by Robert Taylor
"Stormbirds Rising captures a scene during the final weeks of the war as Leutnant Hermann Buchner, by now one of the most famous jet Aces and recipient of the coveted Knight’s Cross, joins his fellow pilots of III./JG7 as they climb to intercept a large formation of American bombers having just left their base at Parchim. Below them the tranquillity of the meandering River Havel, flowing gracefully through the countryside west of Berlin, is in stark contrast to the deadly encounters that will soon take place overhead.
|The Museum Presentation|
This seven signature 'Aces' edition print is triple-matted using conservation grade materials, and includes the extremely rare wartime signature of Walter Nowotny. Also featured is an artifact from the war period, an original WWII Luftwaffe officer's breast eagle.The mount also includes the signatures of Gen. Adolf Galland and Fw190 top cover pilot for Kammando Nowotny, Gerhard Kroll.
|Overall size: 26⅞" x 34"||Shipping is free within the continental United States.(not available for delivery outside the U.S.)|
|Museum Presentation||matted with Nowotny, Galland and Kroll signatures and WWII Lufwaffe officers breast eagle.|
|Hpt. Walter Nowotny - KC Oak Leaves Swords & Diamonds / 258 vic.||Gen. Adolf Galland - KC Oak Leaves Swords & Diamonds / 104 vic.|
|Unteroffizier Gerhard Kroll||Oberst Hermann Buchner - Knight’s Cross / 58 victories|
|Maj. Erich Rudorffer - KC with Oak Leaves & Swords / 222 victories||Oblt. Wolfgang Wollenweber - Iron Cross First Class|
|Oberleutnant Walter Schuck - KC with Oak Leaves / 206 victories||Leutnant Jorg Czypionka - Iron Cross / 2 victories|
|Leutnant Alfred Ambs - 7 victories||Leutnant Norbert Hannig - Iron Cross First Class / 42 victories|
Original WWII Luftwaffe officer's breast eagle included in the mount.
(These differed from those worn by enlisted men and NCOs in that each one was hand embroidered with silver thread.)
|Walter Nowotny - (matted signature)
Walter Nowotny joined the Luftwaffe on 1 October 1939 and following flight training at Jagdfliegerschule 5 was transferred to the I./Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe Merseburg on 16 November 1940, flying fighter cover for the Leuna industrial works. From 25 March 1941 to 10 March 1942, he flew with the Stabsstaffel of the Ergänzungs-Jagdgruppe JG 54 where he was promoted to Leutnant on 1 April 1941.
Nowotny flew a Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-7 "White 2" on his 24th operational mission on 19 July 1941 and claimed his first two enemy aircraft, both Polikarpov I-153 biplanes over Saaremaa. He was shot down in the same engagement by Aleksandr Avdeyev, and spent three days in a dinghy in the Gulf of Riga until finally being washed ashore on the Latvian coast. For the rest of his combat career, Nowotny always wore the trousers that he had worn during those three days in the Gulf of Riga - with one exception, his last sortie, at Achmer on 8 November 1944, when he was killed flying the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter.
After having downed three enemy aircraft on 11 August 1942, Leutnant Nowotny carried out three victory passes over the airfield, despite having sustained combat damage to his own Bf 109 "Black 1". In the subsequent landing, his aircraft somersaulted and he sustained moderate injuries. In January 1943, JG 54 started converting to the Focke-Wulf 190. With the new aircraft Nowotny scored at an unprecedented "kill" rate, often averaging more than two planes a day for weeks on end. Nowotny was promoted to Hauptmann on 21 September 1943. On 14 October 1943, he became the first pilot to reach 250 victories, following his 442 combat missions. Nowotny was celebrating this feat in the Ria Bar in Vilna when he received a phone call from Hitler himself, announcing that he had been awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. He claimed his final two aerial victories on the Eastern Front on 15 November 1943. In total, he had claimed 255 confirmed kills plus a further 50 unconfirmed, before he was taken off combat duty.
In September 1944, Nowotny was made commander of a specialist unit dubbed Kommando Nowotny, flying the newly developed Me 262 out of airfields near Osnabrück. On 8 November 1944, news reached the command post of a large bomber formation approaching. Two Rotten of Me 262 were prepared for take-off, Erich Büttner and Franz Schall at Hesepe, and Nowotny and Günther Wegmann at Achmer. At first only Schall and Wegmann managed to take off because Büttner had a punctured tire during taxiing and Nowotny's turbines initially refused to start. With some delay, Nowotny took off and engaged the enemy on his own, Schall and Wegmann having since retired from the action after sustaining battle damage. Nowotny radioed that he had downed a B-24 Liberator and a P-51 Mustang before he reported one engine failing and made one final transmission, his last words were, "I'm on fire" or "it's on fire". The words were slightly garbled.
