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Colonel Gabby Gabreski (deceased)
|Gabby Gabreski was the top scoring 8th Air Force fighter Ace in Europe with 28.5 victories in World War II, plus further 6.5 in Korea. Flying P47s with the 56th Fighter Group, his illustrious career in Europe came to a spectacular end, when, strafing an airfield his aircraft touched the ground. He crash landed and was taken prisoner. The story of this American hero from Oil City, Pennsylvania begins in 1942. Gabreski dropped out of his pre-med studies at the University of Notre Dame to become a flyer. Anxious to get into action quickly Francis Gabreski got himself assigned to the 3-1-5 Polish fighter squadron of the RAF in 1942. Although Gabreski flew many combat missions with the Polish fighter squadron he attained no victories. In February of 1943 he was reassigned to the U.S. Army's Eighth Air Force. On August 24, 1943 he got his first victory (a Focke-Wulf 190) over France. Flying the P-47 Thunderbolt or "Jug", Gabreski continued to achieve victory after victory. He was officially credited with 28 confirmed aerial victories, and that excludes the scores of aircraft, tanks, and other vehicles destroyed by Gabreski during ground attack missions. For many weeks leading up to and following D-Day in June of 1944 Gabby had been on numerous missions involving the dive bombing and strafing of German trains, bridges, armored convoys, and gun emplacements. On July 20,1944 Gabby was scheduled to depart for a much-deserved leave, during which he planned to marry his girl, Kay Lochran. Shortly before his scheduled departure Gabreski was given the opportunity of leading the 61st Squadron of the 56th Fighter Group on an important mission. This was a challenge this ace could not resist. Near Cologne, Gabby spotted an airdrome and began a high-speed low-level attack. Defying his own axiom to "hit them hard, hit them fast, hit them low, but never come around for a second pass," Gabby made an ill-fated second pass over the field. On this second pass his propeller hit the tarmac, and Gabreski was forced to make a crash landing in a wheat field adjacent to the German airfield. For five days he was able to elude the German army, but he was finally captured and sent to Stalag Luft 1 in Barth Germany. In 1945 with the end of the War Gabby was released and he married Kay Cochran on June 11. Not long after the Korean War broke out, Gabby found himself in command of the 51st Fighter Wing, where he flew the F-86 Sabre jet. In Korea Gabreski attained 6.5 more confirmed aerial victories in engagements with Migs, earning the unique distinction of ace status in two different wars. Following his retirement from military service in 1967, Gabby worked for several years for Grumman Aircraft on Long Island. Later he was to become the President and General Manager of the Long Island Railroad. Two of his nine children are Air Force Academy graduates and pilots with the U.S. Air Force. At the time of his retirement from military service in 1967 Gabby is believed to have flown more combat missions than any other American fighter pilot. Gabreski lived in Long Island New York where the American flag proudly flew each day atop the Gabreski family flagpole. Colonel Francis "Gabby" Gabreski passed away on January 31,2002.|
Colonel Hub Zemke (deceased)
|Best known as leader of the legendary Zemkes Wolfpack, Hub Zemkes famous 56th Fighter Group was the top scoring Fighter Group in the European Theather of operations. Zemke pioneered the use of the P-38 Droop Snoot as a bomb aiming aircraft which led the bomb-loaded P-47s on to the target with great accuracy and success. He later commanded the 479th Fighter Group P-38s. One of the outstanding fighter leaders of the war, Hub Zemkes personal tally 17.5 victories. Sadly, he passed awway on 30th August 1994.|
Colonel Walker Bud Mahurin (deceased)
|Walker Melville "Bud" Mahurin was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on 5th December 1918. He joined the Army reserves on 29th September 1941 and entered flight training, being commissioned as a pilot on the 29th of April 1942 at Ellington Field Texas. 