Friday, April 25, 2014

Max-Hellmuth Ostermann Messerschmitt Bf109F-4

Max-Hellmuth Ostermann
OberleutnantMax-Hellmuth Ostermann
    Max-Hellmuth Ostermann was born on 11 December 1917 at Hamburg. He joined the Luftwaffe as a Fahnenjunker in March 1937. At the outbreak of World War 2 Leutnant Ostermann was serving with I./ZG 1 flying Bf 110 Zerstörer twin-engined fighters. He participated in the invasion of Poland in September 1939. In April 1940, Ostermann was transferred to JG 21. Leutnant Ostermann was assigned to 1./JG 21. On 20 May 1940, he achieved his first aerial victory during the French campaign when he shot down a French Morane 406 fighter near Péronne. He recorded a second victory during the French campaign. On 6 June, 1./JG 21 was redesignated 7./JG 54. During the Battle of Britain, Ostermann did well recording six victories. Ostermann participated in the invasion of the Balkans. On 6 April 1941, he claimed  a Yugoslavian Bf 109E fighter shot down over Belgrade. Following the successful conclusion of the Balkans campaign, JG 54 and Ostermann then saw much action against the Russians over the Leningrad front. He was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 4 September 1941 for 29 victories. In November 1941, Ostermann transferred to I./JG 54. By Spring 1942, he had shot down 40 Soviet aircraft.He recorded his 50th victory on 20 January 1942, his 60th on 1 February and 70th on 20 March.
Lt. Ostermann of 7./JG 54 preparing to take off with his Bf 109 F-4 White 2. His rudder tally shows 33 victories. Russia, September 1941.
Lt. Ostermann of 7./JG 54 preparing to take off with his Bf 109 F-4 "White 2". His rudder tally shows 33 victories. Russia, September 1941.
    In February 1942, Oberleutnant Ostermann was appointed Staffelkapitän of 8./JG 54. He was awarded the Eichenlaub (Nr 81) on 12 March. On 31 March, he claimed his 79th and 80th victories and his 89th and 90th on 29 April.Ostermann recorded his 97th victory on 10 May, but was shot down shortly afterward surviving unharmed. On 12 May he became the seventh pilot in World War 2 to achieve 100 victories, although he was shot down in Bf 109 F-4 (W.Nr. 13 125) “Black 1” on that occasion suffering wounds in the process. He was awarded the Schwertern on 17 May. Ostermann was afforded leave following the award and did not return to combat duty until August. On 9 August 1942, Ostermann, flying Bf 109 G-2 (W.Nr. 10 438) “Black 1”, shot down a Russian Curtiss P-40 fighter for his 102nd, and last, victory, but shortly after was shot down and killed in a dogfight with Soviet fighter pilots in the vicinity of Amossovo.
    Max-Hellmuth Ostermann shot down 102 enemy aircraft in over 300 combat missions. He recorded eight victories over the Western front.


Jagdgeschwader 301 Focke-Wulf Fw190D-9


The "Star of Africa" Messerschmitt Bf109F-4/Z Trop 50 victory bar.

Marseille always strove to improve his abilities. He worked to strengthen his legs and abdominal muscles, to help him tolerate the extreme g forces of air combat. Marseille also drank an abnormal amount of milk and shunned sunglasses, to improve his eyesight.[2]
To counter German fighter attacks, the Allied pilots flew "Lufbery circles" (in which each aircraft's tail was covered by the friendly aircraft behind). The tactic was effective and dangerous as a pilot attacking this formation could find himself constantly in the sights of enemy pilots. Marseille often dived at high speed into the middle of these enemy defensive formations from either above or below, executing a tight turn and firing a two-second deflection shot to destroy an enemy aircraft. The successes Marseille had begun to become readily apparent in early 1942. He claimed his 37–40th victories on 8 February 1942 and 41–44th victories four days later which earned him the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross that same month for 46 victories.[43]

