A highly-restricted edition commemorating the men and machines of perhaps the most famous of all RAF Bomber Command units to serve during WWII
Forged by their unique link to aeronautical design genius Barnes Wallis, 617 Squadron was the first and only squadron in the history of RAF Bomber Command to be formed for a single operation – the spectacular destruction of the great dams of Western Germany. After successfully delivering Barnes Wallis’s ingenious ‘Upkeep’ bouncing bomb on that audacious low-level assault on the night of 16/17 May 1943, 617 Squadron soon came to be considered as the RAF’s specialist precision-bombing unit, and forever known as the Dambusters.
Having later released 12,000lb ‘Tallboy’ deep-penetration earthquake bombs on major targets including the U-boat pens along the French Atlantic Coast, the Kembs barrage and the mighty German battleship Tirpitz, in March 1945 the squadron carried the first of Barnes Wallis’s ‘Grand Slam’ bombs to attack the Bielefeld and Arnsberg viaducts. The massive 22,000lb ‘Grand Slam’ contained over 9,000lbs of Torpex explosive and was the most powerful conventional bomb of World War II. And, like ‘Upkeep’ and ‘Tallboys’, ‘Grand Slams’ could only be carried by specially modified Avro Lancaster bombers.
617 Squadron was the only unit to use these mammoth weapons in anger, and it’s their modified Lancasters at RAF Woodhall Spa that form the basis of Robert Taylor’s atmospheric drawing Major Missions.
Throughout his career Robert has formed lasting personal relationships with many distinguished veterans who served with the unit, famous names such as ‘Mick’ Martin and Les Munro to name but a few. It’s this first-hand knowledge that helps him create such a historic collector’s piece which is destined to become an instant classic.
The Collector’s Edition
With FIFTEEN signatures of 617 Squadron veterans!
Restricted to just FIFTEEN copies worldwide, each portfolio contains a veteran-signed copy of the book Bomb Doors Open along with a matching-numbered copy of the print Major Missions which is also signed by two highly-regarded 617 Squadron veterans:
Flight Lieutenant KEN TRENT DFC* (Pilot) – book
Wing Commander JOHN BELL MBE DFC (Bomb-Aimer) – print
Squadron Leader BENNY GOODMAN (Pilot) – print
Each print is then matted to full conservation standards to include a further twelve original autographs of 617 veterans who served during WWII, creating a total of fifteen signatures across the portfolio:
Squadron Leader ‘MAC’ HAMILTON DFC* (Pilot)
Warrant Officer FRANK TILLEY (Flight Engineer)
Flight Lieutenant BILL REID VC (Pilot)
Group Captain JAMES ‘WILLIE’ TAIT DSO*** DFC* (Pilot)
Group Captain LEONARD CHESHIRE VC OM DSO** DFC* (Pilot)
Flight Lieutenant BOB KNIGHTS DSO DFC (Pilot)
Squadron Leader TONY IVESON DFC AE (Pilot)
Squadron Leader GEORGE ‘JOHNNY’ JOHNSON MBE DFM (Bomb-Aimer)
Sergeant RAY GRAYSTON (Flight Engineer)
Sergeant FRED SUTHERLAND (Rear Gunner)
Flight Sergeant GRANT MACDONALD (Rear Gunner)
Squadron Leader LES MUNRO DSO DFC (Pilot)
The Veterans Edition
With TWENTY-FIVE signatures of 617 Squadron veterans!
Featuring all components of the Collector’s Edition, this highly-prized Veterans Edition is limited to only TEN copies worldwide and includes the additional autographs of a further ten veterans of 617 Squadron, creating a total of twenty-five signatures:
Flight Lieutenant JAMES CASTAGNOLA DSO DFC* (Pilot)
Corporal KEN LUCAS (Ground Crew)
Air Marshal Sir MICK MARTIN KCB CB DSO* DFC** AFC (Pilot)
Squadron Leader DAVE SHANNON DSO* DFC* (Pilot)
Flying Officer BASIL FISH (Navigator)
Air Commodore JOHN LANGSTON CBE (Navigator)
Flight Sergeant KEN JENKINSON (Gunner)
Warrant Officer COLIN COLE (Wireless Operator)
Squadron Leader LARRY CURTIS DFC* (Wireless Operator)
Flight Lieutenant MURRAY VALENTINE (Wireless Operator)
Image size: 19 ½” wide x 9 ½” high
Collector’s Edition approx. matted size: 25 ½” wide x 20” high
Veterans Edition approx. matted size: 25 ½” wide x 22 ½” high