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Aviation Art
Discovery! The Secret Of Brunei Bay  by Jack Fellows
Discovery! The Secret Of Brunei Bay
by Jack Fellows
Height: 36”
Width: 40”
Medium: oil
Support: stretched canvas
Copyright Date: 1992
Price: Sold

“Discovery!..the Secret of Brunei Bay”
Cover Art:
Legacy of the 90th Bombardment Group

Following the most massive naval battle in history, the Battle of Leyte Gulf, in late October, 1944, the whereabouts of the surviving remnants of the Imperial Japanese Navy was a complete mystery to U.S. Naval Intelligence. Locating the Japanese fleet was important for the safety of Allied troop landings taking place in the Philippines during that period. It is ironic that a lone U.S. Army B-24, on a snooper mission from Morotai in the Netherlands East Indies to the northern coast of Borneo, happened to find what the Navy had been trying to locate for a week, or so. This long-range reconnaissance mission was carried out by the the 400th Bomb Squadron, 90th Bomb Group crew of the “Sky Witch”, a B-24 specially equipped for long-range flight. Each of the crew received the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), as described in General Orders 312, HQ, Far East Air Forces, 2 March, 1945:

“For extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight over Borneo on 7 November, 1944. These officers and enlisted men were crew members on a B-24 type aircraft on a reconnaissance mission over heavily defended enemy territory. After making two photographic runs over Miri in the face of intense anti-aircraft fire, they proceeded to Brunei Bay for further observation. A large concentration of Japanese vessels threw up an intense barrage of anti-aircraft fire, and enemy fighters rose to intercept, attacking from every direction and dropping aerial bombs. In the ensuing engagement crewmen sent down three of the interceptors smoking fiercely. Though the gasoline tanks and other parts of the aircraft were riddled with bullets, and the hydraulic and electrical systems were put out of commission, they returned and landed safely at their base with valuable information. The outstanding courage and devotion to duty displayed by these officers and enlisted men are worthy of the highest commendation.”

Most of the passes made by the intercepting Zeroes were head-on, followed by the Japanese pilot flipping the fighter on its back and performing an aerial maneuver called a “split-S”, such as is illustrated in the painting. In the far-left background is the Sultanate of Brunei, below the “Sky Witch” is Brunei Bay and the Japanese fleet, and to the right is Labuan Island.

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