'SANDMAN AT PLOESTI' - ORIGINAL PENCIL DRAWING
FRAMED COLLECTORS PIECE By Nicolas Trudgian
The incredible US Air Force attacks on the Oil Refinerys in Ploesti, Romania, on 1st August 1943 have gone down in the annals of aviation history as one of the boldest, most courageous, operations of the entire war. Recognising the imperative of striking at Hitler's Oil production, Operation 'Tidal Wave' envisaged a surprise attack by US Heavy Bombers on the Oil production facilities centred around Ploesti in Romania. The sites were heavily defended by Flak and Fighters and, because of the distances to these targets, the Bombers would have to attack without any fighter escort protection. The Bombers would depart from bases in North Africa and fly across the Mediterranean to the targets in Romania.
The Bomb Groups selected all flew the B-24 Liberator and consisted of the following Units - 44th BG, 93rd BG, 98th BG, 376th BG and 389th BG - 178 aircraft in all carrying 1751 aircrew. It was an audacious and daring enterprise.
The Operation proved to be extremely costly - 53 B-24's were lost, along with 660 aircrew. There were no less than FIVE 'Medal of Honor' winners and many other medals awarded.
Paying tribute to the sheer courage and determination of the US Bomber crews that day, Nicolas Trudgian has produced an incrediblly detailed pencil Drawing depicting the B-24's of the 98th Bomb Group attacking 'Astra Romana' or 'White IV'. Literally flying through the smokesstacks at low-level Pilot Robert Sternfels steers his B-24D 'The Sandman' through the detonations of bombs and thick black smoke of the target as other 98th BG Liberators clear the refinery and head for home.
This incredibly detailed Drawing is on A3 Paper and has been mounted with the following B-24 veteran Signatures who all flew the historic raid on 1st August 1943 - Operation TIDAL WAVE:-
Lieutenant ROBERT STERNFELS - 98thBG - Pilot 'The Sandman'
His B-24D 'The Sandman' was photographed coming off the target 'White IV' and was one of the most famous images of the entire attack. Sternfels managed to return to base and was awarded the DFC and DSC for his efforts during 'Tidal Wave'.
Lieutenant ROYDEN LEBRECHT - 98thBG - Pilot 'The Squaw'
Lebrecht flew B-24D 'The Squaw' during the attack on 'White IV' and flew right next to the Commanding Officer Colonel John Kane's B-24D 'Hail Columbia'. One of the only relatively undamaged B-24's of the attack, LeBrecht stayed with his Group protecting several of the more damaged aircraft.
Lieutenant ANDREW OPSATA - Attached 98thBG (389thBG) - Pilot 'Stinger'
Opsata was originally part of the 389th BG but was attached to the 98th BG for the Ploesti attacks on 'White IV'. Piloting 'Stinger' he bombed the target and successfully returned to Libya with just one wounded crewmember.
Lieutenant CHARLES CAVIT - Attached 98thBG (389thBG) - Co-Pilot 'Jersey Jackass/Bashful'
Cavit was also originally a member of the 389th BG that was attached to the 98th BG for the attack. His B-24D 'Bashful' was hit approaching the target and crashed in flames, Cavit surviving with burns but taken POW.
Lieutenant WILLIAM CAMERON - 44th BG - Pilot 'Buzzin' Bear'
Cameron flew B-24D 'Buzzin' Bear' with the 44th BG during 'Operation Tidal Wave'. On being informed by British Flak gunners that they would fire at the 'highest' aircraft in a group, Cameron made his attack at 'White V' at extreme low-level and managed to return to base!
The piece is framed to include a US Air Force Officers Cap badge and an ORIGINAL WW2 US Distinguished Flying Cross and ribbon!
THE ENTIRE FRAMED PIECE MEASURES 25 x 19.5 INCHES
A TOTALLY ONE-OFF COLLECTORS PIECE BY NICOLAS TRUDGIAN PAYING TRIBUTE TO ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS RAIDS OF WW2!