THE TOUGHEST WINTER
by Wade Meyers
The European winter of 1944-1945 was one of the most brutal of the 20th Century, taking it’s toll on men and machines on both sides. The Germans were fighting furiously against the Allied ground march on their homeland in the famous Battle of the Bulge in December and January, while just above the trees tactical outfits like the 365th Fighter Group “Hell Hawks” flew almost nonstop close air support missions. This was a deadly and unforgiving low altitude war, far from the high jousting dogfights of the strategic campaign earlier in the year.
Here 1Lt. Archie Maltbie’s P-47D Thunderbolt of the 386th Fighter Squadron in the foreground takes pause at their base at Chievres (A-84), near Mons, Belgium. Bombs are already hanging on the wing pylons in anticipation of the next mission, and the canopy is slid back waiting for the pilot. A lone ground crewman, never far from his charge, walks back for a quick recheck of his ship after grabbing a sandwich in the warmth of the mess tent while an element of bombed-up “Jugs” roars off in the background.
Showcasing Wade’s extraordinary ability to portray stunning wartime images in pencil, this original artwork is drawn on heavyweight white archival paper, with the final image measuring 6 5/8 x 18 in.