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Colonel Hubert M. Childress
|Hubert Childress was posted to England, joining the 27th Photo Recon Squadron, 7th Photographic Group flying the F5 - a specially adapted photo-recon version of the P38 with cameras and no guns. Hubert flew his first combat mission on New Year's Eve 1943, and was heavily involved in many reconnaissance missions prior to D-Day. He also flew the Spitfire MkIXs on several operations. He flew 58 combat missions and later commanded the 7th Photographic Group (R)|
Colonel Richard Willsie (deceased)
|Joining up in 1942, Dick Willsie was posted to North Africa with the 414th Night Fighter Squadron, where he flew 31 missions on the Beaufighter. He transferred to the 96th Fighter Squadron, 82nd Fighter Group, flying the P38 Lightning on 82 day missions through to the end of hostilities in Europe. Willsie would go on to serve in both Korea and Vietnam, and Willsie became the commanding officer of the 602nd Air Commando Squadron and retired in 1974. Dick Willsie was born on the 6th of September 1920 in Michigan USA and joined the US Air force in 1942. Dick Willsie was posted to North Africa with the 414th Night-fighter Squadron, where he flew 31 missions on the Beaufighter. He transferred to the 96th FS, 82nd Fighter Group, flying the P38 Lightning on 82 day missions through to the end of hostilities in Europe. He notched up a large number of ground attack victories as well as three aerial victories in his P38 'Snake Eyes'. On one mission Captain Richard 'Dick' Willsie's P-38 was damaged by flak near Ploesti, Romania. Lieutenant Willsie felt the bullets tearing into his aircraft, the force of the hits actually making his feet bounce on the rudder pedals. He noticed oil leaking from the left engine, and then the engine lost oil pressure. Willsie immediately feathered the propeller, turning the blades edge on to present the least resistance to the wind, and headed for home, his right engine at full power. Then he noticed coolant streaming from his remaining good engine. Within minutes he would be without power. He immediately reported over the radio that he was going down. One of the many to hear his broadcast announcement was 19-year-old Richard T. 'Dick' Andrews, who flew with the same 82nd Fighter Group as Willsie. But unlike the more experienced Willsie, Andrews had less than 100 flying hours in the P-38. Pick a good field, radioed the youngster, and I will come in after you.It was a strange message; it made no sense. But Willsie had no time to wonder about it. His remaining engine was popping loudly, a fresh hit shattered his windscreen and bloodied his forehead, and a plowed field appeared ahead. As his wounded fighter barely made it over the final obstacle he planted his forehead firmly against the padded gun sight. That did not prevent his nose taking a beating as his plane skidded to a stop with its wheels retracted. Scrambling from the cockpit as quickly as possible, he - as per instructions - destroyed his P-38 with a small phosphorous bomb. With truckloads of enemy troops approaching from beyond some trees six Me-109 German fighters appeared overhead. And a second P-38 was coming toward him with its landing gear down! Other Lightnings engaged the Me-109s and Andrews set his P-38 down, landing in line with the plowed furrows. Willsie raced to the plane, praying it might be his salvation, praying they would both be able to fit into the one small seat. Andrews threw his parachute - and everything else that was handy and not nailed down - out of the cockpit. With no time to think of how it might be done both men climbed hurriedly into the plane 'with miraculous precision,' as the older pilot would later joke. At Andrews' suggestion the more experienced Willsie took the controls. With Andrews in back, one leg slung over Willsie's shoulder, the two somehow managed to close and securely lock the canopy. They barely cleared the trees at the end of their improvised 'runway' and quickly ran into inclement weather and became separated from the other P-38s. With no map and fully expecting to be greeted by friendly fire because of their aircraft type, with which the Russians might not be familiar, they headed for an air base at nearby Poltava. Word of the rescue spread and others tried to emulate it. But so many were injured in these attempts that the USAAF had to issue orders forbidding the use of such tactics. Richard T. Andrews was awarded the Silver Star for his unique rescue. Willsie would go on to serve in both Korea and Vietnam, and Willsie became the commanding officer of the 602nd Air Commando Squadron and retired in 1974. Colonel Richard Willsie died on Febuary 16th, 2013 in Dana Point, Orange County, California.|
First Lieutenant Mel Roasvig
|Already in the Reserves, Mel Roasvig was activated for full service in August 1941, and was posted overseas to join the 97th Fighter Squadron, 82nd Fighter Group, by then operating in Italy. Flying the P38 Lightning in its main role of bomber escort, he also took part in dive bombing operations in Czechoslovakia, and hitting targets of opportunity, including strafing an ammunition train which exploded, the debris seriously damaging his aircraft.|
First Lieutenant Richard Ostronik
|Joining the service at the end of 1942, Dick Ostronik was posted to the 82nd Fighter Group in Italy, in the summer of 1944, where he flew P38s with the 96th FS. Attacking targets of opportunity and strafing trains, the squadron escorted the heavy bombers that attacked aircraft factories and industrial targets, and flew defending photo reconnaissance missions - once against a pair of Me262s. Dick flew over 30 combat missions, finishing his stint in Europe in May 1945.|
Lt Colonel Frank D Hurlbut
|Frank Hurlbut joined the National Guard in early 1940 before being activated following the Japanese Attack at Pearl Harbor. He was posted to the 82nd Fighter Group, 96th FS flying P38s in Europe. He became a P38 Ace on 10th July 1943 during a notable fighter sweep in which his Group was credited with 10 kills. Frank Hurlbut flew over 50 combat missions and scored nine confirmed victories, all in Europe, making him the second highest Ace in the 12th Air Force. In Italy, in the summer of 1944, where he flew P38s with the 96th FS. Attacking targets of opportunity and strafing trains, the squadron escorted the heavy bombers that attacked aircraft|
|The Aircraft :|
|Lightning||Designed by Kelly Johnson the P38 made its maiden flight on the 27th January 1939 and introduced into service in 1941. they cost $134,284 at the time each and a total of 10,037 were built. The Lockheed P-38 was introduced as a inceptor fighter but soon proved a valuable long range bomber escort for the 8thUS Air Force's B-17 and-24 bombers as they bombed targets further into Germany.|
|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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