1944 and 35 others, to heavily defended targets like Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt.
He survived everything the enemy could throw at him from flak that took out two engines to Me 262 attacks. Despite these close calls, Fred got his crew back home on every mission, aboard B-17s like "The Little One, " "Merrie Christie, " "Lucky Jewell, " and "Annie Marie, " and all without anyone being wounded. He was called back to duty for the Korean War where he served as a transport pilot until 1953.
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