Ready for Action
by Philip E West
Approx. overall print size: 14½” x 23¼” / 37cms. x 59cms
The de Havilland Mosquito was one of the most outstanding British built aircraft of the Second World War. It was first proposed as a fast, unarmed bomber. However, once in service it proved to be extremely versatile and was produced in great numbers in various variants, fighter, bomber, photo reconnaissance and many more. The "Wooden Wonder" became a true thoroughbred.
Primary Edition signed by ‘Hilly’ Hilliard, former Banff Sqn. and
Pathfinder pilot. The Artist Proofs and Remarques are also signed by Wing Commander Branse Burbridge DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar, the RAF’s top night-fighter pilot.
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 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.
We do hope you will find the following biographies of interest. We think that by knowing a little about the man behind the signature, it will help you get the most from your copy of “Ready for Action”. Please do reproduce the biography in any format without our permission.
Flying Officer A. ‘Hilly’ Hilliard (Pilot) joined the RAF in 1940. After training on Tiger Moths, Airspeed Oxfords and Beaufighters, ‘Hilly’crewed up with navigator Jim Hoyle. They were posted to 235 Coastal Command Strike Squadron for Bay of Biscay patrols before transferring to Leuchars for patrols of the Norwegian fjords. Both men were subsequently posted to 618 Squadron. In April 1943 ‘Hilly’ was commissioned to Pilot Officer.
In October 1943 a small detachment of 618 squadron under C/O Sqn. Ldr. Charlie Rose was formed to fly the ‘Tsetse’ (MKXV111) Mosquito, which carried the Molins gun –57mm six-pounder, armour piercing shell for anti U-boat warfare. Shortly after this, 618 Squadron merged with 248 Squadron. It was not long before the squadron scored many successes near the western ports of France; Brest, Lorient, etc. In March 1944 ‘Hilly’ attacked and damaged U-boat U960, commanded by Gunther Heinrich; return fire from this same U-boat also damaged the Mosquito. Forty years later ‘Hilly’ and Gunther met in Hamburg and remain the best of friends to this day! In September 1944, 248 Squadron were moved to Banff under Group Captain Max Aitken, the C/O of the Banff Strike Wing, where the fight continued against U-boats and German shipping. Still with his same navigator Jim Hoyle, five ops. were completed at Banff. In late October 1944 after 63 ops. together, ‘Hilly’ and Jim were rested – tour expired.
Wing Commander Branse Burbridge DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar (85 Sqn. Pilot) gained his wings in 1941. Putting duty before personal feelings as a conscientious objectorBranse, together with his navigator, Bill Skelton, became known as “The Night Hawk Partners”.
The two of them went on to shoot down 21 enemy aircraft - 16 during a seven-month period. The total included a Bf110 and three Ju88Gs during the night of 4-5 November 1944. Their officially credited 21 enemy aircraft destroyed made the pair the top night fighting crew in the whole of the RAF. Branse recalls, “I always tried to aim for the wings of enemy aircraft – and not the cockpit. I never wanted to kill anyone.”
The citations for their awards paid tribute to both men setting “an unsurpassed example of outstanding keenness and devotion to duty”.