One of the very last paintings that Koike-san completed before deciding to lay down his brush, this dynamic P-38 celebration gives us not one, or two, but three aircraft to enjoy. As one of the most famous, and most recognizable, aircraft of the Second World War, there's little that needs to be said about the Lightning, but the breadth of its versatility is sometimes forgotten. Though called a "fighter," the P-38 was also successful as a night fighter, fighter-bomber, long-range escort and reconnaissance platform (90% of the wartime recon photos taken in Europe were taken by P-38s). It's the only American fighter plane that was in production when Pearl Harbor happened, and stayed in production through the war's end. Approximately 10,000 were built.
The Lightning in the foreground here is "Black Market Babe," flown by Lt. Billy Gresham of the 432nd FS, 475th FG out of Morotai Island in attacks against Japanese targets on Borneo and the Philippines. Gresham died in action on October 2, 1944 when he took damaged and bailed out, but his parachute failed to work properly. Below that in the painting, "Condon's Cans" (#147) flown the commander of his unit, Captain Henry L. Condon, is visible. Condon was an ace, having shot down five Japanese planes, but was also KIA; while bombing targets in the Philippines on January 2, 1945, his aircraft crashed after being caught in the bomb blast.
This original painting is acrylic on heavy art board. The board measures 54cm x 39cm, and the painted area is approximately 48cm x 32cm.