As one of the most successful fighter aircraft of all time, the diminutive Messerschmitt Bf 109 saw service throughout the Second World War and was the mount of more air combat ‘aces’ than any other aircraft in history. This particular ‘Emil’ (W.Nr.3579) was responsible for launching the combat career of one of the most celebrated fighter pilots of all time, Hans Joachim Marseille – the famous ‘Star of Africa’. Despite his well-publicised flying achievements, Marseille’s introduction to air combat was less than spectacular and he quickly earned a reputation for ill-discipline, both on the ground and in the air. Initially, it seemed the only thing Marseille excelled at was living up to his growing playboy reputation. Despite claiming 7 air combat victories during the Battle of Britain, Marseille was himself shot down four times, including a soaking in the English Channel from which he was lucky to escape with his life.