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Commander Alex Vraciu USN|
Alexander Vraciu was born in 1918, in East Chicago. Indiana to Romanian immigrant parents, . Alex grew up enthralled by the exploits of aviator Charles Lindbergh and World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker. Alexander Vraciu won a scholarship to DePauw University. Due to his passion for flying he obtained his private pilots license under the governments Civilian Pilot Training (CPT) program at Muncie, Indiana. Vraciu graduated in 1941, and entered the Navy as pilot candidate just before Pearl Harbor. On June 24th 1942 Alexander Vraciu recieved his Naval Aviators wings. He became carrier-qualified on Lake Michigan on USS WOLVERINE, a converted excursion ship, Vraciu qualified on eight straight passes in a F4F Wildcat, demonstrating an early affinity for carrier duty. He went onto fly the Grumman F6F Hellcat in the Pacific theatre. Alex Vraciu first saw combat flying the F6F Hellcat off carriers with VF-6. It was while flying as section leader in LCDR OHares division on October 5th, 1943, that Alex scored his first aerial victory over a Japanese zero at Wake Island. He notched three Zeroes and one Rufe in a wild dogfight at the first Truk raid on February 16, 1944 as part of a 72-Hellcat fighter sweep at the Japanese Naval fortress. During the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot he shot down six dive-bombers in eight minutes. The following day, escorting bombers in an attack on the Japanese Mobiel Fleet (Kido Butai), Vraciu downed his 19th victim, a Zero making him the foremost US Navy ace by a considerable margin, although he would hold that title for only four months. His luck ran out on December 14, 1944, while strafing over Luzon Island in the Philippines, his aircraft was struck by anti-aircraft fire and Alex Vraciu was forced to parachute safely from his damaged aircraft. Bailing out, he spent five weeks with Filipino guerrillas before meeting up with advancing Americans. He ended the war as the US Navys fourth highest Ace. In addition to his 19 aerial victories, he had destroyed 21 enemy aircraft on the ground. During the last few months of the war he served as a test pilot at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland, evaluating tactical performances between japanese an US aircraft he retired from the service in 1963.
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Gerald Coulson has been painting
professionally for over 30 years. the Fine Art Guild have placed him
among the top ten best selling UK artists no less than 15 times in 12
years - 3 times at No. 1. Coulson's first love was aircraft,
studying them and drawing them at every opportunity, from an early
age. His apprenticeship as an aircraft engineer then as an RAF
Technician and later an engineer with British Airways, have allowed him an
insight and intimate knowledge of the aircraft he paints. Now a Vice
President, he is a founder member of the Guild of Aviation Artists and
four times winner of the Flight International Trophy for outstanding
aviation painting. He qualified for his pilots licence in 1960 and
is still actively flying today - mostly vintage aircraft and can often be
seen buzzing over the Fens of Cambridgeshire in a Tiger Moth.
Whatever the subject, whether aviation, landscape or portrait, his ability
to capture the realism and mood of the scene is unsurpassed, making him
one of the most collected and highly regarded artists in the world today.
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