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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 Tom Blackburn (deceased)
*Signature Value : £75
|From a naval family, Tom Blackburn joined the service in 1929. In 1942 he took part in Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa, commanding VF-29. His first mission ended by ditching in the Atlantic, and 60 hours adrift in a dinghy. Surviving this, Tom Blackburn went on to command VF-17, leading the squadron to become one of the most distinguished naval fighter units of the Pacific War. With the accent on teamwork and mission accomplishment, the success of Tom Blackburns Jolly Rogers are legend in the lore of naval aviation. Sadly, Tom Blackburn died on 21st April 1994.|
Lieutenant Dan Cunningham
*Signature Value : £55
|Dan Cunningham joined the service in December 1942, being posted to VF-17, his first operational squadron. He later flew with VBF-10. A valuable member of the Jolly Rogers air fighting team, Dan Cunningham scored 7 aerial victories flying the F4U, and a number of unconfirmed probables. His combat career was confined to the south west Pacific theater, where he took part in some of the major air battles of the Solomons.|
Lieutenant Tom Killefer (deceased)
*Signature Value : £40
|Born in Los Angeles and raised in Hermosa Beach, Killefer attended Stanford University, where he played varsity baseball and was elected student body president. He earned his law degree at Harvard and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in England. Tom Killefer joined the navy in 1941, and was posted to his first operational squadron, VF-18, first seeing combat in October 1943. He flew 58 combat missions, scoring 4 victories, and a number of unconfirmed probables. Like all navy pilots he had a large number of deck landings, and saw action in the North Atlantic and Pacific theaters. Flying the F4F and F4U he took part in the great air battles over Bougainville and the massive campaign against Rabaul. Tom Killefer earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Navy Air Medal and a Purple Heart. Sadly Tom Killefer died at the age of 79 on Sunday 16th June 1996 in Portola Valley, California.|
Rear Admiral Roger Hedrick (deceased)
*Signature Value : £55
|After joining the US Navy in 1936, Roger Hedrick served aboard the USS Ranger before joining VF-17 on USS Bunker Hill as Executive Officer to Tom Blackburn. With over 200 hours in fighters before his first combat, Hedrick brought considerable experience to the squadron. Regarded by Blackburn as the top fighter pilot he flew with in World War Two, Hedrick completed over 100 combat missions and shot down 12 Japanese aircraft, with a number of probables unconfirmed. Flying the F4U he took part in the campaigns in the Solomons, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Japan. Sadly, he passed away on 10th January 2006.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Corsair||The Chance-Vought F4U Corsair was arguably the finest naval aviation fighter of its era. Work on this design dates to 1938 and was headed-up by Voughts Chief Engineer, Rex Biesel. The initial prototype was powered by an 1800-HP Pratt & Whitney double Wasp radial engine. This was the third Vought aircraft to carry the Corsair name. The graceful and highly recognizable gull-wing design of the F4U permitted the aircraft to utilize a 13-foot, three-blade, Hamilton Standard propeller, while not having to lengthen the landing gear. Because of the rigors of carrier landings, this was a very important design consideration. Folding wings were also required for carrier operations. The F4U was thirty feet long, had a wingspan of 41 feet and an empty weight of approximately 7,500 pounds. Another interesting feature was the way the F4Us gear rotated 90 degrees, so it would lay flush within the wing when in the up position. In 1939 the Navy approved the design, and production commenced. The Corsair utilized a new spot welding process on its all aluminum fuselage, giving the aircraft very low drag. To reduce weight, fabric-covered outer wing sections and control surfaces were fitted. In May of 1940 the F4U made its maiden flight. Although a number of small bugs were discovered during early flight tests, the Corsair had exceptional performance characteristics. In October of 1940 the prototype F4U was clocked at 405-MPH in a speed test. The initial production Corsairs received an upgraded 2,000-HP radial giving the bird a top speed of about 425-MPH. The production models also differed from the prototype in having six, wing-mounted, 0.5 caliber machine guns. Another change was a shift of the cockpit about three feet further back in the fuselage. This latter change unfortunately made naval aviators wary of carrier landings with the F4U, due to its limited forward visibility during landings. Other concerns were expressed regarding a severe port wing drop at landing speeds and a tendency of the aircraft to bounce off a carrier deck. As a result, the F4U was initially limited to land-based USMC squadrons. Vought addressed several of these problems, and the Royal Navy deserves credit for perfecting an appropriate landing strategy for the F4U. They found that if the carrier pilot landed the F4U while making a sweeping left turn with the port wing down, that sufficient visibility was available to make a safe landing. With a kill ratio of 11 -to- 1 in WW 11 combat, the F4U proved superior in the air to almost every opposing aircraft it encountered. More than 12,000 F4Us were built and fortunately a few dozen remain in flyable condition to this date.|
|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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