THUNDERBOLTS AND LIGHTNINGS (VETERANS EDITION)
by Nicolas Trudgian
Overall Print Size: 30.5" x 23.5"
Edition Size: 500
"Well, Brad," stated US General Bedell Smith, "you've always asked for a counter-offensive. It seems you've got yourself one." General Omar Bradley, studying the situation maps replied, "Well yes, but I'll be damned if I wanted one this big! The two American veterans were observing the initial openings of the last great German offensive in the West, Operation Herbstnebel or Autumn Fog - better known to history as the Battle of the Bulge.
The Germans had collected their last remaining reserves of infantry and tanks in a bold attempt to turn the tide in the West but were painfully aware of the awesome power of the Allied Air Forces, who could call upon 4,700 fighters and over 6,000 medium and heavy bombers! This aerial threat forced the German Commander, Von Rundstedt, to commence the offensive during a prolonged period of adverse weather. At 5:30 AM on the December 16, 1944 the great Offensive went in, the Germans knowing that if they did not reach their objectives within forty-eight hours all was lost. The onslaught caught the Americans completely by surprise and the Germans made substantial gains, pushing on towards the Allied strong points of St Vith and the then unknown town of Bastogne. The German Panzer forces, which contained large numbers of deadly Panther and Tiger Tanks smashed their way forwards until, by the December 21, Bastogne was completely cut off from the Allied front line. Within the town the US 101st Airborne resolved to fighting to the bitter end, gritted its teeth for the furious onslaughts to come. At the Allied airbases the aircrews, desperate to get into the fight, waited for an improvement in the weather, particularly those of the 9th Air Force. It was they who would take the war back to the Germans when the weather improved - but would it improve in time? In the early hours of December 24th US troops around beleaguered Bastogne heard the approaching roar of the mightiest aerial counter-attack in aviation history. While the largest ever raid by the 8th Air Force attacked airfields and communication links, the 9th Air Force poured Thunderbolts and Lightnings into the skies above the Ardennes to attack everything that moved with bombs, rockets, and napalm. German convoys, armored columns, and infantry were obliterated in the most awesome demonstration of tactical Airpower ever seen.
The colorful P-47s of the 406th Fighter Group were at the forefront of this assault and it is these that are shown in Nick Trudgian's magnificent rendition of this important milestone in World War II - "THUNDERBOLTS AND LIGHTNINGS". They are supporting the advancing armor of General George S. Patton, which will soon relieve the battered defenders of Bastogne. Out of gas and reeling under the savage air strikes, the German offensive stalled. Hitler's last great gamble in the West had failed.
In addition to the artist this beautiful print was individually signed by a pilot of the 406 Fighter Group, a soldier who fought at the Battle of the Bulge, and six veterans of the Battle for Bastogne, December 1944; a total of EIGHT signatures in this historic commemorative edition:
- First Lieutenant HOWARD M. PARK
- Sergeant WILLIAM TRUE
- Private FRANK DENISON
- Corporal GORDON HEARNE
- Corporal PETER HOWENSTEIN
- Technical Sergeant JOHN MOSLEY
- Staff Sergeant MURRAY SHAPIRO
- 1st Sergeant EGBERT 'DUKE' BUNIFF
Comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.