Almost Home

Gil Cohen





Almost Home Gil Cohen

The Second raid on Schweinfurt (also called Mission 115) took place on October 14, 1943, when 291 B-17 Flying Fortresses of the USAAF Eighth Air Force attacked ball bearing factories in Schweinfurt, Germany. The factories had previously been attacked on August 17, resulting in a disastrous loss of aircraft . The second mission turned out no different, and has become known as Black Thursday due to the heavy loss of men and aircraft.

The United States had identified German aviation industries as prime targets. The destruction of them would be key to defeating the Luftwaffe as a prelude to liberating Europe. Some 42% of Germany's ball bearings were produced at Schweinfurt and were considered so important to the German war effort that they were one of the highest priority targets after aircraft factories and petroleum production. The American Air Forces lacked a long range fighter, and had only the P-47 Thunderbolt in service. The P-38 Lightning had the range, but had not yet been reintroduced, after an absence of a year from the European theatre. The three American bomber divisions were to be escorted by a single P-47 Group each, on the outward leg, and the return journey. No plans for a diversionary raids were made.

The weather hampered the Bomber formations rendezvous, and as a result the wrong formations were in the wrong position. Much of the American formations were spread out, offering little protection for each other; an invitation for attacking fighters. A small group of B-24s were diverted to targets in the north sea, taking with it one of the escorting P-47 groups. The Germans had suspected a deep penetration raid because of the substantial raid traffic. Jagddivision 3 was positioned to meet the bombers as they crossed the coast. The P-47s tried to protect the scattered bomber groups and succeeded in downing 7 Bf 109s for a single loss, and the only P-47 loss of the day. Over the Netherlands JG 1 and 26 made repeated attacks. The 305th Bomb Group lost 13 of its 16 B-17s in minutes. After dropping their bombs the American bombers were almost immediately attacked by German fighters, having landed, refueled and rearmed, struck again. JG 11 shot down 18 B-17s during this period. Finally, the B-17s reached the coastline of Europe and relative safety, some of them so heavily damaged that though they brought their crews home, they would never fly again. Gunners aboard the bombers claimed to have shot down 138 German fighters; only 38 were lost.

In the final tally, fifty-nine Flying Fortresses were shot down over Germany, one ditched in the English Channel on the return flight, five crashed in England, and twelve more were scrapped due to battle damage or crash landings (more by AA-guns than by fighter aircraft), a total loss of seventy seven B-17s. 122 bombers were damaged to some degree and needed repairs before their next flight. Out of 2,900 men in the crews, about 650 men did not return, although 65 survived as POWs. Five were killed and forty-three wounded in the damaged aircraft that made it home, and 594 were listed as Missing in Action. Only thirty-three bombers landed without damage. The 306th Bomb Group was hard hit, losing 100 men, of which 35 died on the mission, or of wounds, and 65 were captured. The 305th Bomb Group lost 130 men, with 36 killed. The 87 percent loss rate had left the group devastated.

The relentless determination and courage of USAAF Eighth Air Force on that “Black Thursday” will forever be etched into aviation folk lore. We're proud to announce that each veteran signer of "Almost Home" flew on, and fought, the infamous "Black Thursday" second Schweinfurt mission.



Every print in the edition is signed and numbered by the artist Gil Cohen and countersigned by distinguished and heroic aircrew from the "Black Thursday" second Schweinfurt mission.

Please note : Not all the signatories listed below have signed the editions. For exact details on aircrew signatures we recommend you contact us prior to purchasing the print.

The "Black Thursday" Signatories

Earl Baker, waist gunner, 384th Bomb Group
Louis Bridda, waist gunner, 305th Bomb Group
Jay Coberly, bombardier on “Bucket of Bolts,” 94th Bomb Group
Bill Eisenhart, pilot of “Wallaroo,” 303rd Bomb Group
Charles Huber, top turret gunner, 385th Bomb Group
Bud Klint, pilot of “Luscious Lady,” 303rd Bomb Group
James McClanahan, bombardier, 384th Bomb Group
Herman Molen, ball turret & bombardier on “Spirit of the Nation,” 305th BG
Pete Mullinax, pilot of “Bucket of Bolts,” 94th Bomb Group
John Noack, pilot of “Bless ‘Em All,” 306th Bomb Group
George Roberts, radio operator on "Rose of York," 306th Bomb Group
Foster Rodda, navigator on "Lady Lylian," 388th Bomb Group

Each print is accompanied with a matching numbered certificate of authenticity.

Overall Print Size 32" x 24 3/8" (inches). Printed in lightfast inks on acid free archival paper.


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Signed and Numbered Print
UK £130.00 Edition Size - 440

Artist Proof Edition
UK £220.00 Edition Size - 240


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Helpful information regarding our Limited Edition Prints

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An edition of identical prints, numbered sequentially and individually signed by the artist, having a stated limit to the quantity in the edition. Following publication the printing plates are destroyed. Almost all the aviation art and aircraft prints featured on this website are authenticated with the original signatures of distinguished military personnel.

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An old tradition of reserving a quantity of prints for the artist's use, usually equal to about 10 % of the edition. In the early days of printing, these prints were the only remuneration the poor artist received. Proofs are signed by the artist and numbered showing the quantity of Artist's Proofs issued in the edition. Because of their highly restricted number, Artist's Proofs are sold at a higher value than the regular prints in the edition.

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A quantity of prints, not always announced or issued at the time of publication, usually equal to no more than 10% of the edition. These are reserved for the publisher's use, mostly for donation to Museums, Service establishments, Service Associations, and the like. Quantities of Publishers Proofs, sometimes issued with a supplementary print, may be made available to collectors either at the time of publication, or at a later date, depending upon availability.

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A print issued with an original pencil drawing by the artist in the margin, each numbered out of the quantity of individually remarqued prints in the edition. The quantity of remarqued prints in any one edition generally is between 25 and 50. Each remarque drawing made by the artist is slightly different, thus making each print totally unique. Remarqued prints may be available at the time of publication, or announced at a later date, depending upon the artist's work load at the time .Please be aware that Remarque prints can take up to six weeks for delivery. An artist remarqued print is the ultimate collector item in terms of reproduced work.

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