"CALM BEFORE THE STORM"

BY JIM LAURIER

Autographed by Col. Hubert Zemke, former C.O. of the 56th Fighter Group, and Col. Francis Gabreski, the greatest of Thunderbolt Aces.

L/E of 900. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Size:26" x 18"

Price: $135


Calm Before The Storm depicts P-47's of the 56th Fighter Group (Zemke's Wolfpack) being readied for D-Day operations. The peacefulness of this scene gives no indication of the turmoil that awaits the pilots of these airplanes. In the foreground Gabby Gabreski's aircraft is being fitted with a 108 gallon drop tank. The guns have been loaded and the empty ammo boxes are being stacked for pick-up by the ordinance truck. The windshield gets wiped, the crew chief gives her one final walk around, and then they proudly wait for Gabby's arrival after the mission briefing. Soon this ship will lead a squadron into the sky and head for German occupied territory. They will be joined by other Thunderbolts from the 56th Fighter Group. Together they will support ground forces in their efforts to push further inland from Normandy's northern coast. Targets for the day will be anything that supports the German war machine- troops, trucks, trains, airfields, flak batteries-and the Luftwaffe.

Zemke's Wolfpack got it's name from Col. Hubert "Hub" Zemke, Commanding Officer of the 56th Fighter Group. He knew the strengths and weaknesses of the P-47 and, rather than switch to the new P-51 Mustangs, he decided to retain their Thunderbolts. The 56th was the only 8th Air Force group to fly the P-47 until war's end. The P-47 Thunderbolt was the perfect weapon for the job. It was ruggedly built and had eight hard hitting .50 caliber machine guns. It was also a good dogfighter when it's best attributes were exploited.

Through Hub's superb leadership, his faith in his men and his aircraft, and the skill and determination of the pilots, the 56th Fighter Group earned a permanent "place at the table", as well as a place in history. The Germans who fought against Zemke's Wolfpack were proud to have had the honor.