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|Signatures on this item|
|*The value given for each signature has been calculated by us based on the historical significance and rarity of the signature. Values of many pilot signatures have risen in recent years and will likely continue to rise as they become more and more rare.|
Captain Armistead Chick Smith (deceased)
*Signature Value : £50
|Armistead Burwell Smith Jr. was born March 15, 1921, in Gastonia, North Carolina. He left the University of North Carolina after two years to join the Navy and was commissioned as an ensign in February 1942. In November 1942 in North Africa, he flew an F4F Wildcat off the carrier USS Ranger. Capt. Chick Smith over the course of the war, shot down 11 enemy aircraft during 87 combat missions. The first seven of the downed planes were during a 15-month period flying off the aircraft carrier Essex. Captain Smith flew F6F Hellcats with 9 squadron known as “the Ace maker” for its high success rate against Zeros. In the battle for Truk Lagoon in Micronesia, Capt. Smith's aircraft was shot down. After landing in the water, he was rescued by a destroyer. During the invasion of the islands of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, Capt. Smith operated from the US Carrier USS Randolph shooting down four Japanese aircraft. His decorations include four Distinguished Flying Crosses, a Silver Star, eight Air Medals, two Legions of Merit and a Navy Commendation Medal. After World War II, Capt. Smith commanded two fighter squadrons, a carrier air wing and the seaplane tender Pine Island. From 1967 to 1969, he commanded what was then the Miramar Naval Air Station he would continue in service and finally retire as Commander Fleet Fighter Squadrons in 1972. Sadly He passed away in July 2006|
Captain Richard Zeke Cormier (deceased)
*Signature Value : £55
|Richard Cormier served with UC-I aboard the U.S.S. Card in the Atlantic flying both the Wildcat and the Avenger, and was commended for an attack against a German U-boat. In March 1944 he was assigned to VF-80 flying the F6F Hellcat from the U.S.S. Ticonderoga during the campaign against the Philippine Islands, and in strikes against Iwo Jima and Okinawa. With 8 victories to his credit during World War 11, Zeke Cormier flew in the Korean War and later as leader of the famous Blue Angels. He retired from the Navy in 1964. Zeke Cormier passed away on 23rd February 2001 of cancer at his home in Rancho Santa Fe near San Diego at the age of 81.|
Commander Alex Vraciu USN (deceased)
*Signature Value : £45
|Alexander Vraciu was born in 1918, in East Chicago. Indiana to Romanian immigrant parents, . Alex grew up enthralled by the exploits of aviator Charles Lindbergh and World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker. Alexander Vraciu won a scholarship to DePauw University. Due to his passion for flying he obtained his private pilots license under the governments Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) program at Muncie, Indiana. Vraciu graduated in 1941, and entered the Navy as pilot candidate just before Pearl Harbor. On June 24th 1942 Alexander Vraciu recieved his Naval Aviators wings. He became carrier-qualified on Lake Michigan on USS WOLVERINE, a converted excursion ship, Vraciu qualified on eight straight passes in a F4F Wildcat, demonstrating an early affinity for carrier duty. He went onto fly the Grumman F6F Hellcat in the Pacific theatre. Alex Vraciu first saw combat flying the F6F Hellcat off carriers with VF-6. It was while flying as section leader in LCDR OHares division on October 5th, 1943, that Alex scored his first aerial victory over a Japanese zero at Wake Island. He notched three Zeroes and one Rufe in a wild dogfight at the first Truk raid on February 16, 1944 as part of a 72-Hellcat fighter sweep at the Japanese Naval fortress. During the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot he shot down six dive-bombers in eight minutes. The following day, escorting bombers in an attack on the Japanese Mobiel Fleet (Kido Butai), Vraciu downed his 19th victim, a Zero making him the foremost US Navy ace by a considerable margin, although he would hold that title for only four months. His luck ran out on December 14, 1944, while strafing over Luzon Island in the Philippines, his aircraft was struck by anti-aircraft fire and Alex Vraciu was forced to parachute safely from his damaged aircraft. Bailing out, he spent five weeks with Filipino guerrillas before meeting up with advancing Americans. He ended the war as the US Navys fourth highest Ace. In addition to his 19 aerial victories, he had destroyed 21 enemy aircraft on the ground. During the last few months of the war he served as a test pilot at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland, evaluating tactical performances between japanese an US aircraft he retired from the service in 1963. He died on 29th January 2015.|
Commander Hamilton McWhorter USN (deceased)
*Signature Value : £50
|Hamilton Mac McWhorter first saw combat with VF-9 flying the F4F Wildcat from the USS Ranger in strikes against Casablanca. In March 1943 he transferred to the new F6F Hellcat aboard USS Essex in the Pacific, and participated in the strikes against Marcus, Wake, Marshall and Gilbert Islands, Rabaul, Truk - where he scored a notable triple victory in a few minutes, and Saipan. Joining VF-12 aboard USS Randolph, he took part in strikes against Tokyo in February 1945, and Iwo Jima and Okinawa. With 12 air victories in 89 combat missions Mac McWhorter was the first carrier-based pilot to become an F6F double Ace. He retired from the navy in 1969. Sadly, he passed away on 12th April 2008.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Hellcat||The Grumman F6F-5 Hellcat was to become the US Navys primary carrier borne fighter plane during World War II. Over 12,000 Hellcats were produced, and the Hellcat was credited with 4,947 of the 6,477 kills of enemy planes downed by carrier pilots during the War. The Hellcat had a top speed of 375 MPH, a range of 1,089 miles and was armed with six machine guns. The aircraft was powered by an 18-cylinder Pratt and Whitney, air-cooled, radial engine which generated 2,000 horsepower.|
|Artist Details : Nicolas Trudgian|
|Click here for a full list of all artwork by Nicolas Trudgian|
Cranston Fine Arts have now taken over all remaining stocks of Nicolas Trudgian prints from his previous publishers. We have made available a great many prints that had not been seen for many years, and have uncovered some rarities which lay unnoticed during this transition.
