INTO THE CLOAK OF DARKNESS
by Nicolas Trudgian
Overall Print Size: 35" x 24"
Edition Size: 650
The eerie world of the night-fighter was a far cry from the swashbuckling cut and thrust of the day-time aerial dogfights. It took inordinate flying skills, teamwork, patience, and nerves of steel to achieve success in the dark when all that could be seen of the enemy was the tell-tale glow of an engine exhaust. From the spring of 1940 Germany had developed their night-fighting aircraft and honed their skills to combat the nightly bombing raids of the RAF. By 1944 the Luftwaffe had sophisticated electronic range-finding and navigation equipment fitted to their night fighters, and their skilled crews had become adept at intercepting the British heavy bombers under cover of darkness. As the war progressed and proficiency increased, the greatest fear of the RAF bomber crews as they approached their targets was the ever-present danger of the marauding Luftwaffe night fighters. Each night a deadly game of hide-and-seek was played out in the skies above the Reich. Messerschmitt 110s, JU-88s, and the specifically developed Heinkel 219 would rise up into the darkening skies from bases in the R? await the arrival of the RAF heavies. Loitering singly and in pairs, they would infiltrate the bomber streams, each crew using their own individual method of hunting and attack. They seldom came home empty handed.
Based in the Ruhr Valley in 1944, NJG-1 was among the most successful night fighter units, being credited with 2173 night victories and another 145 scored in daylight. The emotive "INTO THE CLOAK OF DARKNESS" recreates a scene from one of this successful unit's missions on the night of November 2, 1944: Ten aircraft took off to intercept a major raid on Dusseldorf, the night witnessing a fierce battle high above the darkened city. NGJ-1 crews assisted with the downing of 19 RAF bombers, one Luftwaffe pilot being credited with no fewer than 6 victories that night. Depicted here are a Heinkel 219 and a Messerschmitt 110 climbing out from their base at Munster Handorf as they set out on their deadly mission. Below them the spectacular Ruhr Valley is vibrant in its mantle of winter's first snowfall. A moving and evocative rendition.
In addition to the artist this print was individually signed by THREE World War II Luftwaffe night fighter aircrew:
- Major GUNTHER BAHR
- Leutnant OTTO FRIES
- Oberfeldwebel ALFRED STAFFA
Comes with a Certificate of Authenticity.