"FRONT LINE HURRICANES"

BY ROBERT TAYLOR

Autographed by Roland "Bee" Beamont, Peter Brothers, Frank Carey, Dennis David, John Gibson and Kenneth Lee.

LE of 800. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Size: 23 1/2" X 32 3/4"

Price: $295


Having pounded Poland into submission, the German onslaught continued through Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. The "phoney war" was over. On May 10, 1940, upwards of seventy airfields in France, Belgium and the Netherlands came under heavy attack from the Luftwaffe, at that time rampant across the skies of northern Europe.

Aware that the crucial Battle of Britain was to come, Fighter Command's Hugh Dowding could risk but four squadrons of his valuable Hurricane fighters to support the British Expeditionary Force as it fought its rearguard action in France. In the face of the overwhelming might of Germany's Blitzkrieg tactics, the RAF Hurricane Squadrons were involved in some of the most ferocious and sustained air fighting of the entire war. In spite of being so heavily outnumbered, in May and June of 1940, almost 1300 Luftwaffe aircraft fell to the guns of the young RAF pilots, though at a heavy price.

Based at a temporary forward airfield at Lille Marc, the Hurricanes of No. 87 Squadron were in the thick of the fighting. Flying the early model Mk Is, armed only with machine guns, their task was to beat back the incessant air attacks on the British ground forces, and to do what they could to hamper the advance of the German Panzer divisions as they plundered inexorably towards Dunkirk.

Flying from ill-prepared grass strips, with groundcrews making the best of what meagre facilities were on hand, the Hurricane pilots literally flew themselves to a standstill. Front Line Hurricanes, Robert Taylor's superbly constructed new painting, recreates a typical scene at a forward air-base of the era.

Showing the strains of battle, the single-bladed Mk Is of 87 Squadron taxi in from their skirmish. An old farmhouse has been commandeered and now doubles up as flight operations, officers' mess, and accommodation for the lucky ones. The rest of the squadron camp in bell tents. The Medical Corps ambulance parked under cover of the trees is thankfully not needed on this mission, though the late model Citroen saloon car will likely convey as many as it will hold to the village tavern this evening.

A masterful painting by the world's number one aviation artist, his first portraying The Battle of France. Prints are signed by six Hurricane pilots who flew during the Battle of France, offering collectors of WWII aviation art the opportunity to acquire a classic collectors piece.


The Signatures


Each copy of FRONT LINE HURRICANES is signed d SIX of the great Aces of RAF Fighter Command. All flew Hurricanes during the Battle of France in 1940.

Wing Commander ROLAND 'BEE' BEAMONT CBE DSO* DFC*
Posted to France m November 1939 to join 87 Squadron, Bee soon claimed his first victory once the 'Blitzkrieg' began. He flew Hurricanes throughout the Battle of Britain, with four victories by the end of August 1940. Converting to Typhoons, he flew with 56 Squadron and then 609 Squadron at Duxford which he commanded. In 1944 Bee formed the first Typhoon Wing (150), and destroyed an incredible thirty-two V1 Flying Bombs. Whilst leading 150 Wing in a Tempest over France in October, 1944, with his score on 6, he was shot down by flak and became a POW. For 24 years following the war Bee Beamont became Britain's most illustrious test pilot.

Air Commodore PETER BROTHERS CBE DSO DFC*
Joining the RAF in 1936, Peter was a Flight Commander with 32 Squadron at the outbreak of war. Posted to France he flew Hurricanes in the great air battles of France and Dunkirk. During the Battle of Britain he flew from the famous Biggin Hill fighter station before joining Bob Stanford-Tuck at 257 Squadron. In 1941 he formed 457 Squadron with Australian pilots and a year later took command of 602 Squadron. In October 1942, Peter Brothers was appointed Wing Leader at Tangmere. He finished the war with 16 victories.

