To Hell and Back by Anthony Saunders - Aviation Art




By Anthony Saunder


Flying at low-level over the Astra Romana oil refinery, Lt James Merrick of the 98th Bomb Group powers his B-24 ‘Lil De-icer’ through the pall of burning debris as time-delayed bombs, dropped in error by a previous Group, explode beneath them. With any hope of surprise now lost, and taking heavy losses in the process, the crews of the 98th bravely hold their bombers on course.

The flak was murderous, some of the worst encountered during the whole of World War II but, as the B-24s ran the deadly gauntlet, every crew held their course. Barely able to see through the pillars of flame and towering columns of dense black smoke, with airframes shaking as explosions lit up the sky, each bomb run became a roller-coaster ride through hell. 

Allied planners knew that just over a third of all Germany’s oil came from a single source – the oil fields at Ploesti, far to the east of deepest Romania. If the oilfields and refineries at Ploesti could be destroyed, then Hitler’s armies would be dealt a savage blow from which they might never recover. Anthony Saunders’ dramatic painting, specially commissioned to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of Operation Tidal Wave, pays tribute to the heroes who flew the epic Ploesti mission.    



Captain Charles D. Cavit

Enlisting in the Army Air Corps the month after Pearl Harbor, Charles Cavit trained as a Pilot and was assigned to the 567th Bomb Squadron, 389th Bomb Group in March 1943. Arriving in the UK in July he was immediately dispatched to Libya, detached to the 98th Bomb Group. A Co-Pilot on the Ploesti Raid of 1 August 1943, his first combat mission, his B-24 ‘Jersey Jackass’ was shot down over Romania. Wounded, he was captured and taken to Bucharest as a POW.

Captain Andrew W. Opsata

Joining the Army Air Corps in June 1940 and qualifying as a Pilot, Andy Opsata flew B-24 Liberators with the 389th Bomb Group, based in East Anglia in England. On 3rd July the unit flew to a temporary base outside Bengazi, detached to the 98th Bomb Group and he was Pilot of the B-24 named ‘The Stinger’ on the Ploesti Raid. Returning to England he completed a total of 25 missions by the end of his tour.

Technical Sergeant Richard E. Tuttle

Richard Tuttle trained as a Radio Operator after enlisting in the Army Air Corps a few days before Christmas, 1941. After completing his training he was posted to England with the 44th Bomb Group, ‘The Flying Eightballs’ part of the 8th Air Force. On 28th June 1943 the Group, under the command of Colonel Leon Johnson (who would win the Medal of Honor at Ploesti) arrived in Libya from where he took part in the Ploesti Raid. Returning to England he completed 19 missions before the end of his tour.

Print Size: 30 1/2" x 23 1/2"  


A unique pencil drawing of a B-24, relevant to the Ploesti Raid, will be skillfully created in the lower margins of each Remarqued print.  

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