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|Signatures on this item|
Albert Kerscher (deceased)
|German Army - Knights Cross with Oak Leaves. Oberfeldwebel Albert Kerscher was, like Otto Carius, a panzer ace from schwere Panzer Abteilung 502. He achieved his 100th kill in defending the Neuhauser Forest near Pillau, East Prussia in April 1945. On 22nd July 1944, 1st Lieutenant Otto Carius with his company of eight Tigers advanced towards the village on Malinava (northern suburb of Dunaburg) in order to halt the Russian advance. Carius and Kerscher took a Kubelwagen in order to check if the village was already in Russian hands. They discovered that Malinava had already been taken by the enemy. Carius recognised that the Russian tanks in the village were only advance troops waiting for the main force to arrive. He decided to recapture the village before the arrival of more Russian tanks. Carius returned to his company for briefing and explained his plan to take the village. He decided to attack the village with only two Tigers because there was only one road leading to the village and it meant very risky business. Six Tigers remained in the reserve while the Tigers of Carius and Kerscher moved towards the village of Malinava. Speed was the essence of the plan to take the Russians by surprise and immobilise their tanks. When they were about to enter the village, they could see two T-34/85 tanks rotating their turrets in their direction. Immediately Kerscher, following Carius at about 150 metres, fired two shots in rapid succession, and destroyed the two enemy tanks. This was the first time that Carius had encountered one of the latest JS-1 heavy tanks. The silhouette of the new heavy Russian tank was somewhat similar to that of the Tiger II, and Carius got confused at first but after a little hesitation, ordered his crew to fire at once, and the JS-1 burst into flames. Afterwards they realised that the entire battle was over in about twenty minutes. In such a short time, the two Tigers of Carius and Kerscher had knocked out 17 Russian tanks including the new JS-1. The Russians were taken by surprise and their quick and accurate perception of the situation were the main factors that led the two Tigers to victory. The achievement of Carius and Kerscher at Malinava is on the same level as the famous action of Michael Wittmann at Villers Bocage. He ended the war with a total score of 107. Albert Kerscher passed away on 12th June 2011.|
Gerhard Fischer (deceased)
|German Army Panzer Tank Ace - Knights Cross. Awarded the Knights Cross.|
Oberstleutnant Alfred Rubbel (deceased)
|Alfred Rubbel was born in Tilsit on June 28, 1921, and volunteered for the Wehrmacht at the age of eighteen. After his basic training in the infantry replacement regiment 21 and his transfer to the armoured weapon, Alfred Rubbel began the Russian campaign on 22nd June 1942 in the 9th Panzer Regiment 29 of the 12th Panzer Division. First as a charge guard in the chief battalion, then as a guardsman, he experienced the rapid advance of the Army Group to the east. In the fighting around Leningrad on September 3rd, 1941, wounded by grenade splinters, he was transferred to the homeland. In January 1942 he returned to his unit, he took part in the fighting at the Volkhov. After refreshing and rebuilding his company in Silesia, he returned to Panzer Regiment 4 with the long-handled cannon to the Eastern Front. As an unofficial and tank commander, his path led him on a long Panzer raid to the West Caucasus, where the battles in Eastern Caucasus were connected between September and December 1942. In December 1942, he and his comrades in Putlos and Paderborn began the conversion to Panzer VI Tiger. Went to 503th Panzer Division 503, and set in the railway transport in the direction of Rostov, he took part in the retreat to the Dnieper and the battle for the Kessel of Cherkassy as a Panzer commander at Operation Zitadelle, the largest tank battle of the Second World War. After officers' training courses in Ohrdruf and Krampnitz in December 1944, he moved to the 3rd Panzer Division 503, he fought in the King (Tiger II) in Hungary and Austria. At the end of the war, lieutenant of the reserve Alfred Rubbel can look back on a total balance of 57 tank victories in 79 Panzer battles on 81 deployments in the tank and 41 months on the front. He was awarded the Iron Cross I and II. Rubbel was a close friend of Kurt Knispel, a fellow tank commander of Pz Abt 503 and top-scoring Panzer Ace.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Me109||Willy Messerschmitt designed the BF109 during the early 1930s. The Bf109 was one of the first all metal monocoque construction fighters with a closed canopy and retractable undercarriage. The engine of the Me109 was a V12 aero engine which was liquid-cooled. The Bf109 first saw operational service during the Spanish Civil War and flew to the end of World War II, during which time it was the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter squadrons. During the Battle of Britian the Bf109 was used in the role of an escort fighter, a role for which it was not designed for, and it was also used as a fighter bomber. During the last days of May 1940 Robert Stanford-Tuck, the RAF ace, got the chance to fly an Me109 which they had rebuilt after it had crash landed. Stanford-Tuck found out that the Me109 was a wonderful little plane, it was slightly faster than the Spitfire, but lacked the Spitfire manoeuvrability. By testing the Me109, Tuck could put himself inside the Me109 when fighting them, knowing its weak and strong points. With the introduction of the improved Bf109F in the spring of 1941, the type again proved to be an effective fighter during the invasion of Yugoslavia and during the Battle of Crete and the invasion of Russia and it was used during the Siege of the Mediteranean island of Malta. The Bf109 was the main fighter for the Luftwaffe until 1942 when the Fw190 entered service and shared this position, and was partially replaced in Western Europe, but the Me109 continued to serve on the Eastern Front and during the defence of the Reich against the allied bombers. It was also used to good effect in the Mediterranean and North Africa in support of The Africa Korps. The Me109 was also supplied to several German allies, including Finland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovakia. The Bf109 scored more kills than any other fighter of any country during the war and was built in greater numbers with a total of over 31,000 aircraft being built. The Bf109 was flown by the three top German aces of the war war. Erich Hartmann with 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories and Gunther Rall with 275 kills. Bf109 pilots were credited with the destruction of 100 or more enemy aircraft. Thirteen Luftwaffe Aces scored more than 200 kills. Altogether this group of pilots were credited with a total of nearly 15,000 kills, of which the Messerschmitt Bf109 was credited with over 10,000 of these victories. The Bf109 was the most produced warplane during World War II, with 30,573 examples built during the war, and the most produced fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945. Bf109s remained in foreign service for many years after World War II. The Swiss used their Bf109Gs well into the 1950s. The Finnish Air Force did not retire their Bf109Gs until March 1954. Romania used its Bf109s until 1955. The Spanish Hispanos flew even longer. Some were still in service in the late 1960s.|
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