Italian Re.2001 fighters of 2° Gruppo, Regia Aeronautica engage Spitfire Mk Vs of 249 Sqn over the Grand Harbour on the island of Malta, Spring 1942. Desperately needed by the Axis Forces and defended by the RAF, this strategically important island in the Mediterranean became the target of some of the heaviest bombing and most intense fighting of WWII.
Following the Italian Declaration of War against Britain in the summer of 1940, it became clear to the German High Command that taking control of the island of Malta would be crucial if the German and Italian forces were to succeed in North Africa. This tiny British colony in the Mediterranean sat in the middle of Axis supply lines and allowed the Royal Navy and RAF to launch submarines and torpedo carrying aircraft to wreak havoc on Axis shipping, severely impacting Rommel’s desert forces
From June 1940 to November 1942 Malta became one of the most intensely contested and heavily bombed areas in the world. The Axis resolved to obliterate the island or starve its people into submission, and Malta came under continual day and night bombardment from the combined strengths of the Luftwaffe and Italian Regia Aeronautica. But the Axis forces were not prepared for the sheer determination and resolve of Malta’s defenders and its people.
Desperately keeping their worn-out Hurricanes flying, the RAF pilots continued their fight against Axis air and naval forces, despite German and Italian air superiority. Severe rationing hit morale, but the island held on.
Finally in March 1942 Churchill ordered the latest Spitfires to Malta. Supported by the US Navy and American Merchant ships, the island was supplied with Spitfires from HMS Eagle and then USS Wasp in April during Operation Calendar and, while many of these fighters were soon destroyed, more were supplied in May and June. Although still heavily outnumbered, the men of the RAF were gaining air superiority – the tide was beginning to turn.
When the Battle for Malta effectively ended in November 1942, it was a significant victory for the RAF against truly overwhelming odds, just as the Battle of Britain had been two years earlier. The RAF’s desperate fight to retain control of this tiny Mediterranean island, and the defiant courage of the people of Malta, is one of the epic stories of WWII.
This powerful piece by John Shaw, one of the world’s foremost Aviation and Military Artists, is reproduced from his original work in graphite, capturing the ferocity of the air war over Malta when the Axis air forces were at their maximum strength.
With editions including the original autographs of Pilots who flew with the RAF, Italy and Luftwaffe over Malta and the Mediterranean, this stunning edition represents a historical account of this crucial and decisive period.
John’s exquisite pencil work is seldom available as a print edition, making this a rare collector’s opportunity.
THE LIMITED EDITION
Each print is individually numbered and signed by the artist John Shaw
THE COLLECTORS EDITION
Limited to 25 copies worldwide, each print is conservation matted to include reproduction RAF and Italian Regia Aeronautica Pilot’s Wings, along with the original autographs of eight fighter pilots who flew over Malta and the Mediterranean. Included are Aces from the Italian Air Force, the RAF and the Luftwaffe:
Lieutenant Colonel COSTANTINO PETROSELLINI – 8th Gruppo, 92 Sqn / 5 victories
Group Captain BILLY DRAKE DSO DFC* – Krendi Spitfire Wing Leader / 24 ½ victories
General JOHANNES “MACKY” STEINHOFF Knights Cross with Oak Leaves & Swords – JG77 / 176 victories
Squadron Leader HARRY MOON – 249 Sqn
Wing Commander TOM NEIL DFC* AFC – 249 Sqn / 14 victories
Flight Lieutenant KEITH LAWRENCE DFC – 185 Sqn / 5 victories
Squadron Leader CYRIL “BAM” BAMBERGER DFC – 261 Sqn, 185 Squadron / 6 victories
Group Captain ANTHONY R.F. “TOMMY” THOMPSON DFC – 249 Sqn / 1 ½ victories
THE MATTED REMARQUE EDITIONS
Issued specially for the serious collector, each print in these exclusive editions will have an original pencil drawing created in the lower border of the print. There are two editions, the first limited to 15 prints worldwide, will have Remarque created on one side of the print. The second, exclusively limited to just 5 copies, will have two Remarque drawings created, covering both sides of the print.
Each remarqued print is conservation matted with all of the components of the Collector’s edition but includes the original autographs of a further three Fighter Pilots who flew in Malta and the Battle for the Mediterranean, creating an exclusive eleven signature edition:
Squadron Leader PERCIVAL GRAHAM LEGGETT – 249 Sqn / 2 victories
Hauptmann ERNST-WILHELM REINERT Knights Cross with Oak Leaves – JG77 / 174 victories
Flight Lieutenant KEN EVANS DFC – 126 Sqn / 5 victories
Renowned for his meticulous detail, John is able to capture in pencil, exquisite works of art that are simply breathtaking, making his remarques highly sought after collector’s pieces.