A tribute to the bomber crews of the U.S. Eighth Air Force
The Memphis Belle wasn’t the first heavy bomber in the Eighth Air Force to complete 25 missions; that honour fell to Hot Stuff, a Consolidated B-24 Liberator with the 93rd Bomb Group who completed her 25th mission on 7 February 1943. And the Memphis Belle wasn’t the first B-17 Flying Fortress either; Hell’s Angels, a B-17F flying out of Molesworth with the 303rd Bomb Group, claimed that distinction on 13 May. But the Memphis Belle was by far the most famous – thanks to the influence and glamour of a well-oiled public relations machine.
Touching down at their base at Bassingbourne on 19 May, six days after Hell’s Angels, the Belle did have the honour of being the first B-17 in the 91st Bomb Group to complete her 25 missions, ironically two days after her usual pilot, Captain Robert K. Morgan and most of her crew had done the same since they, like many crews, occasionally flew other aircraft. Bob Morgan was now ordered to bring the Belle and her crew home to America for a high-profile, morale-boosting, War-Bond selling tour. The following year, the crew of the Memphis Belle would feature in a movie directed and produced by the acclaimed Hollywood film director, William Wyler.
It is therefore no surprise that Robert has chosen the Memphis Belle to represent all the young bomber crews who flew with the Eighth Air Force during WWII in his detailed drawing ‘The Rising Mist’. Skilfully crafted in his unmistakable style Robert depicts the Memphis Belle at Bassingbourn, her home base, whilst the crew await the signal to start engines – once the sun has burnt off an early morning mist.
Following the success of Robert’s high quality Giclée fine art print editions such as ‘Camaraderie’ commemorating the Luftwaffe Fighter Aces of WWII and ‘Major Missions’ in tribute to the crews of RAF’s famous 617 Squadron, this latest piece remembers the bomber crews of the U.S. Eighth Air Force.
Adding great authenticity, each print has been hand signed and personally titled by the artist and is issued mounted to full conservation standards to include the original autographs of some of the most famous names to serve on B-17s during WWII, such as the Pilot and Captain of the Belle, Bob Morgan. Completing each portfolio is a matching-numbered copy of the book ‘The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress – In Air Combat Paintings by Robert Taylor’ produced exclusively for the release and beautifully illustrated from the archives of the Military Gallery using a selection of memorable Robert Taylor pieces featuring this legendary aircraft.
The Collector’s Edition
With FIFTEEN signatures of B-17 veterans!
Restricted to just FIFTEEN copies worldwide, each portfolio contains a copy of the book along with a matching-numbered print, conservation matted to include the signatures of fifteen highly-regarded veterans:
Colonel BOB MORGAN – 91st BG (Pilot of the Belle)
Lieutenant Colonel JIM BARKER – 351st BG
Captain ALVIN BROWN – 95th BG
Lieutenant Colonel ROBERT BURNS – 351st BG
Colonel WILLIAM LAWLEY MOH – 305th BG
Lieutenant Colonel HARRY MUMFORD – 95th BG
Lieutenant Colonel BOB GOSSMAN – 351st BG
First Lieutenant CHARLES ‘NORM’ STEVENS – 351st BG
Staff Sergeant PAUL CONSTANTINE ABRAHAMSON – 95th BG
Staff Sergeant RAY L. MOORE – 398th BG
First Lieutenant LEONARD SPIVEY – the 381st BG
Lieutenant Colonel ROB KLEYLA – 91st BG
Captain ROBERT SHOENS – 100th BG
Lieutenant Colonel RALPH NUTTER – 305th BG
Brigadier General JAMES KEMP McLAUGHLIN – 92nd BG
The Veteran’s Edition
With TWENTY-FIVE signatures of B-17 veterans!
Featuring all components of the Collector’s Edition, this highly-prized Veteran’s Edition is limited to only TEN copies worldwide and includes the additional autographs of a further ten B-17 veterans, creating a total of twenty-five signatures:
Lieutenant Colonel JIM VERINIS – 91st BG (Co-Pilot on the Belle)
Captain CHARLES LEIGHTON – 91st BG (Navigator on the Belle)
Technical Sergeant HAROLD LOCH – 91st BG (Top Turret Gunner on the Belle)
Staff Sergeant CASIMER NASTAL – 91st BG (Rear Waist Gunner on the Belle)
Staff Sergeant JOHN QUINLAN – 91st BG (Tail Gunner on the Belle)
Major General BOB LANDRY – 493rd BG
First Lieutenant ‘L.A.’ MITCHELL – 401st BG
First Lieutenant DENNY THOMPSON – 487th BG
Captain ROLLAND WHITED – 34th BG
Lieutenant Colonel ROBERT DEES – 34th BG