'Bud' Mahurin gained a reputation as one of the USAAF's most colourful fighter Aces. Arriving in the European theatre, flying with the 56th Fighter Group at Boxted, England, on the 17th of August the 56th Fighter group flew escort for the Eighth Air Force Bombers whose mission was to bomb Schweinfurt and Regensburg. They encountered a large force of German fighters and Bud Mahurin shot down two Fw190s. He went on to become an Ace on the 4th of October, and by the end of November he had achieved 10 kills. Bud Mahurin was promoted to Major on the 21st of March 1944. On the 27th of March he shared a victory of a Do217 but was hit by the bomber and was forced to bail out of his Thunderbolt, when his aircraft was set ablaze by the gunfire. Mahurin evaded the Germans with help of the French resistance and returned to Britian. He had by this time shot down 20 German aircraft. He then transferred to the south west Pacific Commanding the 3rd Air Commando Squadron where he added a Japanese aircraft to his score, shooting down a KI-46 Dinah, making hinm one of very few American pilots to shoot down German and Japanese aircraft. Mahurin saw combat from New Guinea to Okinawa. After this tour he returned to the US and was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. After the war he spent two tours at the Pentagon and went on to obtain an aeronautical engineering degree. During the Korean War 'Bud' Mahurin commanded the 4th Fighter Interceptor Group in Korea where he added 3.5 MiG-15s to his tally before being shot down in his Sabre. He was shot down by ground fire on the 13th of May 1952, and bailed out for the last time, to spend a gruelling sixteen months as a POW in North Korea undergoing extensive torture. Mahurin returned to the US and stayed in the USAF until 1956 when he worked for the aerospace industry. Sadly, Bud Mahurin passed away on 11th May 2010.|
Lt Col Robert S Johnson (deceased)
|Robert Johnson arrived in England in 1943 and was quickly in the thick of the action, scoring his first aerial victory within a month of his initial combat flying. A year later, having flown 91 combat missions, he had taken his total of aerial victories to 27. Died 27th December 1998.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Thunderbolt||Alexander Kartveli was a engineer with Seversky Aircraft who designed the P-35, which first flew in 1937. With Republic Aviation Kartveli supervised the development of the P-43 Lancer. Neither of these aircraft were produced in large numbers, and neither was quite successful. However, the Republic Aviation P-47 Thunderbolt, also nicknamed the Jug, was quite a different story. The Jug was the jewel in Kartvelis design crown, and went on to become one of the most produced fighter aircraft of all time with 15,683 being manufactured. The P-47 was the largest and heaviest single seat fighter of WW II. The P-47 immediately demonstrated its excellent combat qualities, including speed, rate of climb, maneuverability, heavy fire power, and the ability to take a lot of punishment. With a wingspan of more than 40 feet and a weight of 19,400 pounds, this large aircraft was designed around the powerful 2000 HP Pratt and Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engine. The first P-47 prototype flew in May of 1941, and the primary variant the P-47D went into service in 1943 with units of the U.S. Armys Eighth Air Force. The Jug had a maximum speed in excess of 400 MPH, a service ceiling in excess of 42,000 feet, and was heavily armed with either six or eight heavy caliber machine guns. With its ability to carry up to a 2,500 pound bomb load, the Jug saw lots of use in ground attack roles. Until the introduction of the N model, the P-47 lacked the long range required for fighter escort missions which were most often relegated to P-51 Mustangs or P-38 Lightnings. In his outstanding painting entitled Bridge Busting Jugs, noted aviation artist Stan Stokes depicts Eighth Air Force Jugs in a ground attack mission in the Alps in June of 1944. The top P-47 ace was Francis Gabreski who had flown with the 56th Fighter Group, the first unit to be equipped with the P-47. In August of 1943 Gabreski attained his first aerial combat victory (over an Fw-190) and by years end he had reached ace status with 8 confirmed victories. As Commander of the 61st Squadron, Gabreski continued to chalk up victory after victory, and on seven different occasions he achieved two victories during the same mission. However, in July of 1944 Gabreski damaged the prop on his Jug during a low level attack on an airfield near Coblenz. Forced to make a crash landing, he was captured and remained a prisoner of war until Wars end in 1945. Following the War Gabreski returned to military service with the Air Forces 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing in Korea. Flying the F-86 Sabre Jet, Gabreski attained 6.5 more aerial victories in 1951 and 1952 becoming an ace in two different wars|
|Artist Details : Robert Taylor|
|Click here for a full list of all artwork by Robert Taylor|
