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(Allied) Pilot Search :

Kurt Knappe

No Photo Available

Victories : 54
-----------------------------
Country : Germany
Fought in : WW2
Fought for : Axis
Died : 3rd September 1943


Awarded the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross
Knights
Cross

Kurt Knappe

Squadrons for : Kurt Knappe
A list of all squadrons known to have been served with by Kurt Knappe. A profile page is available by clicking the squadron name.
SquadronInfo

JG2

Country : Germany
Founded : 1st May 1939
'Ace of Hearts'

Click the name above to see prints featuring aircraft of JG2
JG2

Jagdgeschwader 2 was formed from parts of Jagdgeschwader 131 Richthofen on 1 May 1939 in Döberitz and its first commander was Oberst Robert Ritter von Greim. At the outbreak of the war JG 2 was tasked with defence of the Reich and based in the Berlin area under Luftgaukommando III. Stab and II. Gruppe were equipped with the Bf 109E and were located at Döberitz with 10.(N) staffel flying the Bf 109D in Straussberg.

10.(N) Staffel was one of the first night fighter units formed in the Luftwaffe. Later this staffel was expanded into IV.(N) Gruppe. This Gruppe gained the Luftwaffe’s first night kill over the RAF Bomber Command on the night of 25/26 on April 1940 when Ofw Förster shot down a Handley Page Hampden.

The unit saw little combat until the Western offensive against France and the Low Countries from 10 May 1940 onwards. During the campaign against France, JG 2 was tasked with escorting raids and defending German airspace to the south of Heinz Guderian's Panzer forces which were encircling the French and the British Expeditionary Force further north. Leutnant Helmut Wick, who later became part of a trio of outstanding aces (including Adolf Galland from Jagdgeschwader 26 (JG 26) and Werner Mölders from Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51)) in the Battle of Britain, attained his first and the Geschwader's second kill on 22 November 1939, a French Curtiss Hawk Model 75. The first victory for the JG 2 was scored by Oberfeldwebel Kley (3. Staffel) at the same day.

JG 2 took part in the Battle of Britain, operating Bf 109Es over the South Coast of England and the English Channel from bases in Cherbourg and Normandy. Major Helmut Wick emerged as one of the Battle’s top Luftwaffe aces, claiming 31 kills for a personal total of 56, before being killed (MIA) in action versus Spitfires of No. 609 Squadron in November 1940. Wick was seen to bail out successfully but was not found by German Air/Sea Rescue attempts. The Spitfire who dispatched him was immediately shot down by Oberleutnant Rudolf Pflanz. Ofw. Schnell, Ofw. Machold and Olt. Hans Assi Hahn also claimed heavily during this period, with 16 kills each. Some 42 JG 2 pilots were killed or made POW during the battle.

JG51

Country : Germany
Founded : August 1939
'Ace of Hearts'

Click the name above to see prints featuring aircraft of JG51
JG51

Jagdgeschwader 51 Mölders was a Luftwaffe fighter wing during World War II, named after the fighter ace Werner Mölders in 1942. JG 51's pilots won more Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes than any other Jagdgeschwader, and flew combat from 1939 in all major theatres of war. Flying Bf 109s and then FW 190s, the wing claimed over 8,000 air victories. Experten included 'Toni' Hafner, Heinz Bär, Richard Leppla, Karl-Gottfried Nordmann, Günther Schack and the legendary Mölders.

Formed in August 1939, and commanded by 48-year-old World War I ace Onkel Theo Osterkamp, the early months of the war JG 51 was based in the West, fighting in the French campaign, and in the Battle of Britain. From late June to mid July JG 51 was the only fighter Geschwader engaged against the RAF constantly. During the whole battle JG 51 lost 68 pilots, the highest casualty rate of the Luftwaffe fighter units engaged. JG 51 was one of the two Geschewader that had four Gruppen. The other being JG 1.

Four Bf 109 of JG 51 in France 1940Whilst based out of the Belgian airfield at Mardyik in late 1940, the German ace Josef Pips Priller was a Staffelkapitän with JG 51, flying Bf 109-E Yellow One. Josef Priller went on to score over 100 victories, the third highest scoring Luftwaffe day fighter ace on the Western Front, fighting solely against the Western Allies.

Against the Western Allies JG 51 had claimed 345 aircraft destroyed by May 1941. JG 51 were therefore one of the Jagdwaffe's elite units, with 'top ten' aces at this time including Werner Mölders with 68 claims, Walter Oesau with 34 claims, and Hermann-Friedrich Joppien with 31. Major Werner Mölders became unit Geschwaderkommodore during July 1940 and led the unit into the invasion of Russia in June 1941.

