B17 NINE-O-NINE – Steve Heyen
B17G-30-BO of the 323rd Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group encounters home defense Me109s over Germany in 1944.
CLASH OF EAGLES – Roy Grinnell
On the morning of May 25, 1944, three pilots from the 4th Fighter Group, the “Debden Eagles”, 336th Fighter Squadron, 8th Air Force, were over Germany looking for trouble. Flying near Botenheim, they encountered German planes from III JG1, 9th Staffel.During the ensuing dogfight, a Messerschmitt Bf109G-6/AS (also known as an Ausburg Eagle) came up behind Captain Joseph H. Bennett’s P-51B Mustang, while staying below the P-51’s propeller gust.The Bf109’s guns jammed, but the young Luftwaffe pilot, Oberfähnrich Hubert Heckmann, was determined not to let the American flyer get away. Heckmann pulled up to the P-51’s height and rammed his Bf109 fighter right into the tail of Bennett’s aircraft.The impact sheared off the tail and rear fuselage section and came within a few feet of the rear fuselage tank. With his aircraft’s nose thrust skyward, Bennett bailed out near Botenheim. Going into a loop, the P-51 crashed into a house in the middle of the village. His own plane seriously damaged, Heckmann managed to make a belly crash landing.Bennett, a former RAF Eagle Squadron pilot, was captured and taken to a jail by German military officials. Heckmann later came to introduce himself and meet the first American flier he had put out of commission as a German pilot. Bennett remain a German prisoner until the end of the war. The 336th Fighter Squadron lost another Mustang in this fight but made claims of shooting down five of the enemy. After the war, the two airmen became friends and met every year for their reunion.
CLOSING THE GAP – Robert Taylor
August 1944, RAF HawkerTyphoons of 247 Squadron, armed with rockets and 20mm cannon launch a series of devastating attacks against the German Seventh Army and Fifth Panzer Army in the Falaise Gap. The German units had been almost completely surrounded by advancing allied ground forces, and contained within an area bounded by the four towns of Trun, Argentan, Vimoutiers and Chambois near Falaise. The Germans began their retreat by the only remaining route, through the Falaise Gap, whereupon the allies began a sustained air assault in an attempt to prevent their escape, and with deadly results. On a single day the Typhoons would destroy 175 German tanks.
DAMBUSTERS BREACHING THE EDER DAM – Robert Taylor
Mist and fog swirled eerily over the Eder Lake on the night of 16/17 May 1943 as four specially modified Lancasters of 617 Squadron, under the leadership of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, circled overhead. Their target, the mighty Eder Dam, was barely visible in the valley below. Immediately following the successful breach of the Mohne Dam, Gibson had led his remaining aircraft 50 miles to the south-east to hit their second target, the Eder Dam. Surrounded by high ground with thousand feet ridges, the Eder was altogether a more testing target. The Lancaster pilots would need to dive steeply into the gorge that formed the Eder lake before undertaking a steep turn towards the Dam itself. As if this were not demanding enough in the darkness of night, they then had to fly towards the target at precisely 60ft above the lake at the exact speed of 230mph, before releasing their Barnes Wallis designed hydrostatic bouncing bombs. Pilots Shannon and Maudsley tried time and again to position their laden bombers correctly before managing to release their weapons – but the dam still held. Now success depended solely on Knight carrying the last bomb! With time and fuel now a concern, Knights first effort to position, like Shannon and Maudsley before him, failed, but his second run favoured the brave. Knight released his bomb with absolute precision, striking the wall at precisely the crucial point. With a tremendous explosion the Eder Dam collapsed before their eyes. Robert Taylors sensational new painting vividly shows the dramatic moment of impact. In the cockpit Knight and flight engineer Ray Grayston fight the controls to clear the dam, combining their physical strength to haul the lumbering Lancaster up and over the dam and to clear the high ground that lies ahead. Below and behind them, the second of Germanys mighty western dams lies finally breached
DESERT SHARKS – Heinz Krebs
P-40 fighters of the 325th FG, 12th AF, the dreaded Checkertail Clan, as they attack a German tank column in the African desert during the defeat of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps’ in Tunisia in the early spring of 1943.
