As dawn broke on January 1, 1945 every serviceable Luftwaffe fighter scrambled from bases ranging across northern Germany. In the desperate effort to get 900 aircraft airborne many older experienced pilots, now retired from flying duties, were thrown into the fray.
The success of Operation Bodenplatte, a secretly planned maximum strength effort to cripple British and American air forces, was to be achieved by mass surprise attacks on their bases in France, Belgium and Holland. It was a battle fought at great cost to the Luftwaffe.
During the low-level attacks and aerial battles that raged throughout the day, some 300 Luftwaffe aircraft were lost. Though 200 Allied aircraft were destroyed, most on the ground, pilot losses were light.
Nicolas Trudgian's brilliant painting takes us right into the action above the Allied air base at Eindhoven. Me262 jets join a concentration of Me109s and Fw190s of JG-3 fighter wing, as they hurtle across the airfield in an assault that lasted 23 minutes, while Spitfires from 414 Squadron RCAF do their best to repel the attack. On the ground Typhoon fighters of 439 Squadron - one of 8 Typhoon squadrons based at Eindhoven - take a hammering, no fewer than 60 being destroyed or damaged.
Together with artist Nicolas Trudgian, each copy of OPERATION BODENPLATTE is signed by FOUR highly respected Luftwaffe fighter pilots who featured predominately during this mission, January 1, 1945.
Leutnant Helmut Ballewski
Helmut Ballewski was one of the 'younger' generation flyers, not joining the Luftwaffe until November 1942. Posted to JG-53 PIK AS he flew all of his 47 missions in the west. With IV./JG-53 from January 1945, Helmut Ballewski was Helmut Bennemann's wingman on Operation Bodenplatte. He also flew fighter-bomber operations on the Bridge at Remagen operation. He was awarded the Iron Cross.
Oberstleutnant Helmut Bennemann
During the Battle of Britain Helmut Bennemann was Gruppenadjutant with I./JG-52 on the Channel Front. In April 1942 he was Staffelkapitän of 3./JG-52 in the east and was appointed Kommandeur of I./JG-52 from June 1942 until October 1943. Posted to Italy in November 1943, he was promoted to Kommandeur of JG-53 (Ace of Spades) in this theater and in the defense of Germany. He commanded JG-53 during the Ardennes Offensive and Operation Bodenplatte. Helmut Bennemann flew over 400 missions, scoring 92 victories and was awarded the Knight's Cross.
Oberfeldwebel Werner Hohenberg
Werner Hohenberg joined JG-52 in July 1942, flying with 8th Staffel. On July 9, 1942 he was badly wounded when his aircraft was hit by Russian flak, causing him to be in a hospital until November 1, 1944. He was then posted to JG-2 'Richthofen' on the Western Front. On January 1, 1945 he took part in Operation Bodenplatte, and was again shot down, this time by US flak. Landing behind British lines he was taken POW. Werner Hohenberg flew over 200 combat missions, scoring 33 air victories. He was awarded the Iron Cross.
General Walter Krupinski
Walter Krupinski first saw combat against the RAF on the Western Front. Transferring to the east, he became a Squadron Commander in the legendary JG-52. In 1943 his victories reaches 150 but, in March 1944 with 177 victories to his name, he was transferred to Germany to command JG-11. Flying high altitude Me109s, he chalked up another 12 victories before being wounded. In September 1944 he was promoted Kommandeur of III./JG-26 and led them on Operation Bodenplatte before joining Galland's famous JV-44. He completed the war with 197 victories in over 1000 missions. He received the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves.
Overall print size: 38" wide x 22 1/4" high.