Britain knew no darker days than at the height of the 'blitz.' There seemed little in which to take comfort or hope, for in those days the news in North Africa looked bleak and there was mounting shipping loss in the Atlantic as a result of U-boats. She was a desperately embattled nation who stood alone, with only the thinly stretched Royal Navy and Royal Air Force to defend her. Invasion appeared imminent.
Germany, flushed with her recent European conquests, was feverishly attempting to wipe out RAF Fighter Command by bombing the airfields as a prelude to moving troops across the English Channel. But the RAF were highly organized, and with the help of radar, put up a strong fight against the Luftwaffe bombers and their fighter escorts. Frustrated, the Germans switched aim to London and other civilian targets. The thinking was that the RAF would rise to give battle in an attempt to protect the populace and cities.
This was a mistake, for it gave the RAF a breathing space to build up their aircrews, aircraft and bases. It came at a cost to the population and cities. But it was a price that Britain could afford at the time. The result changed the outcome of the Battle of Britain against the Luftwaffe and was a major turning point in the war.
In the meantime, the Luftwaffe were still trying to get the RAF fighters up to engage in combat. The German 'fighter sweeps' over England failed to get the Spitfires and Hurricanes airborne, for their instructions were to fight only if bombs were dropped. So the Germans had a new idea: fitting 250kg bombs to the 109's which could then fly to England as bombers, and revert to their natural fighter role after having released their bombs. Thus was born the 'Jabo' or fighter-bomber. In this tactic, they were marginally successful. Staffelkapitan Hans-Ekkehard Bob's 9./JG54 was one of the first units to be so equipped, attacking mostly dockyards and ships.
In Robert Bailey's painting, Hans-Ekkehard Bob is shown striking such a target near London, creating chaos along the busy dock front.
These prints were signed with the artist in Cologne, Germany.
Hans-Ekkehard Bob was born in Freiburg/Breisgau, Germany, and grew up in the village of Staufen. In 1936 he joined the Luftwaffe and after training, flew the Arado Ar68 in Czechoslovakia. But later he was assigned the Bf109, his favorite fighter. Throughout the war, he flew the B, C, D, E, F, and G models of this unique little fighter.
With 9./JG54 he flew his first combat missions in Poland and France as a Schwarmfuhrer. His first victory was a Gloster Gladiator. He was later given command of 7.Staffel. But on November 28th 1940, he commanded 9.Staffel, where he asked an unteroffizier of logistics who was a skilled artist, to create several ideas for a unit emblem. The one which Bob chose was the 'Devil's Head,' which was applied to every aircraft and unit vehicle. (After Bob left the unit, the 'Devil's Head' emblem disappeared).
By November 11th 1940, Hans E. Bob had 19 victories and received the Knight's Cross from Reichmarschall Goring. During the 'Battle of Britain,' Bob's unit was one of the first equipped with 250kg. bombs. These were the famed 'Jabo' aircraft. The 9.Staffel were assigned mostly ships and dockyards ad their targets.
On June 22nd 1941, Hans E. Bob took the 9.Staffel on missions during 'Operation Barbarossa' against Russia. By the end of 1941 he had 39 victories. By September of 1942 he had the magical 50 victories and received a promotion to Hauptmann.
During 'Defense of the Reich,' Bob claimed his 57th victory when he rammed a B-17 Flying Fortress. In August of 1943 he left 9.Staffel and was promoted to Major, becoming the Commander of IV./JG51. On May 9th, 1944, he took command of II./JG3. In August he commanded II./EJG 2 and was for a short time on the Staff of General Kammhuber in Berlin.
He prepared an airfield at Innsbruck for an Me262 unit and became a member of JV44, led by General der Jagdflieger, Adolf Galland. Hans-Ekkehard Bob flew about 700 combat missions and claimed 60 victories.
Sheet size: 33" wide x 23" high.