Arthur Edwaine Beaumont was known for his loose yet highly accurate portrayals of Naval ships and his signature style is evident in "Aircraft Carrier U.S.S. ENTERPRISE," painted in 1944.
The USS Enterprise (CV-6), which was sometimes known as "Big E," was a Yorktown-class aircraft carrier that was active from 1936 to 1947. The ENTERPRISE was awarded 20 battle stars, making it the most decorated ship of WWII. Nicknamed the Grey Ghost, the Japanese announced that she was sunk three different times. ENTERPRISE participated in more action with Japan than any other United States ship and was one of only three carriers commissioned by the US before WWII that survived the war.
ENTERPRISE was first based in San Diego, and classic movie fans may recognize her from "Dive Bomber" a 1941 film that starred Errol Flynn and Fred MacMurray. Later, President Roosevelt ordered her to move to Pearl Harbor and the carrier transported aircraft among the island bases of the Pacific. Enterprise was at sea on its way back to Hawaii after completing one of these missions when it received a radio message from Pearl Harbor reporting that the base was under attack. On that fateful day on December 7th, 1941, Grunman F4F Wildcat fighters screened the Enterprise so that she could enter Pearl Harbor for fuel and supplies. The next morning she sailed early to patrol for other threats against the island. A few days later, she sank Japanese submarine 1-70.
ENTERPRISE saw a lot of action besides Pearl Harbor and also participated in the Battle of Midway, the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and the Battle of Leyte Gulf among others. The ENTERPRISE was one of fourteen ships equipped with the early RCA CXAM-1 Radar, which certainly contributed to her success. However, she also endured battle scars. For example, a Japanese bomb exploded on the flight deck of ENTERPRISE, a Grumman F6F Helicat crash landed on her deck, and later a kamikaze pilot brought further destruction.
The carrier was fully repaired and prepared to return to battle with all planes aboard when the atomic bomb fell on Nagasaki and ended WWII on August 9, 1945. Afterward, ENTERPRISE continued to serve her country, and traveled to Pearl Harbor to pick up over 1,000 servicemen including hospital patients and former POWs in order to bring them to New York via the Panama Canal. Later she completed three voyages to Europe and brought more than 10,000 war veterans home.
In this painting, Beaumont expressively captures an active sea and the war-time activity that surrounds the USS ENTERPRISE. A squadron of fighters head out on a mission and Beaumont effectively captures the speed at which they soar after taking off from the deck. Although other ships are in the distance, there doesn't appear to be an active combat situation in view although the dark clouds above lend to a foreboding atmosphere. The colors used in the sea and signal flags are eye catching. The striking composition of this naval narrative, created by one of the most noted American naval artists, would make a great addition to the collection of any history buff.
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