Savage Skies by Robert Taylor.
The weather on the morning of 31 December, 1944 was already unpleasant. In the Ardennes, hard-pressed German troops were battling Allied ground forces advancing through several inches of snow. Above, darkening skies heralded the arrival of more snow. At 10.45am, in deteriorating weather, a battle formation of 30 Fw190D fighters climbed out of Varrelbusch and headed south over the snowcovered landscape. Under the command of 12./JG54 Staffelkapitan, Oblt. Hans Dortenmann, and initially tasked to provide air cover to their beleaguered comrades below, the group was re-assigned to intercept enemy aircraft in the region of Limburg almost immediately the pilots were airborne. Flying south they ran directly into the oncoming weather, and with visibility dangerously reduced, Dortenmann elected to climb through the solid cloud into clear air. As the Fw190s broke cloud above the area of Koblenz they sighted a formation of nine 2nd Air Division B-24 Liberators and formed up for an attack. Some 6000 feet above, top-cover P-51 Mustangs had watched the Fw190s climbing through the banks of clouds, and turned 180 degrees to position behind the Luftwaffe fighters. Diving in from their height advantage, the Mustang pilots entered the fray and within seconds the sky was filled with swirling dogfights.
|Item Code : DHM2590||Savage Skies by Robert Taylor. - This Edition|
|PRINT|| Fighter Pilots Edition : Signed limited edition of 400 prints. || Print paper size 35 inches x 23.5 inches (89cm x 60cm)|| Rudorffer, Erich |
+ Artist : Robert Taylor
|£60 Off!||Now : £200.00|
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|Other editions of this item : ||Savage Skies by Robert Taylor. ||DHM2590|
| Signed limited edition of 25 artist proofs. ||Print paper size 35 inches x 23.5 inches (89cm x 60cm)|| Broch, Hugo|
Biel, Albert Bert
Ford, G W
+ Artist : Robert Taylor
|£60 Off!||Now : £395.00||VIEW EDITION...|
|PRINT|| Green Hearts Proof Edition : Signed limited edition of 350 prints. ||Print paper size 35 inches x 23.5 inches (89cm x 60cm)|| Broch, Hugo|
Biel, Albert Bert
Ford, G W
+ Artist : Robert Taylor
|£60 Off!||Now : £260.00||VIEW EDITION...|
|Extra Details : Savage Skies by Robert Taylor.|
|About all editions :|
A photograph of this print ( including signatures of Greenhearts edition)
|Signatures on this item|
Leutnant Hugo Broch
|Vital to all fighter units are the pilots who make such superb wingmen that their leaders are loath to part with them. Hugo Broch was one such wingman. Having joined VI./JG54 in January he flew first with Horst Adameit (166 victories), and later with Bazi Sterr (130 victories), but soon demonstrated his own skill in combat. By the end of 1944 he had lifted his personal score to 71 victories. One of JG54s great Fw190 Aces, Hugo Broch saw combat on the Eastern and Baltic Fronts, and completed the war having flown 324 combat missions, and claiming 81 victories. He was awarded the Knights Cross.|
Leutnant Norbert Hannig (deceased)
|Norbert Hannig began operations with JG54 on the Eastern Front near Leningrad in early 1943, flying first the Messerschmitt Bf109G, later converting to the Fw190. He became a Staffelkapitan with JG54, notching up an impressive 42 victories. Towards the end of the war, in early 1945, he converted to fly the new jet fighter, the Me262, and flew it in combat with III./JG7 from their airfield base at Brandenberg-Briest. Norbert Hannig died on 21st February 2014.|
Major Erich Rudorffer (deceased)
|Erich Rudorffer was born on November 1st 1917 in the town of Zwickau in Saxony. Erich Rudorffer joined the Luftwaffes I./JG2 Richthofen in November 1939, and was soon flying combat patrols in January 1940 and was assigned to I/JG 2 Richthofen with the rank of Oberfeldwebel. He took part in the Battle of France, scoring the first of his many victories over a French Hawk 75 on May 14th, 1940. He went on to score eight additional victories during the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain. Rudorffer recalled an incident in August 1940 when he escorted a badly damaged Hurricane across the Channel - ditching in the English Channel was greatly feared by pilots on both sides. As fate often does, Rudorffer found the roles reversed two weeks later, when he was escorted by an RAF fighter after receiving battle damage. By May 1st 1941 Rudorffer had achieved 19 victories, which led to the award of the Knights Cross. In June 1941 Rodorffer became an Adjutant of II./JG2. In 1942 Rudorffer participated in Operation Cerberus (known as the Channel Dash) and flew over the Allied landings at Dieppe. Erich Rudorffer along with JG2 was transferred to North Africa in December 1942. It was in North Africa that Rudorffer showed his propensity for multiple-victory sorties. He shot down eight British aircraft in 32 minutes on February 9th 1943 and seven more in 20 minutes six days later. After scoring a total of 26 victories in Tunisia, Rudorffer returned to France in April 1943 and was posted to command II./JG54 in Russia, after Hauptmann Heinrich Jung, its Kommodore, failed to return from a mission on July 30th 1943. On August 24th 1943 he shot down 5 Russian aircraft on the first mission of the day and followed that up with three more victories on the second mission. He scored seven victories in seven minutes on October 11th but his finest