Robert Taylor Catalogue

Puttalam Elephants

by Robert Taylor

Robert Taylor Puttallam Elephants


Operating happily in conditions where towing tractors became quickly bogged down, the Puttalam Elephants provided an invaluable service, and became much loved by the pilots and ground crews.


This superb piece was originally painted by Robert back in 1984 as a commission for the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton, but was never released as a limited edition.
Over the years there has been an unprecedented number of requests to see this great image in print - to such an extent that we have now found the opportunity to release it. Of course we now have the benefit of another 24 years of reproduction technology and the outcome is a vibrant, evocative and very unusual piece that will appeal to both collectors of Aviation and contemporary art alike.

In April 1942 the island had been narrowly saved from invasion by the gallantry of Canadian pilot Sqn. Ldr. Leonard Birehall who, flying a Catalina patrolling 250 miles south of Ceylon, sighted a huge Japanese invasion fleet. Under attack from Zero fighters he managed to radio the alarm before being shot down into the Indian Ocean. Alerted. the British forces withstood the heavy air and naval assaults that followed.

As the British expanded operations on the island, the hastily constructed airstrip of HMS Rajaliya was carved out of dense jungle at Puttalam. The soft grass strip, reinforced with metal Somerfield tracking. enabled the heavy American-built Chance Vought F4U Corsairs to use the runway, but during the monsoon season the Corsair’s tricky landing characteristics often sent them slithering off into the water-logged ground. It was then that the Navy called in its secret weapon to haul the Corsairs back to firmer ground — The Puttalam Elephants!


Privately commissioned in 1984 by one of the Corsair pilots stationed at HMS Rajalh’a in 1942, Robert Taylor’s superb painting Puttalam Elephants is displayed in the wonderful art collection of the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton. Admired by many thousands of visitors, the painting depicts the unusual tactics at employed at Puiialam in order to keep the land based naval fighters flying. Operating happily in conditions where towing tractors became quickly bogged down, the Puttalam Elephants provided an invaluable service, and became much loved by the pilots and ground crews.

A print of this much loved masterpiece by Robert Taylor has been in huge demand from collectors for many years, to such an extent that the Military Gallery has now decided issue this wonderful painting as a strictly limited edition. Collectors will therefore be delighted that this print, signed by some of the Fleet Air Arm’s most distinguished fighter pilots, can at last be added to their collection.

The editions are signed by a number of Fleet Air Arm pilots who actually flew the Corsair in the Far East to personally sign the edition, which as we're sure your collectors will appreciate, is not an easy task these days.

THE LIMITED EDITION

Every print in this edition has been signed by RN Fleet Air Arm fighter pilots who flew Corsairs in the Far East.

Lieutenant ERIC BEECHINOR RN
Sub Lieutenant (A) GORDON DUNNELL RNVR
Sub Lieutenant TONY MAYLETT RN


400 signed & numbered

THE FLEET AIR ARM FOLIO
The Fleet Air Arm Folio Editions have been additionally signed by five of the Royal Navy's most distinguished fighter pilots. This edition has a total of EIGHT signatures.

Lieutenant ERIC BEECHINOR RN
Sub Lieutenant (A) GORDON DUNNELL RNVR
Sub Lieutenant TONY MAYLETT RN

Captain ERIC 'WINKLE' BROWN CBE, DSC, FRAeS, RN
Sub-Lieutenant VICTOR KAIRIS RN
Lieutenant CYRIL PRICE RN
Lieutenant PETER TWISS OBE, DSC*, RN
Lieutenant Commander BRUCE VIBERT RN

350 Folio Proofs
25 Artist Proofs


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