FORTRESSES UNDER FIRE – Keith Ferris
This image is the 25 foot high by 75 foot wide mural in the World War II Gallery of the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. The B-17G, 42-38050, “Thunder Bird” of the 303rd Bomb Group, based at Molesworth, England, is seen at 11:45 AM, 15 August 1944, over Trier, Germany, on its return to base from a mission to Weisbaden. B-17Gs “Bonnie B”, “Special Delivery”, and “Marie”, are seen below as a Messerschmitt 109G and Focke Wulf FW 190 attack “Thunder Bird’s” element. Jeff Ethell’s research for the mural revealed the names and aircraft identities of all U.S. and many German participants in this battle in which the 303rd lost nine Fortresses in this attack by Luftwaffe fighters.
HIGH FLIGHT – Keith Ferris
INTO THE TEETH OF THE TIGER – William Phillips
There’s more than one way to bring down an opposing fighter, as 1st Lt. Don Lopez learned on December 12, 1943. He and his comrades of the 75th Fighter Squadron were at 6,000 feet over South Central China when the young airman experienced his first scramble. Lopez ripped his P-40 into the middle of a flight of Japanese “Oscars” and quickly engaged one of them, flying directly at one another, firing steady hits. Lopez expected his opponent to break off, but neither did so. Head-on only a few feet apart, the Oscar swerved right … too late. Lopez lost three feet off the end of his wing, but the Japanese pilot lost substantially more, including control of his aircraft, which plunged toward the earth. Undaunted, Lopez pressed the attack again and scored enough victories to join the ranks of “ace” fighter pilot.
NARROW ESCAPE – Heinz Krebs
It is the late summer of 1940, and the Battle of Britain is at it’s height. Racing for the coast, following a bombing mission over southern England, a straggling He111 of KG55 has been attacked by a Spitfire of RAF Fighter Command. The bomber is badly damaged, but in the nick of time a pair of Me109s of JG26 have come to the rescue, sending the Spitfire diving into the Channel. If they are lucky the Heinkel crew may still make it back to their base in France.
DESPERATE DAYS – Gareth Hector
1945 – Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-9’s of JG-26 squadron intercepting B-24s high above Germany during the last desperate months of the war.
OPERATION CERBERUS – Philip West
The Channel Dash (officially known as Operation Cerberus) was one of three operations during the Second World War for which the Fairey Swordfish was to become the most famous. Heavily outgunned in the Straits of Dover on this day in February 1942 by the German warships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen, with their accompanying flotilla of destroyers and motor torpedo boats, and with top cover provided by deadly fighter aircraft of the Luftwaffe, all six Fleet Air Arm Fairey Swordfish were shot down. Only five of the eighteen aircrew survived. Here we see the Swordfish flown by Sub. Lt. Kingsmill and Sub. Lt. Samples with PO Bunce in the rear, fighting for their lives with his machine gun.The bravery of the Fairey Swordfish aircrew in this and all other operations is a matter of history and must never be forgotten.
SEAWOLVES – Nicolas Trudgian
Captain Erich Topp steers his Type VIIc U-Boat number U-552 Red Devil towards the sanctuary of the base at St Nazaire after another patrol during the grueling Battle of the Atlantic in 1942. In the skies above, heading back out to hostile waters is a giant Focke Wulf 200 Condor from III/KG40 and three Ju88Ds from KGr 106 whose missions will be to search for vulnerable Allied shipping for the submarine Wolfpacks to attack. The third-highest scoring U-Boat ace, Captain Erich Topp sank a total of thirty ships and damaged three more whilst commanding the Red Devil.
RED TAILED BLACK ANGELS – Stu Shepherd
1944 – The Tuskegee Airmen of 322 Ftr Gp were known as the ‘Red-Tailed Black Angels’ with their black fuselage and red painted tails of their P-51Bs. Here Capt. Ed Toppins destroys a Luftwaffe Bf-109 over the skies of Italy.
