Night Hawks

by Philip E. West

Overall print size 28” x 14”

The ever-vigilant crew of this Mosquito night-fighter successfully intercept a Luftwaffe Bf110 as it heads towards a bomber stream over target in Germany.

Signed by two Mosquito night-fighter pilots including
Wing Commander Branse Burbridge DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar
the RAF’s top scoring night-fighter pilot.

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 objector Branse, 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”.

Squadron Leader John Hall, DFC and Bar (85 Sqn. Pilot) joined the RAF in 1940 and after gaining his wings, followed by operational training at Cranfield, near Bedford, he joined 85 Squadron, then stationed at Hunsdon, in the North Weald sector. At that time, 85 Squadron flew twin engine Havocs, a night fighter version of the American light bomber, the Boston, with the radar operator where the Boston’s gun turret would have been and 12 machine guns in the nose, in place of the Boston’s navigator. The radar then was the Mark 4, not very reliable, and with a very limited range. During 1942, the Squadron re-equipped with the much faster and more maneuverable Mosquito, with a scanner in the nose for the infinitely more effective Mark 8 radar and 4 cannon, [instead of the Havoc’s 12 machine guns]

After a rest from operations, during which he taught budding night fighter pilots air gunnery, John Hall teamed up with John Cairns as his navigator/ radar operator and they joined 488 New Zealand Night Fighter Squadron at Bradwell Bay on the Essex coast, destroying three German bombers during the “mini-blitz” of early 1944. The Squadron flew over the D-day beaches from Zeals, and Colerne in Wiltshire, before moving at the end of 1944 to Amiens Glisy in northern France and then to Gilze Rijen in Holland, where it celebrated VE Day. During this time Hall shot down a further 5 German aircraft over France and Germany

Edition size: 225

175 Signed and Numered
Price: £90.00
25 Artist Proofs Price: £115.00


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