Wednesday, 16 September 2009

JG 11 by Marek Murawski (personal accounts translated by Neil Page)

Based extensively on German language sources including Prien's JG 1 and JG 11 series and Knoke's memoir this small volume is just about all there is in English on JG 11. It quickly sold out but can probably still be located on Ebay.

The personal accounts from the unit's pilots were mostly translated from German especially for this volume, including new and revised extracts from Heinz Knoke's memoir Die Große Jagd, re-titled as 'I flew for the Führer' in English back in the 1950's when it first appeared.

Knoke's accounts really are due for a new updated translation. Here is an extract from the text of Kagero's JG 11 (Air Miniatures) book ;

On July 25th, 1943 the 8th USAAF launched the series of operations known as “Blitz Week”. Ten targets in Germany were to be attacked during the next six days. After midday, a group of 141 B-17s of the 4th BW headed for Kiel and a hundred B-17s of the 1st BW raided shipyard facilities in Hamburg. Flying Fortresses of the 4th BW were attacked on their return by aircraft of I./JG 11 and Jasta Helgoloand. One Boeing was shot down at 4.55 pm by Lt. Hondt. Meanwhile, pilots of II./JG clashed with the B-17s of 1 BW and managed to destroy three of them and claim one HSS.Immediately after landing in Husum, the German fighters were refueled and armed. Forty minutes later most of them were airborne again. Over Helgoland they were joined by a Kette of Bf 109Ts of Jasta Helgoland. Following a firing pass against the bombers the pilots of II./JG 11 claimed four B-17s shot down. A fifth Fortress was claimed by Uffz. Turowski of Jasta Helgoland. The losses were four wounded pilots. The next day the Americans attacked Hamburg and Hannover.At around 11.00 am a group of Boeings was attacked by Fw 190s of I./JG 11. The Germans managed to shoot down three Fortresses (Hptm. Clausen, Oblt. Grosser and Fw. Doppler each claiming one Fortress destroyed). 45 minutes later an American formation flying over Helgoland encountered aircraft of II./JG 11 and Bf 109T-2s of Jasta Helgoland. The Germans managed to shoot down five B-17s; Hptm. Specht, Fw. Fuehrmann, Gefr. Lennhoff and Oblt. Sommer (all of them belonging to II./JG 11) destroyed one B-17 each. The fifth Fortress was added to the victory tally of Uffz. Doelling of Jasta Helgoland. Another Fortress was destroyed a few minutes later.

Jasta Helgoland’s Uffz. Erich Ulmschneider recalled:

" Suddenly we heard the droning of engines coming from the northeast and then, plowing through the sky at an altitude of 4000 meters we spotted a silhouette of an aircraft. It was a lone B-17 on its way back to England. The bomber had probably been damaged and forced from its formation. It was unlucky enough to find itself flying right past our base on Helgoland. Technicians leapt up onto the wing of my kite and cranked the inertia starter for all they were worth while I had never climbed into my cockpit so quickly -the last “Toni” left the airfield at full throttle. I was coaxing and cursing my kite in the same breath. “You lame duck, you beauty, you good 109, faster, faster!”As I closed to within 1000 meters and prepared for an attack I realized that the enemy had yet to make any defensive maneuvers, far less open up with defensive fire. Something was up with that bomber, perhaps there were wounded crew-members aboard, since they would have surely noticed me by now. I got even closer to the Boeing. 400-500 meters more and I unleashed a burst of machine gun fire, stopped firing briefly and then let him have it from all barrels.. Cease firing! What’s happening now! I could see very clearly black spots tumbling away from the Boeing and the first parachutes popped open. The Boeing’s captain must have realized the futility of this unequal fight and given the order to abandon the plane. I sighed with relief, as I was ready for a fierce fight. Having counted eight parachutes and observed the Boeing plunge into the sea I dove away back to Helgoland with an unbelievable feeling of relief and joy in my heart: ”You will not have them on your conscience! " ***Prien, pp. 388

The bombers that had dropped their cargoes over Hannover came under attack on their way back by the pilots of JG 11. The following each claimed one B-17 destroyed; Fw. Zick, Maj. Mader, Hptm. Clausen, Oblt, Frey and Oblt. Goetze. The Germans lost two pilots: Lt. Paul Arlt and Uffz. Walter Heisel were both KIA.

On July 28th, 1943 USAAF bombers attacked the Fieseler works in Kassel and AGO in Oschersleben. Once again the pilots of JG 11 were to intercept them on their ingress route. The Messerschmitt Bf 109 Gs of II./JG 11 were the first to clash with the bombers. 11 of them were armed with 250kg bombs. Oblt. Knoke, Kapitän of 5. Staffel recalled:

" ...After dropping the bombs we got a fantastic view of what unfolded beneath us; the close-knit formation of bombers literally burst apart. Some Boeings plunged away in a steep dive, while others veered alarmingly out to the side, barely avoiding ramming each other. The bomb dropped by Fw. Fest fell bang in the middle of three bombers flying in a V-formation. The three aircraft plummeted down almost simultaneously! Over 20 parachutes hung like mushrooms in the sky. There was some cheerful yelling in the headsets. It was amazing! Happy as never before, we flew loops and rolls over the enemy formation and it took us several minutes to calm down. “Jonny” Fest had downed three of them with one hit! Several other planes seemed to have been damaged. I encouraged my boys over the radio:” And now, we are going to kick their backsides! Go and get them!” We fell upon the Amis from above in tight formation. The boys were overtaken by an unbelievable eagerness; they were shouting “Let’s get them!” from all sides. We flew in so close to the Boeings that we almost rammed them. I was flying a new machine armed with a 3 cm cannon*. Its projectiles knocked huge holes in the Boeing’s fuselage. The shocked pilot tried to evade my line of fire by violently nosing down. Five or six other enemy bombers, some of them in flames, veered out of the shattered formation enabling us to pick them off one by one! One after the other tumbled down into the sea in flames. Huge flaming slicks of gasoline appeared on the surface of the waves..."

The pilots of II./JG 11 managed to shoot down 12 bombers in total. One Messerschmitt was hit by the Fortresses’ defensive fire, but its pilot, Uffz. Erich Hoefig managed to bail out. A few minutes after the II./JG 11 Messerschmitt 109 G’s ended their attack, battle was joined by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190As of I./JG 11. Their pilots reported another six aircraft downed. Two of them were claimed by the Gruppenkommandeur, Hptm Clausen. Again, there was only one German fighter lost and the pilot, Fw Schmid, managed to bail out. Between 10.00 am and 11.00 am several skirmishes between Rotten or Schwärme of JG 11 and the USAAF bombers took place with the German pilots reporting the downing of four Fortresses and one HSS.The last victory that day took place at 12.15 pm over Apeldoorn, where the Kapitän of 4. Staffel Oblt. Sommer shot down one Fortress that was on its way back to base.

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