Barbarossa (1941)

Claiming 69 kills on the first day of the offensive, by 30 June 1941 JG 51 became the first fighter Geschwader to claim 1,000 air victories (113 kills in 157 sorties were claimed for the day). On 24 June JG 51 claimed 57 bombers shot down for the day. Mölders became the first fighter pilot to reach 100 claims in August and in the same month JG 51's Oberfeldwebel Heinz Bär reached 60 claims and was decorated with the Oak Leaves. A total of 500 Soviet claims was reached on 12 July 1941, although 6 pilots had been lost by JG 51 in the intervening 3 weeks since the offensive had started.

After Mölders' departure in September 1941 (and death later that year) the Geschwader adopted his name as a title of honor in early 1942. Jagdgeschwader 51 Mölders was to remain on the centre sector of the Russian front throughout the rest of 1941. However Oberstleutnant Friedrich Beckh ( one of the few fighter pilots to wear spectacles) proved an uncharismatic commander after Mölders, and it was not until Major Karl-Gottfried Nordmann took over in April 1942 that a worthy successor to Mölders was found. In the period 22 June - 5 December 1941 the unit destroyed 1,881 Soviet aircraft, in return for 84 losses in aerial combat and a single aircraft on the ground.

Air support for the Wehrmacht's Army Group Centre was entrusted to General Wolfram Freiherr von Richthofen's VIII. Fliegerkorps. In early January 1942, among the fighter units available to von Richthofen were II, III and IV/ JG 51. With the onset of the sub-zero conditions of the Russian winter, the majority of JG 51's available aircraft became grounded.

The Russian winter counter offensive forced III./ JG 51 into flying numerous fighter-bomber operations in direct support of the infantry, and the gruppe filed few aerial 'kill' claims through January 1942. II./ JG 51 however, accounted for most of VIII. Fliegerkorps's aerial victories during the Soviet offensive. Particularly successful was the duo of Lt. Hans Strelow and Ofw. Wilhelm Mink, both of 5. JG 51. They claimed five MiG-3s of 16 IAP on 4 January (Mink claimed three) and 9 days later Mink claimed a Pe-2 and Strelow destroyed two R-Z biplanes for his 30th and 31st victories. On 4 February, Strelow increased his victories to 36 by shooting down four Russian aircraft. The 19 year-old Strelow claimed his 40th victory on 28 February and claimed 4 victories on both 6 March and 17 March. The next day he was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes and also shot down seven Soviet aircraft. He was awarded the Eichenlaub on 24 March, his claims total at 66.

Normandy (1944)

7./JG 51, (with Bf 109G-6's) was attached to II./JG 1 in May 1944 from Brest-Litovsk, with pilots arriving at Störmede late in May and hurriedly converting to the FW-190. (It was later renamed 8./JG 1 on 15 August 1944 when the four-Staffeln Gruppe became standard) 7. Staffel was led by Ritterkreuzträger (Knight's Cross winner) Hptm. Karl-Heinz Weber with 136 confirmed kills. Its two other experten were Lt. Friedrich Krakowitzer (23 kills) and Ofhr. Günther Heckmann with 12 kills.

7./JG 51 joined II. Gruppe with 15 pilots on strength at the end of May, and during the first two months of the Normandy campaign the staffel was decimated, with twelve pilots killed, one POW and one severely wounded.

As the war turned against Germany JG 51 was forced to operate closer and closer to Germany, finally staging out of East Prussia.

Latest Axis Battle of Britain Artwork Releases !
 Shortly after mid day on 26th August 1940, a Bolton-Paul Defiant of 264 Sqn claimed a victory that was to make history many decades later.  Dornier Do.17Z2, Wk No 1160 of 7/III KG.3 had been part of a raiding force sent to attack targets in Essex.  Attacked from below, the Do.17 suffered terminal damage and came to rest in the shallow waters of the Goodwin Sands, near Deal in Kent.  Two of her crew died in the incident, but two others survived and became prisoners of war.  In June 2013, over seventy years later, 5K+AR was raised from the water to be put on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon, becoming the only example of its type to survive anywhere in the world.

5K+AR Sole Survivor by Ivan Berryman.


