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|Signatures on this item|
Leutnant Siegfried Muller (deceased)
|Born in 1924, Siegfried Muller first flew with JG1 Molders in the south of France. In 1943 he took part in the air battles over Salerno and Monte Cassino. He joined IV./JG3 Udet in June 1944, where he was promoted to Staffelkapitan of 16 Staffel /IV Sturm Gruppe flying heavily armoured Fw190s. With this Gruppe he took part in the Ardennes Offensive and on 1st January 1945, Operation Bodenplatte. At the end of the war he was attached to JG7 for training on the Me262 jet fighter. Awarded the Iron Cross 1 and 2, he scored 17 victories, including 9 four-engined bombers.|
Oberst Eberhard Stephan (deceased)
|After serving in the Polish and French campaigns, Eberhard Stephan joined the 14th Panzer Division in 1941. In Russia he led his tanks to the Caucasus, and led one of the Panzer groups trying to break through to Stalingrad. With the 5th Panzer Division he took part in the biggest tank battle in history at Kursk. He was a commander in the 116th Panzer Division during the D-Day invasion: he fought at Caen, and the Battle of Arnhem. In the Ardennes Offensive, he led a crack unit of the 5th Panzer Army, and was awarded the Knight's Cross. He was one of the leading Panzer Commanders of World War II. Sadly he died on 22nd October 2008.|
Oberstleutnant Hans Lutz (deceased)
|Joining the Wehrmacht in 1938, Hans Lutz served in the Polish and French campaigns before being posted to the Russian Front in 1941. In 1944 he transferred to the 116th Panzer Division on the Western Front and was awarded the Knight's Cross on 9th December 1944. Hanz Lutz died 26th August 2005.|
Oberstleutnant Helmut Bennemann (deceased)
|Helmut Bennemann was born 16th March 1915. During the Battle of Britain Helmut Bennemann was Gruppenadjutant with I./JG52 on the Channel Front. In April 1942 he was Staffelkapitan of 3./JG52 in the east and was appointed Kommandeur of I./JG52 from June 1942 until October 1943. Posted to Italy in November 1943, he was promoted to Kommodore of JG53 (Ace of Spades) in this theatre and in the defence of Germany. He commanded JG53 on Operation Bodenplatte. Helmut Bennemann flew over 400 missions, scoring 92 victories and was awarded the Knight's Cross. He died 17th November 2007.|
|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.|
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