JG-52 was the most successful fighter wing of the Luftwaffe during World War II. Initially based in Germany, the Wing flew against the French before taking on the R.A.F. Spitfires and Hurricanes in earnest during the battle for France and the Battle of Britain. During this intense period of air-fighting the Wing lost many pilots and, in October 1940, it withdrew to rebuild. After the fall of Crete JG-52 assumed the first fighter role in Southern Russia and it was on the Russian Front that the Wing’s greatest Aces notched up their substantial scores.
Though conditions were often appalling, the pilots of JG-52 flew a tremendous number of missions. The Wing lost 678 of its aircrew in achieving 10,000 aerial victories during its campaign, sixty seven pilots being awarded the Knight’s Cross or higher decorations. JG-52’s top ten scoring fighter pilots achieved an astonishing 2286 aerial victories between them, and the only two Aces in history to destroy more than 300 enemy aircraft, Hartmann and Barkhorn, flew in this historic Fighter Wing.
Appropriately, Robert Taylor selected the aircraft of JG-52 as a subject for inclusion in his Protagonists Series, resulting in this spectacular scene depicting the Bf109s of this famous Wing in full cry. Filling his canvas is the awesome sight of a Messerschmitt Bf-109G as it powers through a flight of Russian Yak 9s, his wingman narrowly missing a damaged enemy fighter as they speed headlong through the formation. Robert’s mastery of painting the sky provides a great feeling of height, distance and speed, and his uncanny ability to portray realism makes the leading Me109 appear almost to fly out of the canvas. Way below this magnificent panorama of cloud patterns, unseen, the armored divisions slug it out on the forbidding Russian Front.
This print sold out immediately upon release in 1992 due to the powerful, evocative image as well as the signatures from six of the Luftwaffe’s greatest fighter pilots. It has become one of the most desired and difficult to find prints in the secondary market. We are very fortunate to have come across a copy, and we are – truth be told – a bit reluctant to part with it!
These six legendary pilots amassed a staggering total of 1,255 aerial victories between them, and every one was awarded the Knight’s Cross.
Oberst ERICH HARTMANN Knights Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords & Diamonds (The highest scoring Ace in history with 352 victories)
Generalmajor DIETRICH HRABAK Knights Cross with Oak Leaves (125 victories)
Oberst HERBERT IHLEFELD Knights Cross with Oak Leaves & Swords (130 victories)
Generalleutnant WALTER KRUPINSKI Knights Cross with Oak Leaves (197 victories)
Generalleutnant GÜNTHER RALL Knights Cross with Oak Leaves & Swords (275 victories)
General JOHANNES “MACKY” STEINHOFF Knights Cross with Oak Leaves & Swords (176 victories)