Aircraft – Yak 3, Bf109
enormity of the Russian battlefield was staggering to conceive, stretching
as it did nearly two thousand miles from the Arctic in the north, to the
Black Sea in the south. Across this immense Front the fighter aircraft
of the major combatants coursed the skies, scavenging for prey.
The Soviet & French Yaks and German Me109s hurled themselves at each
other with an intensity hard to believe. Both sides were engaged in continuous
action for months on end.
Relaxation was a commodity unknown to the pilots of either side. With
the fall of Stalingrad, the tide of war began to turn against the Germans,
and the Soviets took their chance by going on the offensive. The Yak 3
fighter made its debut in the spring skies over Kursk in 1943, where the
titans of Hitler’s Panzer tank divisions were locked in mortal combat
with the Russians in the greatest tank battle in history.
Often compared to the British Spitfire, the Yak 3 quickly proved itself
as the leading fighter in the east. Powered by an enormous 1650 hp engine,
at low altitude it could easily out-manoeuvre anything at the Luftwaffe’s
disposal. Armed with two 12.7mm machine guns and a 20mm cannon firing
through the nose, the Yak caused devastating losses to the Bf109s in some
of the highest attrition rates ever encountered in aerial combat.
Dominating Robert Taylor’s painting we see a Soviet Yak 3 hurtling
towards us in a typically daring head-on attack on a Bf109. Other Yaks
wheel and turn frantically in search of the enemy. Casualties on both
sides are evident. Away into the distant horizon stretches a vast Russian
sky, painted in Robert’s inimitable style; soon all will be quiet
again until the next ferocious encounter.
in pencil and numbered by the artist Robert Taylor and six Aces from the
Eastern Front: Lt. General Arseny Vasil’yevitch Vorozheikin Hero
of the Soviet Union, Major General Konstantin Mikhailovitch Treshyov Hero
of the Soviet Union,
General Günther Rall Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords,
General Johannes Steinhoff Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords,
General Joseph Risso (decorated by France and the Soviet Union), Lieutenant
Jaques de Saint Phalle (flew over 100 missions with the Normandie-Niémen).
print size: 33 inches wide x 24¾ inches high.
signed and numbered prints
Publisher’s Proof has been issued with a matching numbered print,
reproduced from Robert Taylor’s dramatic pencil drawing of a Yak
Signed by ten Normandie-Niémen pilots and ten of their Russian
Air Force technicians who survived the ordeal of the Russian Front
Free French Squadron
Some of the most heroic air combat on the Russian Front involved the Free
French Squadrons. Formed in 1942 from part of the 3rd Free French Fighter
Group – ‘Normandie’- the first squadron of 14 pilots
reached Russia, via Tehran, for training on the Yak-3, before seeing action
in March 1943. Reinforced by a further 18 pilots, they scored 77 victories
in these first battles but with severe losses of 21 pilots out of a total
of 32. However, with new volunteers arriving, four new squadrons were
By 1944, with the Germans in full retreat, the squadrons won the citation
–‘Niémen’- from the Russians for their courage
during the battle to cross the river Niémen, into East Prussia.
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