Marseille's service men, Hoffmann (left) and Berger, cleaning the board cannons of a Bf 109. "Yellow 14" W.Nr. 8673 can be seen in the background.[44]
Marseille attacked under conditions many considered unfavourable, but his marksmanship allowed him to make an approach fast enough to escape the return fire of the two aircraft flying on either flank of the target. Marseille's excellent eyesight made it possible for him to spot the enemy before he was spotted, allowing him to take the appropriate action and manoeuvre into position for an attack.[45]
In combat, Marseille's unorthodox methods led him to operate in a small leader/wingman unit, which he believed to be the safest and most effective way of fighting in the high-visibility conditions of the North African skies. Marseille "worked" alone in combat keeping his wingman at a safe distance so he would not collide or fire on him in error.[2]

Hans-Joachim Marseille standing next to one of his aerial victories, a Hurricane Mk IIB of No. 213 Squadron RAF, February 1942[46]
In a dogfight, particularly when attacking Allied aircraft in a Lufbery circle, Marseille would often favour dramatically reducing the throttle and even lowering the flaps to reduce speed and shorten his turn radius, rather than the standard procedure of using full throttle throughout.[47] Emil Clade said that none of the other pilots could do this effectively, preferring instead to dive on single opponents at speed so as to escape if anything went wrong. Clade said of Marseille's tactics:
Marseille developed his own special tactics, which differed significantly from the methods of most other pilots. (When attacking a Lufbery circle) he had to fly very slowly. He even took it to the point where he had to operate his landing flaps as not to fall down, because, of course he had to fly his curve (turns) more tightly than the upper defensive circle. He and his fighter were one unit, and he was in command of that aircraft like no-one else.[48]
Friedrich Körner (36 victories) also recognised this as unique: "Shooting in a curve (deflection shooting) is the most difficult thing a pilot can do. The enemy flies in a defensive circle, that means they are already lying in a curve and the attacking fighter has to fly into this defensive circle. By pulling his aircraft right around, his curve radius must be smaller, but if he does that, his target disappears in most cases below his wings. So he cannot see it anymore and has to proceed simply by instinct."[48]
His success as a fighter pilot also led to promotions and more responsibility as an officer. 1 May 1942 saw him prematurely promoted to Oberleutnant followed by his appointment toStaffelkapitän of 3./JG 27 on 8 June 1942, thus succeeding Oberleutnant Gerhard Homuth who took command of I./JG 27.[49]
In a conversation with his friend Hans-Arnold Stahlschmidt, Marseille commented on his style, and his idea of air-to-air combat:
I often experience combat as it should be. I see myself in the middle of a British [sic] swarm, firing from every position and never getting caught. Our aircraft are basic elements, Stahlschmidt, which have got to be mastered. You've got to be able to shoot from any position. From left or right turns, out of a roll, on your back, whenever. Only this way can you develop your own particular tactics. Attack tactics, that the enemy simply cannot anticipate during the course of the battle – a series of unpredictable movements and actions, never the same, always stemming from the situation at hand. Only then can you plunge into the middle of an enemy swarm and blow it up from the inside.[50]

