WW2 German Luftwaffe Major WOLFGANG SPATE – WARTIME AUTOGRAPH – RARE!

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Description

You are bidding on a SUPERB and 100% original WW2 German Luftwaffe autographed photo of Wolfgang Späte.  Unlike most of the autographs you see, this is a WARTIME signed postcard photo postcard (not post-war).


Wolfgang Späte (8 September 1911 – 30 April 1997) was a German Luftwaffe fighter pilot during World War II. He was a recipient of the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves. For fighter pilots it was a quantifiable measure of skill and combat success. He is attributed by some, for an early, 1938 version of the speed to fly theory, usually attributed to Paul MacCready. Already a talented glider pilot before the war, he went on to become one of the Luftwaffe’s foremost test pilots (specifically the Me163 and Me262).  He is accredited with 99 aerial victories in over 350 combat missions, while serving with JG54, JG400, and JG7.


 

Made of heavy card, this postcard is in EXCELLENT condition!  Featuring a photographic image of Wolfgang Späte, it is signed in ink at the bottom.  Some marks and wear due to the age on the reverse, but nothing that detracts.  100% original, it would look EXCELLENT framed!  A PERFECT addition to any collection or display!


 

Späte was born on 8 September 1911 in Podersam.  He participated in German invasion of the Balkans and Greece, he scored his first victory (a Yugoslav Bristol Blenheim, near Pecs in Hungary) on 7 April 1941.  Returning to the eastern frontier for Operation Barbarossa, he shot down two SB-2 bombers on 23 June, the second day of the invasion. Victories came regularly, and he was awarded the Ehrenpokal, for 25 victories, on 9 August. Soon after, on 10 September, he was promoted to Staffelkapitän of 5./JG 54. Then on 5 October, he became the 10th member of JG 54 to be awarded the Ritterkreuz (Knight’s Cross), after reaching 45 victories. His unit withdrew to the Reich at the end of the year for rest and refit, and Späte was promoted to Hauptmann on 1 January 1942. Success continued upon returning to the north of the Eastern Front as the Soviets desperately tried to raise the siege of Leningrad. This culminated with the award of the Oakleaves to the Knight’s Cross on 23 April 1942 when he had 72 victories.[3] However, with the award, he was ordered back to the Reich to set up a top-secret unit: Erprobungskommando 16, EKdo 16 – to test-fly the revolutionary new rocket-fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 163 “Komet”.

Späte took his first flight in the Me 163 on 8 May 1942. Over the next year testing continued and slowly specially chosen pilots joined EKdo 16. Interestingly, side by side with the rocket-fighter project, was the test programme of the Me 262 jet-fighter (under EKdo 262). Späte first flew the Me 262 on 17 April 1943, and is one of a select few pilots to have flown both ground-breaking aircraft.  After another year, the Me 163 was deemed combat-ready, and the testing program was wound down. Späte was promoted to Major and sent back to command a combat unit: IV./JG 54, currently based in Romania. Before he left for his new posting though, on 14 May 1944 he flew the first combat sortie for the Me 163. According to some sources, his Me 163 PK+QL was painted red, either in the factory or by ground crew, resembling Manfred von Richthofen’s Fokker Dr.I. Although he flew the mission (without success, twice unable to intercept the evemy when the rocket engine failed), Späte was not amused after seeing the plane and ordered it to be re-painted.

His new unit was quickly recalled to Germany in June to cover the transfer of all the squadrons sent west following the D-day landings. There it was converted onto the Fw 190A-8 and then sent to Poland against the great Russian summer offensive.  But against vastly greater numbers of enemy aircraft the unit was butchered, losing nearly half its pilots killed or wounded – Späte himself was injured and forced to bail out of his aircraft. The unit was pulled back again to the Reich for refit and rebuild. On 17 September, the Allied forces staged their airborne operation at Arnhem. Again, IV./JG 54 was thrown into the fray, but for the second time in less than 3 months, against vastly superior opposition, it was destroyed in less than a fortnight.

Whether due to problems getting the Me 163 operational, or his unit’s catastrophic losses, Späte gave up his command of IV./JG 54. In his 4-month absence from the Me 163 programme, the first combat unit (I./JG 400) had been set up and he joined that unit to come back up to speed on the interceptor’s progress (some sources say as the unit’s commander, although Hptm Robert Olejnik is also given as the unit commander at this time).

In 1956 he rejoined the military service in the Bundeswehr. Späte retired in 1967. He died in 1997 in Edewecht, at the age of 85.

 


Please email me if you need additional photos or information.

 



——————- PAYMENT —————–

Payment should be made within 7 business days at the end of the auction unless buyer contacts me for other arrangements. I accept all forms of payment.


——————- SHIPPING —————–

My goal is to ship within 7 days from auction end. However, depending on circumstances, it may take up to an additional 1 week from receipt of confirmed payment. If you need it shipped sooner, please let me know and I will do our best to accommodate.


——————- TERMS OF SALE —————–

Most of my items are vintage, and as such are AS-IS, so you must therefore expect a degree of wear due to age and/or usage. I will describe each auction to the best of my knowledge and take as many photos necessary to ensure you are pleased upon receiving your item. All sales are final, so please make sure your questions are answered to your satisfaction before you purchase.


——————- ABOUT ME —————–

Although my passion is the Me109, I do offer many other German Aircraft (Fw190, Me262, etc.), as well as USAF and Japanese items. Occasionally I do offer many non-vintage items such as prints and art relating to the time period. As a private collector myself, I am constantly on the lookout for historical memorabilia, authentic photographs, artwork or anything unique relating to military aircraft.   


——————- COPYRIGHT —————–

All pictures and descriptions used in my auctions under COPYRIGHT and I forbid the use of these photos and information in any manner such as paper or electronic (internet) publications or otherwise. Use is solely based on my authorization only.