Sunday, 3 July 2022

"Rote Ringe" - Red Bands on JG 53 Pik As Emils during the Battle of Britain


JG 53 Pik As included among its pilot roster a good share of  noteworthy 'personalities' many of whom were promoted and decorated during the summer of 1940.  However there would be no awards for the Kommodore of the Geschwader. The 38-year old von Cramon-Taubadel flew in the Battle of Britain, claiming only his second victory on 27 September 1940, a Hurricane near Dungeness. It was during this period that Göring started to replace the older Kommodores with younger up-and-coming aces. JG 53 was no exception, the Kommandeur of II./JG 53 Maj. von Maltzahn taking over from von Cramon-Taubadel on 30 September 1940. At some point during this period  it is reported that Göring  ordered the covering-up of the unit's well-known Pik As 'Ace of Spades' emblem. It was to be replaced with a red cowl band.  The precise reasons for this remain unknown. 

Back in 1980 (in one of his first published pieces) Jochen Prien listed some of the JG 53 machines that wore 'rote Ringe' and examined several theories as to the significance of the marking - for example, they were perhaps a marking to facilitate reformation in the air  ('Orientierungshilfe') or denoted aircraft fitted with Jabo bomb racks. Having been compiled forty years ago his listing of Emils featuring a red cowl band is incomplete but worth reproducing here  ("Rote Ringe"  - Luftfahrt International, 1980/11).

Jochen Prien concluded that the most likely theory is that the 'red rings' identified machines flown by the Staffel leader and Schwarmführer -  the Emils flown by Ohly, Rupp, Mayer and Walter Fiel  fulfilled this category. Bf 109 E-4 "white 1" of 4./JG 53  - the mount of the Staffelkapitän Oblt.Günther Schulze-Blanck - also featured the ‘red ring’. Note that the machine flown by the Kommodore displayed the red stripe - see von Cramon-Taubadel's Emil below  - the Kommodore was of course the leader of the Geschwaderstabschwarm.


Emil flown by the Kommodore Maj.von Cramon seen after his landing accident at Rennes on August 18, 1940. The engine cowl - right foreground - features the red stripe that replaced the Pik As emblem. The machine has a collapsed starboard gear leg and is being lifted by an ex-RAF Coles crane. Note the bars of the Stab marking are set below the centreline of the Balkenkreuz

Below; Hans-Karl Mayer's Emil seen during October at Etaples;  Kommandeur I./JG 53 from 01 September, previously Staffelkapitän - leader of the 1st Schwarm in the Staffel -  Jabo rack, red cowl ring. 

A number of Emils lost over England displayed the red band -  commencing on 16 August 1940 when Fw. Christian Hansen of 2./JG 53 crash-landed his E-4 at Godshill on the Isle of Wight. This was followed by the loss of the 6. Staffel machine flown by Hptm. Alois Maculan (August 25 near Weymouth). The last 'red ring' was noted on November 2 (Fw. Xavier Ray's 8./JG 53 machine). 

also on this blog;

III./JG 53 Emils seen after the restoration of the ‘Ace of Spades’ badge in November 1940. Note the over-painted Hakenkreuz on the tail-fin in the image below left .....