In the summer of 1940 a 20 year old captain, Hannes Trautloft took command of JG54. During the next three years this extraordinary fighter leader shaped the unit into one of the most successful combat fighter wings of World War II.
The Green Heart emblem of Trautloft’s home town Thuringischen, in the heart of Germany, became the groups symbol and the fighter pilots became famous as the Green Heart Warriors, carrying their reputation throughout almost every European theater. After campaigning in the Balkans, the unit moved to the Russian Front, were it flew Me190s and Fw190s in the heavy fighting of the Northern Region.
This powerful image portrays a typical scene on the Eastern Front in 1943: IL-2 Stormovicks have attacked a German armored division who have called for air support. JG 54 Green Hearts have quickly scrambled to the scene and have broken up the attack, downing several Russian aircraft during the encounter. In the foreground Trautloft’s Fw190 hurtles across the snow covered landscape whilst shooting down a IL-2. Behind him, two more Fw190’s give support while in the background the low-level aerial contest is furiously fought.
By the end of the war no fewer than twenty Green Heart Aces had achieved more than 100 air victories, its pilots collecting 58 Knights Cross awards.
The print is individually numbered and personally signed by the artist, along with four legendary Aces who flew with JG54, including their iconic leader, Hannes Trautloft.
Generalleutnant HANNES TRAUTLOFT – Knights Cross / 57 victories
Generalmajor DIETRICH HRABAK – Knights Cross with Oak Leaves 125 victories
Major FRANZ EISENACH – Knight’s Cross / 129 victories
Major HANS-EKKEHARD BOB – Knight’s Cross / 60 victories
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