Sunday, 8 March 2020

Hptm. Fritz Keller Bf 109 G-6 Kanonenboot, Gruppenkommandeur II./JG 27 ? Werner Schroer's 100th

G-6 'Kanonen-boot' W.Nr. unknown, in front of a Stabs machine of II./JG 27, Wiesbaden Erbenheim, early 1944. Identified as "schwarzer Doppelwinkel", belonging to Gkr. Hptm. Fritz Keller..

Standing in front of this machine are Ofw. Müller and Fw. Blume. Source: Collection Hans Eberhard Blume via Boiten and Bowman 2001, p. 91. Thanks to Sinisa and Marc for heads-up and caption. Also published in the Prien/Rodeike/Stemmer history of II./ JG 27, page 396. A cheap 'repro' currently on offer here

"...Fritz Keller is an interesting pilot. Having claimed his first victory on 5th June 1940 (a GC II/7 D.520, claimed as a MS 406), his last was claimed in December 1944. Quite a long career, all things considered...."

Perhaps not Keller's machine though, or even the Gkr's as only part of a single chevron is visible. Maj. Werner Schroer was Gkr. II./JG 27 until mid-March 1944 when he left the unit for III./JG 54. He was of course a 100 victory ace and Eichenlaub holder at the time (awarded after his 84th), so his pilots were very likely to want to be photographed in front of his machine - even more so if he was leaving the unit.  See the photo series in Prien II./JG 27 (p424), dated March 3, 1944, depicting Schroer with a celebratory garland marked '100'. However some sources indicate that March 3 was the date Schroer filed his 99th claim and victories 99-102 were not returned until May with III./JG 54. (a P-51 and two B-17s on May 24)

Fritz Keller himself had been away from the front for nearly two years - from April 42 to late Jan 44 - following a so-called Führeranlass after the deaths of his two brothers in Russia. (Prien, II./JG 27 quoting from Keller in 97).  Keller had six victory claims up to April 1942. He volunteered to return to active service and pestered Galland to get back to JG 27. (Prien, p362) He flew his first (training) sortie in II. Gruppe on March 15, 1944. He subsequently claimed a number of Viermots but was shot down on December 17, 1944 and hospitalised for several months before returning to head up II. Gruppe from the ground.

Ofw. Müller (above, left) was KIA on the big USAAF raid over central Germany that was mounted on 16 August 1944. He was lost after combat in G-6/AS 'white 9' WNr. 412 556 in 7./JG 27.

Below; another view in Wiesbaden-Erbenheim of Ofw. Alfred Müller, seen here wearing what may have been a 'liberated' USAF flight jacket and Fw. Hans-Eberhard Blume in front of II./JG 27 G-6 Gustavs

.." some vintage photos may suffer due to quality of originals. Copyright may apply..." says this Ebay seller who has multiple copies (!) of this rather pixelated image for sale here