Marseille receiving the Swords to the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves from Hitler, July 1942.
Marseille had a narrow escape on 13 May 1942, when his Bf 109 was damaged during a dogfight with 12 Kittyhawks (Mk I) from No. 3 Squadron RAAF, southeast of Gazala and over the Gulf of Bomba ("Gazala Bay"). With a wingman, Marseille bounced the Kittyhawks. After he downed one of the Australian pilots, Flying Officer Graham Pace in AL172,[51][52] Marseille's Bf 109 took hits in the oil tank and propeller, likely from Flying Officer Geoff Chinchen(1919–2005), who reported damaging one of the Messerschmitts. Marseille nevertheless managed to shoot down another Kittyhawk (Sergeant Colin McDiarmid; AK855), before nursing his overheating aircraft back to base. The repairs to Marseille's Bf 109 took two days.[53] The aerial victories were recorded as numbers 57–58.[54]
Weeks later, on 30 May, Marseille performed another mercy mission after witnessing his 65th victory—Pilot Officer Graham George Buckland of No. 250 Squadron RAF—strike the tail plane of his fighter and fall to his death when the parachute did not open. After landing he drove out to the crash site. The P-40 had landed over Allied lines but they found the dead pilot within German territory. Marseille marked his grave, collected his papers and verified his identity, then flew to Buckland's airfield to deliver a letter of regret. Buckland died two days before his 21st birthday.[55]
His attack method to break up formations, which he perfected, resulted in a high lethality ratio, and in rapid, multiple victories per attack. On 3 June 1942, Marseille attacked alone a formation of 16 Curtiss P-40 fighters and shot down six aircraft of No. 5 Squadron SAAF, five of them in six minutes, including three aces: Robin Pare (six victories), Douglas Golding (6.5 victories) and Andre Botha (five victories). This success inflated his score further, recording his 70–75th victories. Marseille was awarded the Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaubon 6 June 1942.[56] His wingman Rainer Pöttgen, nicknamed Fliegendes Zählwerk the ("Flying Counting Machine"),[57] said of this fight:
All the enemy were shot down by Marseille in a turning dogfight. As soon as he shot, he needed only to glance at the enemy plane. His pattern [of gunfire] began at the front, the engine's nose, and consistently ended in the cockpit. How he was able to do this not even he could explain. With every dogfight he would throttle back as far as possible; this enabled him to fly tighter turns. His expenditure of ammunition in this air battle was 360 rounds (60 per aircraft shot down).[58]
Schröer, did however, place Marseille's methods into context:
He was the most amazing and ingenious combat pilot I ever saw. He was also very lucky on many occasions. He thought nothing of jumping into a fight outnumbered ten to one, often alone, with us trying to catch up to him. He violated every cardinal rule of fighter combat. He abandoned all the rules.[59]
After claiming his 100th victory on 17 June 1942, Marseille returned to Germany for two months leave and the following day was awarded the Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern. On 6 August, he began his journey back to North Africa accompanied by his fiancée Hanne-Lies Küpper. On 13 August, he met Benito Mussolini in Rome and was presented with the highest Italian military award for bravery, the Medaglia d'Oro al Valor Militare.[60] While in Italy Marseille disappeared for some time prompting the German authorities to compile a missing persons report, submitted by the Gestapo head in Rome, Herbert Kappler. He was finally located. According to rumours he had run off with an Italian girl and was eventually persuaded to return to his unit. Unusually, nothing was ever said about the incident and no repercussions were visited upon Marseille for this indiscretion.[61]
Leaving his fiancée in Rome, Marseille returned to combat duties on 23 August. 1 September 1942 was Marseille's most successful day, destroying 17 enemy aircraft (nos. 105–121), and September would see him claim 54 victories, his most productive month.[62] The 17 enemy aircraft shot down included eight in 10 minutes, as a result of this feat he was presented with a type 82 Volkswagen Kübelwagen by an Italian Regia Aeronautica squadron, on which his Italian comrades had painted "Otto" (Italian languageOtto = eight).[63] This was the most aircraft from Western Allied air forces shot down by a single pilot in one day.[64] Only one pilot, Emil "Bully" Lang on 4 November 1943, would better this score, against the Soviet Air Force on the Eastern Front.[65] On 3 September 1942 Marseille claimed six victories (nos. 127–132) but was hit by fire from the British-Canadian ace James Francis Edwards.[66]
Three days later Edwards likely killed Günter Steinhausen, a friend of Marseille. The next day, 7 September 1942, another close friend Hans-Arnold Stahlschmidt was posted missing in action. These personal losses weighed heavily on Marseille's mind along with his family tragedy. It was noted he barely spoke and became more morose in the last weeks of his life. The strain of combat also induced consistent sleepwalking at night and other symptoms that could be construed as Posttraumatic stress disorder. Marseille never remembered these events.[67]

