Operation Mercury - Special Edition by Nicolas Trudgian features Me110s and Gloster Gladiators over Crete, 1941.
Slow, frail, out-dated and hopelessly outnumbered, Gladiator biplanes of 112 Squadron RAF tenaciously throw themselves into the fray, attacking Luftwaffe fighter-bombers in the battle for Crete, in April 1941.
High on the German forces' agenda after their occupation of Yugoslavia and Greece, was the strategically important island of Crete. Though Crete had been reinforced with considerable numbers of Commonwealth troops, the RAF defences were limited to a cobbled-together defence force made up from obsolete Brewster Buffalo fighters, and Gloster Gladiators and Sea Gladiators - frail biplanes designed in the 1930's. Though soon to be joined by a small number of Hurricanes, these outdated air defence units were pitted against a mighty force of Luftwaffe bombers and Stuka dive-bombers tasked with attacking the island defences - and any Royal Navy ships likely to interfere with German plans.
Air superiority was vital to the Axis Operation, codenamed 'Mercury', a highly organised, innovative, but risky venture to invade and occupy Crete from the air with airborne forces and paratroopers. Among the units deployed by the Luftwaffe for the assault were the Messerschmitt 110C's of ZG76. These fast, manoeuvrable fighter-bombers, adorned with the same distinctive 'Sharks mouth' markings they had worn during the Battle of Britain, presented formidable opposition to the frail biplanes of the scratch RAF force put up against them. The defences fought courageously and only after a monumental struggle were the Germans able to capture Crete. But the cost in losses so horrified Hitler that he decreed that, henceforth, paratroopers would never again be used in this role.
Nicolas Trudgian's dramatic painting shows Me110C's of II./ZG76, having attacked naval units off the coast of Crete in early May 1941, being bravely intercepted by two Gladiators of 112 Squadron. Heavily outnumbered, the best the RAF pilots can hope for is to disrupt the Luftwaffe formation. And this they continued to do until, literally, they had no more aircraft left!
Nicolas Trudgian’s Limited Edition, Operation Mercury (Special Edition), is signed by three outstanding Luftwaffe Me110 fighter Aces who flew both day and night operations in Europe during World War II:
Leutnant Otto Fries
Hauptmann Peter Spoden
Leutnant Karl-Ludwig Johandden KC.
Note: the 'Nicolas Trudgian' logo on the bottom right of the image does not appear on the actual print itself.
31 x 23 inches overall including borders.
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