Wednesday, 30 August 2017

New and forthcoming Luftwaffe books - JG 54

from Thierry Dekker;

 " Bonjour, luck would have it I am currently working on the same subject for two different publishers - the famous Eastern Front Jagdgeschwader JG 54. I have just completed some sixty new JG 54 artworks, 32 of these to appear in Erik Mombeeck's « Luftwaffe Gallery Special » n°3 and 30 in a new volume in the Lela Presse "Units" series compiled by Philippe Saintes and entitled 'Eagles of the Green Heart' - only two of these profile artworks will appear in both volumes! Of course the approach adopted by these two volumes is totally different, aside from the fact that one is published in English and one in French ..I've sent through an example of one of my artworks - as you know JG 54 was known for the original and unusual schemes applied to its machines! "

Thierry Dekker's artwork blog is here

And the blurb for Philippe Saintes' volume as written by this blog author for the Lela Presse web-site;

    Part one of a new French-language history of Jagdgeschwader 54, one of the best-known fighter units of the Luftwaffe. Philippe Saintes’ new history of this unit is illustrated with hundreds of photos (mostly rare and/or previously unpublished) and relates the struggles, successes and reverses of JG 54 during the first half of the Second World War when its pilots flew the Bf 109 exclusively. From first deployment against Poland in 1939 to the bloody duels with the Soviet air forces in the skies of Leningrad, including the combats on the Western Front during 1940, JG 54 (the 'Green Hearts') left its mark in European skies. Based on numerous first-hand accounts and documents (victory reports, stories taken from war diaries, loss lists) compiled over many years, the author reconstructs the history of this famous unit, which even today has remained largely unknown despite the presence in its ranks of many famous aces. 380 pages, more than 850 photos and 30 color profiles.

Jagdgeschwader 54 - the Eagles of the Green Heart. Volume 1. Publication 20/12/2017 Author: Philippe SAINTES Edition: Units history 05 ISBN: Published in DECEMBER 2017. FREE SHIPPING on pre-orders up until October 2017! Pre-orders by cheque (French bank account – to be cashed on publication). For overseas orders payment is also possible by bank transfer, bank or credit card but in this instance payment will be debited on placement of the order.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Oblt. Erwin Leykauf "Blue 1" Staffelkapitän 12./JG 54

Signed photo of Oblt. Erwin Leykauf  offered for sale on Ebay here. Leykauf is seen climbing down from his Bf 109 G-4 'Blue 1' of 12./JG 54 some time during April-May 1943 either in northern France or Belgium. Leykauf had been appointed Staffelkapitän in April 1943 and a few months later moved to 11./JG 54 in the newly established IV./JG 54. Leykauf survived the war with 33 confirmed victories, 27 of which were scored over the Russian front. In May 1940, he joined 2./JG 21 and shortly after on May 10, he scored his first victory. I./JG21 was re-designated III./JG 54 and Leykauf was posted to 7. Staffel with whom he flew during the Battle of Britain scoring 4 victories.

 Below; Bf 109 G-6 with Gondelwaffen "Blue 12" and 'Blue 1' of  12./JG 54 seen in May 1943. Source: film compiled by Erwin Leykauf via

Also on this blog;
Film diary of a Jagdstaffel July 1941 - Erwin Leykauf 8./JG 54

Robert Jung 3./JG 300 "Auf verlorenem Posten" - the story of a young fighter pilot in the Defence of the Reich

Robert Jung was an enthusiastic 17-year old young glider pilot when he was accepted for fighter pilot training in the Luftwaffe during 1942. After attending the Luftkriegsschule (War College) and then being accepted for Jagdfliegerausbildung (fighter pilot training) he was posted in August 1944 as a youthful  Fahnenjunker-Unteroffizier (officer candidate) to the leading 'all-weather' Reich Defence Geschwader JG 300 "..inständig hoffend nicht zu spät zu kommen " - eager to arrive at the front before it was too late. Although he had been instrument-trained, perhaps fortunately for Jung wilde Sau operations were by now a distant memory for the pilots of JG 300. But just twenty fours later his youthful illusions about life in a front-line fighter unit had been shattered - the war was irretrievably lost and while the sense of duty remained, every sortie was a fight for survival against hopeless odds. Jung recalls that the JG 300 pilots invariably "..prayed for clouds.." (page 19). The historian of JG 300, Jean-Yves Lorant recalled Jung as a very amiable man but with a somewhat fallible memory;

".. He visited me in Paris in 1993. His recollections of life in I./JG 300 were very fragmentary. I even had to identify for him some of the various instruments that can be seen in the Bf 109 cockpit photo in his book. He also failed to recognise his Staffel comrade Bert Wendler in the 3. Staffel photos that I was able to show him such was his memory. Although in the end I did put the two of them back in contact. Jung knew his memory was poor and that was why I was asked to compile the brief history of JG 300 that appears in his book of war-time recollections that he self-published in 1993. His replies to my questions were on occasion rather disconcerting. The book itself is probably not really worth reading as history - Jung changed some names and left others, fortunately..."

