"LAST MAN HOME"

BY NICOLAS TRUDGIAN

Autographed by C.E. "Bud" Anderson, Thomas L. Hayes, William O'Brien and Richard "Bud" Peterson.

L/E of 1000. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Size: 36 1/2" x 24 1/2"

Price: $150

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WARBIRD LEGENDS SERIES

If any aircraft deserved to be described as a legend in its lifetime, it was the P-51 Mustang. By the time history's greatest aerial conflict drew to its close half a century ago, this sleek Merlin-engined single-seater had firmly established itself as the most complete fighter of the war.

Whether it was air-to-air combat high in the stratosphere, or flying the arduous long-range escort missions, or strafing heavily defended enemy airfields at extreme low-level, the P-51 had no equal. Today, after fifty years of aircraft development, the P-51 Mustang retains its mantle as the most versatile combat fighter the world has ever seen.

It is not surprising therefore that Nicolas Trudgian has chosen to portray the P-51 Mustang in his new painting to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the end of the War in Europe. In a scene that was repeated almost daily throughout the long war years, the squadron has returned from a gruelling mission, and as the pilots clamber out of their aircraft, all eyes are turned anxiously skyward, awaiting the return of the last man home.

Depicted are pilots and crew of the 357th Fighter Group at their base in Leiston, Suffolk. One of numerous gallant and successful fighter units based in England, the 357th was the first to be equipped with the new P-51 in the 8th Air Force, and later, with their long-range P-51Ds, flew escort to the first daylight raid on Berlin - since described as one of the fiercest air battles of the war.

Adding great credence to this beautiful, evocative aviation art classic, each print in Nicolas Trudgian's 50th Anniversary edition is individually signed by four highly distinguished fighter Aces who flew the P-51 Mustang in combat in the European Theater during World War II.


THE SIGNATURES

Colonel C.E. 'BUD' ANDERSON
'Bud' Anderson went to England with the 357th Fighter Group in 1943. He quickly showed he was a natural fighter pilot, scoring his first victory on one of the early Berlin escort missions. After completing his first tour he came back for a second, arriving in Europe in time for the 357th's most successful mission on 27th November 1944, adding three to his personal score that day. By the war end he was credited with 16 air victories.

Brigadier General THOMAS L. HAYES
'Tommy' Hayes saw action flying P-39s and P40s in New Guinea and Java before transferring to 357th Fighter Group in Europe. Here, flying the P-51, he commanded 364th Squadron and became Deputy C.O. of the 357th, leading the Group on many missions. In all Tommy Hayes flew 143 combat missions, survived being shot down by a Zero in Java, and was credited with 10 1/2 aerial victories. He later held many commands, his last operational aircraft being the F-106.

Captain WILLIAM R. O'BRIEN
"O'Bee" O'Brien joined the service in 1942 and after operational training, joined the 357th Fighter Group in Europe. Flying the P-51 Mustang, "O'Bee" took part in many of the arduous eight hour escort missions including the first daylight raid on Berlin. He flew a total of 77 fighter combat missions, many leading 363rd Fighter Squadron's Blue Flight, in which he became an Ace with 5 confirmed victories.

Major RICHARD 'BUD' PETERSON
'Bud' Peterson scored his first victory flying P-51s with the 357th Fighter Group, when he brought down a long-nose Fw190 in March 1944. At the tender age of 21 he became the Leiston based Group's 10th Ace, flying his well-known Mustang 'Hurry Home Honey'. Finishing top-scorer of the 364th Squadron, Bud Peterson's total of 15 1/2 victories included every Luftwaffe piston-engined type that flew in World War II.