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This special release is made available almost exclusively with the release of Robert’s book, A Brush with History. A finite number of prints are available separately as Studio Edition, limited to 100 and signed by the artist only.
Life for the Fighter Squadrons of the 332nd Fighter Group, at the former farm field in Ramitelli, Italy in 1945, was about disciplined routine. Like other Fighter Groups in the 15th Air Force based nearby, it would start as it ended with the ground crews. With a mission planned and communicated they worked feverishly, many times without enough sleep, coaxing and prodding “their planes” to be ready in the morning to “loan out to the pilots.”
As the sun began to rise the air crews would awaken and begin preparation for the next mission. For some sleep did not come easy and did little to refresh their tired minds, a byproduct of aerial combat flown high above the hostile skies of Nazi Germany and Austria, locked in the deadly business of defending bomber streams they were tasked to escort against a resilient foe.
The tension would begin to build early as the air crews prepared for the coming mission. After a quick but subdued meal at the mess hall it was off to the briefing where the target for the day was announced and escort assignments were given. There they would be made aware of what defenses they could expect, the flak corridors they would navigate around and the anticipated reception from the Luftwaffe entering and exiting the target area; all the while they defended the bombers against a persistent enemy bent on bringing the four-engined ‘big friends’ down.
With the briefing concluded it was a short hop to the parachute shack to collect the necessities including escape kits before they were driven out to their dispersal areas. There they would confer with their crew chiefs, while being strapped in, about any issues the aircraft had since the last mission. The tension was now palpable as the pilots waited like coiled springs for the signal to start engines.
As the predetermined time arrived, magneto switches were turned on and engine generators whined and dozens of Merlin engines roared to life. The popping of hot gases exiting exhaust ports rose in harmony building to a low rumble, as chock blocks were pulled by ground crew attempting to stand against the prop wash. The high-powered planes assembled each in order of take off at the end of the respective runway.
With a shot from a Berry Pistol arching overhead signaling that the departure time had arrived, Flight Leaders and Wingmen would push their engine throttles foreword and the Rumble at Ramitelli would build. From a soft growl it would grow into a loud crescendo rising in unison with the other engines announcing that another Tuskegee Mission was about to commence.
In Robert Bailey’s latest action canvas, entitled RAMITELLI RUMBLE, ‘Little Freddio’ and ‘Lady Emmo’ of the 332 Squadron are the first to launch from the airfield and begin the process to assemble before turning to a northern heading that will take them to the rendezvous point where they will meet the bombers they are to escort to the heartland of Germany. They will need to be vigilant today if their record of never losing a bomber they escorted in combat, is to remain intact