Monday, 29 February 2016

III./JG 2 in France - 30 December 1942, first frontal attack - Channel Front ace Uffz. Friedrich May - daily Ebay photo find #160

Below; magnificent Adlerkopf 'eagle's head' marking on this III./ JG 2 Fw 190. Lt. Ambrosius Passer of 9./JG 2 opening the bubbly to celebrate his second victory, a recce Spitfire south of Dieppe on 2 June 1942 cf. Mombeek's 'Dans le Ciel de France' Volume 3 - 1942

Above; Friedrich May as an Uffz. in 8./JG 2 posing in front of his 15-kill rudder scoreboard - note the twin Balken representing US bombers. May returned his first victory on 10 June 1942 when he claimed a Boston at 14:10. His victim was AL283 of 107 Sqdn. His 6th was a B-17 on 30 December 1942 during a raid by 1st Bomb Wing B-17s attacking the U-boat pens at Lorient. He was KIA on 20 October 1943 in the vicinity of Rouen in combat with Spitfires (Fw 190 A-6 470047) as an Ofw. with 3./JG 2. With at least 21 victories on his scoreboard May was awarded a posthumous DKiG. (Mombeek 'Dans le Ciel de France' Volume 4, page 188)

The 8th USAF's raid on the U-boat pens at Lorient on Wednesday 30 December 1942 - the 27th mission of this fledgling force- was significant in the story of the Fw 190-equipped III./ JG 2. Kommandeur Mayer and his Stab along with nine Fw 190s from 7. Staffel were airborne from Vannes to counter the incursion. Mayer was determined to carry out a new tactic that he had been considering over the previous weeks - the frontal attack, hitting the B-17s where their defensive fire was at its weakest.  In the subsequent combat Lt. Georg-Peter Eder of 7./ JG 2 returned his first Viermot victory in his first encounter with the four-engine bombers;

".. today the fine weather - absent since Christmas - put in a welcome reappearance. The comrades from the other side were bound to take advantage to make their last visit of the year. At around 10:00 we were informed that bombers were forming up over England and by 10:30 they had set out on a south-westerly heading. The order quickly came through to go to cockpit readiness and we waited for the order to get airborne which could reach us at any moment...(..)
....once in the air the Kommandeur set course for Lorient and we climbed for altitude in wide circles. A constant stream of detail regarding the position of the enemy aircraft came over the radio. They were approaching Lorient from the sea. Then we saw the swarms far off in the distance. The Kommandeur called over the radio;  " tighten up the formation, stay calm, we are attacking from the front " As we closed up the enemy formation grew rapidly larger. The Kommandeur took us into a slight turn to bring us in head-on. Gunsights were switched on and cannon electrically cocked. " Stay calm, do not open fire "; the calm voice of the Kommandeur came through the earphones. By now the bombers were looming large in the windshield.
" Now !"
Just time to unleash a burst of fire before sweeping over a B-17 and then a steeply banked turn to come in from the rear. All over my machine I could hear cracking and popping but I clung on to my prey, closing to within 150 metres. His port inboard engine was already ablaze but he maintained his position in the formation. Hundreds of tracer rounds seemed to be drawn to my canopy. My fire was unceasing. By now the Fortress was burning from one end to the other. Then in an instant it appeared to tip over and started going down, plunging some 8,000 metres into the Atlantic. No time for a breather, the bombers were approaching their target. Bombs gone! They appeared to fall harmlessly into the ocean. As the B-17s headed back out to sea we continued to harass them - like flies buzzing around a large beast. And we knew where to bite. Then another hit in my port wing - I could see that this one had caused some damage. Off to my right I could see Erich Hohagen firing burst after burst and taking hits that did not appear to bother him in the slightest. The Kommandeur ordered us to re-assemble over Belle Ile and in a matter of minutes we were back over Vannes where we landed on our last drops of fuel. As I taxied back to the 7.Staffel dispersal I saw the Fw 190 of Lt. Philipp - the Adjutant - alongside mine. It was in a sorry state, riddled from front to back. In the cockpit a beaming Philipp waved at me, a broad grin on his face. Back in the ops building we animatedly discussed the combat, each successful pilot writing up his victory report and checking for witnesses. Eight bombers downed for two pilots missing. 
'..For our first formation frontal attack that was a good result .. declared the Kommandeur......"

(translation N. Page, extracted from  'Dans le ciel de France' Volume 3, pages 200-201)

Also on this blog;

Scenes from III./ JG 2 at Théville

Georg-Peter Eder account of Rouen raid 28 March 1943

Oblt. 'Sepp' Wurmheller Staffelkapitän 9./ JG 2 Fw 190 A-6 and A-5 ' yellow 2 ' 

Josef “Sepp” Wurmheller I./JG 2 over Dieppe 19 August 1942