Exactly a year after the Eighth Air Force had completed its first ‘official’ mission of the war, 17
August 1943 saw them undertake their most ambitious raid to date - a two-pronged ‘double
strike’ deep into the heart of Bavaria. The Eighth’s B-17s were going deeper into the Reich than
ever before and, like the raid on Ploesti a few weeks earlier, much of the mission would be well
beyond the range of fighter escort. A tough day lay ahead.
The first force, led by Colonel Curtis LeMay, would mean 147 B-17s from the Eighth’s Third Air
Division traversing the breadth of Germany to bomb the Messerschmitt factory at Regensburg, a
plant producing over 300 Bf109 fighters every month. LeMay’s division would then fly on to
airfields in North Africa whilst the second force of some 230 Fortresses from the First Air
Division led by Brigadier General Robert B. Williams, would follow and attack the ball-bearing
factories at Schweinfurt before returning to England.
The Eighth was expecting trouble - and got it. As soon as their escort fighters reached the limit of
their endurance and departed, the Luftwaffe pounced. With several hundred Fw190s and Bf109s
attacking the bomber formations as they bludgeoned the paths to their targets, the routes were
plotted by a trail of flame, smoke, explosions, parachutes and debris from damaged or
disintegrating aircraft. Of the Regensburg force, 24 Fortresses were lost, more than 50 damaged
and 200 men were missing in action, but a large part of the Messerschmitt plant had been
destroyed. The Schweinfurt force fared even worse, especially as they battled home: 36 aircraft
lost, 121 damaged and over 352 men were missing in action. Although serious damage had been
inflicted on the Schweinfurt factories, the production of ball-bearings was barely halted.
It takes an artist of rare stature to convey those air battles of August 1943 as emotively as Robert
Taylor does, and Return from Schweinfurt, originally published as a signed limited edition in
1990, remains a timeless memorial to all those who flew that historic day. The painting depicts a
moment soon after one of the few positive air battles fought that day as high above the
battle-scarred B-17s of the 91st and 381st Bomb Groups fighting their way back home, con-trails
reveal the P-47s of Hub Zemke’s 56th Fighter Group, now out of ammunition after destroying 17
Luftwaffe fighters over Holland and Belgium. In their place Johnnie Johnson’s Canadian Spitfire
Wing takes up the fight.
Available in the following editions
Giclée on canvas - Signed by the artist - Image size: 24" x 38" - (ships rolled)
Giclée on canvas - Signed by the artist - Image size: 38" x 60" - (ships rolled)
Note:Each canvas is produced as and when ordered, then personally inspected and signed by Robert Taylor.
Please allow five to eight weeks for delivery.