51cm x 41cm
The 8th Army Air Force went through various costly but important lessons during its daylight bombing campaign over occupied Europe. From the first short range missions into France in 1942, right through to the long, deep penetration, escorted trips to Berlin in 1945, there were times when the American bombing groups were having to fly over hostile Germany alone. Up until the introduction of the P-38, because of the limited range of the allied fighter force, they could be protected only part of the way, until the covering fighters had to turn back, whereupon, the German Bf109's, Bf110's and Fw190”s would make their move. Even when the P-38's started deep penetration escorts, they were low in number because of reliability problems, so the losses to the bombers were very high.
What must it have been like for the Fortress and Liberator crews, going again and again into Germany, five miles up, with no “little Friends” to reassure and lend a hand until they were half way back? The photos and film of those high altitude formations give a flavour of those scenes, with whole wings of bombers seemingly motionless in the sky, save for the white contrails streaming back, pinpointing their position and course for anyone to see. And it looks so perishing cold as well!
My painting tries to portray the sight of some ‘Fortresses', making their way, as one through a very big sky. And like their RAF brothers at night, each one of those aircrew must have known, after the losses they had suffered, that sky held battles that might take them and some of their friends. But they pressed on to do the job they had been given.
I believe that is something to remember with respect, wonder and gratitude.