A rare limited edition from Robert Taylor's Golden Anniversary Series, commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the historic raid on the Ploesti oilfields, 1st August 1943. Ploesti - The Vital Mission is signed by five veterans of the famous Ploesti raid.
One third of Germany’s oil supplies came from the oilfields and refineries at Ploesti, deep in Rumania, well beyond the range of Allied bombers based in Europe. Only one possibility existed to attack this vital target, but would involve B-24 Liberators flying a 2000 mile round trip from North Africa, mostly over enemy territory, without a fighter escort. Any attack against the heavily defended installations would require a degree of accuracy only achievable by perilous low level bombing – an undertaking for which the B-24 Liberator was notoriously unsuited. The Allied planners knew such a mission called for inspired leadership, precision flying, cool determination, and courage beyond the call of duty. They also knew they would get all these from their B-24 crews. And they did!
At fist light on Sunday, August 1, 1943 Operation Tidal Wave got under way when the 178 B-24s lifted off dusty runways in the Libyan desert. Things went badly from the outset, when without warning, the lead aircraft carrying the mission navigator suddenly plunged vertically into the sea. Next, thick cloud over the Pendi mountains of Albania had to be negotiated in radio silence, which split up the formations, then a Bulgarian fighter reported the approaching attack, removing the element of surprise. When they arrived at Ploesti the German defences were ready and waiting.
Within moments of the first B-24s running in on the target, some so low they barely cleared the tall structures of the refinery, the entire sea erupted with exploding bombs, bursting shells, sheets of searing flame and billowing palls of dense black smoke. One by one the gallant B-24 Liberator crews entered the dark and burning inferno. The barrage from ack-ack and 88mm ground fire was so intense it seemed impossible that anyone could fly through and survive. Many did not.
In a moving 50th Anniversary tribute to the 1700 intrepid aircrew who flew the epic Ploesti Raid, the world's foremost aviation artist, Robert Taylor, created a masterpiece of air combat art. As SUZY Q emerges from the maelstrom, with 44th Bomb Group Commander Leon Johnson clearly visible in the co-pilot’s seat, the gripping spectacle of that historic raid is brought to light with vivid, awesome reality.
Each print in Robert Taylor's Limited Edition, Ploesti - The Vital Mission, is signed by 5 distinguished aircrew who flew to Ploesti, each representing one of the 5 Bomb Groups whose crews took part:
Major General Phillip Ardrey
Colonel William Cameron
Lt. General Keith K Compton
Major General Ramsay Potts
Major Robert W Sternfels.
We are selling this print on behalf of one of our collectors. It was purchased from ourselves when released in 1993 and has been stored dark and flat since with long term investment in mind. It is in mint condition and is supplied with the original Certificate of Authenticity.
34 x 25 inches overall including borders.
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