Meeting Rommel, 16 September 1942. "The Desert Fox" congratulates Marseille on becoming the youngest Hauptmann in the Luftwaffe
Marseille continued scoring multiple victories throughout September, including seven on 15 September (nos. 145–151). Between 16–25 September, Marseille failed to increase his score due to a fractured arm, sustained in a force landing soon after the 15 September mission. As a result, he had been forbidden to fly by Eduard Neumann. But the same day, Marseille borrowed the Macchi C.202 '96–10' of the Italian ace Tenente Emanuele Annoni, from 96a Squadriglia, 9° Gruppo, 4° Stormo, based at Fuka, for a test flight. But the one-off flight ended in a wheels-up landing, when the German ace accidentally switched the engine off, as the throttle control in Italian aircraft was opposite to that of the German aircraft.[68]
Marseille had nearly surpassed his friend Hans-Arnold Stahlschmidt's score of 59 victories in just five weeks. However, the massive material superiority of the Allies meant the strain placed on the outnumbered German pilots was now severe. At this time, the strength of German fighter units was 112 (65 serviceable) aircraft against the British muster of some 800 machines.[69] Marseille was becoming physically exhausted by the frenetic pace of combat. After his last combat on 26 September, Marseille was reportedly on the verge of collapse after a 15-minute battle with a formation of Spitfires, during which he scored his seventh victory of that day.[70]
Of particular note was Marseille's 158th claim. After landing in the afternoon of the 26 September 1942, he was physically exhausted. Several accounts allude to his Squadron members being visibly shocked at Marseille's physical state. Marseille, according to his own post-battle accounts, had been engaged by a Spitfire pilot in an intense dogfight that began at high altitude and descended to low-level. Marseille recounted how both he and his opponent strove to get onto the tail of the other. Both succeeded and fired but each time the pursued managed to turn the table on their attacker. Finally, with only 15 minutes of fuel remaining, he climbed into the sun. The RAF fighter followed and was caught in the glare. Marseille executed a tight turn and roll, fired from 100 metres range. The Spitfire caught fire and shed a wing. It crashed into the ground with the pilot still inside. Marseille wrote; "That was the toughest adversary I have ever had. His turns were fabulous....I thought it would be my last fight"—unfortunately the pilot and his unit remain unidentified.[71][72]

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jagdgeschwader 301 Fw190A-5

Jagdgeschwader 301 (JG 301) was a Luftwaffe fighter-wing of World War II. The order to form JG 301 was issued on 26 September 1943 and formed on 1 October 1943 in Neubiberg with Stab and three Gruppen (groups) as a "Wilde Sau" (wild boar) single-seat night fighter unit.
The Geschwader was equipped with the Bf 109G and was reorganised with four Staffeln per GruppeJagdgeschwader 50, a specialist anti-Mosquito unit, was disbanded in October 1943 and absorbed into I./JG 301. The II. Gruppe was redesignated to II./Jagdgeschwader 302 (JG 302) on 30 September 1944 and replaced by the I./JG 302. II./Jagdgeschwader 7 (JG 7) was attached to IV. Gruppe on 24 November 1944 and disbanded on 19 January 1945.


While I gruppe was formed in Neubiberg II./JG 301 was formed in October 43 at Altenburg from elements of II./JG 300, and without its own establishment of fighters shared aircraft used by I./JG 11. In November the unit was renamed II./JG 302. III gruppe was initially raised in October 1943 at Zerbst, but was renamed III./JG 300 the same month. The gruppe again reformed at Zerbst in November 1943, and was disbanded in May 1944.
JG 301's first GeschwaderkommodoreOberstleutnant Helmut Weinrich was killed on the night of 18 to 19 November 1943. Weinrich, a Knight's Cross recipient while serving withKampfgeschwader 30, crashed after his engine exploded during the landing approach to Frankfurt-Rhein-Main. He had shot down a bomber but his Focke Wulf FW 190A-5 had sustained heavy damage from return fire.[1]


