by Philip E West
Image size: 24" x 13¾"
Overall size: 28" x 19¾ "
Struggling for height as she crosses the South coast of England, a damaged B-17 of the 91st Bomb Group heads home to Bassingbourne. With its bomb doors jammed open, an engine feathered and streaming smoke, the battle scarred B-17 and her injured crew are nearing the completion of yet another heroic mission over Germany.
Shadowed for most of their way back by P-51Ds of the 352nd Fighter Squadron (353rd FG), the B-17 "Ragged Irregulars" were assured protection against enemy aircraft. Running very low on fuel after a long day of escort duties, the P-51 pilots will soon need to peel off and make for their base at Raydon.
Philip writes, "With the best will in the world I don't think any of us non-military people can begin to imagine what it must be like to be shot at in a war situation, much less what it's like to be in an aircraft at the time. Time after time, the pilots and crew, if they were lucky enough to survive the last mission, were sent back into battle the next day. Both the P-51 and B-17 were incredible aircraft flown by men of truly extraordinary bravery. We all have a lot to thank them for."