BIRTH OF A LEGEND
by Robert Taylor
Overall Print Size: 33" x 25"
Edition Size: 850
On November 5, 1942, flying wingman in a Schwarm of four Me109s of JG-52, Hartmann's flight had scrambled to intercept Russian Lagg-3s and IL-2 fighter-bombers bound for the Front. Splitting into two elements they dived steeply into attack, screaming in behind and below the enemy aircraft a few hundred feet off the deck.
Selecting one of the IL-2s, the rookie pilot closed at high speed, commencing firing with 20mm cannon from about 200 feet. His first pass was unsuccessful but, undeterred Hartmann zoomed up and dived over for a second run at the Russian machine. Holding his fire until the IL-2 filled his gun sight, he drilled cannon shells into the oil cooling system, setting the enemy aircraft on fire.
Closing rapidly from behind, Hartmann's Me109 was showered with debris from the doomed Russian plane, causing an explosion in the young pilot's own aircraft, which immediately caught fire. Now at very low altitude, Hartmann had no alternative but to belly in. With great presence of mind he cut power, fuel, and ignition switches as he crash-landed at high speed in a massive cloud of dirt and dust.
Though he lost his aircraft, Hartmann had made his first kill, the IL-2 crashing with a resounding explosion a few miles distant. Unhurt, the young future Ace was picked up and returned to base almost immediately. And thus a legend was born: It was the first of 352 air victories that would make Erich Hartmann the top scoring fighter pilot in history.
Robert Taylor's brilliant masterwork, "BIRTH OF A LEGEND," set in the picturesque Caucasus mountain region bathed in the golden hues of autumn, captures for posterity the dramatic moment that launched the career of a fighter pilot legend. In addition to the artist it is individually signed in pencil by TWO of Germany's top-scoring fighter pilot Aces:
- Oberst ERICH HARTMANN (Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds/352 victories)
- Generalleutnant GÜNTHER RALL (Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves & Swords/275 victories)
Comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.