On a Wing and a Prayer
by Philip E West
Overall print size 16” x 27” / 40.5 x 68.5cms.
The venerable Fairy Swordfish was the Fleet Air Arms premier torpedo-bomber at the outbreak of World War 11. It may have looked archaic in appearance, but its courageous crews proved time and time again that it was a potent fighting machine. 'Stringbags' as they were affectionately known, served in several important roles and theatres including Coastal Command, the Mediterranean and flying from MAC-ships protecting North Atlantic and Arctic convoys.
Primary Edition signed by Stanley Brand, former Swordfish pilot.
Artist Proofs and Remarques are also signed by John Moffat, Swordfish pilot who attacked and help sink the German battleship “Bismarck”.
Please see below for details of the signatories of this edition.
As with all our prints, this edition was signed in the presence
of Sean Whyte, owner and publisher of SWA Fine Art Limited.
Philip E. West is recognised as one of the world’s finest aviation artists. Collectors of his original oil paintings span the globe, many waiting patiently for his next breathtaking canvas to appear. Self taught, Philip has won many accolades for his paintings, not the least of which was the prestigious Duane Whitney Award for Excellence at the 1997 American Society of Aviation Artists Exhibition.
Sub Lieut (A) Stanley T. Brand RNVR (Pilot). Although in a reserved occupation volunteered on his 18th birthday to train as pilot in the Fleet Air Arm. He flew open cockpit biplane Swordfish aircraft from Merchant Aircraft Carriers called “Macships”. These were 8000 ton grain-ships or oil tankers fitted with a flight deck, carrying their usual cargo and manned by a Merchant Navy Master and crew. They sailed in convoy back and forth across the North Atlantic in all the extreme weather conditions experienced on that ocean. The oil tankers lacked a hangar, so maintenance was carried out on open deck exposing the aircraft, ground crew and aircrew to the fury of the sea, ice and gales. By keeping U-boats submerged instead of allowing them free range on the surface, in 24 months only two merchant ships were sunk by the enemy in convoys protected by Macships. This was in spite of there being greater numbers and more efficient U-boats at sea in this period than at the time of our greatest losses in the Battle of the Atlantic.
the Artist Proof and Remarque editions have also been signed by the following man.
Sub. Lt Cdr (A) John Moffat RNVR (Pilot) joined the Royal Navy in September 1939 and moved to flying school in December 1939 at Belfast then Netheravon. He then transferred to Fleet Air Arm fighters at Eastleigh, on Skuas and Gladiators. A further transfer introduced John to Torpedo carrying Swordfish of 818 Squadron on HMS Ark Royal, at Gibraltar.
During convoy duties they captured a supply ship in the Bay of Biscay. Following two attacks on the German battleship Bismark, John was subsequently credited with rudder strike by one of his torpedoes on the Bismarck. He served on carriers Argus and Furious and as Deck Officer on Formidable.