Battle for the Islands
By Nicolas Trudgian
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By the time VMF 121 received their F4U Corsairs, they had already established a reputation as one of the Marine Corps most feared fighter units. Since their formation in 1941, equipped with F4F Wildcats, they had played a major role as part of the 'Cactus Airforce' in the defence of Henderson Field, the vital airfield on the island of Guadalcanal.
With the arrival of the new F4U in April 1943, the pilots of VMF 121 fought their way aggressively up through the Solomon Islands - the sky above New Georgia, Bougainville and Rendova soon becoming familiar aerial battlegrounds. VMF 121 fought to the end of the war, amassing 209 enemy aircraft destroyed, with 15 of its pilots making 'Ace'.
In his spectacular new painting, Nicolas Trudgian portrays the Corsairs of VMF 121 providing close air support to the US landings on Rendova, June 30, 1943. Fiercely contested, the invasion force was heavily attacked by Zero fighters and Mitsubishi G4M1 'Betty' bombers, flying from their base at Rabaul.
Dogfighting at tree-top height, VMF 121 Corsairs rip into a bunch of Betty bombers as they try to make their escape following their attack on shipping. On fire, the Betty in the foreground is doomed, and will shortly become one of 19 Japanese aircraft accounted for by VMF 121. Other Marine fighter units brought the total this day to a staggering 58 enemy aircraft destroyed.
In his incomparable way, Nicolas Trudgian has combined the exciting drama of aerial warfare with the stunning beauty of the Pacific islands, to produce a truly exquisite aviation picture. Collector prints are signed by three highly distinguished Marine Corps World War II fighter Aces.
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