"PLOESTI: INTO THE FIRE AND FURY"

BY WILLIAM S. PHILLIPS

L/E of 850. Signed and numbered by the artist.

Size: 31" x 2 1/8"

Price: $195


Adolf Hitler was obsessed with the war economy in general, and liquid fuel in particular. The petroleum wells and refineries at Ploesti, Rumania, which supplied approximately one third of all the Nazis' fuel oil, therefore became more than just a military target. A raid on Ploesti became a way to strike at Hitler himself.

"On the first of August, 1943, then-Colonel Leon Johnson's aircraft, a B-24D, of the 67th bomb squadron, 44th bomb group, flew over target Ploesti, code-named Tidal Wave," says aviation artist William S. Phillips. "For his action that day, Colonel Johnson received the Medal of Honor."

In all, 179 B-24 Liberators of the American 9th Air Force took off that day on "Operation Soapsuds" to pound the Ploesti installations. The results were promising, but the price was high. The Americans lost fifty-three aircraft in the attack, but the door was then open for subsequent bombings which yielded higher dividends. Within six months, the amount of oil that Germany was taking from Rumania was cut by eighty percent.

"What interested me from an art standpoint was that they went in low-level," says Phillips. "This raid took place right on the ground. It's the kind of thing that lends itself well to the kind of work I do. The sun is high in the blue sky, and Johnson's B-24D is coming right by you." Phillips' appreciation of Johnson's accomplishment is shown in this limited edition fine art print, made from the original painting that was signed by Johnson himself.

"I've always been interested in B-24's. Actually, I love them," says Phillips. That love is apparent in his action portrait of a famous and important World War II raid.