Almost first to welcome Douglas Bader on to enemy occupied soil was the gallant commander of Luftwaffe fighter Wing JG26, Gruppenkommandeur Adolf Galland. Until that point they had been sworn enemies but, in time, they were to become life-long friends.
Recalling his most memorable day in combat, General Galland described the events of 21 June, 1941: Commanding JG26's Me109s, Galland intercepted a formation of Spitfires and Blenheim bombers, shooting down two before being hit and forced to crash-land at Calais-Merk. That afternoon he was back in combat, shooting down a Spitfire before being hit again, injured and, his aircraft on fire, forced to bail out. That evening, after treatment, he was relaxing with a brandy and cigar when told he had been awarded Swords to his Knight's Cross.
Generalleutnant Adolf Galland
Already an inspirational fighter leader by the time of World War II, Adolf Galland was appointed Kommandeur of III./JG26 in June 1940, and Kommodore of JG26 on 22 August 1940. He led the 'Abbeville Boys' in combat against the very best of the RAF including Douglas Bader, Bob Stanford-Tuck, Sailor Malan and Johnnie Johnson. In 1941, at the age of only 29, he was promoted to Inspector General of the Fighter Arm, a position he held until 1944. He became the youngest General in the German High Command, and was also given responsibility for the Night Fighter Arm.
As the Luftwaffe were gradually overwhelmed in 1944, his open disagreement with Goering's tactics led to his dismissal. In early 1945 he reverted to combat flying, forming the famous JV44 Wing, to become the only General in history to lead a squadron into battle. With 104 victories, all in the West, he received the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.
Oberst Johannes Naumann
Johannes Naumann flew with III./JG26 in all the early campaigns of the war, including the Battle of Britain. He led 6./JG26 on the Channel Front and later 7./JG26. In March 1944 he was promoted Kommodore of II./JG26. Later, in August, he became Kommandeur of II./JG6, and joined JG7 in April 1945. Johannes Naumann flew 450 combat operations, achieved 45 victories, all in the West, and was awarded the Knight's Cross in 1944.
Major Gerhard Schöpfel
At the outbreak of war Gerhard Schöpfel was Staffelkapitän of 9./JG26. In August 1940 he was promoted Kommandeur of III./JG26, and was one of the Luftwaffe's most successful Aces during the great air battles of that year. He succeeded Adolf Galland as Kommodore of JG26, and was later Kommodore of JG4, and JG6 for the last few months of the war. He flew over 700 combat missions, achieving 40 victories - all in the West, and was awarded the Knight's Cross.
Hauptmann Otto Stammberger
'Stotto' Stammberger joined the Luftwaffe at the outbreak of war, joining 9./JG26. In February 1942 he took part in the air cover for the Channel Dash, and later in the battles over the Dieppe landings. In February 1943 he was promoted Staffelkapitän of 4./JG26, before being shot down twice, and seriously injured. Returning to flying months later he became Adjutant of I./JG26. 'Stotto' flew 112 combat operations and was awarded the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class.
Overall print size: 33" wide x 25" high.