We have acquired a few copies of the sold out edition of the first print by Jerry Crandall co-autographed by Erich Hartmann
THE BLOND KNIGHT
Notes from the Certificate of Authenticity by Jerry Crandall:
The flight log lists this aircraft as a G-6. Some of the interesting features include the antenna configuration, no mast, the wire entering the fuselage just behind the canopy, no loop for the FuG 16zy radio behind the canopy although the base is there, (which is common for Russian theater machines), the tall wooden rudder and the fin (early style), no ventilation scoop in front of the windshield quarter panel, and the MW 50 box behind the pilot. As for the markings, the unusual placement of the black scallop design, the yellow “V” Hungarian theatre marking under the port wing, a different heart with “Usch” Markings, and the old number or letter showing through the white paint above the crudely applied double Chevron all make this a distinctive aircraft. Erich Sommavilla’s aircraft was a Bf 109 G-14 AS with staff Chevron as listed in his flight log.
According to this flight log and the pilot’s excellent memory, I./JG 53 was forced to pull back from Romania and their Gruppenkommandeur Jürgen Harder was sent to JG 11 for Defense of the Reich. Erich Hartmann was assigned to leave JG 52 and take over I./JG 53 to lead them against the Russian Air Force. On this mission, Erich Hartmann and Erich Sommavilla as wingman, from their base at Veszprem, Hungary, encountered a flight of Russian Pe 2 bombers escorted by Yak 9s flying cover. Hartmann called for Sommavilla and other 109s in the area to go after the bombers and Hartmann attacked the fighters. Diving down, out of the sun, Hartmann knocked down a Yak 9, his only victory scored during that brief time with I./JG 53. Upon attacking the Pe 2s, Sommavilla’s aircraft suffered a propeller pitch mechanism failure but eventually returned to based. Since the second flight book of Erich Hartmann’s is lost, there is some controversy whether this incident was his 337th or his 332nd as mentioned in other sources. Also, Sommavilla’s flight book places the date at 4 February 1945.