The name Robert Taylor has been synonymous with aviation art over a quarter of a century. His paintings of aircraft, more than those of any other artist, have helped popularise a genre which at the start of this remarkable artist's career had little recognition in the world of fine art. When he burst upon the scene in the mid-1970s his vibrant, expansive approach to the subject was a revelation. His paintings immediately caught the imagination of enthusiasts and collectors alike . He became an instant success. As a boy, Robert seemed always to have a pencil in his hand. Aware of his natural gift from an early age, he never considered a career beyond art, and with unwavering focus, set out to achieve his goal. Leaving school at fifteen, he has never worked outside the world of art. After two years at the Bath School of Art he landed a job as an apprentice picture framer with an art gallery in Bath, the city where Robert has lived and worked all his life. Already competent with water-colours the young apprentice took every opportunity to study the works of other artists and, after trying his hand at oils, quickly determined he could paint to the same standard as much of the art it was his job to frame. Soon the gallery was selling his paintings, and the owner, recognising Roberts talent, promoted him to the busy picture-restoring department. Here, he repaired and restored all manner of paintings and drawings, the expertise he developed becoming the foundation of his career as a professional artist. Picture restoration is an exacting skill, requiring the ability to emulate the techniques of other painters so as to render the damaged area of the work undetectable. After a decade of diligent application, Robert became one of the most capable picture restorers outside London. Today he attributes his versatility to the years he spent painstakingly working on the paintings of others artists. After fifteen years at the gallery, by chance he was introduced to Pat Barnard, whose military publishing business happened also to be located in the city of Bath. When offered the chance to become a full-time painter, Robert leapt at the opportunity. Within a few months of becoming a professional artist, he saw his first works in print. Roberts early career was devoted to maritime paintings, and he achieved early success with his prints of naval subjects, one of his admirers being Lord Louis Mountbatten. He exhibited successfully at the Royal Society of Marine Artists in London and soon his popularity attracted the attention of the media. Following a major feature on his work in a leading national daily newspaper he was invited to appear in a BBC Television programme. This led to a string of commissions for the Fleet Air Arm Museum who, understandably, wanted aircraft in their maritime paintings. It was the start of Roberts career as an aviation artist. Fascinated since childhood by the big, powerful machines that man has invented, switching from one type of hardware to another has never troubled him. Being an artist of the old school, Robert tackled the subject of painting aircraft with the same gusto as with his large, action-packed maritime pictures - big compositions supported by powerful and dramatic skies, painted on large canvases. It was a formula new to the aviation art genre, at the time not used to such sweeping canvases, but one that came naturally to an artist whose approach appeared to have origins in an earlier classical period. Roberts aviation paintings are instantly recognisable. He somehow manages to convey all the technical detail of aviation in a traditional and painterly style, reminiscent of the Old Masters. With uncanny ability, he is able to recreate scenes from the past with a carefully rehearsed realism that few other artists ever manage to achieve. This is partly due to his prodigious research but also his attention to detail: Not for him shiny new factory-fresh aircraft looking like museum specimens. His trade mark, flying machines that are battle-scarred, worse for wear, with dings down the fuselage, chips and dents along the leading edges of wings, oil stains trailing from engine cowlings, paintwork faded with dust and grime; his planes are real! Roberts aviation works have drawn crowds in the international arena since the early 1980s. He has exhibited throughout the US and Canada, Australia, Japan and in Europe. His one-man exhibition at the Smithsonians National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC was hailed as the most popular art exhibition ever held there. His paintings hang in many of the worlds great aviation museums, adorn boardrooms, offices and homes, and his limited edition prints are avidly collected all around the world. A family man with strong Christian values, Robert devotes most of what little spare time he has to his home life. Married to Mary for thirty five years, they have five children, all now grown up. Neither fame nor fortune has turned his head. He is the same easy-going, gentle character he was when setting out on his painting career all those years ago, but now with a confidence that comes with the knowledge that he has mastered his profession.
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