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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 Clinton DeWitt Burdick (deceased)
*Signature Value : £45
|Clinton Burdicks father, Lt Howard Burdick, had been an Ace with 8 victories during the First World War. So perhaps it was natural that Clinton signed up for the service on his 18th birthday in 1942. After pilot training he transferred to join the 361st Fighter Squadron, 356th Fighter Group at Martlesham Heath in England, in October 1944. Flying his first combat mission in Noveber, his first victory came quickly on the 25th of that month, and like his father, he too was to become an Ace. Clinton flew 53 combat missions during his tour with the 356th, his last coming on 20th February 1945, and with 6 victories was one of only five aerial Aces in the 356th. He died on 17th February 2013.|
Lieutenant Colonel Charles E Beck (deceased)
*Signature Value : £40
|Charles Beck joined the service in November 1942, and after gaining his pilots wings, was posted to the 361st Fighter Squadron, 356th Fighter Group at Martlesham Heath in July 1944. He flew his first combat mission with the, in a P47, on 29th August 1944. He then flew Mustangs as the group converted over to P51s from the P47. He took part in the Groups big mission to Misbourg, Germany, on 26th November, when the Group scored 110 victories against a big Luftwaffe attack on the bomber stream. Charles finished his combat tour on 7th May 1945, the last day of the war. He returned home and continued his service, flying with the Van Nuys Air National Guard, flying P-51, F-86 Sabre and F-102 Delta Dagger aircraft. He was one of the first people to break the sound barrier, using an F-86 Sabre. He later served on active duty in the Korean War, and during the Vietnam conflict. He served for three years with the US Navy as a liaison officer on the F4U Corsair. Sadly, Charles Beck died on 25th March 2009.|
Major General Donald Strait (deceased)
*Signature Value : £45
|Don Strait was born on April 28th, 1918 and grew up in Verona, New Jersey. From an early age Don Strait wanted to be a pilot, and after working for Prudential Insurance Company for a short period Don Strait enlisted in 1940 in the 119th Observation Squadron of the New Jersey National Guard. Initially Don Strait was an armorer and moved up to become an aerial gunner in the two-seater O-46 and O-47 observation planes. He qualified as an aviation cadet in early 1942 and started his training at Maxwell Field, Alabama. After Basic and in January 1943 Strait received his wings and his commission. Don Strait got his ambition to become a fighter pilot, he began flying the P-47 Thunderbolt at Westover Field, MA. After checking out in the P-47 and completing transition training he was assigned to the 356th Fighter Group, then at Bradley Field, CT. By August, 1943 Don Strait had been promoted to Captain before being transferred to England. Captain Don Strait with the 356th Fighter Group went to Martlesham Heath in England flying first the P-47 Thunderbolt. Martlesham Heath was just five miles from the North Sea, which made it relatively easy to find when returning from a mission in bad weather. The 356th made its first combat sorties in October, 1943, with sweeps over Holland and northern France; sightings of Luftwaffe planes were quite rare, and the group took over a month to score its first aerial victory. Strait's first combat occurred on February 6th, 1944, when his flight bounced a pair of Fw190s while on an escort mission. He immediately attacked. The 190s split apart and he chased one down to the deck. He scored hits on it and the pilot bailed out - Strait's first kill. But he and his wingman had used too much fuel, and barely made it back to base. He shot down a couple more Bf109s while flying Thunderbolts on February 10th and May 19th. Having completed well over 200 combat hours, he was entitled to rotate home, but agreed to continue front-line flying, provided that he was given command of the 361st Fighter Squadron. He took a 30-day leave and returned to Europe in September, 1944. He and Captain George May, the intelligence officer, reviewed daily sightings and disposition of the Luftwaffe, which helped him plan and lead the squadron's missions. Don Strait took part in long range bomber escort and ground support missions, taking part in all the D-Day operations, before converting to P51s. The group flew their first Mustang mission on November 20, the same day that Strait assumed command of the 361st FS. In two combat tours he flew a total of 122 missions. He led the squadron again on November 26, 1944, when it flew an escort mission over the heavily defended Ruhr. After linking up with the B-17s just east of Holland, the pilots were advised of 40 bandits approaching from the south. As Strait's sixteen Mustangs arrived in the Osnabruck area, they spotted the 40 Bf109s at 25,000 feet. They dropped tanks and attacked. Then Strait spotted about another 150 German fighters at various altitudes, preparing to attack the bombers. "We've got the whole damn Luftwaffe!" he radioed. He closed to within 350 yards of an enemy airplane and fired - it dived away smoking. Strait's wingman saw it crash. Strait soon bounced another 109, but it eluded him. He spotted a third and closed to within 300 yards, and exploded it (a shared kill with Lt. Shelby Jett). After this dogfighting, fuel began to be a concern, so they headed home. That day the 356th FG destroyed 23 enemy aircraft without losing a single American. After two more victories on December 5th, Strait found more air combat on Christmas Day. In action again against Bf109s, he had a nasty moment when his first victim left oil and engine coolant all over his windscreen. Skidding away, Strait almost rammed his foe. He continued shooting down German planes in 1945 - an Fw190 on Jan. 14th, another Fw190 on Feb 14th, and three Fiesler Storch light observation planes on Feb 20th. Don Strait commanded the 361st Fighter Squadron, and became the Group's leading fighter Ace with 13 and a half air victories, all but three of these flying the P51. After the war he rejoined the NJ Air National Guard. He later commanded the 108th Tactical Wing in Korea, where he flew the F86, F84, and F105 jet. Participated in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Vietnam. He retired from the Air Force in 1978 with the rank of Major General, and was inducted into the New Jersey Aviation Hall of Fame in 1989. Donald Strait died on 30th March 2015.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Mustang||The ubiquitous North American P-51 Mustang, which many consider to be the best all-around fighter of WW II, owes its origins to the British Air Ministry. Following Britains entry into WW II in 1939, the RAF was interested in purchasing additional fighter aircraft from American sources, particularly the Curtiss P-40. Curtiss, which was busy, was unable to guarantee timely delivery so the British approached North American Aviation as a possible second source for the P-40. North American chose to propose its own fighter design which would use the same Allison engine as the P-40. Utilizing new laminar flow wings, the North American fighter was expected to have performance better than the P-40. Developed in record time the new aircraft was designated as a Mustang I by the Brits, whereas the USAAF ordered two for evaluation which were designated XP-51 Apaches. Intrigued with the possibility of using this aircraft also as a dive bomber, North American proposed this to the USAAF which decided to order 500 of the P-51 aircraft to be modified for dive bombing use. Designated as the A-36 Invader, this version of the Mustang utilized dive flaps, and bomb racks under each wing. Some reinforcing of the structural members was also required because of the G-forces to be encountered in dive bombing. A-36s entered combat service with the USAAF prior to any P-51s. In early 1943 the 86th and 27th Fighter Bomber Groups of the 12th Air Force began flying A-36s out of Northern Africa. Despite some early problems with instability caused by the dive flaps, the A-36 was effective in light bombing and strafing roles. It was not, however, capable of dog fighting with German fighters, especially at higher altitudes. Despite these drawbacks one USAAF pilot, Captain Michael T. Russo, who served with the 16th Bomb Squadron of the 27th Fighter Bomber Group, was credited with five confirmed aerial victories in the A-36, thereby becoming the first mustang ace.|
|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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