In this painting, the legacy of Lt. Commander John T. "Tommy" Blackburn, commander of the U.S. Navy Fighter Squadron VF-17 "The Jolly Rogers" flies into the future. Blackburn achieved ace status on 26 January 1944 when, flying an F4U-1A Corsair named "Big Hog," he shot down a Japanese Zero over Rabaul in the Bismark Archipelago. He increased his personal victory total to 11 on 6 February in aerial engagements over Rabaul. Many of Blackburn's fighter tactic innovations are still considered valid in today's high-stakes air combat arena. Here, two miles above the USS Nimitz, these Grumman F-14A Tomcats of VF-84 (The Jolly Rogers of that period) are the Top Guns of carrier air-to-air combat.