Walter Nowotny flew over 442 missions in achieving 258 victories.
|Original wartime signature of Walter Nowotny
|Adolf Galland - (matted signature)
Adolf “Dolfo” Galland was born on 19 March 1912 at Westerholt, Westphalia. At the age of 17 he started flying gliders, and began flying for Lufthansa after graduating from the German Commercial Air Transport School at Brunswick. In February 1934, he joined the Luftwaffe, by April 1935 he was a fighter pilot with Jagdgeschwader 2 “Richtofen”. In 1937, he volunteered for service with the Condor Legion in Spain. Galland was put in command of 3 Staffel of J/88, completing 280 combat sorties before being relieved by Werner Mölders in mid-1938. When World War 2 broke out Oberleutnant Galland was a Staffelkapitän of 4.(S)/LG 2 equipped with the Henschel Hs 123, a biplane Stuka. He took part in the invasion of Poland flying 50 ground attack missions. Galland was posted away to JG 27 at Krefeld, arriving there on 15 February 1940. He was assigned to the Geschwaderstab and assumed the role of Geschwader Adjutant. On 12 May, west of Liege, Belgium, he scored his first aerial victory. Two more victories followed that day. All three victims were RAF Hurricanes. By the end of the French campaign he had accumulated 14 victories. On 6 June 1940, Hauptmann Galland was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 26. Promoted Major on 18 July, Galland stayed with III./JG 26 through the Battle of Britain.
On 1 November 1940, Galland was promoted to Oberstleutnant and given command of JG 26. On 21 June 1941, Galland was shot down, by the Polish ace Boleslaw Drobinski of 303 Sqn, RAF, and baled out wounded. Galland had, by now, been ordered by Hitler and Göring not to fly combat missions. However, he disregarded these orders and continued to rack up aerial victories. On the death of Oberst Werner Mölders on 22 November 1941, Galland was named General der Jagdflieger. Before settling into his new job, Oberst Galland directed the fighter protection for the Channel dash of the battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, from Brest. Galland became one of the most controversial figures of his time through his skirmishes with Reichsmarschal Göring and his frank addresses to Hitler when he emphasized the need for more fighters to oppose the increasingly intense allied bombing raids over Germany. Galland’s contemporaries in combat commands eventually began planning to force Göring’s resignation, by seeking an audience with Hitler. Although Galland took no direct part in such activities, Göring attributed the incipient mutiny to Galland, sacked him and prepared a trial. Hitler intervened but then insisted, as an end to the “Galland affair”, that he be given command of a unit of jet fighters. Galland led JV 44 until 26 April 1945 gaining up to seven victories flying the Me 262 jet fighter. On that day day he was bounced by a P-47 flown by 1st Lt James J Finnegan of the 50th Fighter Group, USAAF. Galland was wounded in the right knee and his aircraft received further damage. He was able to bring his crippled jet back to München-Reim and successfully land, but the wounds suffered in this encounter were serious enough to end his combat flying. Galland surrendered himself to American forces at Tegernsee on 5 May 1945. He was held in military custody for two years. He was released in 1947. Adolf Galland passed away on 9 February 1996 at Remagen-Oberwinter.
Galland achieved 104 aerial victories in 705 missions, all on the Western front. Included in his score are at least seven victories flying the Me 262 and four four-engined bombers. He was himself shot down four times.
|matted signature of Adolf Galland
Gerhard Kroll - (matted signature)
Gerhard Kroll served with 9./J.G. 54 in 1944 and 1945 flying D-9s as top cover for Kommando Nowotny’s Me 262s., and then with 15./J.G. 26 after the Staffel was re-designated. He crashed on 1 January 1945 during Operation Bodenplatte while flying with 9./J.G. 54, in an FW 190 D-9 marked 'Blue 19 + ' borrowed from I./J.G. 26. He spent two weeks in hospital as a result, before returning to his unit. On 25 March 1945 he was flying with 15./J.G. 26 as Oblt. Willi Heilmann's wingman, and was shot down and wounded in an FW 190 D-9 marked 'Yellow 15 + ' north-west of Bocholt at 15:00. In mid-April 1945 he was assigned to the convalescent Staffel of II./J.G. 26.
|matted signature of Gerhard Kroll