'MUSTANG MENACE" by ROBERT BAILEY
Remarqued Edition: $895
Size 23" x 33-1/4"
Late August 1944. A German tank column moving to the front has had the unfortunate luck to cross paths with a Kriegslok train carrying petrol chemicals. Alerted by a Forward Air Controller, fighters of the 357th Fighter Group attack with a vengeance at the target-rich environment. The ensuing conflagration is just another day on the job for the 357th. Lead airplane is 'Passion Wagon,' flown by 1st Lieutenant Arval Roberson.
The 'Yoxford Boys' (357th Fighter Group) scored the second most air victories (595) in the 8th Air Force, had the most enemy aircraft destroyed in air combat in one day (55.5), most enemy jet aircraft (Me262's) destroyed in air combat (18.5), was the fastest scoring fighter group during the last year of the war, and had 42 aces!
With the success of Operation Cobra on July 27, 1944, and the Normandy breakout in full swing, the German army retreat began in earnest. This had been accomplished in no small measure by employing the strategic and tactical air doctrines of the air forces of Britain and the United States with the allied ground forces. The result was air supremacy and control over the battlefield of Normandy and France.
The tactical missions of the Eighth and Ninth Air Forces supported the advancing allied armies through a network of FAC's (Forward Air Controllers), that would work directly with ground echelons on the advance. Air strikes terrorized the German armor and ground forces, and few encounters between the fighters and fighter bombers came out in favor of the Germans. Throughout the daylight hours of August and September of 1944, these attacks hounded and paralyzed the supply lines and logistics of the enemy. Moving war material and troops at night under the cloak of darkness offered one of the few opportunities for the Germans to make any progress. Few targets escaped the punishing attacks of these fighters, who used their bombs, rockets and .50 caliber machine guns to pulverize the surprised Germans. The level of intensity of these attacks were such that 56 years later, surviving German soldiers still speak in hushed tones of the ferocity of fighter attacks and the feelings of hopelesness and fear that became increasingly an everyday occurrence.
In Robert Bailey's painting, MUSTANG MENACE, just such a scenario unfolds. A German tank column moving to the front has had the unfortunate luck to cross paths with a Kriegslok train carrying petro chemicals. Alerted by an FAC, fighters of the 357th Fighter Group attack with a vengeance at the target-rich environment. The ensuing conflagration is just another day on the job for the 357th.
1st Lieutenant Arval 'Robie' Roberson was born in Crown Point, Indiana. His service career began as an Aviation Cadet in 1942 in the Army Air Corps and lasted for 31 years. He held various staff and command positions and performed combat duty in three conflicts: World War II (76 missions in ETO - Passion Wagon, six and a half enemy aircraft confirmed destroyed, and one probable); Korea: (100 missions - F-51) and Vietnam (26 missions - C-47). Decorations include DFC with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters; Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal with OLC, Air Medal with 15 OLC's, Presidential Citation with OLC, French Croix de Guerre with Palm, Vietnamese Medal of Honor, and the Russian Medal of the Great Patriotic War. He retired as a Colonel.
1st Lieutenant Bill Dunlop joined the 357th in June, 1944 and flew combat missions until January 1945 at which time he was shot down. He spent the last 4 months of his duty in a POW camp. Bill had 4 victories. Decorations include: DFC, Air Medal with 8 OLC's, the Purple Heart, and the Presidential Unit Citation.
1st Lieutenant 'Chuck' Weaver joined the 357th Fighter Group as a replacement pilot in July 1944. For his first combat encounter on September 19th of that year, he flew as Arval Roberson's wingman. When Arval left the 357th, Chuck Weaver took over 'Passion Wagon' and her ground crew. Chuck finished the war with a tally of 8 victories, with 1 probable and 1 damaged. He had a total of 73 missions and became the Squadron Operations Officer. He was awarded the DFC with Cluster, Air Medal with 16 OLC's, Presidential Citation and Croix de Guerre.
1st Lieutenant Harve Mace joined 362 Fighter Squadron, 357th Fighter Group, as a 2nd Lieutenant in late June 1943. He flew 69 combat missions, including the second shuttle mission. Harve downed three Me109's while flying escort for the bombers. He rose to Captain and was awarded the DFC and Air Medal with six Oak Leaf Clusters. He served briefly as Operations Officer for the Squadron before being bumped to 3rd Bomb Division Headquarters as Fighter Controller. He also flew one combat mission as observer on a B17 and checked out as PIC on the B17. Harve returned home to his new war bride in 1945.
1st Lieutenant Raymond 'Ted' Conlin enlisted in the Army Air Corps in July of 1942 and graduated as a fighter pilot in November 1943 at Luke Field, Arizona. In April 1944 he was assigned to the 357th Fighter Group, 362 Squadron. Ted took part in 71 combat missions, including DDay, Normandy, the second Russian shuttle from Europe and the massive air and ground battle known as Market Garden. He later became a flight leader and was awarded the DFC, Air Medal with 4 OLC's, 4 theatre Battle Stars and the Russian Medal of the Great Patriotic War.
MUSTANG MENACE by ROBERT BAILEY (P-51 Mustang: 357th Fighter Group: German Train)@vbader.com