Rabaul - Fly For Your Life by Robert Taylor

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Desperate for new pilots in the South Pacific, in August 1943 the First Marine Wing appointed the unconventional fighter ace Major Greg Boyington to pull together a newly formed squadron from a mix of experienced combat veterans and untested novice pilots. The Marine Corps gave him just four weeks to turn this motley group into a fighting force ready for combat - Boyington succeeded beyond all expectations and the rest is history.

Equipped with the Chance Vought F4U Corsair, they called themselves 'The Black Sheep', and under Boyington's leadership, saw action at Guadalcanal, Munda, the northern Solomons,Vella Lavella, Bourganville, and Tokokina;Kahili, and were the first to lead fighter sweeps over the major Japanese base of Rabaul. In a period of just eighty-four days Boyington's pilots recorded 273 Japanese aircraft destroyed or damaged, 97 confirmed air victories producing eight fighter Aces, sank several ships, destroyed many ground installations and numerous other victories. With typical mastery, Robert Taylor has brought to life an encounter over Rabaul in late December 1943, paying tribute to one of the US Marine Corps'most famous fighter squadrons, and its outstanding leader. With the Japanese airbase at Rabaul visible in the distance, 'Pappy' Boyington and his fellow pilots of VMF-214 tear into a large formation of Japanese Zekes and a series of deadly dogfights have started, one Zeke already fallen victim to their guns.

For their outstanding contribution to the war in the South Pacific, the 'Black Sheep' were awarded one of only two Presidential Unit Citations accorded to Marine Corps squadrons during the war in the Pacific. With typical mastery, Robert Taylor has brought to life an encounter over Rabaul in late December 1943, paying tribute to one of the US Marine Corps most famous fighter squadrons, and its outstanding leader. With the Japanese airbase at Rabaul visible in the distance, 'Pappy' Boyington and his fellow pilots of VMF-214 tear into a large formation of Japanese Zekes and a series of deadly dogfights have started, one Zeke already fallen victim to their guns.

The Signatures

The Limited Edition:

This edition is signed by TWO of the leading 'Black Sheep' F4U Corsair pilots.

Brigadier General Bruce J. Matheson USMC
Born in Chicago in 1921, Bruce Matheson enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 1942 and joined the 'Black Sheep' on 7 August 1943. On 17 October 1943 he shot down a Zero over Kahili but was wounded during the aerial combat. He safely landed his badly damaged Corsair at Munda. On 3 January 1944 Bruce got his last aerial victory, and also confirmed Major Boyington's final aerial victory before 'Pappy' was shot down near Rabaul. By the end of the second 'Black Sheep' tour, Bruce would have 3 confirmed victories and 1.5 probables. For his third combat tour he was transferred along with 14 other 'Black Sheep' pilots to VMF-211 on Green Island.

Major Harry Johnson USMC
Harry Johnson went to the Pacific in November 1943, joining VMF-214 as a replacement pilot. He destroyed a Zero in combat on 6th January 1944, two days before VMF-214 were disbanded. Serving later with VMF-218 and VMF-253, he flew a total of 84 missions on Corsairs during WWII, and another 69 missions in Korea.

The 'Black Sheep Edition
All in the Limited Edition plus:

This Commemorative edition is additionally signed by five legendary 'Black Sheep' pilots who flew Corsairs with VMF-214, and is issued with a matching-numbered pilot signed companion print of Robert Taylor's working drawing 'Black Sheep'.

A total of SEVEN signatures on this edition.

Lieutenant Colonel Henry M. Bourgeois USMC (Companion Print)
Born in Louisiana in 1921, Henry Bourgeois was the youngest Marine Officer ever commissioned when he joined VMF-214. He flew two combat tours with VMF-122 prior to joining the 'Black Sheep'. With VMF-122 he shot down 2 enemy aircraft and scored a probable. On 21 September 1943 he led his division of 4 Corsairs on a strafing mission of Kahili Airfield, where he destroyed 2 enemy aircraft on the ground, and after the mission at least 12 aircraft were left burning and an AA position destroyed. After his tour with VMF-214 he completed his South Pacific Combat Duty and he returned to the US. He remained in the Marine Corps after the war and retired ads a Lt. Colonel in 1961.

Lieutenant Colonel W. Thomas Emrich USMC
Born in Mt. Pulaski, Illinois in 1921, he joined VMF-214 on 7 August 1943 and flew two combat tours with the 'Black Sheep'. On 15 October 1943 Tom shot down two Zeros in aerial combat during a bomber escort to Kahili Airfield. The next day on a fighter sweep to Kahili he had to ditch his Corsair off Vella Lavella, and was rescued by a PT boat. By the end of his 'Black Sheep' combat tours he had flown 68 missions, and then flew a third combat tour with VMF-211 on Green Island - along with 14 other former 'Black Sheep' pilots.

Colonel Edwin A. Harper USMC
(Companion Print)
Ed Harper was born in Bassano, Alberta, Canada in 1920. He joined VMF-214, the 'Black Sheep' on 7 August 1943 and flew both combat tours from September 1943 to January 1944. He shot down 1 enemy aircraft and two probables on fighter sweeps over Kahili and Rabaul. On 17 October 1943, Ed was wounded in aerial combat and brought back his damaged Corsair to Munda. The next day he flew a mission and scored a probable over a Zero. Ed was also one of the 'Black Sheep' pilots that were reassigned to VMF-211 for a third combat tour after the 'Black Sheep' were disbanded on 8 January 1944.

Lieutenant Colonel James J. Hill USMC
James Hill was born in Chicago in 1920. He arrived in the South Pacific on 5 June 1943 after completing flight school in Pensacola, and joined VMF-214 on 7 August 1943. He flew both combat tours with the 'Black Sheep'. On 18 October 1943 on a fighter sweep over Kahili Airfield he shot down a Zero in aerial combat. During his two tours with the 'Black Sheep' he flew a total of 70 combat missions, and also flew a third combat tour with VMF-211 on Green Island.

Captain Fred S. Losch USMC
Fred Losch hails from Mifflin Township, Pennsylvania, and was born in 1921. He was posted to become another of the new replacement pilots that joined the 'Black Sheep' on 10 November 1943 for their second combat tour at Vella Lavella. On 2 January 1944 Fred shot down a Zero and damaged another over Rabaul. With VMF-214 he flew 28 combat missions, and then went on to serve a second combat tour with VMF-211 after the 'Black Sheep' were disbanded on 8 January 1944.

Overall print size: 36" wide x 23 1/2" high.