By January 1944 JG 301's establishment was Stab./JG 301 (2 Bf 109G-6), I./JG 301 (26 Bf 109G-6), II./JG 301 (3 Bf 109G-6), and III./JG 301 (30 Bf 109G-6).
In March 1944 30. Jagddivision (of which JG 301 was a part) were switched to day fighting as a part of Reichsverteidigung (Defense of the Reich). On occasion night sorties were still flown however; as on 24/25 March, when I. and III. Gruppe engaged RAF Bomber Command formations. Ofw. Hans Todt of 1. Staffel claimed two Lancasters, while Fw. Sieghart of 7. Staffel claimed another. III./ JG 301 lost Oblt. Kurt Medinn (8. Staffel) killed in combat after shooting down a bomber. Before switching from night operations to purely day interception, units losses exceeded those claimed, although most losses were not combat-related but were due to poor weather or flying accidents.[2]
Elements of JG 301 then joined defences around the vital oil installations at Ploesti in Rumania.
On 24 April 1944 I./JG 301 attacked elements of a United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) bomber formation near Munich, downing 4 B-17s. Eight P-51s of the escorting 355th Fighter Groupimmediately engaged JG 301 in a running battle. Stab./JG 301 and I./JG 301 lost 6 Bf 190G-6’s shot down, with 3 killed and 3 wounded. The Gruppenkommandeur Major Walter Bredensbach was badly wounded and crash landed his Bf 109 at Holzkirchen airfield.
480 bombers of the 15th Air Force attacked Ploesti on 31 May 1944. III./ JG 77, I./JG 53, and JG 301's 6. and 10. Staffeln intercepted the raid. The Luftwaffe lost 12 planes, 10./JG 301 losing 4 aircraft (and 3 killed). The German fighters claimed 10 heavies and 4 escorts in return, with 10./ JG 301's Fw. Kiehling claiming one P-38 and 6./ JG 301 collectively claiming one B-24, with 2 B-24's badly damaged. The USAAF lost 12 B-24 bombers, 2 P-51s (of the 52nd Fighter Group) and 2 P-38s (of the 1st Fighter Group).
On 6 June 1944 570 bombers, with fighter escort hit the Belgrade marshalling yard and Turnu-Severin canal installations, while B-24s attacked the Ploesti refineries and the marshalling yard at Brasov. II./JG 301 and 10. Staffel JG 301, with JG 53 and III./JG 77 countered the raids. Fw. Gerhard Zeisler (of 10./ JG 301) claimed one B-24 shot down over Tagoviste for his third victory, but was then shot down in his Bf 109 G-6. II./ JG 301 claimed one B-24, while the 15th Air Force lost 1 B-17, 13 B-24s and 2 P-51s.
On 23 June 1944 400 B-17s and B-24s again attacked oil targets in Rumania. Aircraft of 6./JG 301 tangled with Mustangs over Bucharest, Ofw. Max Suzgruber claiming one victory. 6. and 10.Staffel hit the attacking bombers, and Uffz. Brenner claimed one B-24 shot down. Two 109s were lost from 10./ JG 301, in return for 6 B-17s, 3 B-24s and 4 P-51s lost.
The 15th Air Force returned to Bucharest on 28 June with 228 bombers. A response from 120 fighters of III./ JG 77, I./ JG 53, II. and IV./ JG 301 claimed 9 B-24s and 3 P-51s. 6./ JG 301 and 10. Staffel each shot down one B-24. The USAAF lost only 3 B-24s, all from the 485th Bombardment Group. The Luftwaffe lost 20 aircraft to the Mustang fighter cover.
In June 1944 I Gruppe moved westwards to St. Dizier and later to Epinoy. In the early hours of 21 July Lt. Horst Prenzel (Staffelkapitan 1./JG 301) landed his Me 109G-6 at RAF Manston by mistake after a 'Wilde Sau' sortie over the invasion area. The RAF evaluated the aircraft at the RAE Farnborough, and then passed to the Air Fighting Development Unit at RAF Wittering in August 1944. The same night Fw Manfred Gromil of 1./JG 301 belly landed his G-6 at Manston, due to lack of fuel.
After re-equipping with the Focke-Wulf 190 A-8, I./JG 302 was redesignated as III./JG 301 on 30 September 1944. In October the unit transferred to Stendal, near Berlin.
On 26 November 1944 JG 301 intercepted three USAAF B-24 bomber formations strung out on a 40-mile front due to a navigation error, around Misburg. Splitting into smaller groups, the fighters attacked in waves from the rear. The 491st Bombardment Group lost 15 B-24’s to JG 301's Fw 190 A-8s before the P-51 escort fighters could intervene. Shortly afterwards JG 301 attacked the 445th Bombardment Group. The initial wave shot down at least 5 bombers before the escorts responded, hitting the Geschwader's second wave.
JG 301 claimed some 58 bombers shot down; Oberfeldwebel Hans Müller (2. Staffel) claimed three B-24 Liberators shot down, Lt. Anton Benning a B-24 and a P-51, while Obfw Josef Keil of 10 Staffel claimed two more B-24s.
The USAAF escort fighters of the 355th and 339th Fighter Groups and the 2nd Scouting Force claimed 53 victories for JG 301's worst single day loss in the war, with some 38 pilots of the unit being killed or wounded and 51 Fw 190s lost in action or written off.
The next day I. and II. gruppe, JG 301 lost another 14 Fw 190As, with 7 killed and 4 wounded.
The unit's establishment by 30 November 1944 was thus; Stab JG 301; (4 Fw 190 A-9) I./ JG 301; (5 Fw 190 A-8, 18 Fw 190 A-9) II./ JG 301; (10 Fw 190 A-8/R6, 11 Fw 190 A-8/R11, 15 Fw 190 A-9/R 11) III./ JG 301; (50 Fw 190 A-8.)
On 17 December 1944 JG 301 again attacked the USAAF bomber streams near Hannover. I. and II. Gruppe attacked the escorting fighters while III. Gruppe attacked the bombers. Fw. Reschke claimed one B-24 and one P-51 over Göttingen, Ofw. Hans Todt shot down one P-47 while Uffz. Brenner shot down a B-24. Two JG 301 aircraft were lost, for one killed.


