In the Battle of Britain, the Allies wanted nothing more than to shoot down planes, capture pilots, and prove that all Germans were Nazis. When Uffz. Hans-Georg Schulte was forced to crash-land after the Spitfires of No. 41 and No. 222 RAF squadrons overpowered his Messerschmitt Bf 109E-4, the Allies only got two out of three.
The plane they grounded did not bear the insignia of its group, nor, more importantly, a swastika on its tail. The story behind it was a battle of principle.
Jagdgeschwader 53 was the official name of Uffz. Schulte’s flying wing, but it was better known by its nickname and logo, the “Ace of Spades”. When Hermann Göring was informed that the leader of Jagdgeschwader 53, Hans-Jürgen von Cramon-Taubadel, was married to a Jewish woman, he ordered their insignia removed, and that a red band be painted around the nose of each plane as punishment. The entire squadron responded by removing the swastika from their tails in protest.
The shot down Messerschmitt was put on display in Sheffield as a symbol of Allied success against Nazi tyranny, and to raise money to build more Spitfires, but it should have also been an icon of hope—that love of one’s country does not equal love of its ideology.