achievement occurred on November 6th when in the course of 17 minutes, he shot down thirteen Russian aircraft. Rudorffer became known to Russian pilots as the fighter of Libau. On October 28th 1944 while about to land, Rudorffer spotted a large formation of Il-2 Sturmoviks. He quickly aborted the landing and moved to engage the Russian aircraft. In under ten minutes, nine of the of the II-2 Sturmoviks were shot down causing the rest to disperse. Rudorffer would later that day go on and shoot down a further two Russian aircraft. These victories took his total to 113 and he was awarded the Oak Leaves on April 11th 1944. Rudorffer would on the 26th January 1945 on his 210th victory receive the addition of the Swords. In February 1945 Rudorffer took command of I./JG7 flying the Me262. He was one of the first jet fighter aces of the war, scoring 12 victories in the Me262. He shot down ten 4-engine bombers during the "Defense of the Reich missions". He was the master of multiple scoring - achieving more multiple victories than any other pilot. Erich Rudorffer never took leave, was shot down 16 times having to bail out 9 times, and ended the war with 222 victories from over 1000 missions. He was awarded the Knights Cross, with Oak Leaves and Swords. Erich Rudorffer died on 8th April 2016.|
Major Hans-Ekkehard Bob (deceased)
|After success in the Battle of Britain, Hans-Ekkehard Bob took over leadership of 9./JG54 in 1940. The following year he was awarded the Knights Cross. Transferring to the Eastern Front his victories rose steadily to 50 by September 1942. His Group later transferred back to the West for a short period, where in April 1943, he rammed a B-17 Fortress. Returning to the Eastern Front as Kommander of IV./JG3, he ended the war as Adjutant of Gallands JV44 in the West. In his 700 missions he scored 60 victories.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Fw190||The Focke-Wulf 190 development project began in 1937. Conceived as a hedge against total dependence on the Messerchmitt 109, the 190 was designed by Kurt Tank utilizing a radial engine. This was against generally accepted design criteria in Germany, and many historians believe that the decision to produce a radial engine fighter was largely due to the limited manufacturing capacity for in-line, water-cooled engines which were widely used on all other Luftwaffe aircraft. Despite these concerns, Tanks design was brilliant, and the 190 would become one of the top fighter aircraft of WWII. The first prototype flew in mid-1939. The aircraft had excellent flying characteristics, a wonderful rate of acceleration, and was heavily armed. By late 1940 the new fighter was ordered into production. Nicknamed the butcher bird, by Luftwaffe pilots, early 190s were quite successful in the bomber interceptor role, but at this stage of the war many Allied bombing raids lacked fighter escort. As the war dragged on, Allied bombers were increasingly accompanied by fighters, including the very effective P-51 Mustang. The Allies learned from experience that the 190s performance fell off sharply at altitudes above 20,000 feet. As a result, most Allied bombing missions were shifted to higher altitudes when fighter opposition was likely. Kurt Tank had recognized this shortcoming and began working on a high-altitude version of the 190 utilizing an in-line, water-cooled engine. Utilizing a Jumo 12-cylinder engine rated at 1770-HP, and capable of 2,240-HP for short bursts with its methanol injection system, the 190D, or Long Nose or Dora as it was called, had a top speed of 426-MPH at 22,000 feet. Armament was improved with two fuselage and two wing mounted 20mm cannon. To accommodate the changes in power plants the Dora had a longer, more streamlined fuselage, with 24 inches added to the nose, and an additional 19 inches added aft of the cockpit to compensate for the altered center of gravity. By mid 1944 the Dora began to reach fighter squadrons in quantity. Although the aircraft had all the right attributes to serve admirably in the high altitude interceptor role, it was not generally focused on such missions. Instead many 190Ds were assigned to protect airfields where Me-262 jet fighters were based. This was due to the latter aircrafts extreme vulnerability to Allied attack during takeoff and landing. The 190Ds also played a major role in Operation Bodenplatte, the New Years Day raid in 1945 which destroyed approximately 500 Allied aircraft on the ground. The High Command was impressed with the 190Ds record on this raid, and ordered most future production of the Doras to be equipped as fighter-bombers. In retrospect this was a strategic error, and this capable aircraft was not fully utilized in the role for which it was intended.|
|Liberator||he initial production batch of B-24As was completed in 1941, with many being sold directly to the Royal Air Force. Sent to Britain, where the bomber was dubbed "Liberator," the RAF soon found that they were unsuitable for combat over Europe as they had insufficient defensive armament and lacked self-sealing fuel tanks. Due to the aircraft's heavy payload and long range, the British converted these aircraft for use in maritime patrols. Learning from these issues, Consolidated improved the design and the first major American production model was the B-24C which also included improved Pratt & Whitney engines.
