August 31, 1940, proved to be Lieutenant Wilhelm “Willy” Fronhofer’s unlucky day. During a cross-Channel raid, a British fighter got on his tail and blasted away with its eight .303 Browning machine guns at his Messerschmitt Me-109. The holed German fighter plowed into the English countryside. For Fronhöfer, a Battle of Britain veteran, the war was over. Marc Stewart’s oil on canvas painting of the incident, Outgunned, received third place in the “Military” category at the American Society of Aviation Artists’ Exhibit in 2005.
Stewart noted that his work was the direct result of his father’s insistence that he do a Battle of Britain painting featuring a Hawker Hurricane. “I had done several Spitfire works,” he said, adding that his dad, Dick, had always favored the Hurricane. Frönhofer is depicted with pistol in hand at his side but with his finger off the trigger, resigned to his fate, as a Hurricane flies overhead.
Stewart acknowledged that Outgunned is not intended to portray an actual incident. But since his research indicated that an RAF squadron with a mix of British and Polish pilots had been patrolling in the area depicted on that day, “I wanted to make it a Polish-piloted aircraft,” he explained, “because it would show payback for what the Nazis did to their country.”
The downing of Fronhöfer’s Me-109 is recorded as taking place on August 31 in Jon Vasco’s book 9 Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 26: The Battle of Britain Photo Album of Luftwaffe Bf 109 Pilot Willy Fronhöfer. Based at Chaffirs, France, in August 1940, Fronhöfer flew an Me-109E-4 with 9/JG.26’s red Höllenhund (Hell Hound) emblem under the cockpit. In Vasco’s book, the German aviator acknowledges being shot down in late August and crashing at Jubilee Hall Farm in Ulcombe. As is the case with many wartime records, there is some question as to who actually shot down “Yellow 10.” In official Battle of Britain records the credit is given to Pilot Officer Colin Gray, a New Zealand Spitfire pilot of No. 54 Squadron. But another British account indicates the victory should be credited to Witold Urbanowicz of No. 303 Squadron, flying a Hurricane Mk.I. Stewart’s victorious pilot, shown circling Fronhöfer’s crashed aircraft, is flying a Hurricane Mk.I, serial No. V7118, coded UZ-V, as reportedly flown by Urbanowicz on August 31 (see related story, P. 24).
To document Fronhöfer’s Me-109 markings, Stewart used photos on the Internet of the crash site. In one of the pictures there was a group of British soldiers looking into the aircraft, blocking the view of the numbers on the fuselage side. “I was able to go to several other sites and eventually found the correct number,” the artist explained.
Stewart, who has been painting professionally for more than a decade, does most of his work as the result of commissions. Outgunned, he admitted, was really done for himself and his father. “It was funny,” he said, “the whole time I was working on it, my father kept tabs on the progress. He got a real kick out of this one.”
Originally published in the May 2007 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.