The deafening sound of piston-engined aircraft scrambling from an airfield in anger was a heart-stopping event regularly witnessed on both sides of the Channel throughout the summer of 1940. The sight of so many fighters climbing into battle was as thrilling as it was dangerous for the pilots jockeying with each other in their rush to get airborne.
The Luftwaffe fought the Battle of Britain from airfields situated mainly in France, Belgium and Holland, the greatest concentration being in the Pas de Calais, where the distance to the English coast is a mere 22 miles. Fighter squadrons were scattered throughout the French countryside, and from these airfields flew the Luftwaffe’s battle-hardened fighter pilots, many already with dozens of victories to their name. Each day, weather permitting, they flew free-hunting patrols across the Channel and along the coast of Kent, aggressively looking for action. The sheer numbers of German aircraft crossing the Channel each day made victory seem a foregone conclusion; but for the resilience, courage, and devotion of the RAF fighter pilots, and the flawed tactics of Reichmarschall Goering, it probably would have been.
Nicolas Trudgian’s new painting recreates a typical scene as the Me109s of
JG 3, under the command of Hans von Hahn, and sporting the group’s colourful Dragon emblem on their cowlings, scramble from their base at Colombert, near Calais, heading for the battle front. Each print is individually signed by two veteran Luftwaffe fighter Aces who flew in the Battle of Britain, adding great collectability to this superb new issue.