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ARTIC HURRICANES

FORCE BENEDICT

by Richard Taylor

On 22 June 1941 the first German forces crossed the border of Russian occupied Poland. Operation Barbarossa - the invasion of Russia had begun. By the end of the day the Germans had advanced 50 miles, and over 800 Russian aircraft had been destroyed on the ground, another 400 in the air.

 Stalin turned to Britain for help, urging Winston Churchill to send him Spitfires. Refusing the Spitfires, Churchill sent two RAF Squadrons equipped with Hurricanes - Force Benedict. It was however to be a completely secret operation; Stalin refused to publicly admit his need for British help.

By early September 1941 No. 151 Wing, consisting of 81 and 134 Squadrons, had arrived at the remote and desolate airfield at Vaenga in the freezing north of Russia, a base near Murmansk that shared its rutted grass strip with Russian bombers. Their immediate task was to defend Murmansk against Luftwaffe bombers flying from nearby Finland, Hitlers ally. They were also to escort Russian bombers and train the Russians how to fly the Hurricane before handing them over - the first of nearly 3,000 Hurricanes supplied to the Soviets during WWII.

It was no easy task for 151 Wing but in their short, three month spell at Vaenga, battling rain, sleet and snow as well as the enemy, the pilots of 151 Wing carried out 365 sorties and scored 14 victories.

Richard Taylor's memorable scene captures the 'forgotten' heroes of Force Benedict. It depicts Hurricane IIbs from 81 Squadron tangling with Luftwaffe Bf109s over snow-clad forests as they escort Russian bombers in October 1941. Remarkably the edition is signed by the last surviving fighter that took part in Force Benedict, together with a Bf109 Ace who actually duelled with Hurricanes of 151 Wing over Murmansk. Their endorsement of this outstanding edition creates an undeniably collectible slice of aviation history.

THE SIGNATURES

THE LIMITED EDITIONS

Jioning artist Richard Taylor, each print in this limited edition has been individually signed by what are believed to be the last two surviving Hurricane pilots who flew in Russia with Force Benedict, together with aneminent Luftwafffe fighter Ace who fought against Hurricanes of 151 Wing over Murmansk.

With THREE Signatures

Wing Commander John 'Tim' Elkington

Wing Commander

JOHN 'TIM' ELKINGTON

Warrant Officer Eric Carter

Warrant Officer

ERIC CARTER

Hauptmann Karl - Fritz Schlossstein

Hauptmann

KARL - FRITZ SCHLOSSSTEIN

350   Limited Edition           UK£   110   /   US$   165

    25   Artists Proofs              UK£   150   /   US$   225

    25   Remarques                  UK£   300   /   US$   450

    10   Double Remarques     UK£   450   /   US$   675

Overall Print Size : 36¾" wide x 33¼" high

Image Size : 26¾" wide x 16" high

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