In 1940, Consolidated again revised the aircraft and produced the B-24D. The first major variant of the Liberator, the B-24D quickly amassed orders for 2,738 aircraft. Overwhelming Consolidated's production capabilities, the aircraft was also built under license by North American, Douglas, and Ford. The latter built a massive plant at Willow Run, Michigan that, at its peak (August 1944), was producing fourteen aircraft per day. Revised and improved several times throughout World War II, the final variant, the B-24M, ended production on May 31, 1945.
he United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) took delivery of its first B-24As in mid-1941. Over the next three years, B-24 squadrons deployed to all theaters of the war: African, European, China-Burma-India, the Anti-submarine Campaign, the Southwest Pacific Theater and the Pacific Theater. In the Pacific, to simplify logistics and to take advantage of its longer range, the B-24 (and its twin, the U.S. Navy PB4Y) was the chosen standard heavy bomber. By mid-1943, the shorter-range B-17 was phased out. The Liberators which had served early in the war in the Pacific continued the efforts from the Philippines, Australia, Espiritu Santo,Guadalcanal, Hawaii, and Midway Island. The Liberator peak overseas deployment was 45.5 bomb groups in June 1944. Additionally, the Liberator equipped a number of independent squadrons in a variety of special combat roles. The cargo versions, C-87 and C-109 tanker, further increased its overseas presence, especially in Asia in support of the XX Bomber Command air offensive against Japan.
So vital was the need for long range operations, that at first USAAF used the type as transports. The sole B-24 in Hawaii was destroyed by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. It had been sent to the Central Pacific for a very long range reconnaissance mission that was preempted by the Japanese attack.
The first USAAF Liberators to carry out combat missions were 12 repossessed LB-30s deployed to Java with the 11th Bombardment Squadron (7th Bombardment Group) that flew their first combat mission in mid-January. Two were shot up by Japanese fighters, but both managed to land safely. One was written off due to battle damage and the other crash-landed on a beach.
US-based B-24s entered combat service in 1942 when on 6 June, four B-24s from Hawaii staging through Midway Island attempted an attack on Wake Island, but were unable to find it. The B-24 came to dominate the heavy bombardment role in the Pacific because compared to the B-17, the B-24 was faster, had longer range, and could carry a ton more bombs.
In the European and North Africa Theatres On 12 June 1942, 13 B-24s of the Halverson Project (HALPRO) flying from Egypt attacked the Axis-controlled oil fields and refineries around Ploiești, Romania. Within weeks, the First Provisional Bombardment Group formed from the remnants of the Halverson and China detachments. This unit then was formalized as the 376th Bombardment Group, Heavy and along with the 98th BG formed the nucleus of the IX Bomber Command of the Ninth Air Force, operating from Africa until absorbed into the Twelfth Air Force briefly, and then the Fifteenth Air Force, operating from Italy. The Ninth Air Force moved to England in late 1943. This was a major component of the USSTAF and took a major role in strategic bombing. Fifteen of the 15th AF's 21 bombardment groups flew B-24s
1st August 1943 Operation Tidal Wave: A group of 177 American B-24 Liberator bombers, with 1,726 total crew, departed from Libya to make the first bombing of the oil refineries at Ploieşti, Romania, the major supplier of fuel to Germany. The mission temporarily halted oil production, but 532 airmen and 54 of the planes were lost. After a 40% loss of production, the refineries would be repaired more quickly than projected. Germany's Radio Reconnaissance Service had intercepted and decrypted the Allied messages about the raid and the departure from Libya, and anti-aircraft defenses were in place despite the low-level approach of the bombers. |