Josef ‘Pips’ Priller and his wingman (Sgt. Wodarczyk) were the only Luftwaffe aircraft to strafe the Normandy beaches on D-Day, navigating the tightest fighter screen in history. On 6 June 1944 (D-Day), Priller, accompanied by his wingman, made a single strafing pass attack on Sword Beach in their Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-8s. This performance was first brought to the world’s attention by the 1959 book (shortly followed by the film) ‘The Longest Day’. Contrary to popular belief, Priller and his wingman were not the only Luftwaffe forces to attack the beachhead that day. Both Luftwaffe Hauptmann (Captain) Helmut Eberspächer, leading a ground-attack four-plane element of Fw 190s of Schnellkampfgeschwader 10 (which downed a quartet of RAF Avro Lancasters at 05:01 over the invasion area), and the Luftwaffe bomber wing Kampfgeschwader 54 made several attacks on the British beachheads on D-Day. Priller flew 1,307 combat missions to claim 101 victories. All his victories were recorded over the Western Front and consisted of 11 USAAF heavy bombers, 68 Spitfires (the highest Luftwaffe ace’s tally for this type), 11 Hurricanes, five medium bombers and five USAAF fighters. In this scene he flies the Focke-Wolf Fw 190, aptly named the “Butcher Bird” by allied pilots, this aircraft was one of the best aircraft of World War II.
Keith Burns is an award winning aviation artist and commercial illustrator. He has illustrated comics for the past decade with Johnny Red being the most recent. In 2012 he joined the Guild of Aviation Artists. In 2015 he won the Messier Dowty award for best acrylic painting in show, in 2016 he was made a full member of the Guild, had his first solo exhibition at the RAF Club in London and won Aviation Painting of the Year. He is currently illustrating the Ladybird WW2 series written by James Holland.
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