Art and the Air Force: Top Guns Above the Clouds

Air Force art is a particular species of art. Limitless blue-skies yonder. Wispy white contrails. Gunners encased in gunmetal. Strategic bombing campaigns. Official portraits of commanders. And so much more.

9780160926617008And that so much more is honorably captured in ‘A Magnificent Showcase: History, Heritage, and Art: The United States Air Force and the Air Force Art Program.’ Authors Timothy R. Keck and designer Lori Ann Dawson show how the Air Force Art Program illuminates and preserves the heritage of the aerial warfare service of the U.S. Armed Forces. Part art piece, part historical compendium, the book’s watercolors and oil paintings showcase both machine and man of the “Aim High … Fly-Fight-Win” branch.

Each artist’s portrayal of Air Force servicemen and servicewomen show an enthusiastic championing of aircraft meets artful craft. The hefty tome features full-page scenes of battle-ready bombers rocketing over bucolic fields, fly boys on reconnaissance missions, and the fiery hazards of war. The wide, stratospheric pages are inset with vignettes of historical milestones such as the Tuskegee Airmen, Berlin Airlift, Pacific island raids, and Desert Storm.

Ah oh the pop-out spread of colors!  The apricot-colored sundown of William Phillips’ ‘Fifty Miles Out’, the algae-green fields of Randy Green’s ‘The Bridge Busters—397th Bomb Group,’ and the alpenglow-purple of Michael Machat’s ‘Habu’s Last Hurrah’ are all standout.

The introduction to ‘A Magnificent Showcase’ includes a circa-1960s quote from former Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Curtis LeMay, who wrote: “To posterity, these paintings will furnish a priceless pictorial history of our Air Force in a brilliant era.” The general phrased it perfectly. There’s really nothing more to add then to say it’s simply a magnificent book.

9780160925634P.S. You can continue your exploration of U.S. military art with this beauty: In the Line of Duty: Army Art, 1965-2014. It’s rich with soldier-artist pieces depicting the warfare operations of Vietnam through twenty-first century Iraq and Afghanistan. Raw grit and real courage.


Shop Online Anytime: You can buy eBooks or print publications —with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide— from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at

 Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Visit a Federal depository library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in GPO’s Catalog of U.S. Government Publications.

About the author: Our guest blogger is Chelsea Milko, Public Relations Specialist in GPO’s Public Relations Office.

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