After the fall of France the German Kriegsmarine were quick to seize control of the ports in the north west, and from the summer of 1940 onwards they enjoyed free access to the busy merchant shipping lanes of the Atlantic. Brest provided an important naval dockyard and arsenal for the German navy, and together with Lorient and SI. Nazaire, became base to the U-boat submarine fleets that roamed the Atlantic. The importance of the naval facilities in the region made the occupied French ports a favourite target for RAF and USAAF bombers, requiring the area of north-west France to become one of the most heavily defended until neutralised by the Allied invasion in 1944.
In 1942 the Focke Wulf Fw190s of III.lJG2, under the command of Major "Assi" Hahn, formed part of the massive aerial defences. Based at Morlaix 40 miles north-east of Brest, the JG2 pilots were in constant action against raiding bomber and fighter forces based in England. Robert Taylor's painting recreates a scene from the period: returning from an evening coastal sweep, Fw190 pilots of JG2 make a low pass to welcome home the type UII U-boats of the 9th Submarine Flotilla as they sail into the calm waters of the Brest Roads. Relaxed now, but weary from an arduous period of action in the North Atlantic, the U-boat crews wave acknowledgement to the aerial salute from their Luftwaffe comrades.