RAMRAIDERS – Richard Taylor
Within two days of the D-Day Normandy invasion, on 8 June 1944 Commander of US Air Forces in Europe, General Carl Spaatz, ordered a massive new offensive to halt the supply of oil to the enemy forces. As top priority his bombers would henceforth concentrate their attacks on Germany’s oil refineries. Those in range of air bases in England would feel the full force of the Eighth Air Force, while the installations further south in Romania, Hungary, and southern Germany would be attacked by bombers of the Fifteenth Air Force based in Italy. To add to the pressure, RAF Bomber Command was coordinated to attack the refineries in the Rühr by night.
As the huge mass of American bombers streamed into the daylight skies, the Luftwaffe quickly changed tactics to counter the potentially devastating threat with a new specialist tactic- the Sturmgruppe. Flying their redesigned and heavily armoured Sturmböcke Focke Wulf Fw190 A-8 heavy fighters, pilots of the newly formed IV Sturm/JG3 Gruppe were urgently assigned the task of attacking the vast bomber streams in an effort to protect the refineries. Escorted into battle by Messerschmitt Mel09s to hold off any escorting American fighters, The Focke Wulf Fw190s tactic was to make en-masse lightning attacks on carefully selected targets. With the American bomber formations spread over miles of sky. The Sturmgruppe aimed for the less well defended centre of the stream, attacking from the rear with concentrated cannon fire, with the pilots of IV Sturm /JG3 sworn on oath to press home their attacks at the closest possible range, even ramming their targets if necessary to ensure a kill, these desperate tactics were to inflict considerable damage to the allied bomber offensive during the final year of the war.
Richard Taylor’s exciting new limited edition captures the scene: Closing at high speed with all cannons blazing. Unteroffizier Willi Maximowitz is seen flying his distinctive “Black 8” with IV Sturm/JG3, as he dives in to attack a formation of USAAF B-24 Liberators from the 93rd Bomb Group. The American gunners have a frightening task on their hands to fend off the attack until help arrives.
”LUCKY” – Carlos García
1944 – The Anglo-Argentine pilot Dick ‘Lucky’ Lindsell in his Hurricane MkIIC leads the attack on a bridge in Burma.
CLOSE COMBAT – Mark Postlethwaite
December 23 1944 – Feldwebel Wilhelm Hopfensitz of IV/JG3 piloting his Focke Wulf F190, closes in on a B-17 Flying Fortress of the 838th BS over Belgium.
TYPHOON SCRAMBLE – Richard Taylor
Led by Squadron Commander Roland “Bee” Beamont, Hawker Typhoons of 609 Squadron are illustrated as they scramble from their base at Manston in April 1943.
FIRST KILL- Roy Grinnell
In the pre-dawn of September 1st 1939, units of Hitler’s Luftwaffe and Wehrmacht were poised to smash across Poland’s borders to begin WWII. At sunrise, formations of German bombers were over Krakow and attacked the Polish airbase of Rakowice. Meanwhile, several miles to the west on a secret airfield at Balice, 121 Fighter Eskadra (Squadron) of Army Krakow’s 2 Dyon (Air Regiment) was alerted to the attack by the noise of explosions and flaming horizon. Leaping from his bed and pulling on his flight clothes, 28 year-old veteran flyer, 2nd Lt. Wladek Gnys ran with his CO, Capt. Mieczyslaw Medwecki, to their gull-winged PZLP.11c fighters. As they took off to make an interception of the German attackers, the pair was surprised by fire from passing Ju-87 Stukas of I./StG2, and Medwecki was downed. In attempting to evade, Gnys went into a stall, but regained control just above the ground. Climbing once again, he managed to put two bursts into the engine of another Stuka, which turned away trailing a plume of smoke. Later, at 5000 feet, Gnys spotted two Do-17E bombers of III/KG77 just above the rising early-morning fog. Putting his small fighter into a near-vertical dive, Gnys banked steeply toward the Dornier on the right and fired his four 7.7mm machine guns, silencing the rear gunner and hitting the port engine. He then climbed and banked to the left, away from his smoking victim, to pursue the second German. Attacking from the second bomber’s port side, Gnys dove and fired, getting hits on the cockpit. Realizing that the two mortally wounded Dorniers were on a collision course, he continued his dive below and away from them. Returning to base, the victorious pilot did not see the two crashed bombers smoldering in a farmyard near the village of Zurada… the first victories over the Luftwaffe in World War II! Gnys later fought with the French Air Force in the Battle of France, the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain, and ended his combat career as the squadron leader of the 317F Squadron , RAF.
