Born on 19 March 1912, Adolf Galland became one of the most famous German pilots of the Second World War. During the Battle of Britain, the Head of the Luftwaffe, Reichmarschal Goering demanded that the German fighters should remain with their bombers to protect them from the RAF fighters. At slower speeds, the Bf 109 was less manoeuvrable and Galland’s reply to Goering was, “If you demand I fight at these ineffective speeds, give me a squadron of Spitfires”.
After the Battle of Britain, Galland took over command of JG 26, the main opposing fighter unit to Douglas Bader’s Tangmere Wing in the spring and summer of 1941. By this time Galland had 50 victories to his credit. At the end of the year, by which time his total of allied aircraft destroyed was 94, Galland was promoted to General der Jagdflieger, responsible for the Luftwaffe’s tactical fighter planning. He became one of the most controversial figures of his time through his skirmishes with Goering and his frank speaking to Hitler when he emphasised the need for more fighters to oppose the increasingly intense allied bombing raids on Germany. In 1944, Galland took command of JG 44 until 26 April 1945 gaining seven more victories flying the World’s first operational jet fighter aircraft – the Me 262.
Galland was one of the few Luftwaffe pilots awarded the Knight’s Cross with Diamonds and Oak Leaves. Captured by the Americans in May 1945, he was imprisoned for two years and during this time was interrogated on Luftwaffe fighter tactics at RAF Tangmere. He died in Remagen – Oberwinter, Germany on 9 February 1996.
THE CROCODILE SKIN BRIEFCASE DISPLAYED IN THE MUSEUM’S BATTLE OF BRITAIN HALL IS BELIEVED TO HAVE BEEN OWNED BY ADOLF GALLAND