by Philip E. West
Overall size 28” x 16½”
Working around the clock and in all weather conditions the ground crew knew from the size of the bombs they were loading, this was going to be a very special operation for the Lancaster crews of 9 Squadron. Brainchild of Barnes Wallis, The "Tallboy" bomb weighed in at an impressive 12,000Ib. On this occasion in November 1944 the crews and aircraft are being readied for departure to Lossiemouth or Kinloss on route to sink the “Tirpitz” laying at anchor near Tromso in Norway.
Signed by a pilot, flight engineer, bomb aimer and a wireless operator/air gunner. All from 9 Sqn.
Please see below for details of the signatories of this edition. As with all our prints, this edition was signed in the presence of Sean Whyte, owner and publisher of SWA Fine Art Limited.
Philip West is recognised as one of the world’s finest aviation artists. Collectors of his original oil paintings span the globe, many waiting patiently for his next breathtaking canvas to appear. Self taught, Philip has won many accolades for his paintings, not the least of which was the prestigious Duane Whitney Award for Excellence at the 1997 American Society of Aviation Artists Exhibition.
All the print editions are signed by the following aircrew.
Sgt. Jim Brookbank (Bomb Aimer) was born in a Victorian terrace in the back streets of Kilburn in North West London and had yet to reach his sixteenth birthday at the outbreak of war. Having experienced the ‘Blitz’ and already obsessed with flying since the age of 12, he – in keeping with many aspiring young aviators – wanted to be a Spitfire pilot. He volunteered as U/T pilot at the age of 18, trained in Canada and qualified as a Bomb Aimer. Jim joined IX Squadron at Bardney in August 1944 and flew on Operations with them until VE Day. He attacked specially selected daylight targets with the Barnes Wallis 12,000lb ‘Tallboy’ bomb, including the final raid of the war on Berchtesgaden on 25th April 1945. Jim completed 23 ops.
W.O. G. T. M. Caines (Wireless Operator/Air Gunner) volunteered and joined the RAF at age 18 and was called up on 4th December 1940. He subsequently joined 9 Squadron and after 7 Operational sorties was granted four days compassionate leave to visit his wife, who had just given birth to a son in a temporary maternity hospital in Taunton. He returned to find his crew reported missing. He carried on flying with 9 Squadron as a spare Wop but after 13 ops crewed up with F/O Manning who had lost his Wop after five trips. On his twenty-fifth trip, on the way home from Frankfurt they were hit in the Bombay by a fighter. Badly on fire and in a steep dive they blew up. The aircraft broke her back and Caines was thrown clear of the wreckage, landing in a little village called Lembeque, near Brussels. He finished the war in captivity and was repatriated a week or so before VE Day. Unfortunately he was the only one to survive the crash.
Flg. Off. Jim Pinning (Flight Engineer) volunteered and was called up for Air Crew duties in April 1942. After some Pilot training in S Rhodesia and returning to England, Jim qualified as a Flight Engineer, joining Flying Officer David Coster and crew at Conversion Unit flying Stirlings.
After a course at Lancaster Finishing School, a posting to IX Squadron, Bardney resulted. On his seventh trip Jim flew in WS.T LM448 (as illustrated in “Preparing for the Tirpitz”) on the final Tirpitz raid, but as the result of heavy flak damage causing a loss of fuel and power a course was set for Sweden where, after evading enemy fighters over Norway, a crash landing was made.
After returning to England the crew re-joined the Squadron and Jim completed 22 ops. by the end of the war. After cancellation of the Tiger Force destined for the Far East, Jim joined Squadron Leader (Jock) Blair for the Squadron’s brief visit to India.
Flt. Lt. W. G. Rees (Pilot) volunteered for Aircrew at age 19 and was called up in April 1942. After initial training he went to Miami, Oklahoma where he gained his Pilots Wings in July 1942. He returned to the UK and after further training volunteered for Special Duties and was posted to 9 Squadron who were about to embark on their 12,000lb Bomb campaign. His first flight was on “T” for “Tommy” AS depicted in the background of the picture. His service with the Squadron included many Tallboy and 12,000lb HC bomb raids and he specialised in Wind Finding exercises. After the German capitulation he trained with Tiger Force and finally served at Waddington until his release from the service.
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