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Choose from these limited edition prints:
16" x 11½" Collector Sized Lithograph....$40
14” x 21” Giclee on Paper….$150
18" x 27" Giclee on Canvas....$445
24" x 36" Giclee on Canvas....$745
30" x 45" Giclee on Canvas....$975
By the spring of 1918 WW I was fast approaching its climax. In the East, Russia had collapsed, allowing Germany to amass a force of 3.5 million troops in 194 divisions on the all-important Western Front. The German strategy was to end the War before the full brunt of American involvement could swing the balance irretrievably in favor of the Allies. In an offensive of titanic proportions, later known as the “Kaiser’s Battle,” German forces strove to break the three-and-a-half year stalemate in trench warfare. This massive offensive would combine the use of “sturmtruppen” trained to infiltrate Allied positions, massed artillery attacks, and finally “schlachtstasffein” which were formations of specialized ground attack aircraft. These units, while lacking the publicity of the fighter squadrons, played a more offensive role than any other aircraft of WW I. As part of German industry’s “Amerika Programm,” begun in mid-1917 to counter the anticipated arrival of an American air armada, the Imperial German Air Force called for the development of a new light, compact, highly maneuverable, two-seat aircraft to be known as the CL class. These new aircraft were to be offensive machines to be used to escort bombers and strafe trenches. One of the most successful of the new class of aircraft was the Hannover CL IIIa. The Hannover, as a single-engined aircraft, was unique in having a biplane tail. Its purpose was to reduce the tailplane span, thereby affording a wider field of fire for the observer/gunner. For a two seat aircraft the CL IIIa was a smallish (38 foot wingspan) and compact aircraft, and was often mistaken by Allied scouts as a single seater, whereupon they were speedily disabused of their illusion by a hail of fire from the observer’s Parabellum machine-gun. The small size of this aircraft imparted great maneuverability and an excellent field of view for its pilot. Powered by an Argus As III engine, the Hannover also utilized a plywood fuselage, giving the aircraft great strength and the ability to withstand a lot of punishment. These characteristics made the CL IIIa an ideal ground attack aircraft. More than one thousand of these airplanes were built, and they entered service in late 1917. The “Hannoveranas,” as they were called by the RFC, were without doubt, formidable opponents. Major James McCudden, V.C., the RFC’s fourth ranking ace with 57 victories, was to write: “These machines are very deceptive and pilots are apt to mistake them for Albatros scouts until they get to close range, when up pops the Hun gunner from inside his office.” Johann Baur, who later became the personal pilot of Adolf Hitler, flew Hannovers and claimed nine victories. In Stan Stokes’ dramatic depiction, a CL IIIa strafes counter-attacking British Mk IV tanks in a shell pocked landscape during the Spring offensive of 1918, Germany’s supreme bid for victory in the West.