On August 12th, 1940 the Luftwaffe turned their full attention to the RAF's forward fighter bases and radar stations with the intent to obliterate them once and for all. The outcome of the Battle of Britain hung in the balance.
It was late in the afternoon of Sunday, 18 August 1940. The previous week had seen the hardest days of fighting in the Battle of Britain as the young pilots of the RAF Fighter Command had engaged in deadly duels with the Luftwaffe. Bystanders gazed cautiously upwards at the weaving contrails in the clear blue skies over southern England as they anxiously awaited the outcome.
For just a moment, all was at peace: A gentle breeze floated across the airfield at RAF Hornchurch as the exhausted young pilots of 54 Squadron could rest for a few brief minutes and reflect on their own previous two encounters with the enemy that day. The Luftwaffe had thrown everything at them in the past few days, but today had been the toughest of them all.
And then the calm was shattered by the shrill tones of the alarm, the Luftwaffe had launched another huge raid of over 300 aircraft across the Channel, and it looked like Hornchurch was the target.
Robert Taylor's masterful new painting, Hornchurch Scramble
, portrays the moment as 54 Squadron's commanding officer, Squadron Leader James Leathart, taxis out at Hornchurch to prepare for take-off. Quickly following, the aircraft of New Zealander Colin Gray is guided out from dispersal by his ground crew. Gray would claim 3 Bf110s in the encounter and would eventually become the top scoring New Zealand Ace of the war.Signatures:Limited Edition
Wing Commander GEORGE W. SWANWICK
Squadron Leader GEOFFREY WELLUM DFC
Squadron Leader TONY IVESON DFC AE
Anniversary Edition includes the three above plus:
Wing Commander JOHN FREEBORN DFC*
Wing Commander TOM NEIL DFC AFC AE
Group Captain BILLY DRAKE DSO DFC*
Squadron Leader 'BOB' FOSTER DFC
Pilot Officer NORMAN BROWN
Wing Commander ROGER MOOREWOOD
Battle of Britain Tribute Edition includes all above plus:
Wing Commander PADDY BARTHROPP DFC AFC
Squadron Leader ROY McGOWAN
Wing Commander PETER PARROT DFC* AFC
Group Captain TOM DALTON MORGAN DSO OBE DFC*
Wing Commander BOB DOE DSO DFC*
Squadron Leader 'STAPME' STAPLETON DFC
Squadron Leader JOCELYN G P MILLARD AE
Wing Commander TIM VIGORS DFC
Squadron Leader GEOFFREY PAGE DSO OBE DFC*
Wing Commander ERIC BARWELL DFC*
Wing Commander KEN MacKENZIE DFC AFC AE
Air Commodore ALAN DEERE OBE DSO DFC (matted)
Air Commodore JAMES LEATHART DSO (matted)
Air Commodore SIR ARCHIE WINSKILL KCVO CBE DFC AE (matted)