Group Captain FRANK CAREY CBE DFC** DFM AFC
With 43 Squadron at the outbreak of war, Frank Carey took part in 3 early victories against He111s. In April 1940, he was posted to France with 3 Squadron at the outbreak of the 'Blitzkrieg', and claimed the squadron's first success. By the end of the Battle of France he had downed nine German aircraft. Frank flew Hurricanes throughout the Battle of Britain. Flying up to six combat missions a day he was shot down and wounded at the height of the Battle. In late 1941, he was posted to Rangoon in Burma with 135 Squadron, and in February 1942, he was promoted to command 267 Hurricane Wing, of which 135 Squadron was part. His final tally was 25 victories and 3 shared.

Group Captain DENNIS DAVID CBE DFC* AFC
One of the very early Aces, Dennis David had been posted to France at the outbreak of war with 87 Squadron, as part of the Air Component of the BEF. By May of 1940 he had already destroyed 11 enemy aircraft during the heavy air fighting over northern France. In August 1940, during the Battle of Britain, still flying Hurricanes, he added another 5 more confirmed victories, taking his tally up to 16 by the end of his first tour. Dennis was posted to the Middle East in 1943 and took command of 89 Squadron, a Beaufighter night-fighter unit, later transferring to Ceylon. With the end of the war he became Senior Air Staff Officer of 224 Group in the Far East.

Squadron Leader JOHN GIBSON DSO DFC
John Gibson joined the RAF from New Zealand and was posted to 501 Squadron at Tangmere. Within days of arrival he flew to France, and soon scored his first victory. He fought throughout the Battle of Britain and by September his tally had risen in 1942, he joined 15 (NZ) Squadron, taking over P-40s from the 68th Pursuit Squadron USAAF. Re-equipping with Corsairs, he took part in operations at Guadalcanal. Returning to the UK, he converted to Typhoons, then Tempests, before joining 80 Squadron m Holland. His final tally was 12 victories and 1 shared.

Squadron Leader KENNETH LEE DFC Ken 'Hawkeye' Lee, was posted to 501 Squadron at the outbreak of war. He went to France in May 1940 and claimed two quick victories, and two more over Dunkirk. On 10 June, his Hurricane blew up but he bailed out, and on 18th August he was shot down by GerhardSchopfel of JG-26, but again managed to bail out. With his tally standing at 6 he was posted to the Middle East, flying P-40 Kittyhawks with 112 Squadron and then 260 Squadron. Here he scored his 7th victory. In March 1943 he took command of 123 Squadron and in July led a formation of 109 Hurricanes in a strafing attack on Crete, during which he was brought down by ground fire. He spent the remainder of the war as a POW.


COMPANION PRINTS


Two Companion Prints by the world as premier Aviation Artist complete the Battle of France Portfolio. A valuable Commemorative set for collectors of Aviation Art.

GLOSTER GLADIATOR

A survivor of an earlier generation of fighter aircraft, the Gloster Gladiator was pressed into service during both the Battles of France and Britain, and later went on to do sterling work in Greece and North Africa. This magnificent little biplane inflicted an inordinate amount of damage to enemy aircraft during the early part of the war and flew into immortality in the guise of Faith, Hope and Charity, the three legendary Gladiators that stood alone against the Luftwaffe in the siege of Malta. Robert's fine study of this beautiful aircraft shows a Mk II Gladiator of No. 615 (County of Surrey) Squadron, based at Abbeville, northern France in April 1940. Companion Prints are initialled by the artist, and issued with matching numbers within the Portfolio.

BRISTOL BLENHEIM

When the Blenheim entered service with the RAF in 1937 its top speed exceeding 300 mph was considered advanced. But, when war broke out two years later, this gallant light bomber was no match for the Luftwaffe's single-engined fighters, and casualties were high. The aircraft nevertheless excelled in attacks on German armour divisions during the Battle of France, and later came into its own as a night-fighter during the blitz of London.

Robert Taylor's handsome study shows a Mk IV Blenheim of No. 57 Squadron based at Rosieres, France, flown by Fl. Lt. James Foulsham and seen returning from a daylight bombing raid on a German armoured column, May 17, 1940. Companion Prints are initialled by Robert, and issued with matching numbers within the Portfolio.