Jagdverband 44 was formed in February 1945 on Hitler's orders, to fly the Me 262 Stormbird, the world's first operational jet fighter, and demonstrate its superiority. The unit was led by the legendary Adolf Galland, who recruited some of Germany's leading aces into it, to the extent that it was said that the Knight's Cross was its ufficial badge. JV 44 engaged the US Ninth Army Air Force over Bavaria and, with its significant speed advantage and powerful armament of cann and rockets, the Me 262 proved a formidable interceptor in the hands of its expert pilots. In its brief operational existence, never able to get more than six jets in the air at any one time, this small unit achieved approximately 50 kills in less than a month. Unfortunately for the German defensive effort (though Galland himself was glad t to have prolonged the war) there were t eugh Me 262s to have any overall effect on the Allied air campaign.This book is a dramatic record of a highly individual unit and an exciting early chapter in the history of the jet fighter. Four of the world's ten surviving Me 262s are major attractions at flight museums in the USA and recently constructed replicas will soon be a feature of air shows around the nation and the experten aces of the Luftwaffe have an enduring fascination.
Robert Forsyth has studied the history and operations of the Luftwaffe for many years and met and interviewed numerous former members of JV 44 around the world, including Adolf Galland, Walter Krupinski, Klaus Neumann, Herbert Kaiser, and Franz Stigler during his research into the unit. He now works full time in publishing, and is the author of JV 44 - The Galland Circus (1996), Battle over Bavaria: The B-26 versus the German Jets (1998), Mistel: German Composite Aircraft and Operations 1942-1945 (2001), and Messerschmitt Me 264 Amerikabomber (2006 - with Eddie J Creek). The author lives in Keene, New Hampshire.Jim Laurier is a native of New England and lives in New Hampshire. He attended Paier School of Art in Hamden, Connecticut, from 1974-78, and since he graduated with honors, he has been working professionally in the field of Fine Art and Illustration. He has been commissioned to paint for the US Air Force and has aviation paintings on permanent display at the Pentagon. Jim Laurier lives in Kent, UK.