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Frank Wootton magnificent Lancaster Print #1

LANCASTER - By Frank Wootton

Published to mark the 50th anniversary of the maiden flight of the Avro Lancaster on 9th January 1941.
About The Print
Frank Wootton 30"x23" Print 'Lancaster' (Limited Edition Print Number 717 of 850 Hand Signed By The Artist Frank Wootton, Bill Reid (VC Acheiver), Leonard Cheshire (VC Achiever Over 100 Bombing Missions), Norman Jackson (VC Achiever, POW), Alex Henshaw (Test Flew Over 2360 Aircraft), J.B. Tait (Flew Over 100 Bombing Missions), Bill Townsend (617 Squadron The Dambusters) - Framed with triple mount in a silver frame including the Victoria Cross.
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Pilot Signatures

Alex Henshaw

Aviation Art
alex henshaw signature
Alex Henshaw perhaps understands the Spitfire better than any other pilot - for he was Vickers Chief Test Pilot on Spitfires at the new Spitfire factory at Castle Bromwich during World War II. By the end of the war, he had personally test flown a total of 2360 different Spitfires and Seafires - more than ten percent of the entire production. It is often stated that those lucky enough to have seen Alex handle the Spitfire in flight, that it is an experience that can never be forgotten, he was acknowledged as a virtuoso in aerobatics. Alex Henshaw died 24th February 2007

William Reid (VC)

bill reid
Aviation Art
Volunteering for RAF aircrew in 1940, Bill Reid learned to fly in California, training on the Stearman, Vultee, and Harvard. After gaining his pilots' wings back in England he flew Wellingtons before moving on to Lancasters in 1943. On the night of Nov 3rd, 1943, his Lancaster suffered two severe attacks from Luftwaffe night fighters, badly wounding Reid, killing his navigator and radio operator, and severely damaging the aircraft. Bill flew on 200 miles to accurately bomb the target and get his aircraft home. For this act of outstanding courage and determination, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. Died 28th November 2001.

Flt Sgt Bill Townsend DFM

bill townsend
bill townsend
Pilot and Captain of Lancaster AJ-O, he attacked the Ennepe Dam. Transferring to the RAF from the Army in 1941, Bill Townsend served a tour as a pilot with 49 Squadron, before joining 617 Squadron, at the time a Flight Sergeant.

As part of 617 Squadron, Bill Townsend flew Lancaster ED-886 codenamed AJ – O for Orange in the famous Dambusters raid of May 1944. Flight Sergeant Townsend flew his bomber and crew in the third wave of the famous raid. After the first two dams (Mohne and Eder) were breached, O for Orange was tasked to attack the Ennepe dam.

With no anti-aircraft firing at them, they had time to do three trial runs before they released their bomb, but it failed to damage the dam. Forced to fly back at treetop level by enemy action, his Lancaster was the last to return. It limped home short of one engine. He was awarded the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal for his courageous actions in the raid. Bill Townsend was later promoted to Flight Lieutenant.

He had been a pupil at Monmouth and after the war studied at Lincoln College, Oxford. He became a businessman and a civil servant after his studies. Flt/Lt Townsend passed away in April 1991, there with a flypast by 617 Tornadoes at his cremation on the 15th April 1991

Captain J B Tait

J B Tait
james tait signature
One of Bomber Commands most outstanding leaders, James Willie Tait was one of only two RAF officers who had the distinction of being awarded three Bars to his DSO, as well as a DFC and Bar.

On the night before D-Day Tait was the 5 Group Master Bomber directing from the air the massed attack by Lancasters on the German defenses in the Cherbourg peninsula. By then Tait had already flown more than 100 bomber sorties with 51, 35, 10, and 78 Squadrons.

A Cranwell-trained regular officer, he was very much in the Cheshire mold: quiet, bordering on the introspective. He was to go on to command the legendary 617 Dambusters Squadron and lead it on one of its most famous raids which finally destroyed the German battleship, Tirpitz.

In July 1944 when Leonard Cheshire was replaced by Wing Commander J B Willie Tait, 617 Squadron discovered that it had acquired a Commanding Officer very much in the Cheshire mold. Quiet, bordering on introspection, Tait, who was a Cranwell-trained regular officer, had already flown over 100 bombing operations with 51, 35, 10, and 78 Squadrons before joining 617. Tait had also received a DSO and bar and the DFC.

He was 26. In the best traditions of 617 Squadron, Tait wasted no time in adapting to the Mustang and Mosquito for low-level marking.

He appointed two new Flight Commanders including Squadron Leader Tony Iveson DFC. Although involved in many of the 617 Squadrons' spectacular operations, Taits' name is always associated with the destruction of the Tirpitz. An earlier attack on the ship by the squadron on 15th September 1944 had caused severe damage but Tirpitz was still afloat. On 29th October the Squadron was frustrated on the second attack by cloud over the target.

The final attack was launched in daylight on 12th November 1944. Leading a mixed force of 617 and 9 Squadron Lancasters, Tait achieved complete surprise and had the satisfaction of seeing the Tirpitz destroyed at last.

He had led all three attacks. On 28th December 1944, Tait received the third bar to his DSO, becoming one of only two RAF men to achieve this distinction. It coincided with his leaving 617 Squadron. Tait served in the post-war RAF, retiring as a Group Captain in 1966. He died on 31st May 2007.

Leonard Chesire

Leonard Cheshire
leonard cheshire signature
One of the most courageous and determined bomber leaders of World War II, Leonard Cheshire flew four operational tours, starting in June 1940 with 102 Squadron on Whitley bombers at RAF Driffield.

In November 1940, he was awarded the DSO for getting his badly damaged aircraft back to base. He completed his first tour in January 1941, but immediately volunteered for a second tour, this time flying Halifaxes with 35 Squadron. He became Squadron Leader in 1942 and was appointed commanding officer of 76 Squadron later that year.

Leonard Cheshire ordered that non-essential weight be removed from the Halifax bombers in a bid to increase speed and altitude, hoping to reduce the high casualty rates for this squadron. Mid-upper and nose turrets were removed, and exhaust covers taken off, successfully reducing the loss rate. In July 1943 he took command of 617 Squadron. During this time he led the squadron personally on every occasion.

In September he was awarded the Victoria Cross for four and a half years of sustained bravery during a total of 102 operations, leading his crews with careful planning, brilliant execution, and contempt for danger, which gained him a reputation second to none in Bomber Command.

Sadly, Leonard Cheshire died of motor neuron disease on 31st July 1992, aged 74.

Norman Jackson

Norman Jackson
norman jackson signature
Norman Jackson joined 106 Squadron as a flight engineer, and his 30th operational raid earned him the Victoria Cross.

While climbing out of the target area over Schweinfurt, his Lancaster was hit by an enemy night-fighter and the inner starboard engine set on fire.

Although injured by shrapnel he jettisoned the pilots' escape hatch and climbed out on to the wing clutching a fire extinguisher, his parachute spilling out as he went.

He succeeded in putting out the fire just as the night-fighter made a second attack, this time forcing the crew to bale out. Norman swept away with his parachute starting to burn but somehow survived the fall to spend 10 months as a POW in a German hospital. Sadly, Norman Jackson died on 26th March 1994.​

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