Erich Schmidt III./JG 53, RK 23 July 1941. Note, above forty seven Abschussbalken, his final tally. Currently on offer here
Below, members of his ground crew paint victory bar number 44 on the rudder of Erich Schmidt`s "Yellow 11". Surash, 27 August 1941.
(expired Ebay auction)
"..operating over Heeresgruppe Mitte, this latter organisation seems to have largely abdicated its authority to 'adjudicate' in the claims confirmation process ".
While its defenders claim Wilcke's Gruppe - established by Mölders - was a nursery for Draufgänger, as evidenced by the three Ritterkreuze awarded in this short space of time, Roba continues;
" it is nonetheless a fact that many of these pilots' victory claims were no more than flights of fancy and that they were 'encouraged' to file these claims by a benevolent hierarchy and propaganda media looking for new heroes ".
These 373 claims were made for the loss of some 31 Friedrichs either seriously damaged or destroyed and just three pilots killed. However one of those killed was Ritterkreuz holder Lt. Erich Schmidt. Following the award of the Ritterkreuz on 23 July 1941 for 31 victories he claimed five Russian DB-3 twin-engined bombers (32-36) on 26 July and his 40th, an I-16 fighter, on 7 August.
On 31 August 1941, Schmidt’s Bf 109 F-2 (W.Nr. 12 633) “Yellow 6” was hit by flak near Dubno. He was seen to bale out of his stricken machine but is still listed as MIA.