On 8 May 1945, the last day of the war in Europe, Erich Hartmann took off for one final mission. Over the city of Brno in Czechoslovakia, he spotted a pair of enemy Yak-9s performing impromptu aerobatics for Soviet troops on the ground. Hartmann, however, upstaged the show and promptly shot one of them down! It was his 352nd aerial victory, a total never likely to be surpassed.
To achieve such feats his tactics were simple – “Get in so close and you cannot miss.” Words easily said, but doing so required extreme courage and exceptional flying skills, qualities that Hartmann possessed in abundance. During some 1400 combat missions in the hazardous skies over the Eastern Front he was never shot down through enemy action yet still survived 14 crash-landings, many were the result of damage from the flying debris of his victims.
Flying Bf109s for his entire career, almost exclusively with JG52, Erich Hartmann never lost a wingman and, awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, became one of the Luftwaffe’s most highly decorated Aces. It is said that his reputation and the sight of his all-too-familiar Messerschmitt, nose adorned with his distinctive “Black Tulip” markings, was enough to make many an enemy pilot take to their heels. Most, however, never got a chance to escape.
One of Robert Taylor’s most iconic paintings – Ace of Aces features Hartmann leading a Schwarm of Bf109s from JG52 as they begin their attack. Originally published in 1988, this print has gone on to become one of the most highly desired in the world, and is sold at tremendous value in the rare occasion it appears on the secondary market!
Each print in the edition is individually signed by the greatest fighter Ace in history:
Oberst ERICH HARTMANN KC WITH OAK LEAVES, SWORDS AND DIAMONDS
Stretched canvas reproduction, signed by the artist. Canvas size: 36″ wide x 24″ high.
Extra large canvas perfect for larger spaces such as reception halls, convention centers, hangars, exhibition displays and the like. Is shipped rolled, unstretched. Image size: 60″ wide x 38″ high.