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Tail-End Charlie

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Take advantage of the rare opportunity to own commemorative artwork signed by a World War II aviator!

Stan Stokes. On the morning of January 29, 1944, crews of the 704th Bomb Squadron received their assignments for the day's ambitious raid over Frankfurt, Germany. Commander Ernest Bruce of the 446th Bomb Group, piloting his "Hula Wahine" B-24 Liberator, drew tail-end-charlie duty and set out on his mission. Minutes from his target, however, his number two engine failed followed quickly by the failure of engine number three. As Bruce shifted to maximum power in engines one and four, an unsustainable predicament at high altitude, he released his payload over the target and dipped into cloud cover to avoid the closing Me 210 fighters on his tail.

After the enemy aircraft dispersed, Bruce and the "Hula Wahine" emerge from the clouds and began flying at tree-top level to avoid detection, only to be spotted by an Fw 190. With the tail gunners malfunctioning, Bruce led the B-24 over a farmhouse, missing the top-level bedroom window by only feet — as depicted here in this limited edition, action print — as the Fw 190, possibly out of ammunition, then positioned himself parallel with the bomber in an attempt to ram him out of the sky. Just in time, however, the nose gunner opened fire and destroyed the Luftwaffe fighter. The "Hula Wahine" made it safely back to England, belly-landing at Depling, a mission for which Bruce and his crew were awarded the Silver Star, DFC, two Air Medals, and four Purple Hearts. Signed by the artist and Commander Bruce! 22"x 18".