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE – Keith Ferris
Pearl Harbor wasn’t the only place that was attacked on December 7th. Across the International Date Line – making it officially December 8th – lay Clark Field, which was pounded by Japanese “Betty” Bombers, then strafed by Zeroes.Some American pilots managed to counterattack, two such heroes, LT. General USAF (Ret.) Joseph Moore and Colonel USAF (Ret.) Sam Grashio,are pictured in “Too Little Too Late”.Lt. Joe Moore in his Curtiss P-40B Tomahawk at 22,000 feet over Clark Field is defending against the Japanese attackers as war begins on December 8, 1941 in the Philippines. Over the smoke below is Petty Officer First Class Saburo Sakai’s Zero pursuing Lt. Sam Grashio in his P-40E.
FOURTH MISSION OF THE DAY – Gil Cohen
Flight Lieutenant Donald J. M. Blakeslee of 133 Eagle Squadron exits his Spitfire MkVb at the Lympne airfield after his fourth mission of 19th of August 1942. On this date, during Operation Jubilee – the joint British-Canadian amphibious assault against German forces on the French coast at Dieppe, RAF Fighter Command flew hundreds of sorties in support of the landings. Among the RAF units active during the day were the three all American volunteer Eagle squadrons, who between them accounted for 10 enemy aircraft destroyed, 5 probable and 12 damaged, Blakeslee himself being credited with two destroyed and two probables.The following month, the Eagle squadrons were absorbed into the U.S. 8th Air Force as the 4th Fighter Group, under the leadership of Don Blakeslee.
THE EAGLES NEST – John D. Shaw
May 7, 1945 . . . With Goring’s champagne and Bavarian beer, the veterans of Easy Company celebrate the end of World War II in Europe. Fate could write no better ending for the paratroopers who jumped into the darkness of Normandy, slugged through the mud of Holland, and froze in the woods of Bastogne. Now, in Berchtesgaden’s storybook Alps, P-51s of the “Checkertail Clan” cap the party as the Band of Brothers enjoy the spoils of war, the beauty of peace, and a toast to the heroes who fell along the way.
AMBUSH – Heinz Krebs
The German Me 262 jet fighters, used primarily to attack USAAF heavy bomber formations in early 1945, were very vulnerable to fighter attacks during take-off and landing. The Allies had therefore adapted a strategy of having fighters patrol in the vicinity of Me262 bases, waiting for the return of the German jets from their missions. These ambushes soon proved highly effective, with the Luftwaffe losing many jets to the guns of the USAAF.To counteract the mounting losses special units were formed, equipped with the Focke-Wulf 190 D-9 (“Dora Neun”), regarded by many as the Luftwaffe’s finest piston-engined fighter of the war. Manned by experienced veterans of JG52 and JG54, they were tasked with providing top cover for the jets at their airfields at Munich, and Ainring near Salzburg. In order to make these aircraft clearly discernable to the German anti-aircraft gunners, their undersides were painted red with white stripes, thus the legend of the “parrot wing” was born. One of this unit’s elements was the so-called “strangler swarm” led by Lt. Heino Sachsenberg. Here we see Sachsenberg in his Focke Wulf 190 Dora 9 “Rote 1” W.Nr. 600424, as he turns into P-51s over the airfield of Ainring in an attempt to protect the approaching jet fighters from the Mustangs’ attack.
BLACK FRIDAY – Mark Postlethwaite
At 14.00 on the 9th February 1945, 31 Bristol Beaufighters of 445 (RAAF), 404(RCAF) and 144 Squadron (RAF) took off for a strike against a small German Naval Force hidden in Fordefjord. By 19.00 that evening, 404 Squadron were coming to terms with the loss of six of their aircraft, 11 men dead one POW. In total, nine Bristol Beaufighters were lost that day along with one North American Mustang, the Germans lost 5 Focke Wulf 190s. Fourteen Allied aircrew and two German pilots were dead.