On 14 January 1945 JG 301 lost 20 pilots killed and 8 wounded as they were attacked by the massed USAAF escort fighters during an operation with JG 300 against the US bomber formations over central Germany. The day marked the first 'Dora 9' loss, from the Geschwader Stabschwarm. The two Geschwaders downed 18 B-17s, 7 P-51s and one P-47.
In early March 1945 Stab./JG 301 became the first unit to receive the Focke-Wulf Ta 152, with an operational brief to provide top cover for the Jagdwaffe airfields in the area.
The first Ta 152 combat sorties were flown on 8 February. On 18 February the Stab moved to Sachau, near Berlin and on 21 February intercepted US bombers, with Oberfeldwebel Josef Keil claiming a B-17 shot down over Berlin. On 1 March Keil claimed a P-51 over the same area. The final victims of the Ta 152 were Soviet Yak-9s during the final days of the battle around Berlin on 30 April 1945.
Encountering fighters on several occasions, the Schwarm lost only 2 pilots, but shot down at least 9 aircraft. Obfw Josef Keil (11 victories) became the first and only Ta 152 ace, claiming 6 Allied fighters, while Obfw Willi Reschke claimed the other 3.
By April JG 301 was based around HagenowNeustadt and Ludwigslust. III./JG 301 were also beginning to be equipped with Ta 152's, although full equipment was not completed before the war's end.

Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-10 of 5./NJG 11 Fassberg, May 1945

There exist a number of fairly well-known and invariably poorly reproduced - if not to say incorrectly captioned- photos of the Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-10s of 5./NJG 11 which were extensively photographed by RAF personnel at Faßberg during May 1945. Below are two such examples ( in this instance saved on Marc-André Haldimann's Flickr pages, highly recommended for Bf 109 images..)

Courtesy of  Luftwaffe author and researcher Jean-Yves Lorant I am able to post two exceptionally good quality images of "White 43" WNr. 130369. Click on the images to enjoy a full-screen view. Finished in an overall light blue-grey 76 Hellblau "White 43" wears a colour scheme that was typical for the 'Mosquito hunters' of 5./NJG 11 during 1945.  Even at distance in the darkness aircraft wearing dark camouflage finishes could be quite easily spotted, especially at high altitude. Note the airframe has been polished for an extra turn of speed. Also of interest is the small sliding ventilation panel on the cockpit glazing. The last anti-Moskito sorties were flown during March 1945 and the handful of machines and pilots of the so-called "Kommando Faßberg" flew night ground attack sorties against Allied road convoys throughout the month of April 1945 right up to the arrival of British forces on the airfield. (Photo credits : Jean-Yves Lorant Collection)

Fritz Gniffke of NJG 11 recalls his first wilde Sau sortie