The eerie world of the night-fighter was a far cry from the swashbuckling cut and thrust of the day-time aerial dogfights. It took inordinate flying skills, teamwork, patience, and nerves of steel to achieve success in the dark when all that could be seen of the enemy was the tell-tale glow of an engine exhaust.
From the spring of 1940 Germany had developed their night-fighting aircraft and honed their skills to combat the nightly bombing raids of the RAF. By 1944 the Luftwaffe had sophisticated electronic range-finding and navigation equipment fitted to their night-fighters, and their skilled crews had become adept at intercepting the British heavy bombers under cover of darkness.
As the war progressed and proficiency increased, the greatest fear of the RAF bomber crews as they approached their targets was the ever-present danger of the marauding Luftwaffe night-fighters. Each night a deadly game of hide-and seek was played out in the skies above the Reich.
Messerschmitt 110s, JU-88s, and the specifically developed Heinkel 219 would rise up into the darkening skies from bases in the Rohr to await the arrival of the RAF heavies. Loitering singly and in pairs, they would infiltrate the bomber streams, each crew using their own individual method of hunting and attack. They seldom came home empty handed.
Based in the Rühr Valley in 1944, NJG-1 was among the most successful nightfighter units, being credited with 2173 night victories and another 145 scored in daylight. Nicolas Trudgian's emotive new painting recreates a scene from one of this successful unit's missions on the night of November 2,1944.
Ten aircraft took off to intercept a major raid on Dusseldorf, the night witnessing a fierce battle high above the darkened city. NGJ-1 crews assisted with the downing of 19 RAF bombers, one Luftwaffe pilot being credited with no fewer than 6 victories that night.
Seen in Nick's painting are a Heinkel 219 and a Messerschmitt I 10 climbing out from their base at Münster Handorf, as they set out on their deadly mission. Below them the spectacular Rühr Valley is vibrant in its mantle of winter's first snowfall. A moving and evocative rendition, made all the more poignant by the signatures of 3 leading World War 11 Luftwaffe nightfighter aircrew on each print in the edition.
OVERALL SIZE 34" WIDE X 23" WIDE