In a strange quirk of fate, a Sunderland of 461 Sqn RAAF identification letter U, destroys submarine U-461, a type XIV tanker, one of three German submarines caught on the surface by Allied aircraft in the Bay of Biscay on July 30, 1943. At extreme low level, Sunderland U braves a barrage of gunfire from all three encircling German submarines to deliver a successful depth charge attack, sinking U-461 in a single pass. In an act of grace, the Sunderland pilot returned to the scene to drop a dingy to the U-boat survivors.
DAYS OF THUNDER – Richard Taylor
Duxford became home to the 78th Fighter Group when they arrived in England with their P-47B Thunderbolts in 1943. The objective of the American fighter units was to gain air superiority over the Luftwaffe in support of their daylight bombing campaign. By 1944 they achieved their objective. Richard Taylor commemorates the valiant contribution of the 78th Fighter Group with a fine new rendition showing P-47D Thunderbolts departing Duxford en route for the north coast of France, and a low-level strafing mission. It is the spring of 1944, and with the Normandy invasion just days away, the Thunderbolts are already painted with invasion markings.
COASTAL PATROL – Richard Taylor
Mk I Spitfires of 610 Squadron flying a defensive patrol low over the White Cliffs during the height of the Battle of Britain in August 1940.
DAUNTLESS AGAINST A RISING SUN – William Phillips
Two SBD-3s, S-9 and S-11 of VS-5, fly from the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier against the dark clouds of war and a rising sun, the symbol of the Japanese empire. In this case, the sun is symbolic of hope and the dawn of a new day as the tide turns in the Pacific at the Battle of Midway in June of 1942.
INTO THE TEETH OF THE WIND – Robert Taylor
Bound for Tokyo, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle launches his B-25 Mitchell from the heaving deck of the carrier USS Hornet on the morning of 18 April, 1942. Leading a sixteen-bomber force on their long distance one – way mission, the Doolittle Raiders completed the first strike at the heart of Imperial Japan since the infamous attack on Pearl Harbour four months earlier. Together, they completed one of the most audacious air raids in aviation history.
RAIDERS OF THE NORTH ATLANTIC – Roy Grinnell
The Blohm und Voss V-138 Flying Boat, out of Norway, were ocean going reconnaissance planes for spotting enemy supply convoys that were shipping supplies, troops and equipment.It was known by their crews as “Der Fliegende Holzschuh” “The Flying Clog.” They would call into bases on the coast for JU-88’s to bomb and strafe the supply ships. All three engines on the B&V 138 were diesel and they would land in the North Atlantic and German U-Boats would surface and refuel them.The Blohm und Voss crew could eat and sleep while the plane was being refueled giving them a break because they could be away for weeks. The gun turret in front was fired by pilot by remote. In the rear there was a gunner. In the dramatic painting by Roy Grinnell, it depicts BV138C-1 of 2/KU. FL. Gr (Kusten-Fliegeruppe) 406 in North Norway, 1942.
HARTMANN’S LAST VICTORY – Mark Postlethwaite
The highest scoring fighter pilot in history, Erich Hartmann shoots down his last victim, his 352nd, a Soviet Yak-9 Fighter over Brno in Slovakia. Erich Hartmann is depicted piloting his Messerschmitt ME109 “Black Tulip”, on 8 May 1945, last day of the war.
LEO OF THE ZODIAC BOMBERS – Roy Grinnell
This image reflects the unique nose art of one of the B-24’s in the Zodiac Squadron. The original nose art was painted by Phil S. Brinkman while he was assigned to the Army Air Force Station 174 in Sudbury, England. Brinkman joined the Army Air Corps in the summer of 1942. He was assigned to Special Services, when he entered the army, since he was an accomplished commercial artist at the time. Shortly after he arrived at Davis-Monthan Airbase in Tucson, Arizona, he completed a large mural which attracted attention and was seen by the commander of the 834th Bomb Squadron, Captain “Jip” Howell, who set up a transfer to bring Brinkman into the 834th. The idea of adorning the B-24’s of Capt. Howell’s with unique nose art resulted in the famous “Zodiac Bombers” including “Leo.“In the spring of 1944, the 486th Bomb Group, comprised of the 832nd, 833rd, 834th and the 835th Bomb Squadrons was sent to England.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED – Roy Grinnell
Ball”Bogies, 11 o’clock high!”, shouted Lt. Doug Canning, breaking a two-hour radio silence. Maj. John Mitchell had led sixteen P-38’s of his 339th fighter Squadron from Guadalcanal’s Henderson Field to Bougainville on 18 April 1943 to intercept the Betty bomber carrying Japanese Imperial Combined Fleet commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto. Now, after flying 400 miles at 50 feet above the water, navigating by pure dead-reckoning, the flight sighted two Betty bombers escorted by six Zeroes descending toward Ballale Island.
