Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Unbroken: Louis Zamperini's B-24 Liberator in Art

B-24D 'Super Man' April 1943

Back towards the end of 2013 I was working with Legend Flyers of Everett, Washington. I'd already painted a couple of paintings for them; two compositions depicting the Messerschmitt Me 262b jet that they'd rebuilt. Their next big project was the restoration of a Japanese A6M3 Model 32 Zero fighter. I was already familiar with the aircraft since a friend of mine, John Sterling, was the man responsible for recovering it from Taroa in the Pacific in 1992. It was a historically significant aircraft for reasons that went beyond its rarity; one of barely 300 ever built of its model. It had been flown in combat by the Japanese fighter 'Ace' Isamu Miyazaki, and it had taken part in the interception of Lt. Louis Zamperini's B-24 'Super Man' in April of 1943 (This action was dramatically depicted in Angelina Jolie's film 'Unbroken', though no Zeros were actually lost in the encounter). Legend Flyers commissioned me to paint the Zero in combat with Zamperini's bomber. First one composition, then another from a different angle, then another . . .

A6M3 Mod. 32 Zero of the 252nd Kokutai attacking 'Super Man' head-on in April 1943.

During this process, and the research associated with the paintings, I certainly gained a healthy respect for Louis Zamperini and heard some amazing stories of his experiences. I'm sure most will agree that the movie was certainly excellent and a must see!

The same pass - a few seconds later!

The April 1943 combat that essentially destroyed 'Super Man' was more than a fateful mechanism that led to Zamperini and the rest of the crew being assigned 'Green Hornet' - the squadron hack that later crashed into the Pacific. 'Super Man's' successful return to its base with 562 holes in her was regarded as a miracle in its own right, and led to a great deal of media attention at the time.

B-24D 'Super Man' alone and under attack, April 1943.

My paintings for Legend Flyers had all been focused upon the Zero's participation in the action. While the movie was still in theaters I wanted to focus something more directly upon 'Super Man' with her as the center of attention. After Christmas I painted her in all of her glory, fighting back with all that she had:

Rest in well-deserved peace 'Super Man' and Louis Zamperini. You will never be forgotten.

- Ron Cole

Limited edition prints are available via the following online stores:

Cole's Aircraft Aviation Art Web Store

Cole's Aircraft Ebay Store

1 comment:

  1. What a great display. I just can't believe such an art with aircraft's. These pictures are just lovely and encouraging. I am motivated to read this blog.