At the beginning of 1945 it was plain that Germany would lose the war. The incessant air raids were inexorably destroying the Nazi war machine reducing supplies to the front lines to a crawl. Yet Germany fought doggedly on. Its fighter pilots had known nothing different since 1939 – many of those still surviving had flown five years of combat virtually without a break.
If the Allies were controlling the skies nobody had told the seasoned Luftwaffe pilots who continued to intercept the massed daylight raids with great determination. The long range capabilities of the 8th Air Forces may have allowed fighter escort all the way to the target and back, but the heavy bombers were still being knocked down in numbers, and the American fighter pilots had their work cut out every time the German fighters appeared.
Robert’s iconic scene depicts a dramatic clash between the USAAF and the Luftwaffe in January 1945. P-51 Mustangs of the 357th Fighter Group, escorting a heavy bomber raid deep into enemy territory, engage a strong force of Me109s. A massive dog-fight ensues high over the Rhine, drawing interceptors away from the bomber force – a partial victory in itself. But the battle is by no means over.
Captain Robert Foy of 363rd Squadron engages one of the Me109s in a daring head-on pass whilst P-47 Thunderbolts of 56th Fighter Group climb to give support. Ominously, more Luftwaffe fighters are joining the fray. The action is painted in a peerless cloudscape, giving huge distance and depth to what is a classic World War II air combat picture.
Four distinguished 8th Air Force Aces join three high scoring Luftwaffe Aces to authenticate Robert Taylor’s portrayal of the battle for air supremacy in the closing months of World War II.
Colonel CLARENCE E “BUD” ANDERSON
Lieutenant Colonel ERNEST BANKEY –
Colonel DONALD CUMMINGS – 38th FG Mustang Ace / 6 ½ victories including 2 jets
Colonel WALKER “BUD” MAHURIN
Generalleutnant GÜNTHER RALL KC WITH OAK LEAVES AND SWORDS
Oberfeldwebel HELMUT RÜFFLER KC
Hauptmann HANS WEIK KC
This stunning piece is one of the most sought after in Robert Taylor’s extensive portfolio and now seldom becomes available on the secondary market.