Monday, 25 April 2016

Focke Wulf 190 A-6 Sturmjäger - " white 4" Sturmstaffel 1

Recovery of a belly-landed Fw 190 of Sturmstaffel 1 in early 1944. The aircraft used by Sturmstaffel 1 at this time were Focke Wulf  Fw 190 A-6s, which lacked the 30 mm Mk 108 cannon but were equipped with an armoured cockpit. This comprised four externally mounted steel plates, Panzerplattern, designed to protect the pilot during the long moments when the attacking aircraft was exposed to the bombers defensive fire. An armoured windscreen and armoured glass canopy panels were also fitted. The rifle calibre MG 17 fuselage guns were removed. Here the engine upper cowl lies on the wing and the position of the cowl latches shows the MG 17 fit with the 'narrow' gun troughs. On MG 131-equipped machines with the bulged cowl the latches are located on the side cowls. Note the fuselage bands have a small white outline. There is no cowl emblem, both indications that this is not a later JG 4 machine.

The Sturmstaffel was based at Dortmund alongside JG 1. The first officially confirmed victory of the unit was attributed to Major Erwin Bacsila, a B-17 shot down on 30 January 1944.  An Austrian, Bacsila flew with the unit until April 1944 when he was wounded in the arm and subsequently declared unfit for action. A respected officer with several command appointments he had previously flown as Joachim Müncheberg's Rottenflieger with JG 77 in North Africa. His diary for the period makes for fascinating reading.

Sturmstaffel 1 was deactivated on 21 April 1944 and renamed as 11 Staffel of IV./JG 3 as part of a general expansion of units using these methods and integrated into IV./JG 3 under new Gruppenkommandeur Hptm Willi Moritz. Maj. von Kornatzki and Maj. Erwin Bacsila the ranking officers of Sturmstaffel 1 were transferred out of the unit with the Staffelkapitän Major von Kornatzki subsequently charged with establishing a new Sturmgruppe, II./ JG 4 from the remnants of I./ZG 1. Five experienced pilots of Sturmstaffel 1 provided a core for Major von Kornatzki’s newly formed command: Leutnant Ulrich Blaese, Feldwebel Gerhard Marburg, Leutnant Rudolf Metz, Leutnant Werner Peinemann and Oberleutnant Othmar Zehart.