Battle of Britain - Tribute to the Luftwaffe Aces by Graeme Lothian. (P)
The Italian Air Force's involvement in the Battle of Britain is one of the less documented facets of the conflict of 1940, but raids by aircraft of the Corpo Aereo Italiano (CAI) on mainland Britain were a reality in the closing stages, usually with little effect and almost always with high losses on the Italian side, due largely to obsolete aircraft and lack of pilot training.  Based at Ursel in Belgium, Fiat BR.20 bombers flew over 100 sorties, usually escorted by Fiat CR.42s, as illustrated here, the nearest aircraft being that of 18º <i>Gruppo's</i> Commanding Officer Maggiore Ferruccio Vosilla, wearing the white fuselage band and command pennant on the fuselage side.

Italian Raiders by Ivan Berryman.
 An Me109 makes a low flight over the English countryside during the Battle of Britain.  This painting was a preliminary painting by Graeme in preparation for the larger painting entitled <i>Fighter General</i>.  When Graeme traveled to Germany to have prints of <i>Fighter General</i> signed by some of the top German Aces, he took this painting with him, and they have signed it on the back of the canvas.

Me109 of JG26 by Graeme Lothian. (P)

 The Spitfires of 54 Squadron, quickly scrambled from nearby Hornchurch, clash with the Me109s from 1./JG51 over Kent.  Below, Me110s from KPRG210 are about to receive unwelcome attention as the rest of the Spitfires hurtle down upon them and in the distance, a group of Hurricanes rip through a dense formation of Do17s from KG76 as they struggle back to France.  What clouds there are will be unlikely to give much sanctuary and, for the onlookers on the ground far below, the skies will soon be filled with weaving trails of smoke and debris. For nearly a week the Luftwaffe had thrown everything they had into the attack on southern England in order to annihilate RAF Fighter Command, in preparation for Operation Sealion, the invasion of Britain.  And, heavily outnumbered, the young RAF Spitfire and Hurricane pilots of Fighter Command had so far repelled them, at a cost.  But on Sunday 18 August 1940, the Germans launched the heaviest formations of aircraft seen in the battle so far.  This was to be a grinding day of relentless assaults on the airfields of southern England, the hardest day of the Battle of Britain.
Valiant Response by Robert Taylor.
 The Battle of Britain destroyed the myth of the Stuka, proving for the first time that the Junkers Ju87 was slow, lumpish and vulnerable in air battles against well-organised and determined fighter opposition, such as the more manoeuverable and faster Spitfires and Hurricanes. The Ju87, like other dive bombers, was slow, cumbersome, and possessed inadequate defences.  Furthermore, it could not be effectively protected by fighters because of its low speed, and the very low altitudes at which it ended its dive bomb attacks. The Stuka depended on air superiority, which was a situation that did not quite occur for the Luftwaffe during the  Battle of Britain.  The Stuka was withdrawn from attacks on Britain in August 1940 after prohibitive losses, leaving the Luftwaffe without precision ground-attack aircraft.  On 18th August, a day known as the <i>hardest day</i> the Stuka was withdrawn after 16 were destroyed and many others damaged.  According to the Generalquartiermeister der Luftwaffe, 59 Stukas were destroyed and 33 damaged, being shot full of holes to varying degrees, in six weeks of operations. Over 20% of the total Stuka strength had been lost between 8th August and 18th August and the myth of the Stuka was over.

The Stuka Myth by Jason Askew. (P)
 From June 1940 on, Adolf Galland flew as a of III./JG 26, fighting in the Battle of britain with 109-Emils from bases in the Pas de Calais.  During the Battle of Britain, in a legendary front line General Officer briefing on Luftwaffe tactics, Hermann Goring  asked what his pilots needed to win the battle.  Galland replied: <i>I should like an outfit of Spitfires for my squadron.</i>  Göring was speechless with rage.  It is important that this remark is not taken out of context, because Galland also stated (in his autobiography) that <i>of course fundamentally I preferred our Me109 to the Spitfire</i>.  This apparent contradiction was due to his view that because the Spitfire was more manoeuvreable he considered it more suitable to the role of defensive fighter than the Bf 109, though he actually thought that fighters should not be used in a defensive role anyway.  When Galland made the much quoted comment about the Spitfires to Göring he was <i>unbelievably vexed at the lack of understanding and stubbornness with which the command gave us orders we could not execute</i> and so made the comment as a retort to Göring.

