Dawn on a crisp February morning in 1945 at Brandenburg-Briest. Walter Schuck returns to base after a brief test flight to discover the airstrip under attack!
Modern day world history would be quite different had German scientists and military architects been allowed free reign with the design and execution of their blueprints early in the European war. As far back as the mid 1930's these visionary engineers and military application designers had crafted exotic weapon concepts onto paper that catapulted air war into the 21st century. Their creations became known as 'wonder weapons' and encompassed the first operational jet aircraft (Me262), the rocket plane (Me163), and the intercontinental ballistic missile (V-2). These revelations no doubt came as a complete shock to the Allies when first encountered, to the extent that the eyewitnesses were not believed.
But the outcome of the war was another example of too little, too late. The tide had shifted in favor of the Allies, supported in large part by America's war production turning out planes, tanks and munitions, overwhelmed German industry. Fighting a continental war on two fronts was too much for these new weapons which were just entering combat service. They ultimately had minimal impact on reversing Germany's attempt at world domination.
Hitler's meddling in the design and implementation of these weapons played a large role in delaying them from entering the war at an earlier time, dooming the Reich's chances of turning the tide in their own favor.
Still, the designs of the world's first combat jet aircraft and its brief war record was exemplary. Flying at well over 100 mph faster than the fastest Allied aircraft, they raised havoc among bomber streams when they engaged them during the Allies daily missions to bomb Germany into submission. Flown by 'experten' pilots who had demonstrated mastery of combat flying, this weapon was a serious threat to the Allies.
Originally test flown in 1941 and available for combat in May of 1944, the 'Swallow' was vulnerable to attack when taking off or landing, because of the necessarily lower speed. It was on these occasions that the fighter pilots of the 8th and 9th AF learned to pounce on these jets.
In Robert Bailey's combat canvas, Walter Schuck aborts his landing at Brandenburg-Briest when he sees that it is under attack by American Mustangs. Fellow Luftwaffe jet pilots preparing to take off at the end of the runway firewall their Jumo jet engines to escape the rapidly escalating strike in the target rich environment. Specialized Me109's guarding the vulnerable jets pass overhead to engage the incoming threat of more P-51's. The air is tense with adrenalin and terse RT chatter as pilots maneuver into the most favorable position. In this case, the Luftwaffe faces overwhelming odds.
1st. Lieutenant Norm Achen flew with the 4th Fighter Group, 344th Fighter Squadron from Debden, England from June 1944 to August 15th. He was shot down by ground fire in his P-51 while searching for targets of opportunity after escorting B-24's to Hanover. Norm later escaped from a P.O.W. camp and after 15 days reached a General Patton tank unit.
Colonel Raymond F. Toliver entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1937 and trained as a pursuit pilot. In 1940 he resigned and joined TWA as an airline pilot. In 1942 he was with RAF Ferry Command, flying Hudsons and
Liberators trans-Atlantic. He then re-joined the Army Air Corps and was Chief of Flight Testing at Fairfield Air Depot, Ohio.
Captain Robert P. Winks
Robert Winks was born in Sumner, Iowa. He joined the service in 1943, and after training was posted to England. Flying his first combat mission in July 1944, he served with the 364th Fighter Squadron, 357th Fighter Group at Leiston, flying P-51's. He scored his first victory in November 1944, with a second in December. Then on January 14, 1945, he had another 2 1/2 victories and the next day on a mission to Augsburg he saw a 262 jet slow rolling near its field and shot it down in flames. His year long tour in Europe took in the heavy fighting over the Battle of the Bulge, the missions to support the Arnhem operations, and the Battle of Berlin, when the 357th destroyed 56 enemy aircraft. During this time he flew some 69 combat missions. His personal P-51D was 'Trusty Rusty'.
Lt. Colonel Bob Wright trained on the P-38 Lightning at Van Nuys AFB. He was transferred overseas to Italy, to the 52nd Fighter Group, 97th Fighter Squadron, still on P-38's. Over Lintz, Austria, he spotted a 262 jet on take-off roll. He dived on the target, but it was hard to spot because of its camouflage and so escaped. Bob was mostly on bomber escort and dive bomber missions and he retired as a Lt. Colonel.
Oberleutnant Walter Schuck joined the Luftwaffe in 1937. He scored his first victory while with 7./JG-5 based at Petsamo on the Polar Sea. On June 5th, 1942, he shot down 4 Russian fighters. His rate of victories increased steadily. During March, 1944, he shot down 7 Boston bombers and by April had 84 victories. On June 15th he scored 6 more, and on the 17th, 12 more victories in 24 hours! By August he had 150. Later in the war he flew the Me.262 jet with JG-7. He shot down 4 B-17's in the 262, with 8 victories. His all-up score was 206 confirmed aerial victories. His awards include the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves.
Oberleutnant Kurt Schulze
Began his service as a cadet in 1939. As a wireless operator, he flew in Me 110's over southern Russia with 3.(F)11. From 1942 - 44 he was Communications and Navigation Officer of 1/KG-2 and flew night missions to England as a navigator in Do 217's. While with KG-2, he became a pilot and in 1944, flew Me 109G's with III.JG-5 from northern Finland and Norway. There, he participated in photo reconnaissance missions over Murmansk, (F)124. In early 1945 he commanded 1/JG-51 in Gdansk, where he flew the last of his 103 missions and ended the war commanding 13/JG-5 in Norway. He was credited with 3 victories and holds the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class, Flight Clasp, etc. After the war, he spent two years as a P.O.W. in France.
Sheet Size: 31" wide x 20" high.