Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Focke Wulf Fw 190 des JG 300 - Sturmböcke im Einsatz Norbert Graziadei

A recent issue of the excellent Flugzeug Classic magazine (July 2017) features the recollections of 5./JG 300 pilot Norbert Graziadei as he converts onto the Fw 190 in the summer of 1944 and flies some of the last Sturm sorties of the war - you can browse some pages at

Markus and his team at continue to produce a high quality magazine featuring plenty of decent content for the Luftwaffe enthusiast.

The following image via Jean-Yves Lorant, author of the two volume history of JG 300 published by Docavia in France during 2005 - 'Bataille dans le Ciel d'Allemagne'. Norbert Graziadei (middle) with Hubert Engst of 6./JG 300 preparing for a spell of cockpit readiness during November 1944. On the left is Engst's wife Elisabeth. Note both pilots are wearing the Lederkombination leather flying suit with the  'Deutsche Luftwaffe' armband. These distinctive yellow armbands were introduced by the Luftwaffe in late 1944 to distinguish downed German aircrew from their Allied counterparts in German occupied territory - and presumably prevent them being shot or otherwise maltreated after bailing out.

Peter Cronauer's article focuses on Graziadei's last combat sortie of the war - 31 December 1944.
Graziadei, flying 'Red 14', not his usual 'Red 2' 'Moidl' (lit. 'girl') - claimed two B-17s on this sortie before he was shot down and seriously injured by RAF Tempests (sic);

"...A few moments later, we closed to within firing range of the Boeing B 17s. Around and especially above us, our Messerschmitts were now pitting themselves against the enemy escorts in a violent dogfight. It must have been around midday. The battle raged for long minutes over Rotenburg. Ahead of us, the bombers were rapidly growing ever larger. I sliced through the first boxes of bombers - their gunners putting up a fusillade of fire - leaving the field clear for the pilots that were following me. Closing on the bombers, I could see that some of them were attempting to jink erratically to make our aim more difficult. I selected a B-17 and closed on it from the rear with a clear height advantage. I unleashed short bursts. The first was for the upper gunner who immediately ceased streaming his fire at me. The other gunners soon gave up the fight when my second burst disabled the outer starboard engine which lost its oil and started to burn. Having fired my weapons a third time, I saw several of the crew bail out of the bomber, its starboard wing now ablaze. A few seconds later it entered a stall dive. Just at that moment, I pulled up the nose of my “Moidl” in order to stay inside the bomber box. I had caught sight of Thunderbolts in the sun clearly waiting for our attack to end before closing to intercept us! Their pilots evidently feared the Boeings' gunners too much to dare to approach any closer. A few seconds later, I had converged on another bomber and was no more than fifty meters above it. An ideal position... I throttled back, eased up on the stick and again opened fire with my cannon aiming for the cockpit. The B 17 reared up and went into a spin just meters from my 190, forcing me to break to starboard while ramming open the throttle. In this way I left the enemy bomber box, or what remained of it. It had taken me just a few seconds to destroy these two Boeings... I should mention that just prior to our assault, the bombers (around 60-80 aircraft) had jettisoned their bombs not far from Rotenburg. Their bomb bay doors were still gaping open as we ran in on our firing pass. Having practically exhausted my ammunition, I judged it preferable not to attempt to run the gauntlet of enemy fighters by flying another pass on my own through the bombers. This was not cowardice. Any other decision would have been sheer madness...."

Below; Graziadei log-book detail for 31 December 1944; two Abschüsse and a parachute bail out on his 25th combat sortie, 31 December 1944

More Sturmbock Fw 190 JG 300 pieces on this blog; (translation copyright Neil Page)

" ...but Bretschneider ordered us into a defensive circle, a manoeuvre no doubt dictated by prudence but hardly appropriate in the circumstances! But what else could my comrades do? They were mostly former blind flying instructors or ex-bomber pilots used to flying the Junkers 88 and were barely capable of performing the most basic fighter pilots' moves. They were there to bring down enemy bombers — American escort fighters permitting! There followed an intense and confused mêlée, during the course of which I was more fearful of a collision than enemy aircraft. Indeed there were more Focke-Wulfs than Mustangs around me. I recall catching sight of “Pimpf” Erhardt’s “Red 8” with a P-51 hard on his heels below my plane. I yoked brutally around to port and let myself “fall” in behind the American. My bursts struck home and hit by several shells, the Mustang disappeared from Erhardt’s tail and dropped out of my field of vision. Matthäus Erhardt had not been hit. Unfortunately his period of grace lasted only until the following 14 January, the day his knee took the full force of an explosive round fired by a B-17 gunner..."

Sturmbock JG 300 Bretschneider

"... At 10:30, II./JG 300 put its first Schwarm in the air from Schönfeld-Seifersdorf: five Focke-Wulfs of 5. Staffel and the Gruppenstab flown by Fhj.-Ofw. Richard Löfgen, Maj. Alfred Lindenberger, Ofw. Karl Rusack, Uffz. Walter Beuchel and Uffz. Karl Werner. Leading the Schwarm, Löfgen brought his small force down to 500 meters altitude as they arrived over the front. Having overflown the Oder, the pilots were unable to discern the slightest sign of enemy activity. Ofw. Löfgen throttled back and flew a series of wide weaving curves. The Russians had infiltrated woods and villages everywhere, yet there was nothing to betray their presence. In the skies the enemy air force was nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, just as Ofw. Rusack made out the town of Steinau and the river Oder in the distance, a string of tracers flitted through the air around the German fighters..."

II./JG 300 on the Eastern Front

"..Suddenly all hell broke loose. The terse order “jettison drop tanks!” came through the earphones, and in the second that followed, numerous pale blue auxiliary tanks went tumbling down into the void. Löfgen had just peeled away, bunting over to the right and was diving between the box of Flying Fortresses that had just gone past below us and the following box which was looming — menacingly — ever larger. I tightened my turn a little to keep close to our number one. I now kept my eyes fixed on him, which meant that I couldn’t watch what was happening around us. Then, exactly 1,500 meters ahead of us, I counted 25 B 17s. Despite being well out of range at this enormous distance, their gunners opened up. The sky was suddenly streaked with thousands of sparkling pearls. Or at least this is how the tracers appeared in the dazzling blue sky. I was instantly reminded of the games that we played as children in our garden and how my brother Helmut would love to try and turn the water hose on me! Thousands of bright, sparkling drops just seconds from sluicing down on me. But I could only throw the briefest of glances forward, forced to keep station on Löfgen’s wing, and anxious, above anything else, not to collide with him.Another order came over the radio: “Pauke, Pauke, auf sieee, Rabazanella!” I had to pick out a bomber immediately. I quickly switched on the gun sight and flicked off the armament safety switch..."

'Red 19' Uffz Ernst Schröder Sturmgruppe 5./JG 300

"..As I peeled away, my Focke-Wulf flew through a hail of rounds hosed out by one of the gunners. At least three rounds smashed into the cockpit; the first one slammed into the instrument panel showering me in splinters of glass and metal, the second was stopped by my parachute harness buckle and the third shattered my left knee. I heard several explosions and could see that the cockpit was filling with smoke. As it dissipated a little, I realized that my left knee had gone. My leg and foot had slipped back off the rudder bar and through the enormous tear in my leather flying suit, I saw the blood bubbling from a terrible wound..."

Red 8 'Pimpf' 5./JG 300 Matthäus Erhardt