Monday, 31 July 2017

III./JG 2 convert onto the Fw 190 May-June 1942 - 7. Staffel Kapitän Oblt. Egon Mayer. Fw 190 im Westen, Channel Front aces

Above; Oblt. Egon Mayer, about to climb down from the controls of a Stab III./JG 2 Friedrich, seen relating a successful combat account to his erster Wart (Gefr. Bender) probably on or around 17 April 1942. In the three days between 14 and 17 April 1942 7./JG 2 claimed no fewer than 17 victories including 8 claims for Staffelkapitän Oblt. Egon Mayer himself. This tally included two Spitfires on 16 April for his 31st and 32nd victories and three more the following day (two of these remaining unconfirmed).

Mayer's last victory with the Bf 109 was a claim for a Spitfire shot down on 7 May 1942. At that point Staffelkapitän Mayer and his 7.Staffel were taken off operations to convert onto the new Fw 190 fighter. Conversion training took place in Théville. Within a month 7.Staffel was back in action. The first clash of III./JG 2's new Fw 190s and RAF Spitfires took place on 3 June 1942 in a hard-fought action north of Cherbourg. The RCAF's 403 Sqd lost at least seven Spitfires in this action with Mayer himself claiming two, his 43rd and 44th victories

Among the other 7./.JG 2 aces  Ofw. Willi Stratmann, Uffz Guenther Toll and Lt. Jakob Augustin all returned victories. Augustin flew "white 8" (WNr. 333) and returned his 12th victory on 6 June. Oberfeldwebel Alfred Knies returned his first victory, which was feted as the 100th for the Staffel. The next day 7.Staffel was again in action against RAF Spitfires claiming four more and on 6 June Knies returned his second victory, another Spitfire. JG 2 claimed a remarkable eleven Spitfires on this date for no losses.

Below; Fw 190 A-2 "white 11' of 7./ JG 2 (WNr. 105) features the Staffel Zylinderhut emblem on the nose (a thumb pressing down on the British top hat)  rather than the III. Gruppe cockerel's head. After only a few hours flight time the exhaust has already stained the lower forward fuselage and this area of the airframe would soon be over-painted with the usual black trapezoidal eagle wing or Adlerflügel shape outlined with a white border.

Two views of Fw 190 A-2 (WNr. 2194 ?) "white 12" of 7./ JG 2 which sustained 20% damages in a forced landing at Théville on 6 June 1942.  JG 2 filed some 23 claims for Spitfires on this date alone. In a letter home, another 7./ JG 2 pilot Uffz. Otto Kleinert wrote;

"... on one of my first sorties from Théville with 7./ JG 2 on 3 June 1942 we ran into a formation of about ten Spitfires and shot them all down - our Focke Wulfs are largely superior to their machines. I flew as Lt. Augustin's wingman but really saw very little of the action, so close did I stick to my leader's rudder. After we landed I was somewhat surprised to learn that we had accounted for so many enemy machines. Of course as a relative beginner I had little appreciation of the bigger picture..."  ( 'In the skies of France' -Vol 3)

While the introduction of the Fw 190 into service with JG 2 proved to be remarkably successful, fully one quarter of all JG 2 victories for June 1942 were returned by Mayer's 7.Staffel. July 1942 saw a notable decrease in contact with the enemy as the RAF reduced its incursions over northern France while preparing for the (delayed) landings at Dieppe a month later. Of course by that time Armin Faber of the Stab III./JG 2 had presented the RAF with a new Fw 190 after landing in Wales.

Our look at Erik Mombeek's superlative "Dans le ciel de France" Vol 3 elsewhere on this blog

See "Starker Auftakt" - Alfred Knies' photo album in the August 2017 issue of Flugzeug Classic