Maj. Mitchell and twelve Lightning’s climbed to provide high cover while Capt. Tom Lanphier and Lts. Rex Barber, Frank Holmes, and Ray Hine – designated ‘attack flight” – turned to intercept the bombers. As they climbed toward the Betty’s, Lanphier saw three Zeroes diving to defend the bombers and turned sharply into the lead fighter, leaving Barber to continue the attack on the bomber. Curving in behind the lead bomber, Barber raked the descending Betty from wingtip to wingtip. Thick black smoke began to stream from the right engine and the bomber snapped to the left. Moments later is sliced into the jungle, the crash site marked by a rising column of black, oily smoke.
Turning toward the coast, Barber finished off the second Betty now under attack by Frank, and downed a Zero that had belatedly joined the battle from nearby Kahili Airdrome. Shortly after, Mitchell call “Mission accomplished!” and fifteen Lightning’s turned toward Guadalcanal. Lt. Ray Hine, last seen skimming the water with smoke trailing from his engine, did not return from the mission and was never found.
This extraordinary interception, executed by P-38’s based near Guadalcanal, was made possible through radio interception and signal decryption efforts by Navy intelligence facilities at Pearl Harbor and other Pacific locations.
ONE MAN AIR FORCE – Wade Meyers
Captain Don S. Gentile of the Debden-based 336th Fighter Squadron – 4th Fighter Group (8th Air Force) maneuvers his North American P-51B-7-NA Mustang ‘Shangri-La’ while engaging an FW-190A-7 on April 8, 1944. For his actions this day, Gentile was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, America’s second highest award for valor in combat. General Dwight D. Eisenhower presented the award personally, and when introduced to the young fighter pilot, Eisenhower remarked, ‘You seem to be a one-man air force!’
OPEN ASSAULT – Robert Taylor
The Junkers Ju87 Sturzkampfbomber, known to the British simply as the Stuka, had already acquired a deadly reputation across Europe, its siren screaming as the ungainly dive-bomber struck terror into the hearts of those below. In 1940 its pilots crossed the Channel with their grim-looking aircraft to terrorise the southern towns and ports of England. Robert Taylors painting Open Assault, depicts Hurricanes of 501 Squadron attacking a force of Ju87 Stukas as they dive-bomb naval vessels and installations in the port of Dover on 29 July 1940. High explosive bombs detonate within the sheltered anchorage as escorting Bf109s from JG51 race in to protect their lumbering charges. Four Stukas and two Me109s are dispatched, for the loss of just one RAF aircraft.
SHARK SIGHTING – John D. Shaw
1942 – Kunming, China. Before the pilots of the legendary 1st American Volunteer Group ‘The Flying Tigers’ could take to the skies against the enemy, the all-important task of boresighting the .30 caliber wing guns of their P-40’s had to take place! The ingenious armorers of the AVG were often forced to improvise, but as the Tigers’ incredible combat record can attest, these great Americans got the job done! Artist John D. Shaw has recreated this scenario, featuring likenesses of actual AVG personnel, such as “Tex” Hill and armorer Chuck Baisden.
RAID ON THE CHINA COAST – Roy Grinnell
APRIL 1945 – The plane shown is Lady Lil of the Air Apaches 345th Bomb Group, 498th Bomb Squadron, a B-25 piloted by Lt. Albert J. Beiga as he attacks Japanese shipping off the coast of China, between Amoy and Swatow, west of Formosa.
PLAYING THE LAST ACE – Heinz Krebs
The Messerschmitt Me-163 rocket fighter aircraft, perhaps better known as the Komet, was possibly the most radical German manned fighter aircraft design to actually enter the WW II combat theatre. Here Me-163 Komet fighters of the Luftwaffe climb vertically through an 8th Air Force bomber formation and its top fighter cover before swooping down on the heavies for their short but often deadly attack.
