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|Signatures on this item|
|*The value given for each signature has been calculated by us based on the historical significance and rarity of the signature. Values of many pilot signatures have risen in recent years and will likely continue to rise as they become more and more rare.|
Flight Lieutenant Brian Beattie
*Signature Value : £30 (matted)
|Having served at 489 Coastal Command flying torpedo carrying Hampdens, he later joined Des Curtis at 248 Sqn where he also flew the Tse-Tse firing Mosquito.|
Group Captain John Cunningham CBE DSO DFC AE DL FRAeS (deceased)
*Signature Value : £60 (matted)
|John Cunningham joined the RAF in 1935 with 604 Squadron. At the outbreak of World War Two he was based at North Weald flying Blenheims on day escort and night fighter operations. In September 1940 he converted onto Beaufighters equipped with radar, the first aircraft that made night fighting really possible. In November he had the Squadrons first successful night combat. He took command of 604 Squadron in August 1941. After a period at HQ81 Group, he was posted on his second tour to command 85 Squadron equipped with Mosquitoes. In March 1944 with 19 night and 1 day victory he was posted to HQ11 Group to look after night operations. The most famous Allied night fighter Ace of WWII - 20 victories. He died 21st July 2002. Born in 1917, Group Captain John Cunningham was the top-scoring night fighter ace of the Royal Air Force. Cunningham joined the RAF in 1935 as a Pilot Officer. He learned to fly in the Avro 504N and was awarded his wings in 1936. While assigned to the Middlesex Squadron Auxiliary based at Hendon, Cunningham received instruction in the Hawker Hart prior to moving on the Hawker Demon. The Demon was a two-seat day and night fighter. Cunningharns squadron was mobilized in 1938 following the Czechoslovak crisis. His No. 604 unit was moved to North Weald. Later in 1938 his unit returned to Hendon and was reequipped with the more modern Blenheim 1 fighter. In August of 1939 the unit was again mobilized and returned to North Weald. The Squadron was primarily utilized to provide daylight air cover for convoys. Lacking radar the Blenheim was relatively useless as a night fighter. In September of 1940 the unit was moved to Middle Wallop and the first Bristol Beaufighters arrived. The Beatifighter had a modestly effective, although often unreliable radar. It was an excellent aircraft with reliable air-cooled engines and four 20mm cannons. Cunningham attained the units first night victory in the Beaufighter, and his tally rose steadily. He was promoted to Wing Commander of 604 Squadron in August of 1941. Cunningham completed his first combat tour of duty in mid-1942 with a total of 15 victories. He was then posted to H.Q. 81 Group, which was an operational training group under the Fighter Command. In January of 1943 Cunningham was transferred to command of No. 85 Squadron which was equipped with the Mosquito. With the higher speed of the Mosquito, Cunningham was successful at downing Fw-190s, something impossible in the slower Beaufighter. Cunningham completed his second tour in 1944 with a total of nineteen victories at night and one by day. He was promoted to Group Captain at that time, and was assigned to H.Q. 11 Group. Cunninghams radar operator Sqd. Ldr. Jimmy Rawnsley participated in most of Cunninghams victories. The 604 Squadron was disbanded in 1945, but in 1946 Cunningham was given the honor of reforming the Squadron at Hendon - flying the Spitfire. Cunningham left the RAF in 1946 and joined the De Havilland Aircraft Co. at Hatfield as its Chief Test Pilot. Cunningham had a long and distinguished career in the British aviation industry, retiring from British Aerospace in 1980. Cunningham was appointed OBE in 1951 and CBE in 1963. He was awarded the DSO in 1941 and Bars in 1942 and 1944; the DFC and Bar in 1941, also the Air Efficiency Award (AE). He also held the Soviet Order of Patriotic War 1st Class and the US Silver Star. Group Capt John Cunningham died at the age of 84 on the 21st July 2002.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Mosquito||Used as a night fighter, fighter bomber, bomber and Photo-reconnaissance, with a crew of two, Maximum speed was 425 mph, at 30,300 feet, 380mph at 17,000ft. and a ceiling of 36,000feet, maximum range 3,500 miles. the Mosquito was armed with four 20mm Hospano cannon in belly and four .303 inch browning machine guns in nose. Coastal strike aircraft had eight 3-inch Rockets under the wings, and one 57mm shell gun in belly. The Mossie at it was known made its first flight on 25th November 1940, and the mosquito made its first operational flight for the Royal Air Force as a reconnaissance unit based at Benson. In early 1942, a modified version (mark II) operated as a night fighter with 157 and 23 squadron's. In April 1943 the first De Haviland Mosquito saw service in the Far east and in 1944 The Mosquito was used at Coastal Command in its strike wings. Bomber Commands offensive against Germany saw many Mosquitos, used as photo Reconnaissance aircraft, Fighter Escorts, and Path Finders. The Mosquito stayed in service with the Royal Air Force until 1955. and a total of 7781 mosquito's were built.|
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