THE BLACK SHEEP
Black Sheep Edition (7 Signature)
by Nicolas Trudgian
Overall Print Size: 35½" x 24"
Edition Size: 500
Few fighter units in World War II gained the notoriety of Pappy Boyington's Marine Corps VMF-214 'Black Sheep' Squadron. Equipped with the Chance Vought F4U Corsair, under Boyington's spirited leadership, the 'Black Sheep' pilots were accorded one of only two Presidential Unit Citations awarded to Marine Corps squadrons during the war in the Pacific. With the American forces pushing up through the South Pacific, the First Marine Air Wing was urgently looking for a seasoned fighter pilot to form a unit to take the brand new F4U into combat. Boyington had the experience - he had become an Ace flying with Chennault's 'Flying Tigers' in China - and the rank to lead a squadron; he also had the reputation as an aggressive fighter leader, and was a natural choice for the job. Recruiting pilots from the reserve pool, together with others awaiting assignment to squadrons, the 30 year-old Boyington - dubbed "Pappi" by his group of young pilots - knocked them into one of the most effective fighter units in the South Pacific. In their first twelve weeks of operation they brought down 97 Japanese aircraft, no fewer than 95 of which were enemy fighters. During this period they lost only 11 pilots. VMF-214 saw action at Guadalcanal, the northern Solomons, and Vella Lavella; they were the first to strafe Kahili, the first to operate from the field at Munda while it was still under enemy artillery fire, and the first to lead fighter sweeps over Rabaul. Boyington led his 'Black Sheep' pilots through two combat tours before being brought down himself and taken prisoner. On his last mission he shot down three Zeros, bringing his final tally to 28. He was to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Nick's fine new image pays tribute to one of the US Marine Corps' most illustrious fighter squadrons and to its remarkable leader.
"THE BLACK SHEEP" captures the scene at Vella Lavella as Pappy Boyington leads his VMF-214 'Black Sheep' Squadron off the island strip to escort a B-17 Fortress raid on Rabaul in December 1943.
In addition to the artist, this print was individually signed in pencil by TWO leading 'Black Sheep' F4U Corsair pilots:
- Lieutenant Colonel ROBERT W. McCLURG
- Brigadier General BRUCE J. MATHESON
And by FIVE fighter pilots who flew with VMF-214:
- Lieutenant Colonel W. THOMAS EMRICH
- Colonel EDWIN A. HARPER
- Lieutenant Colonel WILLIAM D. HEIER
- Lieutenant Colonel JAMES J. HILL
- Captain FRED S. LOSCH
Comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.