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“THE LITTLE AMBASSADOR SPEAKS” – SIGNED NUMBERED LIMITED EDITION PRINT OF THE FOURTH AIR VICTORY OF WWII USAAF “ACE” JAMES EMPEY:  This limited edition, numbered print of “The Little Ambassador Speaks” was executed as part of a series commissioned by the American Fighter Aces Association to document in art one notable air victory for as many of the surviving World War Two American Air Aces as possible.   

This numbered print, bearing the original signatures of both the artist and the subject, James P. Empey, a World War Two US Army Air Force Ace, depicts the aerial combat that resulted in Empey’s fourth air victory.   

In December 1943, Lieutenant Empey shipped out for North Africa, reporting to the 5TH  Fighter Squadron, 52ND Fighter Group, 15TH US Air Force.  Empey began his war flying Spitfires and it wasn’t until after the squadron was moved to Corsica that they received the P-51 Mustangs in March of 1944.   During the course of Empey’s service in Europe, his flights included escorting flights of B-24’s and B-26’s on bombing missions to Poland, the famed Ploesti Oil Fields, and over the German homeland.  

As a result of Empey’s good nature and his ability to engage almost anyone in conversation, his squadron mates dubbed him the “little ambassador”.   The nick name stuck and when the squadron received their newly issued P-51’s, it seemed a natural fit to paint the same name on the nose of Empey’s plane.   

Scoring all five of his air victories in this P-51 during a 30 day period, Empey destroyed a Me-109 west of Weiner Neustadt, Germany on May 29TH, 1944 – his first – and on June 11Th he destroyed two Me-109s over Sofia, Bulgaria.   

Assigned to escort a flight of B-24’s on a mission over Munich on June 13, 1944, Empey was flying the “Little Ambassador” in the fourth slot of Blue Flight.  Empey spotted a JU-88 below him and dove to attack. Making continuous passes on the German aircraft, and avoiding enemy return fire, Empey saw his gunnery scoring hits on the JU-88’s engine and cockpit and witnessed the aircraft crash into the German countryside and burn, scoring his fourth air victory.     

James attained his “Ace” status on July 28TH with the destruction of a Me-109 south west of Bucharest, Hungry. 

Empey returned to the United States and after the war he was discharged to return home to his native New York.  Before long, he rejoined the service, and made the transition to the US Air Force when it was created in 1947, serving 30 years before his retirement in 1972 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  In addition to his combat flight time in Europe, he also flew a considerable number of combat missions in Vietnam.  Empey logged an impressive flight career including time in the P-39, P-40, the Spitfire, P-51, F-84, F-86, F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104, B-25, C-47, C-123, L-20, T-28, and T-33.  He logged a total of 5,437 hours of military flight time, including a total of 1,327 hours of combat time. 

On a personal note, Empey eventually retired in San Antonio, Texas and it was here that I met and got to know him as Jim.  Despite his advancing years and the toll an active life had taken on his body, Jim was as pleasant a man to be around as you would hope for - quick with a laugh, even quicker for one of the jokes he was known for, and never at a loss for a good story.  After Jim passed away in 2013, I had the opportunity to obtain a number of items from his collection and some of the pieces related to his service, in particular to his early aviation days in Europe.  Of special note, I was able to purchase his Pilots Log Book, in which he recorded his flights from his early days at flight school in 1942 through March of 1988 when he apparently stopped piloting.  Of special note are the entries which include notations of his five air victories.  I have included photographs below of the pages which list the air victory over the JU-88 as depicted in the print, and I will include photocopies of these pages and the log’s name plate with the sale of the print.   

This print, measuring 17” by 22”, was obtained directly from Empey’s estate and is in like new condition.  It is framed in an inexpensive plastic frame set with a front of clear plastic, and it should be reframed in a much nicer frame and glass.  However, for the purposes of shipping, the plastic frame will protect it, without being excessively heavy or running the risk that a glass front would be broken in transit and damage the print.  The print is hand signed by the artist, with the print number rerecorded by hand, and it is also hand signed by Empey next to the artist’s rendering of Empey’s likeness during his World War Two service.  

This is a very nice print with excellent content and with the added value of not only the original signatures, but also being accompanied by photocopies of Empey’s original log entry of this air victory.  This would be a dramatic print to display in your office or with your aviation collection.  $125



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