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|Signatures on this item|
Hans Rudel (deceased)
|Hans Rudel, born in July 1916, was the most decorated Nazi pilot. In 2,530 combat missions flying dive-bombers, mainly on the Russian front, Rudel was credited with destroying 519 tanks, 150 gun emplacements and 800 combat vehicles of various types. According to Luftwaffe records, he also sunk a Russian battleship, a cruiser, a destroyer, 70 smaller craft and numerous trains. For this he was awarded the Golden Oakleaves with Sword and Diamonds to the Knights Cross. He was the only recipient of this award. He was also the first German pilot to reach 1,000 sorties. Of his over 2530 sorties, some 400 were in the Focke-Wulf 190 fighter, in which he was credited with 11 air victories. He was so effective that Joseph Stalin himself put a price of 100,00 rubles on his head. He flew more than 600,000 km; fired over 1,000,000 machine gun rounds; dropped over 1,000,000kg of bombs; fired over 150,000 rounds of 20mm ammunition and over 5,000 rounds of 37mm ammunition. He hated to take home leave or sick leave and even after he had his leg amputated, he was back in the air within weeks. He did not limit his attacks to Russian tanks, trains, ships or aircraft. On more than one occasion when food was in short supply, he would bomb rivers and both the German airmen and Russian civilians would feast on the stunned fish that floated to the surface. Rudel was shot down several times, but escaped serious injury until April 1945, when he lost a leg in combat. Rudel flew the Ju87 B-2 Stuka dive bomber and, in all of its ugliness, the bomber was made famous by him. His accomplishments with an aircraft that was outdated and vulnerable were incredible. He was captured by Allied forces at the end of the war, and released from a POW camp in April 1946. He died 18th December 1982. |
The signatures : Hans Rudel had arranged to be interviewed by a professor of military history, who was also an author, in 1982. Many similar interviews had been conducted with other military heroes, during which the interviewee had signed various photographs, blank sheets and bookplates for use in the author's publications, although many were never published as intended. Rudel was also due to sign such items. However, the interview had been arranged to be conducted at a Luftwaffe reunion, which Rudel could not attend due to ill health. However, a friend of Rudel's, a RCAF mechanic, took the items to him to be signed, which they duly were, although Rudel died before any interview could take place. Cranston Fine Arts purchased the signatures from the original collection. All signatures on prints are therefore 'mounted' signatures, placed in a mount with the print, rather than the print itself being signed.
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 Franz Kieslich (deceased)
|Franz Kieslich born in Bochum ion 12th March 1913 and served with 7./St.G. 77 in France in 1940, and later serving in Yugoslavia. Transferring to the Russian Front he was promoted Gruppenadjutant III./St.G. 77. And in October 1942 became Staffelkapitan 7./St.G. 77. In February 1944 he was promoted Kommandeur III./SG 77. He fought at Stalingrad, Kursk, Kiev and most of the other major engagements on the Eastern Front. In February1945 he became Kommodore erganzungs-SG148. Awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, he flew over 1000 combat missions, and had been shot down twenty times. His wards were awarded Ritterkreuz on 05.01.1943 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän 7./StukaG 77 and ( 619 ). Eichenlaub on 10.10.1944 as Hauptmann and Kommandeur III./StukaG 77. He passed away on 31st August 2012.|
|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.|
|Ju87||By 1935 the German Luftwaffe was developing its first monoplane divebomber which entered production in 1936 as the Ju87 Stuka. The Stuka was to evolve into arguably the most successful single engine Axis divebomber of WW II. Utilizing a nearly vertical dive position the Stuka was stunningly accurate in the days when horizontal bombing was a relatively inaccurate science. The Ju87 was built for functionality and ruggedness. A fixed landing gear and exceptionally strong wing design were incorporated and no attempt was made to minimize protrusions. The Stuka was not designed for speed; it was an aerodynamic nightmare. The Stuka also incorporated a siren which when activated during a dive was designed to inflict psychological damage on the enemy below. The Ju87 was used with tremendous success in the Blitzkrieg attacks on Norway, Poland, Belgium, France, Holland, Yugoslavia, and Greece. Virtually unchallenged in the air during these Blitzkriegs the Stukas took a devastating toll on Allied ground and mechanized forces. Shipping was also vulnerable to the pinpoint attacks of the Stuka, and the Ju87 destroyed more Allied shipping than all other German aircraft put together during WW II. During Hitlers air attacks on Britain the Stukas reputation for invulnerability was shattered. Facing British Hurricanes and Spitfires the slower and less maneuverable Ju87s were destroyed in large numbers, eventually forcing their withdrawal from that conflict. Germanys attempt to develop an improved twin engine divebomber resulted in the introduction of the Messerschmitt 210 which was an unmitigated disaster. As a result, the Stuka remained in production longer than expected and the aircraft played a major role in Germanys surprise attack on Russia. In the first day of combat alone Stukas were credited with the destruction of over 700 Russian aircraft with minimal losses. One of Germanys top aces of WW II was Hans-Ulrich Rudel. Rudel flew over 2,500 combat missions in Ju87s, and was shot down on twelve occasions. Rudel was credited with destroying 519 tanks, 800 vehicles, 150 artillery pieces, one Russian battleship, one cruiser and one destroyer. Rudel was also credited with shooting down nine Russian aircraft in air-to-air combat.|
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