"OPERATION TIDAL WAVE - THE PLOESTI MISSION"

BY NICOLAS TRUDGIAN

Autographed by William H. Brandon, Richard D. Butler, William R. Cameron and Charles E. Hughes..

L/E of 600. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Size: 31 3/4" x 23 1/2"

Price: $175

— SOLD OUT —


At first light on August 1, 1943 a force of 178 B-24 Liberator bombers lifted off dusty airstrips in the Libyan desert. They were to fly a 2000 mile round-trip deep into enemy territory, bomb a heavily defended target, and return to their North African base - without fighter escort. So began one of the bloodiest and heroic missions in the annals of aerial warfare. The target - the oil refineries at Ploesti.

One third of Germany's petroleum products were supplied from Ploesti, situated deep in Rumania and well beyond the range of Allied bombers based in England. Deprived of this vital supply of fuel, Germany's mighty war machine would grind to a halt. The high command were aware of this and the installations at Ploesti were defended accordingly. To attack such a heavily defended target with the required degree of accuracy it was necessary to bomb from a perilously low level, a task for which the B-24 was notoriously unsuited. The mission called for inspired leadership, cool determination and courage beyond the call of duty - and all of these were given in plenty.

As the first wave of bombers roared into the target, some as low as 50 feet, the German defenses opened up with a barrage of fire. Within moments the entire area erupted with exploding bombs, bursting shells, gushing flames and billowing palls of smoke. One by one the gallant crews took their aircraft through the intense wall of Ack-Ack and 88mm ground fire, and into the burning inferno to deliver their deadly cargo.

Of the 178 B-24s dispatched, 52 were lost and all but 35 aircraft suffered damage, one limping home after 14 hours and holed in 365 places. Ploesti witnessed countless acts of heroism, for which the crews received more decorations for bravery than any other mission of the war.

Nicolas Trudgian's detailed painting OPERATION TIDAL WAVE is a moving tribute to the 1700 aircrew who flew the tortuous Ploesti Raid. Depicted exiting the target at extreme low-level are B-24s of the 44th and 98th Bornb Groups, with the 98th BG B-24 'Sandman' in the immediate foreground. In the distance other Liberators lucky enough to have survived the fiery maelstrom make their escape. Behind them fires rage among the structures of the refinery as yet more crews enter the holocaust.

Each print is individually signed by four distinguished B-24 Liberator pilots who flew the historic raid on Ploesti more than half a century ago, making this new limited print edition an important collector's item.


SIGNATURES

Joining artist Nicolas Trudgian in signing his new limited edition OPERATION TIDAL WAVE are four distinguished U.S.A.A.F. B-24 pilots who flew the historic Ploesti Raid.

Major General WILLIAM H. BRANDON - 'Suzy Q'
In June 1940, William Brandon jointed the service and was posted to 66th Bomb Squadron of the 44th Bomb Group flying the B-24. He first saw combat m September 1942; He flew 'Suzy Q' on tile legendary Ploesti Raid as the 44th lead pilot, with 44th Bomb Group Commander General Leon Johnson as co-pilot. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions. Shorty after Ploesti in November 1943, he was forced to land in Sweden and interned.

Major General RICHARD D. 'DICK' BUTLER - 'Earthquake McGoon'
'Dick' Butler joined the service in January 1942 and was posted to the 44th Bomb Group, with whom he flew B-24s throughout the war. His first combat mission was in April 1943 and he saw action in Europe, North Africa and the Mediterranean. On the Ploesti Raid, Dick was co-pilot of 'Earthquake McGoon'. Badly damaged and flying at tree-top height it was only the skill of Dick and pilot Walter Burke that kept 'Earthquake' in the air and brought the crew home.

Colonel WILLIAM R. CAMERON - 'Buzzin' Bear'
Bill Cameron flew all his 38 combat missions with the 44th Bomb Group. He first saw combat in Nov 1942. He was the only pilot who came over to Europe with 44th BG and returned with them at the end of the war. Described by General Leon Johnson as "one of the best combat leaders we had", Bill was the pilot of 'Buzzin' Bear' on the Ploesti Raid. Before the mission he asked British anti-aircraft gunners which plane, in a low flying formation, they would fire at. They told him they would shoot the highest: Bill Cameron took 'Buzzin' Bear' through the Ploesti inferno lower than most other pilots and got her home with only minor damage, earning the DSC for his part in the historic raid.

Colonel CHARLES E. HUGHES - 'Flossie Flirt'
Charles Hughes trained on B-17s but transferred to B-24s on arrival in England with the 44th Bomb Group. He first saw combat in May 1943 on a mission to Kiel. A couple of months later he was in North Africa preparing for the Ploesti Raid, and on the mission he flew 'Flossie Flirt'. Badly damaged and low on fuel he headed for neutral Turkey and was interned. He subsequentdy managed to escape in a fishing boat to Cyprus and thence back to England.