FLIGHT OUT OF HELL
by Nicolas Trudgian
Overall Print Size: 34¼" x 23½"
Edition Size: 600
After three days of continual pounding, the heavily defended Japanese staging base at Kavieng was all but devastated. In the final assault on February 15, 1944, a force ofB-24s, B-25s, and A-20s hammered through a wall of enemy flak between the airfield and the coastline, demolishing everything in their path, but not without cost. Several aircraft were hit by the intense gunfire and by flying debris as fuel dumps exploded, and a number of crews were forced to ditch within clear sight of shore batteries. Three downed B-25 crews from 345th Bomb Group were floating helplessly in life-rafts within a thousand yards of the beach, and with Japanese troops in no mood to take prisoners they knew their only chance of survival was the air-sea rescue PBY Catalina. Flying the "Dumbo" on that fateful day was 28 year old pilot, Lt. Nathan Gordon. Called urgently to the scene, he quickly evaluated the desperate plight of the crews in the water, and, disregarding fire from the shore, put his PBY down in the hail of gunfire no fewer than four times to rescue the stricken airmen. While shells and machinegun fire splashed the water all around his motionless aircraft, Gordon cut his engines so survivors could be hauled aboard.
Commemorating one of the most daring air-sea rescues of World War II, "FLIGHT OUT OF HELL" depicts Nathan Gordon's heavily laden PBY Catalina making its final take-off, the intense enemy gunfire from the shore batteries on the island of New Ireland making his mission seemingly impossible. But the young Catalina pilot got all 25 men aboard safely home, and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for what is one of the bravest actions of the war in the Pacific.
In addition to the artist this print was individually signed by Medal of Honor recipient Nathan Gordon and THREE aircrew involved in this historic mission:
- Lieutenant Commander NATHAN GORDON
- Colonel WILLIAM J. CAVIOLI (rescued by Lt. Nathan Gordon)
- AMM JOHN BRATELY (a crew member on Gordon's PBY)
- Captain ROBERT E. LEWIS (rescued in Kavieng Harbor by Gordon)
Comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.