Me109 - Adolf Galland by Jason Askew. (P)
 In just six weeks Hitler's forces had overrun western Europe as once proud armies swiftly fell before the might of the German blitzkrieg.  It was a devastating defeat, and now only Britain stood alone.  Few thought she could survive.  As Churchill pledged that Britain <i>would never surrender</i>, a German invasion seemed inevitable.  But before any invasion could take place the Luftwaffe must neutralise the RAF and win control of the skies over southern England.  Awaiting them was a small but resilient band of young men, the pilots of RAF Fighter Command.  First the Germans attacked the coastal convoys, hoping to draw the RAF en-masse into battle.  They failed.  And then on 12th August, they turned their full attention to the forward fighter bases and radar stations, hoping to obliterate them once and for all.  From Norway in the north, through the Low Countries and northern France to Brittany in the west, the Luftwaffe threw every available aircraft into the attack.  For the young men of Fighter Command the next seven days of fighting would leave them exhausted and all but spent.  They were to be the hardest days of the Battle of Britain, culminating on Sunday 18th August.  This painting recreates a moment on that day as Heinz Bar, the Luftwaffe's top-scoring NCO Ace of the Battle of Britain and one of the greatest Aces in history, climbs away from his airfield near Calais with the other pilots of 1./JG51 to escort the Dornier Do17s of KG76 for yet another deadly attack on the RAF.  Away in the distance, Me110s from EPRG210 also prepare to join the epic encounters that lie ahead.
Air Armada by Robert Taylor.

Known Victory Claims

DATE

PILOT

UNIT

JG

CLAIMED

LOCATION

TIME

FRONT

26/07/1941Gefr. Kurt Knappe5JG 51DB-3-12.35Eastern Front
13/08/1941Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Il-264 512: tiefflug8.52Eastern Front
26/08/1941Gefr. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Douglas15km E. Kaluga18.15Eastern Front
30/08/1941Gefr. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Pe-2-17.4Eastern Front
06/09/1941Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51R-3-13.35Eastern Front
13/09/1941Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51DB-3E. Konotop10.1Eastern Front
28/09/1941Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Pe-2-10Eastern Front
11/10/1941Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Pe-2-11.07Eastern Front
17/11/1941Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51DB-3-14.32Eastern Front
21/01/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Pe-2-12.27Eastern Front
07/03/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51I-18SW Modyn14.15Eastern Front
31/03/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Il-2SE Juschnowo13.37Eastern Front
07/07/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51MiG-3-11.21Eastern Front
09/07/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51MiG-3-7.35Eastern Front
09/07/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51MiG-3-7.37Eastern Front
09/07/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51MiG-3-7.47Eastern Front
11/07/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51MiG-1-13.05Eastern Front
02/08/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Il-247 583: 600m13.05Eastern Front
02/08/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Pe-247 574: 1000m18.17Eastern Front
04/08/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51MiG-347 591: 700m10.16Eastern Front
04/08/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Pe-247 563: 1000m14.25Eastern Front
05/08/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Pe-256 432: 2800m18.1Eastern Front
18/08/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Jak-154 211: 3000m8.15Eastern Front
22/08/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51MiG-355 764: 1000m13.1Eastern Front
22/08/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51MiG-364 171: 400m18.12Eastern Front
23/08/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51LaGG-364 171: 500m10.05Eastern Front
23/08/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51LaGG-364 171: 600m10.08Eastern Front
09/09/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Il-2E. Rshew10.57Eastern Front
09/09/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Il-2NE Rshew11.01Eastern Front
09/09/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Il-247 75417.3Eastern Front
14/09/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51U-247 58410.01Eastern Front
14/09/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51Jak-147 571: 2000m10.14Eastern Front
21/09/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51R-547 8128.02Eastern Front
23/09/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51I-16 Rata47 612: 2000m15Eastern Front
01/10/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51R-546 214: tiefflug9.35Eastern Front
04/10/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51LaGG-38km E. Peno: 3000m13.05Eastern Front
04/10/1942Uffz. Kurt Knappe5JG 51LaGG-35km SE Peno: 3000m13.1Eastern Front
30/12/1942Fw. Kurt Knappe7JG 2B-17Pl.Qu. 5813/14 West: 5000m11.45Western Front
06/03/1943Fw. Kurt Knappe7JG 2B-1714 West N/58217: 4000m as "Stirling"15.11Western Front
28/06/1943Ofw. Kurt Knappe1JG 2B-17604/15 West: 50m19.03Western Front
03/09/1943Ofw. Kurt Knappe10JG 2B-17Raum Paris: 6000m9.5Western Front

Known Claims : 41

Battle of Britain Timeline of Related Info : 23rd April
DAYMONTHYEARDETAILS
23April1945Former Canadian Battle of Britain pilot, P/O M. C. Corner of 264 Squadron, Died.

 

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