Robert Taylor Catalogue

STUKA!

by Robert Taylor

STUKA - ROBERT TAYLOR

Aircraft – Stuka Ju87
A unique limited edition featuring the remarkable Ju87 Stuka, each print signed by Stuka pilots Hans-Karl Stepp, Kurt Kuhlmey, Franz Kieslich and Helmut Fickel.

At 0426 hours on 1st September, 1939 three Ju87Bs of 3 Staffel, Stukageschwader 1 took off from Elbing to record the first bombing mission of World War Two. It marked the beginning of six years of relentless endeavour by the notorious Stuka and its courageous crews.

Following its success in the Polish and French ‘Blitzkrieg’ campaigns the Stuka was seen by the German High Command as the supreme new weapon to succeed long range artillery. With its banshee-like wailing siren the Stuka pilots would deliver destruction from the skies and create a devastating psychological effect upon all those below.

An evil looking aircraft, its spatted undercarriage for all the world looking like the extended talons of some monstrous bird, the Ju87 Stuka was arguably the most menacing looking combat aircraft ever conceived . Having the ability to make an almost vertical controlled dive, its pilots could plant their bombs with greater accuracy than any other dive-bomber of the war, but its effectiveness required total control of the air, and over southern England that was a situation that did not happen. Quickly the Stuka pilots found how vulnerable they were against the fast manoeuvrable fighters of the RAF.

Though it never again achieved the decisive successes of Poland and France, the Ju87 was operated effectively on all fronts in most theatres. Poorly armed, slow and highly vulnerable by any standards, it was nevertheless the aircraft flown by the most highly decorated Knight’s Cross winner of the war – Hans Rudel – who flew 2530 missions and claimed over 500 tanks destroyed. In spite of its shortcomings the Stuka enjoyed success wherever the Luftwaffe maintained a measure of control in the air, and was one of the few aircraft of either side to fly operationally throughout the war.

The Stuka when dressed for war was an awesome spectacle. Robert Taylor’s outstanding painting shows a formation of Ju87s bombed up and fitted with long range tanks heading out on a shipping strike over the Mediterranean in 1941 and this superb edition provides a memorable record of this remarkable aircraft.

Each print in the edition is signed and numbered in pencil by Robert Taylor and four highly decorated Ju87 Stuka pilots: Hans-Karl Stepp, Kurt Kuhlmey, Franz Kieslich and Rudel’s Wingman on over 500 missions, Helmut Fickel.

Overall print size: 34" wide x 24" high

Edition size - 1250 signed and numbered prints


The signatures

Major Franz Kieslich – is one of the ‘old guard’ Stuka pilots who formed the backbone of the Dive Bomber Force. He joined the Luftwaffe in 1935 and was a Stuka pilot instructor. He then joined SG 77 in France in 1940 and from there went to the Balkans where he saw much action. Remaining with SG77 he became Group Adjutant in May 1942, and led a squadron by August. He was made Commander Of
II/SG77on 29th January 1943 which he led superbly in the Southern and Central sections of the Front. From February 1945 until the end of the war he commanded Erg.SG.148 in Manching.
This veteran of the Ju87 flew no fewer than 1078 missions (including 40 on the FW190) and survived being shot down 20 times! He sunk 23,000 tons of shipping and was credited with sinking a destroyer and submarine in the Black Sea. He was awarded a Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves.

Oberst Kurt Kuhlmey – Regarded as one of the greatest leaders in the Luftwaffe’s Dive Bomber Force, Kurt Kuhlmey was a popular and highly successful Ju87 Stuka pilot. Widely known as ‘The Duke of El Hachin’, partly due to his successes in the battle near the village of El Hachin, but also for his noble character and his man-to-man soldierly attitude towards his compatriots. He joined the Luftwaffe as a volunteer in 1934, and took part in the campaigns in Poland, Norway and France as the Squadron Commander of I/SG1. Later, with the same squadron he flew against Malta in 1941 and participated in the successful attack on the British aircraft carrier ‘Illustrious’ and against convoys in the Mediterranean. He fought in North Africa where he quickly became one of the most popular aviators and commanded II/SG3 from 1st April 1942 through to March 31st 1943, becoming Commodore of Stukageschwader 3 from April 1st 1943 to February 1945, seeing action on the Eastern Front and in the Crimea. Kurt Kuhlmey also fought successfully in Finland (Imola) and was Commodore of SG2 ‘Immelmann’ during early 1945 following which he joined the staff of the General of Fighter Bombers.
Thus Kurt Kuhlmey flew and fought almost throughout the war, completing over 500 missions (including 30 on the Fw190) and being shot down twice. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross.
After the war he went on to fly in the new German Airforce and retired with the rank of Major-General.

Oberleutnant Helmut Fickel – One of the most outstanding young pilots of III/SG2 ‘Immelmann’ on the Eastern Front, Helmut Fickel flew his first mission on March 10th 1943 near Poltawa. From 15th October 1943 throughout the summer of 1944 he was Adjutant in the famous III/SG2, flying over 500 missions as the famous Rudel’s Wingman. He accompanied Rudel on many of his most difficult and dangerous tank raids and was himself highly successful in these attacks. By the end of 1943 he had proved himself as one of the most brilliant Stuka pilots and by the summer of 1944 he was leading his own squadron becoming Commander of 9/SG.2 ‘Immelmann’ in November 1944, an appointment in which he greatly excelled and held until the end of the war.
During the summer of 1944 he force-landed behind enemy lines after being hit by flak in his wing. Fickel and his radio operator were rescued by Rudel who picked them up after landing in difficult terrain under heavy enemy fire.
By the end of the war Helmut Fickel had flown over 800 missions, survived being shot down three times and was awarded the Knight’s Cross.

Lieutenant Colonel Hans-Karl Stepp – One of the most popular personalities of the Stuka Force and a highly respected leader, Hans-Karl Stepp joined the Luftwaffe as early as 1936. He first flew the Ju87 Stuka in 1938 and was one of the few who survived the Neuhammer disaster when 13 Stuka crews died in a crash on 15th August 1939, due to ground fog, in a demonstration training attack. He took part in the Polish and Western Campaigns, and also the Balkan and Crete campaigns.
In 1941 he joined SG.2 ‘Immelmann’ in Russia, leading a squadron by the end of the year by which time he had flown over 300 missions. He was Group Commander of I/SG.5 from June 1942 to June 1943 during its successful campaign in the extreme North and Eastern Fronts, in hard conditions. In June 1943 he became First Commander and Air Commodore of II/SG.2. This SG.2 ‘Immelmann’ was led by him with great success on the Eastern Front until September 1944, after which he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and joined the staff of the Luftwaffe where he served until the end of the war.
Hans-Karl Stepp flew over 900 missions, a number of which were on the Fw190 as leader. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oakleaves.

 

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