With Mussolini’s army faring badly in North Africa, Hitler quickly recognized that he would have no option but to give his Italian ally substantial military assistance. It came in the form of Generalleutnant Erwin Rommel who, on 12 February 1941, landed in Tripoli ready to take command of a new German army being dispatched to Libya. Its name was soon to be famous around the world – the Afrika Korps.
Assigned to their support was I./JG27 under the command of Eduard Neumann, one of the most respected Luftwaffe fighter leaders of World War 2. The Gruppe was made up of veterans who’d taken part in the French campaign and the Battle of Britain so it didn’t take long for Neumann’s pilots to make their presence felt; on their first combat mission from Ain el-Gazala on 19 April they claimed the destruction of four RAF Hurricanes and in the process notched up the Gruppe’s 100th victory of the war so far.
With the arrival of the rest of the Gruppe from Russia at the end of 1941, JG27 would spend the next year defending Rommel’s front line in North Africa, their name indelibly linked to the Western Desert. And it was here that Neumann would mentor Hans-Joachim Marseilles who, awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, scored all but seven of his 158 victories in the Western Desert to become one of the highest-scoring Luftwaffe Aces in history.
The print is signed by an astonishing collection of Luftwaffe veterans including the legendary Eduard Neumann and three other Aces who flew in combat with him in the Western Desert, creating a historic collector’s piece.
Oberst EDUARD NEUMANN German Cross in Gold – 13 victories
Generalmajor FRIEDRICH KÖRNER Knights Cross – 36 victories
Hauptmann FRITZ KELLER – 13 victories
Ambassador FRANZ ELLES – 5 victories
This print is additionally framed and conservation matted to include the original autograph of a further Luftwaffe Ace who flew in Africa during WWII:
Major ERICH RUDORFFER Knights Cross with Oak Leaves & Swords – 222 victories