The morning of 15 October 1943 dawned like many others over the Ukraine, the chill in the air hinted at the prospect of another winter of savage fighting on the Eastern Front. But it wasn’t the forthcoming winter that was on the minds of the fighter pilots of III./JG52, it was their Russian adversaries.
Ever since the battle for Kursk the Wehrmacht had been on the defensive as the Russians counter attacked, beginning a military offensive that would eventually lead to the gates of Berlin. As the German Army fell back, JG52 was forced back too, moving from one makeshift base to another, but they were still feared by the growing numbers of an ever- improving Soviet Air Force. And for good reason, for within its ranks JG52 held some of the highest scoring and most formidable fighter Aces in the history of aerial warfare. One of those was Günther Rall one of the Luftwaffe's most successful Aces.
Already highly decorated with the Knight’s Cross, Oak Leaves and Swords, the Kommandeur of III./JG52 now led his unit’s Bf109G fighters on their first sweep of the day. After their early morning scramble they were looking for action and, like most days, it wasn’t long before they found it, spotting a group of Soviet fighters over the city of Zaporozhye.
Robert Taylor's superb painting Knight of the Reich portrays this mission on 15 October 1943, as a stunning tribute to this legendary Ace: Before the enemy pilots had time to react the Bf109s dived in amongst them and Hauptmann Günther Rall quickly downed a Soviet La-5 to claim his 222nd victory, shooting down two more within an hour. It was the start of a remarkable month in which he scored a staggering 40 victories and, a few weeks later on 28 November, took his personal tally past 250 – at the time only the second Ace to do so after Walter Nowotny. By the time he was posted back to the West he was well on the way to his final score of 275 victories, an achievement that made him the third highest scoring Ace in history. Had he not been wounded in action numerous times and forced to spend months in hospital, he might well have been the highest-scoring Ace of them all.
Robert Taylor's remarkable painting is published as a lasting tribute to one of the most legendary figures in Aviation history. It is of great historical significance that Günther Rall who, through his outstanding skill, decency and leadership, gained huge respect from his comrades and former foes alike, has autographed every print, creating an exceptional collectors piece.
- Gunther Rall - Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves & Swords / 275 victories
Overall Print Size:
32 1/4" x 24"
275 Signed and Numbered Limited Edition Prints
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