Change to the Flight Plan
by Robert Taylor
With a tank-busting Ju87G Stuka behind him re-armed and ready for action, Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel, Geschwaderkommodore of SG2, identifies some last minute changes to the flight plan during the concluding months of 1945.
On 1 January 1945 newly promoted Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel, commanding officer of Schlachtgeschwader 2, stood before Hitler. He was about to become the first and only recipient of Germany’s highest award for gallantry, the Knight’s Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, and the most decorated German serviceman of the war. Amongst those present to witness the historic event were Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, Chief of the Supreme High Command of the German Armed Forces, his deputy Generaloberst Alfred Jodl, and Grand-Admiral Karl Dönitz, Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine.
Rudel was not a typical Luftwaffe Ace. Seeing action exclusively on the Eastern Front, he was primarily a Stuka pilot responsible for destroying over 500 Russian tanks, 150 pieces of artillery, some 800 enemy vehicles and four armoured trains along with the destruction of a Russian battleship, a cruiser, a destroyer and 70 landing craft. In addition to numerous bridges, bunkers and roads demolished he and his gunner claimed over 50 aerial victories. His flying career encompassed a record-breaking 2,530 combat missions in which he was shot down by ground fire over 30 times. His list of wounds included the amputation of his right leg below the knee in February 1945 yet, not to be deterred, he returned to combat flying just six weeks later.
Alongside his impressive record as a Stuka dive-bombing Ace, Rudel would pioneer a new lease of life for the ageing Ju87, developing it into a formidable ground-attack tank- buster by equipping it with two 37mm flak guns slung under the wings. It is one of these Stuka tank-busters that forms the backdrop to Robert Taylor’s detailed drawing Change to the Flight Plan, a compelling masterpiece depicting Rudel during the final months of the war.
|Overall size: 19½" x 25¼"||Available in the following editions||Image size: 10½" x 19½"|
|17||Veteran's edition||Matted with the wartime signature of Hans-Ulrich Rudel and four additional Stuka pilots.||$1395|
|Faithfully reproduced as a high quality giclée fine art print on textured velvet paper, the historical importance of this extremely limited edition is highlighted by the inclusion of the original autograph of the legendary Ace depicted. Alongside are the original autographs of a further four eminent Luftwaffe veterans who flew Stukas during the war, including one of Rudel’s wingmen.|
|Oberst Hans-Ulrich Rudel
Hans-Ulrich Udel was the most highly decorated German serviceman of World War II, the only person to be awarded the Knight’s Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds. Flying his first combat mission in 1941, he became the first pilot to fly over 1,000 combat sorties in 1943, becoming Gruppenkommandeur of III./St.G.2 in 1944.
|Oberleutnant Helmut Fickel
With III./St.G.2, Helmut Fickel was one of Rudel’s wingmen on anti-tank operations, as well as a successful tank-buster himself. In 1944 he was rescued by Rudel after crash landing behind enemy lines. Promoted to Staffelkapitän of 9./St.G.2 in 1944, he led it until the end of the war. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross.
|Major Franz Kieslich
Franz Kieslich first flew with 7./St.G.77 in France before seeing action in the Balkans and Russia. In October 1942, he was promoted to Staffelkapitän of 7./St.G.77 and in January 1944 became Kommandeur of III./St.G.77. He flew 1078 missions and was shot down 20 times having destroyed 21,500 tonnes of shipping, a destroyer and a submarine to name but a few. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves.
|Oberst Kurt Kuhlmey
‘The Prince of El Hakhin’ flew in Poland, Norway and France as Staffelkapitän of 1./St.G.1, before flying operations against Malta and in North Africa. Promoted Kommandeur of II./St.G.3, and later Kommandeur of St.G.3 he fought on the Eastern Front and in Finland. His last combat post was Kommandeur if St.G.2 Immelmann. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross.
|Oberstleutnant Hans-Karl Stepp
Awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Hans-Karl Stepp took part in the Polish, French, Balkan and Crete operations. He was Staffelkapitän of 7./St.G.2 in 1942, and later Gruppenkommandeur of I./St.G.5, and Kommandeur of II./St.G.2. and Kommandeur of St.G.2.
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