Friday 4 April 2014

Lt. Walter Bohatsch I. & II./ JG 3 - Bf 109 Gustavs defending the Reich, Reichsverteidigung

 Bf 109 G-5 W.Nr. 26 09x "Schwarze 6" flown by Lt. Walter Bohatsch (seen below, right, click to view large) with his Erster Wart, Amsterdam-Schipol, probably 11 November 1943. It is just possible to make out the lower edge of the II. Gruppe Balken more or less concealed by the sunlight reflection here. G-5 ID confirmed by the following as pointed out by Jakub Plewka; canopy framing reveals additional seals, silica gel capsules in the windscreen side windows. Likely pressurised. Confirmed G-5s relatively rare. Note that this pic is reproduced on p261 of Prien's II./ JG 3 history although Schiffer's reproduction is very dark..

 John Weal profile. Note that II./ JG 3 eschewed theatre and tactical markings through late 1943 and as per the image below used 'outline' codes with no yellow recognition markings such as lower cowls or rudders. This was to tone down their markings and appear as anonymous as possible - they were at the time facing the brunt of the US bomber formations. The Geschwader 'winged U' badge was displayed in 'reverse' and featured a red 'dot', the significance of which is not known. See Ebay pic below of Bf 109 G-6 W.Nr. 18 802 "Schwarze 1", Lt Joachim Kirschner, Staffelkapitän 5./JG 3, Amsterdam-Schipol, Autumn 1943. Sitting on the cowling is Fw. Paul Draeger. Via Prien JFV 10/II..

Walter Bohatsch was born on 14th January 1921. He trained as a fighter pilot from June 1942 until 15th February 1943 with JFS 2 and JFS 5 before joining Erg./JGr.Ost. He made at least thirteen claims that were confirmed. The first was 17th April 1943, the last with JG 3 was a B-17 on 29th April 1944. He made at least four further B-17 claims with 1./ JG 7. The 14th claim was a B-17 shot down on 10 April 1945 and the 15th, a B-17 over Dresden on 14 April. Bohatsch claimed two further B-17s, the last Fortress going down south-west of Prague on 19 April 1945. Walter Bohatsch self-published a small book about his experiences in JG 3 from 1943 to 1945 entitled "Zeitzeugenbericht über eine Jagdfliegereinheit von 1943 bis 8. Mai 1945"  ( "Eyewitness account from a fighter unit-1943 to 8 May 1945'')  The following from Leon Ventner published in 2004 on TOCH;

 " an attractive hardcover book, with JG 3 and JG 7 emblems on the cover, comprising 86 pages, most of which are illustrated. The majority of the photographs are of JG 3 and JG 7 pilots, but several shots have aircraft in the background, including Bohatsch's Bf 109 Gustav "Black 6" and Me 262 "White 4". The text describes the author's experiences as a member of 5./JG 3 in Russia, Holland and Germany (55 pages). After being wounded, he served in 2./JG 3 (6 pages) before joining I./JG 7 (10 pages). He flew the 109 G-4, G-5, and G-6 in operations, as well as the Me 262. He flew his last flight in Me 262 "White 4" on May 8th, 1945. ..."

Bohatsch was appointed Staffelkapitän 2./ JG 3 in early 1944 but flew infrequently due to his injuries. 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;

His Staffel comrade Horst Petzschler recalled;

" was the second week of May 1944 and we were sat around the Staffel briefing room when we we told that a large formation of bombers was assembling over England. We watched their advance closely and predicted that they were heading for Berlin. Our assumption proved correct sometime later when the alarm was sounded; the klaxon going off signified that we should go to cockpit readiness. We were driven out to our Gustavs and almost immediately ordered to get airborne. As Burg was such a large field our entire Staffel took off in unison. We followed Bohatsch  and climbed to 30,000 feet as instructed by our ground station at Dobernitz. I sighted the approaching B-17s at 24,000 feet and our Staffel formed up to the rear of their formation. We opened out into our attack formation and on Bohatsch's command "Angriff!" we dove on the B-17s. Almost immediately we realised that P-38s were behind us and our Staffel attack was completely disrupted - it appeared that they were all on my tail and coming after me. My inexperienced wingman had disappeared into the clouds and now our flak was exploding all over the sky. I put my Gustav into a steep dive flying by the bomber stream and headed north with the P-38s in close pursuit...15 minutes into the chase I noticed my temperature gauge climbing fast and knew my coolant had been holed. I was too low to bale out..I knew I would have to belly in before my engine seized .... "