Friday, 23 December 2016

Hellblau-über-alles - overall RLM 76 Bf 109 G-6/AS Höhenjäger fighters of I./JG 3

I./ JG 3 received its first up-rated G-6/AS ('S' for Sonder or 'special') machines during May 1944 (cf. Prien 'Messerschmitt Bf 109 im Einsatz bei Stab und I./ JG 3', page 400). These first Erla-refurbished/built aircraft were manufactured at the Erla VII plant in Antwerpen and powered by the DB 605 AS engine, a stop-gap development which featured a larger blower taken from the DB 603. The bigger intake required a larger port-side engine bearer arm which in turn resulted in the new refined cowl shape, the so-called asymmetrical 'Ballungen' ahead of the cockpit as Jochen Prien refers to them.  'Ballungen' is a curious Messerschmitt term - for which I can find no translation- for the 'refined' G-6/AS cowlings. The G-6 MG cowl 'bulges' were dispensed with. It would appear that the sub-type was developed - aside from on-going issues with the DB 605 D engine - to fulfill a high-altitude interceptor role, the so-called "Höhenjäger".

The Bf 109 G-6/AS that served with III./ JG 1 and I./ JG 3 in the "Höhenjäger" role in early 1944  (high altitude fighter) were notable for being finished in an overall 76 scheme, the so-called Höhenanstrich. Elsewhere Ken Merrick has explained that Messerschmitt  -as a general rule - painted its airframes with an overall undercoat of 02 followed by a single protective coat of the lower surface colour, which may explain this so-called 'new' finish adopted by some units. At the same time other Defence of the Reich units were already experimenting with low-visibility schemes; JG 11 had even taken to dispensing with the Balken- and Hakenkreuze. That being so, the AS machines of both JG 1 and JG 3 featured standard black Balkenkreuze on the wing upper surfaces- not the white outline type so often seen. The yellow (cowl) ID markings were dispensed with. (cf. Prien, page 402-403) The AS series were also manufactured at other plants including Mtt Regensburg, although it would appear that there is no precise WNr. record. With MW 50 power boost the AS-engine was designated ASM.

Staffelkapitän 2./ JG 3 in early 1944 was Walter Bohatsch although through the spring of 1944 he flew infrequently. Based in Burg bei Magdeburg, 2./ JG 3 was deployed on high cover duties for the Sturm Fw 190s of the Sturmstaffel 1 and IV./ JG 3.

Bohatsch flew a Bf 109 G-6/AS 'Black 7', possibly the machine in the picture below..see page 404 of Prien's 'I./ JG 3 im Einsatz'

One of his  Staffel comrades was Uffz. Horst Petzschler below. 'Black 14' is WNr. 412 179. Note that unlike the camouflaged I./JG 3 machines during this period the "76" machines did not have a white fuselage band. This image is reproduced on page 405 of Prien's 'I./JG 3 im Einsatz' - the winged-U emblem is just visible on the engine cowl. This machine was lost on 28 May 1944 when Fw. Büssow was KIA near Belzig. Note the Erla-Haube (canopy) and the tall tail, standard on the G-6/AS.

Below; Bf 109 G-6/AS W.Nr. unknown "Schwarze 27", 2./JG 3

Seen near Cormeilles-en-Vexin, Summer 1944. Source: Collection Col. Reginald Franklin Conroy Vance, via Tom Barnes,

H Models Decals have a small sheet of black Kennziffer for these high altitude day fighter interceptor machines in their "Nachtjagdgruppe" series - well that's H Models Decals for you!

More overall blue Bf 109 schemes by H-Models Decals here