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Henderson GDI

Pappy Gunn - 11x14" Print

Pappy Gunn - 11x14" Print

Regular price $50.00
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Artwork by Don Henderson.

Vector illustration of Pappy Gunn, 3rd Attack Group.

One of the great unsung heroes of WWII was Paul "Pappy" Gunn. 1899-1957

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Paul Gunn was a 42 year old retired Navy pilot operating a small commercial airline in the Philippines where he lived with his wife Polly and 4 children.

When word of the attack on Pearl Harbor reach the Philippines, Gunn's Philippines Airlines was commandeered by the United States Army and Gunn was sworn in as Captain in the U.S. Army Air Force and ordered to establish an air transport squadron with Philippines Airlines aircraft. He and fellow PAL pilots began to fly cargo missions as well as transport V.I.P.s out of the Philippines. During this time PAL aircraft came under attack from the Japanese who now had eyes on the Philippines. Gunn's wife and children were captured by Japanese and interned at Santo Tomas University. Gunn had instructed his wife if questioned about him, to tell them he was dead, but he was far from it.

With pilots of the 17th Fighter Squadron who had escaped the Philippines, Gunn helped assemble crated Kitty Hawk fighters. It was back then that he got his famous nickname "Pappy" because he was so much older than the rest of the pilots.

With the newly assemble fighters, Gunn flying his Beachcraft C-45 led two flights of Kittyhawks from Brisbane to Java. On his way back to Darwin he nearly had a mid air collision with a Japanese sea plane. He decided to fly back to the Philippines and attempt to rescue more American fighter pilots, but was shot down and crash landed. He set his Beachcraft on fire to convince the Japanese that he was killed in the crash and hid out in the jungle till the next morning when he began to make his way to a small air strip near Zamboanga where he met up with his friend Dan Connelly who was picking up spare parts from a crashed B-17. It was from Connelly that he learned that his wife and children were prisoners of the Japanese. Connelly flew Gunn and the spare parts to Del Monte where they repaired a B-17 and then with Pappy as pilot, flew 22 pilots and mechanics back to Australia!

During the Java Campaign, Pappy met Lt Col "Big Jim" Davies the CO of the 3rd Bomb Group and they became fast friends. The 3rd Bomb Group had arrived in Australia without aircraft and Pappy knew of some B-25 Mitchell Bombers that the Dutch Air Force had, but no pilots to fly them. It's hard to sort facts from legend, some say the planes were given, some say they were stolen, but one way or the other Pappy Gunn and pilots from the 8th & 13th Bomb Squadron ended up with the planes and started taking the fight to the Japanese on April 5th 1942!

This illustration shows Pappy Gunn at the helm of Pappy's Folly, one of the appropriated Dutch B-25s. Pappy's Folly was highly modified by Pappy Gunn with 8 forward facing 50 cal. machine guns in the nose with an additional 4 50 cal. machine guns mounted in gun pods on either side of the fuselage as well as 2 more 50's in the top turret, Pappy's Folly could train 14 guns on a target. Couple that with a bomb bay full of ordnance and you were looking at one mean killing machine. And as if that wasn't enough Pappy Gunn went on to mount a 75mm cannon in the nose!

When you mess with a man's family, there is no telling what he might be capable of. Pappy Gunn and his family survived the war. Not as much can be said of the Japanese soldiers, sailors and airmen who were on the receiving end of Pappy's Folly and the Grim Reapers of the 3rd Bomb Group.

Pappy Gunn was killed in a plane crash while trying to avoid a tropical thunderstorm in 1957. His body was returned to the United States and interred at the US Navy cemetery at Pensacola Naval Air Station, where he had spent much of his naval career.

Printed from an Epson Expression XP-15000 printer using Claria Hi-Definition Ink on a 13x19" sheet of matte finish, ultra premium photo paper.

Mailed in flat, rigid envelopes to prevent damage or curling, and are ready to frame.

* Watermark will not appear on physical print.

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