Having graduated from art college, Nicolas Trudgian spent many years as a professional illustrator before turning to a career in fine art painting. His crisp style of realism, attention to detail, compositional skills and bright use of colours, immediately found favour with collectors and demand for his original work soared on both sides of the Atlantic. Today, more than a decade after becoming a fine art painter, Nicolas Trudgian is firmly established within a tiny, elite group of aviation artists whose works are genuinely collected world-wide. When he paints an aircraft you can be sure he has researched it in every detail and when he puts it over a particular airfield, the chances are he has paid it a recent visit. Even when he paints a sunset over a tropical island, or mist hanging over a valley in China, most probably he has seen it with his own eyes. Nick was born and raised in the seafaring city of Plymouth, the port from which the Pilgrim Fathers set sail in 1620, and where Sir Francis Drake played bowls while awaiting the Spanish Armada. Growing up in a house close to the railway station within a busy military city, the harbour always teeming with naval vessels and the skies above resonating with the sounds of naval aircraft, it was not at all surprising the young Nick became fascinated with trains, boats and aircraft. It was from his father, himself a talented artist, that Nick acquired his love of drawing and surrounded by so much that was inspiring, there was never a shortage of ideas for pictures. His talent began to show at an early age and although he did well enough at school, he always spent a disproportionate amount of time drawing. People talked about him becoming a Naval officer or an architect but in 1975 Nick's mind was made up. When he told his careers teacher he wanted to go to art school the man said, 'Now come on, what do you really want to do? After leaving school Nick began a one-year foundation course at the Plymouth College of Art. Now armed with an impressive portfolio containing paintings of jet aircraft, trains, even wildlife, he was immediately accepted at every college he applied to join. He chose a course at the Falmouth College of Art in Cornwall specialising in technical illustration and paintings of machines and vehicles for industry. It was perfect for Nick, and he was to become one of the star pupils. One of the lecturers commented at the time: Every college needs someone with a talent like Nick to raise the standards sky high; he carried all the other students along with him, and created an effect which will last for years to come. Two weeks after leaving art college Nick blew every penny he had on a trip to South Africa to ride the great steam trains across the desert, sketching them at every opportunity. Returning to England, in best traditions of all young artists, he struggled to make a living. Paintings by an unknown artist didn't fetch much despite the painstaking effort and time Nick put into each work, so when the college he had recently left offered him a job as a lecturer, he jumped at the chance. The money was good and he discovered that he really enjoyed teaching. Throughout the 1970s Nick was much involved with a railway preservation society near Plymouth and it was through the railway society that he had his first pictures reproduced as prints. But Nick felt he needed to advance his career and in summer 1985 Nick moved away from Cornwall to join an energetic new design studio in Wiltshire. Here he painted detailed artwork for many major companies including Rolls Royce, General Motors, Volvo Trucks, Alfa Romeo and, to his delight, the aviation and defence industries. He remembers the job as exciting though stressful, often requiring him to work right through the night to meet a client's deadline. Here he learned to be disciplined and fast. Towards the end of the 1980's Nick had the chance to work for the Military Gallery. This was the break that for years he had been striving towards and with typical enthusiasm, flung himself into his new role. After completing a series of aviation posters, including a gigantic painting to commemorate the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Royal Air Force, Nick's first aviation scene to be published as a limited edition was launched by the Military Gallery in 1991. Despite the fact he was unknown in the field, it was an immediate success. Over the past decade Nick has earned a special reputation for giving those who love his work much more than just aircraft in his paintings. He goes to enormous lengths with his backgrounds, filling them with interesting and accurate detail, all designed to help give the aircraft in his paintings a tremendous sense of location and purpose. His landscapes are quite breathtaking and his buildings demonstrate an uncanny knowledge of perspective but it is the hardware in his paintings which are most striking. Whether it is an aircraft, tank, petrol bowser, or tractor, Nick brings it to life with all the inordinate skill of a truly accomplished fine art painter. A prodigious researcher, Nick travels extensively in his constant quest for information and fresh ideas. He has visited India, China, South Africa, South America, the Caribbean and travels regularly to the United States and Canada. He likes nothing better than to be out and about with sketchbook at the ready and if there is an old steam train in the vicinity, well that's a bonus!
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