On April 26, 1945 Adolf Galland flew his last fighter mission with the rank of General. Leading his famous JV-44 Squadron of Experts, flying the remarkable Messerschmitt Me262 jet fighter, he took off from Munich-Riem and climbed to intercept a Marauder group near Neuburg high above the Danube River. After destroying one and damaging a second, his aircraft was hit by an attacking P-47 Thunderbolt. Galland was injured but managed to outrun the chasing aircraft to crash-land on the Munich airfield. So ended one of the most outstanding war-time flying careers in the history of aviation.
Adolf Galland's spectacular career began with the Condor Legion in the Spanish Civil War in 1937. At the outbreak of World War II he flew in Poland, then France, and the Battle of Britain, taking command of JG-26 in June 1940. When the RAF fighters went on the offensive in early 1941, it was Galland's Me109s that dueled with Douglas Bader's Tangmere Wing in the epic aerial battles over the English Channel. By the end of that year Galland became the youngest general in the German forces, taking over the role of Commander of all day and night fighters. After increasing disagreements with the Luftwaffe supremo, Reichmarshal Hermann Goering, Galland was dismissed, only to have the order countermanded by Hitler, who briefed Galland to take command of the JV-44 jet fighter Wing.
Robert Taylor, much admired by Adolf Galland, has painted a superb picture of the General in his Me262, leading JV-44 during the last few weeks of the war during the final defence of Germany. The scene is early April 1945: Having completed a successful bomber interception high above Salzburg, the Me262s are returning towards Munich-Riem at full throttle, hugging the deck to avoid the attentions of USAAF escort fighters. Below the crew of a B-24, brought down in the air-fighting, has survived a dramatic crash-landing amid spectacular surroundings.