Following on from my painting "The Roar of Thunder" the Boxted Airfield Historical Group invited me along to an evening talk at which Russ Kyler was to be the guest of honour. The event was held in Boxted village hall, a short distance from the site of the airfield and was sold out.
The Group are busy raising funds to open a visitor centre and museum at Boxted dedicated to the airfield and 56th FG. They hope this will be complete and open to the public next year. This was Russ's first visit to the UK since the War's end,and it was great to meet with him following our lengthy email exchanges and to hear a few more of his experiances.
Leslie French a RAF P-47 pilot who flew in Burma also spoke and provided an interesting contrast. Russ talked about strafing Luftwaffe airfields and the dangers of flak, while Leslie talked about endless jungle into which a plane and pilot could just disappear. Both agreed however that the P-47 was a plane they loved and that got them home on occasions a lesser plane might not have done so. They also both spoke of the awesome fire power from the eight .50 cal machine guns, particularly at their convergence range.
They each talked for about half an hour, and both provided inspiration for several more paintings.
Here I share the platform (from left to right) with Leslie, Russ (standing) and Dave Gianakos. Dave is a Captain with NorthWest Airlines flying 747's but more importantly he presented to Russ who signed and then in turn presented it to the Boxted Airfield Historical Group a stunning 1/24 model of Russ's aicraft HV*J. (It was also Dave's birthday which explains why there is a birthday cake with 4 candles and an airliner on the table.)
Following the talks a small auction was held at which print 1/56 of Roar of Thunder was auctioned with the proceeds going towards the museum fund. I'm pleased to say it went for a good price. In addition a further 25 small exclusive prints I provided of Russ's aircraft all sold out, with myself, Russ and Leslie signing these. Proceeds again going to the museum fund.
Unfortunatly I did not get the time I would have liked to talk with Russ as he was in demand from virtually everybody in the hall, and busy signing books, prints and all manner of stuff.
It was a great evening and I was impressed at the drive and ambition shown by the Boxted Airfield Historical Group. I'd like to take this opportunity of thanking Richard, Ron, Jeremy and the others from the group for all their hardwork. I have no doubt the visitor centre and museum will be first class when it opens next year, and I'll be sure to visit as soon as I can.
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