SEMPER FI SKIES – John D. Shaw
This scene depicts Corsairs of VMF-112 ‘Wolfpack’ in combat near Guadalcanal in 1943. On May 21, Captain Archie Donahue became an ‘ace in a day’ by shooting down 5 enemy aircraft in one mission. He would repeat this feat 2 years later while serving aboard the USS Bunker Hill.
STAR OF AFRICA – Heinz Krebs
Hauptmann Hans-Joachim Marseille, better known as the Star of Africa, was probably the most formidable opponent the British ever encountered in the air. He was victorious in 158 aerial combats against the Royal Air Force, 154 of which were fighter aircraft.Marseille died undefeated whilst bailing out of his Me 109 which had developed an engine problem on the return leg of an uneventful sortie.Marseille is seen here at the moment of his 150th aerial victory on September 15th, 1942. On this day, he fought and defeated no less than seven Curtiss Kittyhawk fighters in an incredible eleven minutes.
SPLASH LANDING – Gareth Hector
J.G. Boon von Ochssee, a dutchman serving aboard the HMS Speaker, ditches his Grumman Hellcat JW867 into the Indian Ocean. He was picked up safely by a destroyer escort soon after and would continue flying Hellcats until the end of the war.
ON WINGS AND A PRAYER – William Phillips
Dawn breaks over the English countryside. This is the summer of 1940 and the island nation is in the grips of war–the Battle of Britain. A woman riding her bicycle, hearing the roar of approaching aircraft, stops to gaze upward. She watches Spitfires from 92 Squadron streak across the sky, determined to search out and destroy the fighters and bombers of Hitler’s Luftwaffe. Silently the woman offers up a prayer.
TIRPITZ MISSION ACCOMPLISHED – Mark Postlethwaite
12 NOV 44 – Avro Lancasters of 9 and 617 Sqns sink the battleship Tirpitz, as it shelters in Tromso Fjord in Norway. During World War Two, Tirpitz had become the scourge of the Royal Navy and had been moved to northern Norway where she threatened the Arctic convoys, too far north to be attacked by air from Britain. She had already been damaged by an attack by Royal Navy midget submarines and a series of attacks from carrier-borne aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm, but both attacks had failed to sink her.
THE FAMOUS FOUR MINUTES – R. G. Smith
4 June 1942: one of the defining moments of the Pacific War when the tide turned against the Japanese aggressors at America’s Midway Islands. Lieutenant Richard H. Best and his two wingmen in their Douglas Dauntless SBD dive-bombers have just launched a successful attack on the Japanese flagship aircraft carrier Akagi. The crushing defeat inflicted on the Japanese Navy by the very much smaller United States Pacific Fleet at Midway, put an end to Japan’s ambition to dominate the central Pacific region, and removed the Japanese threat to Hawaii.
CAN’T TALK NOW…. GOTTA SHOOT – Dan Zoernig
July 7, 1944. Captain Clarence E. “Bud” Anderson slides in behind a trio of ME-109s flying in perfect formation, seemingly oblivious to the huge armada of bombers and fighters in the vicinity. 357th Fighter Group leader Tommy Hayes, spoiling for action, calls out on the radio, “Andy! Where are you?” Focused on the business at hand, Anderson replies, “Can’t talk now….Gotta shoot!” As he triggers his guns, the mic is still keyed, and everyone hears the rattle of his quad .50s. Above, Old Crow gets good strikes all over the target, bringing Anderson’s total claims to 12 1/4 in the air.
DAVID AND GOLIATH – Roberto Zanella
June 1943 – A Macchi MC205 Veltro from A Squadron ‘Ace of Wands’ shoots down a B-17G over Italy.
ONE THE HARD WAY – Dan Zoernig
Christmas Day, 1941. American Volunteer Group Flight Leader Parker Dupouy finds his guns jammed during combat high over the Gulf of Martaban. Determined to bring down his adversary, he rams the Hayabusa Oscar of Lt. Hiroshi Okuyama of the JAAF 64th Sentai. Though he lost four feet of his wingtip and his entire aileron, Dupouy made it back to his base to fight another day. Lt. Okuyama’s aircraft, however, broke up in flight and carried him to his death. Dupouy went on to score 6.5 victories in the air before war’s end.
