Shop Mobile More Submit  Join Login
  • Art Print
  • Canvas
  • Photo
Download PNG 2000 × 1338


Submitted on
November 16, 2013
Image Size
10.9 MB


9,647 (8 today)
494 (who?)


Creative Commons License
Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Eight by itifonhom Eight by itifonhom
     On 17th May 1943, 21.45 hours, two Handley Page Hampdens of 415 Squadron RCAF departed from their base on Thorney Island to engage enemy shipping off the Dutch coast. The two aircraft were the B/415 with  F/Sgt LE McGee at the controls and the D/415 piloted by P/O Keith C Wathen. The flight reached the point of the strike around midnight local time but after that its movements were unknown and both aircraft failed to return to base, probably shot down by enemy flak while engaged by night torpedo bombing.
    The crew of the D-GX, which is the main theme of this image was: RAAF F/O Wathen K C (Pilot), RAF F7O Crawford J M (Navigator), RNZAF Fl Sgt Sykes I M (Gunner) and RAF Sgt Steward J H (Gunner). On 22nd July 1943 the body of F/O Keith Wathen was recovered from the sea at St Peter, in the district of Eiderstadt. He is burried in the Kiel War Cemetery in Germany. The other three crew members have no known grave and their names are commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing, Runnymede, UK.
    I created this image while being in contact with Keithīs nephew whoīs still living in Australia. He gave me some very good information about that fateful night and I really tried to be as accurate as possible. But of course, this image isnīt  dedicated just to F/O Keith Wathen but itīs a tribute to all eight, brave young men, that lost their lives that night. 
     Created with C4D and Photoshop.
Add a Comment:
Mann-of-LaMancha Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Hmm. It was more my intention to comment on new deviations, but since you seem to be holding your breath waiting for me to say something...
;P :XD:

One of the few saving graces for the 1981 animated movie "Heavy Metal" was a sequence called "B-17" which, that scene started with a bombing run similar to what you have depicted accompanied by a song called "Heavy Metal / Takin' a Ride" by Don Felder.

The point is it was one of my favorite scenes in that movie and while you were more trying to depict a piece of history in your piece, this piece caught my attention first. I had to fight not hearing the song by Don Felder in my memory and focus not on my memory of that scene but on your piece instead.

Ahem. :XD:

Critically, While I have not actually been in an air-fight with antiaircraft  flak, I think those puffs of smoke would have looked better if they were a little larger. The way they are shown looks like of they are the right size, they are off in the distance.

Visually speaking, considering the ships have their search lights on, it could be reasoned that this is a night time flight. Substantiated by the description which denotes "17th May 1943 21:45 hours." I did a phase look up for that time & date and saw "At 21:45:00 DT on Monday, 17 May 1943 the waxing moon's phase was 94.96% full" (the closest I could get it to CET - being CET is about 60 degrees away this shouldn't be too far off the mark).
At first I was going to say "search lights for daytime?" because it seems you have too much reflection going on but a waxing moon would perhaps give off that much light at night. "The only question remaining then would be what inclination above the horizon would it be at?" That information I couldn't verify. Part of me wants to say "Would they use search lights on a night with a waxing moon?" Perhaps, perhaps not. I think you could have made the sky a bit darker if it is nighttime though. Likewise, would nighttime clouds be so well illuminated??

I guess the trouble is that there are so few night time sky scenes to use as a backdrop. Kudos if you actually drew that sky scene but I doubt it.

At first I thought the search light in the bottom right corner was a vapor trail of a plane going down, then I realized it was a search light, but where is the ship using it? With that much moonlight I'd think some silhouette would light up that too.

Speaking of that area (bottom right), there are three or four vertical ...masts??  ...that seem out of place. If it is supposed to be that they are masts of ships under the main centered bomber? If that is true then I guess you are trying to depict them blurred to show motion?

Though I have some background in military shipbuilding (and next to nothing about aircrafts), I am rather amiss on WW2 ships. My gut feeling would be that I think there should be more superstructure above for those three ships on the horizon. Of those three ships again, my gut feeling is that the ship on the left looks like a tanker. My gut feeling for an ocean going blockade would also be that they would form a single line and not have multiple lines for the bomber to cross. This seems like a poor defense tactic to me, for the ships:
Ship's search lights in the back would highlight ships in the front.
While multiple lines would give greater chance that an attacking bomber squadron would be hit (if the first line of defense were breached, the second would get them), it also would make them more vulnerable to me. More chances for a bomber to pass over and drop their payload to clear a path for any successive squadron behind them. (this also is a rational to explain wy there WOULDN'T be a single defensive line :XD: )

Focusing on the main bomber and bearing in mind I know next to nothing about that era of aircraft, I will say it looks correct to me. I'm a little surprised, with that much moonlight, that you didn't show some indication of the bomber's propellers (Your ability to show propellers in motion in other pieces is absolutely superb which is something I have been seeking to emulate myself, but let's leave further comment for those when I comment on those pieces).

