The top Luftwaffe fighter Aces flew more combat missions and shot down more enemy aircraft during World War II than any other group of fighter pilots in history. Many Aces were in combat from the Spanish Civil War in 1938 right up to the Fall of Germany in 1945. They flew continuously, day after day, until they were either shot down or wounded; some were in combat virtually without rest throughout the war. Their astonishing record will never be surpassed. As youngsters they had joined the Luftwaffe, carefree young men with a burning passion to fly, but like those they fought in the air, found themselves caught up in a five-year-long aerial war the likes of which they could never have imagined. Within months the lucky ones had become veterans of aerial warfare. By the end of hostilities, those who survived had become legends.
All the great Luftwaffe Aces flew the Me109. Most achieved their phenomenal aerial successes in this supreme little fighter, and it is this beautiful aircraft that Robert Taylor has chosen for his painting to pay respect to this unique band of air Aces. In the foreground the Staffel Commander is viewed leading the attack, his cannons blazing as he closes on a formation of B-17s. Close on his heels his Staffel pilots follow him into the attack, while behind, another group of Mel09 fighters takes on the outer box of the Fortress formation. The Luftwaffe Aces know they must face a wall of fire from the B-17s' gunners, and that the Fortress crews will not flinch in the fight. Equally they know they have a job to do and that they will press home the attack regardless of the resistance they encounter. The lucky ones will survive to fight again tomorrow.
And so it went for three long, arduous years. When it was over an extraordinary thing happened - something that lesser mortals find difficult to comprehend: the fighter pilots and aircrew of opposing sides paid tribute to each other, acknowledged and saluted the skill and courage of their erstwhile foes, and many ultimately became friends.
Robert Taylor's beautiful, and now very rare, print pays tribute to the courage of the fighter Aces of the Luftwaffe. Each print is signed by their great leader General Adolf Galland, and joining him are eleven other Aces, each personally chosen by the General for his astonishing record in the air. The combination of Robert Taylor's supreme skill and the signatures of twelve of the greatest Fighter Leaders and Aces of the Luftwaffe, make this one of the most important limited edition prints ever published.