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|Signatures on this item|
Feldwebel Heinz Radlauer
|Heinz Radlauer learnt to fly gliders in 1940, aged 17, and joined the Luftwaffe in August 1941. After Fighter School, in June 1944 he was posted to join JG51 Molders then fighting on the Eastern Front near Minsk, scoring his first victory in October of that year. Heinz Radlauer fleew the Bf109G, the Fw190A, and at the end of the war the Fw190D, by which time he had notched up over 100 combat missions, flying his last combat mission on 30th April 1945. Credited with 15 air victories, all on the Eastern Front, he was awarded the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class.|
Hannes Trautloft (deceased)
|Hannes Trautloft is one of the Luftwaffe's great fighter leaders, scoring his first air victory in the Spanish Civil War in August 1936. Returning to Germany in 1937 he joined the national aerobatics team flying the Me109. Soon after the outbreak of World War II, Hannes took command of I./JG20 taking part in the Battle of Britain, before moving to the Balkans as Kommodore of JG54. Now leading the group on the Russian Front, JG54 took part in the heavy fighting, first in the Me109, then the Fw190. In the summer of 1943 Hannes Trautloft joined General Galland's staff. As a 'mutineer' he was sacked by Goering, thus ending an illustrious combat career comprising 550 combat missions and 57 aerial victories. he died 11th January 1995.|
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.|
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.|
Major Heinz Lange (deceased)
|At the outbreak of war Heinz Lange was with I./JG21 scoring his first victory in October 1939. He flew 76 missions in the Battle of Britain with 8./JG54, and never lost a wingman. After flying in the Balkan campaign he took part in the invasion of Russia, scoring 7 victories during the first week. In October 1941 he was given command of 1./JG54 and in 1942 command of 3./JG51. In January 1944 Heinz Lange returned to JG54 to command 1.Gruppe and then back to JG51 where he was appointed Kommodore of JG51 Molders, leading IV./JG51 at the same time. Heinz Lange flew over 628 missions and achieved 70 victories. He was awarded the Knight's Cross. Born 2nd October 1917, died 26th February 2006.|
Oberleutnant Rolf Ebhardt
|Joined Luftwaffe in December 1941 and began flight training at Dresden in February 1942. Joined NJG 101 in December 1942 (night training unit) where he completed his specialist training. (In training flew Ju52, He111, Ju88, Do217 and Me109) As a newly promoted Leutnant he joined III/NJG 1 in Holland on 1st November 1943 and achieved his first night time victory on 26 April 1944. By the time of his eighth and last victory on 5 January 1945 he had flown 82 operations and been awarded the Iron Cross First and Second Class. All his ops were flown in Me110s.|
|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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