All in all, it's a nice tribute piece and action shot that showcases your abilities. :nod:

In an aside comment, since you have done some WW1 and WW2 era aircraft, I hope you have slated to do some WW1 bombers using geodetic airframes (e.g. Vickers-Armstrong). Those airframes are singularly noted for their return capability after enduring a firefight whereas other aircraft with alternate airframes would NOT return. Note that any area that did alight on fire would burn off their fabric skin leaving the geodetic frame partially exposed. If not, consider this a polite request for the near or distant future. :D

Please note: I fell asleep halfway through this comment, so understand that my falling asleep/waking self is not the best frame of mind to refrain from beating around the bush (though that isn't the only time I do such :XD: ).
itifonhom Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
   That must be the longest comment I received so far and I thank you so much for it! You seem to look at images with a critical and sharp eye and I really like that! So please let me give my feedback on this.

  The 17th May ´43, also known as the "Dumbusters Night", was a well illuminated night with an almost full moon. The backdrop image is a real night photo with full moon, so I have to take for granted that the ( cloud) illumination must be correct. About the flak bursts and the double ship line, I can point you to this site where you can see the size of the ship´s flak bursts, as well as that convoys used multiple lines of defence. I think that makes sense because the bomber will concentrate to one ship, no matter how many lines are there but has to fly through many ships to get on the "other side" and that gives the advantage to the ships. The flaks are firing all over the place, since the searchlights haven´t spotted anything yet. Why? I suppose because the bombers come from the dark side of the sky, not the moon side.
   Now, as for the bottom right area, yes, there´s a ship down there, it belongs to the second line of ships and gives no silhouette because it has no visible light behind it. It´s just illuminated from the distant moon and yes, it´s blurred strongly, being so near to the main object, the speedy bomber. The same is the case for the water nearby. 
   As for the propellers blur, well, I suppose this is a matter of realism and there are many kinds of it, most known the "photo-realism" but for me also the "eyesight-realism"!! That means that what a camera "sees" isn´t always correct and doesn´t describe what a man would have seen if he was there. I always try to be somewhere between "photo-realistic",  "eye-sight-realistic" and artistic. I suppose in a night scene, you can´t really expect to see any rotating propellers, be it with a camera or an eye.
     But all this is kind of superfluous if we consider this image as an artwork and not just an attempt to re-create a missing photo. Such an attempt is bound to fail, even if I could talk to someone that was present that night. This is not what I try to do and never claimed to do so. I research my themes well, most of the times at least, but what I want is to create an artwork, give a feeling of an event, an idea how it could have been. Not how it was. I have the luck to live 40 years out of any kind of war, so I am the least suitable to describe war realistic enough and even if I could, I wouldn´t.

     Once more, thank you much for your time and your kind and sharp eyed comments, if only I had that kind all the time!!! 
Mann-of-LaMancha Featured By Owner Oct 27, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for taking my comment as I hoped you would.

When I speak, I speak feeling very positively about what I am saying, even if it is just a "gut feeling." However, that does not mean that I think you HAVE to accept my view as correct. In other words, you're entitled to have a differing opinion even if it is just to say "Well, I don't want to do it that way, because I like what I did! So there!"

"The backdrop image is a real night photo with full moon, so I have to take for granted that the ( cloud) illumination must be correct"

To respond to this I can only say, as someone terribly clever once said "this is a matter of realism and there are many kinds of it, most known the "photo-realism" but for me also the "eyesight-realism"!! That means that what a camera "sees" isn´t always correct and doesn´t describe what a man would have seen if he was there."

As to your reference photos, while I accept that what someone wrote under one photo was "this is a Flak bursts," I think they were wrong. What makes me think it's machine gun fire opposed to Flak bursts is the color of the smoke. Flak bursts usually were black, while machine gun fire was usually white. That's just my own observations based on watching many war movies. Though I'll review my sources before I firmly say that.

As to "having that kind of time" all I can say is I manage, somehow, with about 3-4 hours of sleep per night. Being single and no real social life accounts for the rest. :shrug:
itifonhom Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
  You´re quite right about the backdrop image comment. Being not a native English speaker, I sometimes got my problems saying exactly what I mean. I think I should better say that the " illumination must be accurate", at least for a photo camera. As for the Flaks, although they mean cannons, in WW2 the "Flakartillerie" included machine gun fire too, so the term Flak was used for almost everything anti-aircraft.

     Again, thank you so much for your time, much appreciated!!
Mann-of-LaMancha Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I realized you were not a native speaker when I first visited your page, not because of anything you said but because of where you are from, so I think you do admirably well, and didn't see a problem with anything you said. :confused:

As far as Flak not being exclusive to cannon fire, I knew that of modern warfare, but presumed that was exclusive to today's era. Blush  Ashamed 
itifonhom Featured By Owner Oct 29, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
   Thank you so much, much appreciated indeed!!!
Kumichi58 Featured By Owner Feb 22, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What program did you used to make that?
itifonhom Featured By Owner Feb 23, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
   Several but mostly Cinema4D and Photoshop.
Kumichi58 Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks, Keep up the good work! 
alotef Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2014
Congrats mate, you've made a fine work indeed! :)
Add a Comment: