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|Signatures on this item|
Air Marshal Sir Harold (Mick) Martin KCB CB DSO* AFC RAAF (deceased)
|Born 27th February 1918, Australian Mick Martin joined the RAF in 1940 and had flown tours with 455 Squadron RAAF and 50 Squadron RAF before joining Guy Gibson at 617 Squadron. Pilot of AJ-P, Mick Martin was Deputy Leader of the Dams Raid and flew in Gibsons lead group. Third aircraft to attack the Mohne Dam, he was awarded the DSO for his part in the raid. Mick Martin later served with Leonard Cheshire, and went on to a distinguished career after the war. ADC to the Queen in 1963, he eventually retired from the RAF as an Air Marshal in 1974. Mick Martin died 3rd November 1988.|
Group Captain J B Tait DSO*** DFC* ADC (deceased)
|One of Bomber Commands most outstanding leaders, James Willie Tait was one of only two RAF officers who had the distinction of being awarded three Bars to his DSO, as well as a DFC and Bar. On the night before D-Day Tait was the 5 Group Master Bomber directing from the air the massed attack by Lancasters on the German defences in the Cherbourg peninsula. By then Tait had already flown more than 100 bomber sorties with 51, 35, 10 and 78 Squadrons. A Cranwell-trained regular officer, he was very much in the Cheshire mould: quiet, bordering on the introspective. He was to go on to command the legendary 617 Dambusters Squadron and lead it on one of its most famous raids which finally destroyed the German battleship Tirpitz. In July 1944 when Leonard Cheshire was replaced by Wing Commander J B Willie Tait, 617 Squadron discovered that it had acquired a Commanding Officer very much in the Cheshire mould. Quiet, bordering on introspection, Tait, who was a Cranwell-trained regular officer, had already flown over 100 bombing operations with 51, 35, 10 and 78 Squadrons before joining 617. Tait had also received a DSO and bar and the DFC. He was 26. In the best traditions of 617 Squadron, Tait wasted no time in adapting to the Mustang and Mosquito for low level marking. He appointed two new Flight Commanders including Squadron Leader Tony Iveson DFC. Although involved in many of 617 Squadrons spectacular operations, Taits name is always associated with the destruction of the Tirpitz. An earlier attack on the ship by the squadron on 15th September 1944 had caused severe damage but Tirpitz was still afloat. On 29th October the Squadron was frustrated on the second attack by cloud over the target. The final attack was launched in daylight on 12th November 1944. Leading a mixed force of 617 and 9 Squadron Lancasters, Tait achieved complete surprise and had the satisfaction of seeing the Tirpitz destroyed at last. He had led all three attacks. On 28th December 1944 Tait received a third bar to his DSO, becoming one of only two RAF men to achieve this distinction. It coincided with his leaving 617 Squadron. Tait served in the post-war RAF, retiring as a Group Captain in 1966. He died 31st May 2007.|
Group Captain Leonard Cheshire VC OM DSO** DFC* (deceased)
|One of the most courageous and determined bomber leaders of World War II, Leonard Cheshire flew four operational tours, starting in June 1940 with 102 Squadron on Whitley bombers at RAF Driffield. In November 1940, he was awarded the DSO for getting his badly damaged aircraft back to base. He completed his first tour in January 1941, but immediately volunteered for a second tour, this time flying Halifaxes with 35 Squadron. He became Squadron Leader in 1942, and was appointed commanding officer of 76 Squadron later that year. Leonard Cheshire ordered that non-essential weight be removed from the Halifax bombers in a bid to increase speed and altitude, hoping to reduce the high casualty rates for this squadron. Mid-upper and nose turrets were removed, and exhaust covers taken off, successfully reducing the loss rate. In July 1943 he took command of 617 Squadron. During this time he led the squadron personally on every occasion. In September he was awarded the Victoria Cross for four and a half years of sustained bravery during a total of 102 operations, leading his crews with careful planning, brilliant execution and contempt for danger, which gained him a reputation second to none in Bomber Command. Sadly, Leonard Cheshire died of motor neuron disease on 31st July 1992, aged 74.|
Squadron Leader David J Shannon DSO* DFC* RAAF (deceased)
|Born 27th May 1922 in Australia, Dave Shannon joined the RAAF in 1941, and trained as a pilot. He flew an extended tour of 36 operations with 106 Squadron RAF before being chosen for 617 Squadron. Pilot of Lancaster AJ-L in Gibsons group, he was called off as he began his run on the Mohne Dam after the breach became apparent, but flew on and was the first pilot to attack the Eder Dam. Awarded a DSO for the Dams operation, he later served as Deputy to Leonard Cheshire, flying Mosquitos on what was by then his third tour. He later served with 511 and 246 Squadrons, and returned to Australia after the war. David Shannon died in 1993.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Lancaster||The Avro Lancaster arose from the avro Manchester and the first prototype Lancaster was a converted Manchester with four engines. The Lancaster was first flown in January 1941, and started operations in March 1942. By March 1945 The Royal Air Force had 56 squadrons of Lancasters with the first squadron equipped being No.44 Squadron. During World War Two the Avro Lancaster flew 156,000 sorties and dropped 618,378 tonnes of bombs between 1942 and 1945. Lancaster Bomberss took part in the devastating round-the-clock raids on Hamburg during Air Marshall Harris' "Operation Gomorrah" in July 1943. Just 35 Lancasters completed more than 100 successful operations each, and 3,249 were lost in action. The most successful survivor completed 139 operations, and the Lancaster was scrapped after the war in 1947. A few Lancasters were converted into tankers and the two tanker aircraft were joined by another converted Lancaster and were used in the Berlin Airlift, achieving 757 tanker sorties. A famous Lancaster bombing raid was the 1943 mission, codenamed Operation Chastise, to destroy the dams of the Ruhr Valley. The operation was carried out by 617 Squadron in modified Mk IIIs carrying special drum shaped bouncing bombs designed by Barnes Wallis. Also famous was a series of Lancaster attacks using Tallboy bombs against the German battleship Tirpitz, which first disabled and later sank the ship. The Lancaster bomber was the basis of the new Avro Lincoln bomber, initially known as the Lancaster IV and Lancaster V. (Becoming Lincoln B1 and B2 respectively.) Their Lancastrian airliner was also based on the Lancaster but was not very successful. Other developments were the Avro York and the successful Shackleton which continued in airborne early warning service up to 1992.|
|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.
More about Robert Taylor
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