JUNKERS Ju88 – Shigeo Koike
1941 – A Ju88 A-4 bomber of III Gruppe / Lehrgeschwader 1 flies over the Tunisian desert.
“HAPPY” NEW YEAR – Gareth Hector
January 1st 1945. All across western Europe airfields are thrown into chaos as the Luftwaffe unleashes a desperate surprise offensive to destroy allied air power on the ground. ‘Operation Bodenplatte’ would instead result in the death knell for the once formidable German air force. However there were some successes, Eindhoven the home of the RAF’s 2nd TAF was hit hard, firstly by Jg-3 and then in a case of mistaken identity by Jg-6. It was the latter strike I wanted to show, the airfield is already burning from the first attack when Jg-6’s 1st Gruppe race across the airfield causing even more damage. Red ’12’ belonged to Ewald Trost, he was luckier than most as his aircraft was shot down but he survived and was taken prisoner. Ironically the 1st Gruppe was to enjoy the most success for Jg-6 that day, the rest of the unit couldn’t find their designated target at Volkel and as a result found themselves simply trying to stay alive and get home.
GALLAND’S ACES – Dieter Meyer
Adolf Galland and Heinz Bär lead a group of Me-262’s towards an encounter with Allied B-24’s high above the clouds.
FLYING ON A SPECIAL D-DAY – Julien Lepelletier
6 June 1944 – And a Republic P-47D Thunderbolt flies over Utah Beach on an escort mission.
FLY FOR YOUR LIFE – Robert Taylor
Desperate for new pilots in the South Pacific, in August 1943 the First Marine Wing appointed the unconventional fighter ace Major Greg ‘Pappy’ Boyington to pull together a newly formed squadron from a mix of experienced combat veterans and untested novice pilots. The Marine Corps gave him just four weeks to turn this motley group into a fighting force ready for combat. Boyington succeeded beyond all expectations and the rest is history. Equipped with the Chance Vought F4U Corsair, they called themselves ‘The Black Sheep’, and under Boyington’s leadership, saw action at Guadalcanal, Munda, the northern Solomons, Vella Lavella, Bouganville, and Tokokina Kahili, and were the first to lead fighter sweeps over the major Japanese base of Rabaul. In a period of just eighty-four days Boyington’s pilots recorded 273 Japanese aircraft destroyed or damaged, 97 confirmed air victories producing eight fighter Aces, sank several ships, destroyed many ground installations and numerous other victories. With typical mastery, Robert Taylor has brought to life an encounter over Rabaul in late December 1943, paying tribute to one of the US Marine Corps‘ most famous fighter squadrons, and its outstanding leader. With the Japanese airbase at Rabaul visible in the distance, ‘Pappy’ Boyington and his fellow pilots of VMF-214 tear into a large formation of Japanese Zekes and a series of deadly dogfights have started, one Zeke already fallen victim to their guns.
For their outstanding contribution to the war in the South Pacific, the ‘Black Sheep’ were awarded one of only two Presidential Unit Citations accorded to Marine Corps squadrons during the war in the Pacific.
FW190 STURMGRUPPE FORMATION – John Wallin Liberto
It gives a nice, icy mood, perfect for December 1944, when Dahl flew his “Blaue13” on bomber intercept missions with JG 300.By the way, the clouds at the top of the image remind me of layers of cirrus, formed by dissipating aircraft contrails. I am not sure if it was intentional, but it’s a nice hint to their creators: the hordes of allied heavy bombers Walter Dahl and his Schwarm is hunting for.
FW190 STURMGRUPPE FORMATION (detail) – John Wallin Liberto
This one depicts the Spitfire Mk.XIVe as flown by Flying Officer Burgwal of 322 (Dutch) Squadron. Burgwal was a high scoring V-1 killer with 19 kills. This image shows one of his kills, this time by tipping over the V-1 flying bomb that was headed for London. This would make the V-1 crash as it had no ailerons or internal systems that could compensate for this unbalance.