The pilot of the "Enola Gay," Paul Tibbets began his flying career at the age of 12 when he dropped Baby Ruth candy bars from airplanes as an advertising gimmick for Curtiss Candy Company. He entered the Army Air Corps in February 1937 and graduated with the highest flying rating in his class. He was first assigned to Lawson Field, Georgia, where he became Gen George Patton's pilot and hunting companion. As Commander of the 40th Squadron in England after the outbreak of World War II, Gen Tibbets led the first American B-17 raid on Hitler's occupied Europe. On special missions, he flew Gen Mark Clark to his secret meeting with the French prior to the Allied invasion of North Africa and Gen Eisenhower to Gibraltar for the start of the invasion.
While in North Africa, he led the first heavy-bomb mission in support of ground units. He returned to the States to help in the development of the B-29 bomber, and, in the fall of 1944, he was selected to command history's first and only nuclear strike force. His task was to recruit, organize, and train personnel to drop the atomic bomb on Japan. On 6 August 1945, Gen Tibbets flew the "Enola Gay" on the mission that ended the war and changed the course of history. After acting as advisor for the Bikini nuclear tests, Gen Tibbets became the Air Force project officer for development of the B-47 bomber. Two movies have been made about Gen Tibbets' exploits in the war-Twelve O'Clock High and Above and Beyond.
The painting portrays Gen Tibbets flying the B-47, Strategic Air Command's first all-jet bomber. Gen Tibbets not only sold the Air Force on the aircraft, tested it, and managed the development program, but also pioneered the concept of a bomber/tanker strike force, the mainstay of today's air-breathing portion of the nuclear triad.