Stung by the Wasp by Stan Stokes.
The Axis attack on the British controlled island of Malta commenced in 1940 only one day after Mussolini committed Italy's forces on the side of the Germans during WW II. This strategically located island was a thorn in the side of Axis plans to dominate the Mediterranean and win control of North Africa. Malta would be attacked thousands of times by waves of both Italian and German bombers during the course of the War. On a per acre basis it may be one of the most bombed targets of WW II. In the early phases of the defense of the island a handful of Gloster Gladiators which were supplemented eventually by RAF Hurricanes carried on the brunt of the islands defense. Spitfires were sorely needed. The first Fifteen Spitfires arrived in Malta on March 7, 1942, and a second group of Spits arrived on March 29. In both cases they were launched from the HMS Eagle, and had to fly more than 600 miles over the Mediterranean to reach the island. In April of 1942, Churchill asked Roosevelt for assistance in supplying Spitfires to Malta. The besieged island was now in range of approximately 400 German fighters and bombers and about 200 Italian aircraft, and intelligence information pointed to the possibility of an invasion by airborne paratrooper forces out of Sicily. Due to combat losses, and the difficulty in getting spare parts, the islands defenders could generally muster only 20-30 defensive fighters on any particular day. This was woefully inadequate. With the Eagle was now laid up for repairs, and the Argus and Victorious not capable of handling the Spitfires. Churchill specifically requested American intervention, and asked FDR if the USS Wasp could shuttle fifty Spitfires to Malta. FDR agreed to the mission, and plans were immediately implemented. It was determined that two entire Spitfire squadrons No. 601 and 603 would make the journey. These units had a number of American pilots. On April 12 the Wasp docked on the Clyde of Glasgow and began taking on the Spitfires for her journey. With most of its regular aircraft removed, only nineteen F4F Wildcats were retained for fighter cover. On the 14th the Wasp set sale with a number of escorts. All the aircraft were Mk. Vc models equipped with four canon and four machine guns. Each had a Vokes air filter fitted beneath its nose and was equipped with a 90-gallon auxiliary fuel tank. The Spits were over-sprayed with a dark blue paint in hopes of making them less noticeable to the enemy during the 660 mile over water flight to Malta. Following breakfast on Monday April 20, 1942, the RAF pilots manned the 47 aircraft deemed suitable for the flight and the launch commenced. One immediate casualty was an RAF mechanic who walked into a turning prop and was immediately killed. One American pilot flew his Spitfire to Algeria, but the remaining 46 aircraft successfully landed in Malta. Within hours of their arrival the airfields were once again under attack by Axis bombers, and the newly arrived pilots were immediately pressed into service defending the island. The ability of the British to retain control of Malta as a base for torpedo planes and bombers which could harrass Rommels supply lines to North Africa, was critical in attaining eventual Allied victory in North Africa, the successful invasion of Italy, and ultimately, complete Allied victory in Europe.
|Item Code : STK0135||Stung by the Wasp by Stan Stokes. - This Edition|
|PRINT|| Signed limited edition of 4750 prints. || Print size 16 inches x 11.5 inches (41cm x 30cm) Supplied with signed and numbered certificate of authenticity.||Artist : Stan Stokes||£15 Off!||Now : £25.00|
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