Rover Patrol by Richard Taylor features 143 Squadron Mosquito over Norway.
After D-Day in June 1944, and the capture of Germany's U-Boat bases in northern France, Hitler ordered his remaining fleet, and particularly his submarines, to bases in Norway. Occupied by the Germans since 1940, the Norwegian fjords, with their narrow inlets and steep mountainous backdrops, offered unique protection; however submarines departing and returning to Norway from their oceanic operations immediately attracted the attention of RAF Coastal Command.
Operating from two airfields in northern Scotland were the Banff and Dallachy Strike Wings, their sole purpose was to attack all German shipping along the Norwegian coast, and they fought a bitter and dangerous campaign against Hitler's once mighty submarine fleet. Heavily defended by shore batteries, Flak ships with terrible firepower, and marauding Luftwaffe fighters, the Mosquitos and Beaufighters of Coastal Command came under intense fire during almost every sortie they flew.
Powered by two big Merlin engines, fastest of these fighter-bombers was the sleek, all-wood highly manoeuvrable two-seat Mosquito. Armed with four 20mm cannon, four .303 Browning machine guns, and with eight 251b solid armour-piercing rockets, this graceful strike aircraft packed a lethal punch. Typically, sorties began in the dark, with pilots flying loose formation at 50 feet across the North Sea, to arrive over the target area at first light. Then, the ever-present barrage of defensive gunfire as pilots hurtled past sheer cliff faces, twisted and turned through narrow sounds, and dived in pursuit of their prey. Suddenly, from the quiet peace of early dawn, the still air was shattered by the roar of Merlins, rockets, gunfire, and explosions, resounding off mountain sides in a deafening cacophony of battle. And within minutes they were gone, leaving a trail of smoke, twisted metal, and another nail in the coffin of the Third Reich.
Richard Taylor's painting presents a fine study of a lone Mosquito FB MkVI of 143 Squadron, part of a larger formation of the Banff Strike Wing, high over the Norwegian fjords on an armed rover patrol to seek out enemy surface shipping and submarines, in February 1945. The beauty of the early morning sun, glinting on the snow-covered mountain-tops, contrasts with the menacing job in hand. Bravery, inordinate flying skills, and determination were a prerequisite for the crews of Coastal Strike Command.
Each print in Richard Taylor's Limited Edition, Rover Patrol, is signed by three crew who flew Mosquitos in the Banff Strike Wing:
Flight Lieutenant Frank Hawthorne
Flight Lieutenant Aubrey ‘Hilli’ Hilliard
Flying Officer Maurice Web DFM.
30 x 24 inches overall including borders.
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