A tail wing from a German WW2 plane flown by the world’s deadliest pilot depicting all 121 enemies he shot down is up for auction.
The bullet-ridden section of the Messerschmitt is adorned with stencil paintings of the aircraft downed by Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer.
Schnaufer was a German Luftwaffe fighter pilot and the highest scoring fighter ace in the history of aerial warfare.
The tail wing of his plane featured stencils of planes each representing one he shot down – and the date each was destroyed.
The ‘kill’ icons, consisting of small roundels and four-engined British bombers, take up the top half of the large aluminium wing, while the bottom half consists of a swastika.
During just 164 operational sorties between 1 June 1942 and 7 March 1945, the night pilot managed a whopping confirmed 121 British and Commonwealth bombers..
The huge figure, which could have cost the allies around 500 lives, makes him the most deadly pilot in the history of aerial warfare.
Nicknamed ‘The Night Ghost of St Trond’, he is one of only 27 men awarded the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds.
His plane was finally shot down on March 30, 1945, but not while Schnaufer was flying it.
Bizarrely, Schnaufer, who survived the war, died on July 15, 1950 following a road accident while on a wine-buying trip in Bordeaux. He was just 28.
Wolfgang Lohmann, an expert on Luftwaffe aircraft and military-air historian, discovered the wing being used as a patch on a roof in the village of Hillegossen, Germany.
He offered the owner 70,000 deutschmarks in the 1970s and Lohmann has had the tail fin on display at his family home in Germany ever since.
It is now set to be sold by Dominic Winter Auctioneers Ltd in Cirencester, Glos., on May 15 and could fetch up to £20,000.
Chris Albury, a senior auctioneer, said: “We have not had a Messerschmitt bell fin like this before. Obviously this one is more than any other – it is unique.
“It makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It makes you feel very close to the Second World War.
“We have put it up in the foyer in a low key fashion. It’s caused quite a few comments. So many people have relatives or ancestors with a connection in the Second World War.
“I don’t think this is as controversial a piece as some Nazi memorabilia can be. If it was the other way around there wouldn’t be any controversy.
“It just happens to be a German aircraft. This is history – this is real. The fact that he had to shoot down 120 planes is just part of the story.”