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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.|
Matrosen Obgefreiter Wilhelm Alsen
*Signature Value : £30
|Willi Alsen joined the Kriegsmarine on 1 October 1940, his first ship was the cruiser Koln. On 1 March 1941 he was posted to join the battleship Scharnhorst and as a Seaman 1st class he was one of the ship's starboard gunners, serving a 2cm four-barrel anti-aircraft gun. He was also trained as an aircraft recognition specialist. During his service he was awarded the Iron Cross II class. Willi Alsen was the last of the thirty-six men who survived the sinking of the Scharnhorst to be rescued. He served the remainder of the war as a Prisoner of War.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Swordfish||Torpedo bomber and reconnaissance biplane, crewed by three, with a top speed of 154mph, reduced to 136mph as a float plane. Maximum ceiling 19,000 feet, reduced as a float plane. Armed with a .303 Vickers machine gun fixed forward and one in the rear cockpit. One 1610lb torpedo or up to 1500lb bomb load. At the outbreak of world war two the fleet air arm had 13 operational squadrons. The Fairey Swordfish has earned its place in history for major contributions to naval warfare, during the Norwegian campaign, and especially during the raid on Taranto. In November1940, twenty Swordfish took off from HMS Illustrious to attack the Italian fleet in their Harbour of Taranto. At Least nine torpedoes hit their targets. Seven Italian ships were badly damaged including the battleships, Caio Duillio, Littorio and Conte De Cavour. This was followed in February 1942, by a heroic but suicidal attack on German battlecruisers in the English Channel by six Swordfish of 825 squadron from RAF Manston. All aircraft and crews were lost. This resulted in a Victoria Cross for the leader Lieutenant Commander E Esmonde. The next major event was the torpedo attack on the Bismarck by Swordfish from HMS Ark Royal, which badly damaged the steering gear of the Bismarck which helped in the final destruction of the German battleship by Royal Navy battleships. The Fairey Swordfish was also used in anti-submarine and anti-shipping roles. The Swordfish sunk more enemy ships (by tonnage) than any other aircraft acting in the same role. By the end of the war the Fleet Air Arm still had nine active squadrons, but these were finally disbanded in May 1945. A total of 2399 Swordfish were built.|
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