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|Signatures on this item|
|*The value given for each signature has been calculated by us based on the historical significance and rarity of the signature. Values of many pilot signatures have risen in recent years and will likely continue to rise as they become more and more rare.|
Hans Rudel (deceased)
*Signature Value : £135 (matted)
|Hans Rudel, born in July 1916, was the most decorated Nazi pilot. In 2,530 combat missions flying dive-bombers, mainly on the Russian front, Rudel was credited with destroying 519 tanks, 150 gun emplacements and 800 combat vehicles of various types. According to Luftwaffe records, he also sunk a Russian battleship, a cruiser, a destroyer, 70 smaller craft and numerous trains. For this he was awarded the Golden Oakleaves with Sword and Diamonds to the Knights Cross. He was the only recipient of this award. He was also the first German pilot to reach 1,000 sorties. Of his over 2530 sorties, some 400 were in the Focke-Wulf 190 fighter, in which he was credited with 11 air victories. He was so effective that Joseph Stalin himself put a price of 100,00 rubles on his head. He flew more than 600,000 km; fired over 1,000,000 machine gun rounds; dropped over 1,000,000kg of bombs; fired over 150,000 rounds of 20mm ammunition and over 5,000 rounds of 37mm ammunition. He hated to take home leave or sick leave and even after he had his leg amputated, he was back in the air within weeks. He did not limit his attacks to Russian tanks, trains, ships or aircraft. On more than one occasion when food was in short supply, he would bomb rivers and both the German airmen and Russian civilians would feast on the stunned fish that floated to the surface. Rudel was shot down several times, but escaped serious injury until April 1945, when he lost a leg in combat. Rudel flew the Ju87 B-2 Stuka dive bomber and, in all of its ugliness, the bomber was made famous by him. His accomplishments with an aircraft that was outdated and vulnerable were incredible. He was captured by Allied forces at the end of the war, and released from a POW camp in April 1946. He died 18th December 1982. |
The signatures : Hans Rudel had arranged to be interviewed by a professor of military history, who was also an author, in 1982. Many similar interviews had been conducted with other military heroes, during which the interviewee had signed various photographs, blank sheets and bookplates for use in the author's publications, although many were never published as intended. Rudel was also due to sign such items. However, the interview had been arranged to be conducted at a Luftwaffe reunion, which Rudel could not attend due to ill health. However, a friend of Rudel's, a RCAF mechanic, took the items to him to be signed, which they duly were, although Rudel died before any interview could take place. Cranston Fine Arts purchased the signatures from the original collection. All signatures on prints are therefore 'mounted' signatures, placed in a mount with the print, rather than the print itself being signed.
Major Franz Kieslich (deceased)
*Signature Value : £50 (matted)
|Franz Kieslich born in Bochum ion 12th March 1913 and served with 7./St.G. 77 in France in 1940, and later serving in Yugoslavia. Transferring to the Russian Front he was promoted Gruppenadjutant III./St.G. 77. And in October 1942 became Staffelkapitan 7./St.G. 77. In February 1944 he was promoted Kommandeur III./SG 77. He fought at Stalingrad, Kursk, Kiev and most of the other major engagements on the Eastern Front. In February1945 he became Kommodore erganzungs-SG148. Awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, he flew over 1000 combat missions, and had been shot down twenty times. His wards were awarded Ritterkreuz on 05.01.1943 as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän 7./StukaG 77 and ( 619 ). Eichenlaub on 10.10.1944 as Hauptmann and Kommandeur III./StukaG 77. He passed away on 31st August 2012.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Ju87||By 1935 the German Luftwaffe was developing its first monoplane divebomber which entered production in 1936 as the Ju87 Stuka. The Stuka was to evolve into arguably the most successful single engine Axis divebomber of WW II. Utilizing a nearly vertical dive position the Stuka was stunningly accurate in the days when horizontal bombing was a relatively inaccurate science. The Ju87 was built for functionality and ruggedness. A fixed landing gear and exceptionally strong wing design were incorporated and no attempt was made to minimize protrusions. The Stuka was not designed for speed; it was an aerodynamic nightmare. The Stuka also incorporated a siren which when activated during a dive was designed to inflict psychological damage on the enemy below. The Ju87 was used with tremendous success in the Blitzkrieg attacks on Norway, Poland, Belgium, France, Holland, Yugoslavia, and Greece. Virtually unchallenged in the air during these Blitzkriegs the Stukas took a devastating toll on Allied ground and mechanized forces. Shipping was also vulnerable to the pinpoint attacks of the Stuka, and the Ju87 destroyed more Allied shipping than all other German aircraft put together during WW II. During Hitlers air attacks on Britain the Stukas reputation for invulnerability was shattered. Facing British Hurricanes and Spitfires the slower and less maneuverable Ju87s were destroyed in large numbers, eventually forcing their withdrawal from that conflict. Germanys attempt to develop an improved twin engine divebomber resulted in the introduction of the Messerschmitt 210 which was an unmitigated disaster. As a result, the Stuka remained in production longer than expected and the aircraft played a major role in Germanys surprise attack on Russia. In the first day of combat alone Stukas were credited with the destruction of over 700 Russian aircraft with minimal losses. One of Germanys top aces of WW II was Hans-Ulrich Rudel. Rudel flew over 2,500 combat missions in Ju87s, and was shot down on twelve occasions. Rudel was credited with destroying 519 tanks, 800 vehicles, 150 artillery pieces, one Russian battleship, one cruiser and one destroyer. Rudel was also credited with shooting down nine Russian aircraft in air-to-air combat.|
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