On Thursday, August 24, 1944 a 22-year old Oberleutnant Erich Hartmann powered his Me109G fighter in a spectacular low pass over his squadron's airstrip in north-eastern Rumania, wagging his wings to the cheering Luftwaffe personnel on the ground below. The young flaxen-haired pilot had just become the first fighter Ace in history to bring down 300 enemy aircraft in combat. As World War II drew to its close, after three and a half years of continual aerial combat, this gifted young fighter pilot brought his final tally of aerial victories to 352, bringing down a Yak-7 during the last of his 1400 missions on May 8, 1945. He was the most successful fighter pilot of all time.
In this dramatic rendition, the world's number one aviation artist captures a brilliantly colourful midwinter scene during the final phase of the war on the Eastern Front. Glinting in the sub-zero early morning sunlight as fresh snow begins to fall, and led by their Gruppenkommandeur Erich Hartmann, the Me109G fighters of I./JG-53 scramble off the snowcovered airstrip at Veszprem in Hungary, February 1945. They will intercept waves of Russian fighters and bombers in the skies above Czechoslovakia in a last ditch attempt to repel the impending invasion of Germany.