DEPICTING the horror of one of history’s largest aerial battles was the arduous task one Angmering artist set himself for his latest exhibition.
Aviation artist Andrew Harris has spent countless hours meticulously researching the tales behind his latest paintings, which form part of a display at Littlehampton Museum, in Church Street.
One of his work’s topics was the devastating fight for survival some 3,000 US airmen endured when they were ordered on the daring daylight bombing raid on the heart of the Third Reich.
Hundreds of Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses took part in the mission to level the German town of Schweinfurt, on October 14, 1943 – a mission which became known as Black Thursday.
The aerial assault came at a devastating toll to allied forces, with Luftwaffe fighters shooting down some 60 bombers out of the 251, with a loss of some 600 airmen.
Andrew said: “It was a horrifying day for these men on the mission, which lasted about seven hours.
“For a majority of that time there was no fighter cover while they were passing through enemy territory. It was a horrible experience for them.”
Andrew’s passion for aviation started at the tender age of five, when he visited his first air shows.
In his younger years he combined this with his love for art, eventually becoming one of the area’s top aviation art specialists.
He said: “I’m really interested in the stories behind the pictures.
“Some of the paintings that I do are a way of me paying tribute to the bravery of the air crews and what they went through and to try and show how the odds were stacked against them.”
As part of his research, Andrew often interviews veteran fighter pilots to make sure his work is as authentic as possible, as well as getting them to sign his painting.
“It always amazes me what some of these guys went through,” he added. “Sometimes, they almost shrug it off and they’re very nonchalant about it.”
Andrew’s artistic flair for painting aircraft has led to him becoming the treasurer of the Solent Aviation Art Society
He is also an elected associate of the prestigious Guild of Aviation Artists, the world’s premier society for aviation artists.
Andrew’s display, Icons of Flight, is on display until May 8.