Flying his P-51D ‘Miss Helen’, Captain Ray Littge leads Mustangs of the 487th Fighter Squadron, 352nd FG back from a bomber escort mission to Germany, April 1945. As a harsh weather front closes in, the Mustangs race over the Suffolk coast on route to their base at Bodney.
When the American Eighth Air Force arrived in England in 1942 they had a second enemy to battle besides the Luftwaffe - the English weather. The mighty Eighth, the largest and most powerful air force in the world, were on many occasions almost paralyzed by the unpredictable and unexpected climate. Many of the aircrew had trained in the sunny air of southern California and took time to adjust to the grey, dismal skies, and the rolling banks of cloud that gathered over England and the near continent.
The winter of 1944 had been one of the worst on record with temperatures plunging across the whole country, bringing with it ice, freezing fog and drifting snow. But the war had gone on oblivious to the weather, and by April 1945 the sunless, dreary skies that had cast their frosty shadow over much of north-west Europe were long gone and the end was finally in sight.
This reflected the feeling among most of Europe towards the war in general - the storm was finally passing. Shortages of fuel, pilots and spares meant that the Luftwaffe was on its last legs, putting up little serious opposition. By now, after escorting the heavy bombers to their targets, complete groups of P-51 Mustangs were sweeping the entire western Reich on the return trip, strafing anything hostile on the ground. On one such mission fifteen Fighter Groups had gone on a strafing spree attacking 40 airfields in eastern Bavaria and western Czechoslovakia, claiming a record number of 747 aircraft destroyed on the ground. There wasn’t much left for the P-51s to destroy.
Overall size: 19¼" x 26¼"