13 September 1944 was a day of huge American aerial activity over Germany - well over 1,000 US bombers and hundreds of fighters were launched at various targets. It was 10:35 when the green flare signalling the order to take off rose into the sky over the airfield at Esperstedt. The Messerschmitt 109s of I./JG 300 took off behind the Bf 109 G 14/AS “double chevron” of Ritterkreuzträger Hptm. Gerd Stamp. Barely twenty aircraft, the last of Stamp’s machines that were combat ready. This small formation was vectored over the Halle-Leipzig sector where combat was engaged at about 11:40 with a small force of 357th FG Mustangs. At about 12:15 the Bf 109s of I./JG 300 closed on several boxes of B-17s between Eisenach and Coburg. Oblt. Manfred Dieterle, Kapitän of 2. Staffel, saw several strikes impact against a B-17 which veered out of formation trailing a thick plume of black smoke in its wake. At 12:50, Dieterle landed back at Esperstedt in his “Red 7”. After Gfr. Hans Dahmen (2. Staffel) and Fhr. Otto Leisner (1. Staffel) had each claimed a Boeing destroyed, the German pilots once again clashed with Mustangs of the 357th FG, now joined by P-51s of the 55th FG. After his Schwarm had been scattered, Jung's G-14 was chased by four Mustangs. In the dogfight that followed, one of the P 51s flew in front of him - a short burst from his three guns resulted only in the jamming of the engine-mounted cannon. Managing to get into a good position for a second time, Robert Jung unleashed a burst from his cowl machine guns and saw his rounds explode against a P-51’s wing, which appeared to catch fire. The Mustang rolled slowly inverted and went down vertically. Despite the proximity of the ground, Jung did not have time to observe his victim crash. He himself had taken hits fired by one of his pursuers and had to attempt a dead stick landing, putting his “Yellow 3” down gear up in a field. The Bf 109 G 14/AS flipped over as it struck the ground. The concussed pilot was pulled clear of the aircraft and transported to the nearest hospital. If a victory claim was filed, then it was not confirmed.

What happened to Jung subsequently is unclear, as is the date of his return to the unit. It appears that his next sortie may not have been flown until March 1945. We know for certain that he flew on 24 March 1945 -  the Allies mounted the vast 'Varsity' operation to cross the Rhine on this date. Jung was shot down for a second time - but the landing site he gives, after bailing out, is some 120 km from the catastrophic combats that took place that day which saw I./JG 300 set upon by 353rd FG P-51s near Göttingen. Jung's 3.Staffel comrade and ace Mustang-Töter Fw Alfred Büthe was shot down and killed. Büthe managed to bail out  - in agony, his legs riddled with rounds fired by pursuing Mustangs - but died of his injuries later that day in hospital. His comrade Ofw Hans Fenten looked on helplessly as he lay in the next bed...

The aerial encounters of 24 March 1945 were some of the last to pit JG 300 against fighters of the 8th Air Force. As bomber interception missions progressively tailed off in favour of ground attack sorties, the pilots of JG 300 would clash with increasing frequency with the tactical air forces — 9th Air Force, 1st Tactical Air Force (P) and 2nd Tactical Air Force — which were supporting the advancing Allied ground armies

For the historian of JG 300, Jean-Yves Lorant, "..Jung's book is still of interest for its sense of 'atmosphere' and 'feeling'. A shame his memory was so poor - had other veterans recalled as little then there is no way that I could have contemplated writing a history of JG 300! According to Bert Wendler who was very reliable and had a detailed Flugbuch and memories of his 3. Staffel comrades, Jung flew no more than a handful of sorties 7 or 8 at the most. Unfortunately I do not have any photos of Jung  - he never did lend me the only photo he had of himself in Lederkombi as a Fj-Uffz in I./JG 300. Maybe he thought he wouldn't get it back or maybe he simply forgot to send it to me - whatever, I didn't press the matter. His wife told me she thought he had never got the original back from the camera/photo-shop that was supposed to be making copies. By the way the cover of his book was a composition painted by Richard Goyat depicting a I./JG 300 G-10 being pursued by a 357th FG P-51 on 14 January 1945..note the blue/white/blue fuselage bands introduced in JG 300 in late December 1944. Post-war he enjoyed a successful business career, eventually founding his own marketing company which he sold in 1988 .."

Friday, 11 August 2017

Fw 190 A-6 'Grüne 1' Werk Nr 550 445 Oberstleutnant Hajo Herrmann Stab./JG 300 and his seven wilde Sau night victories

'FalkeEins - The Luftwaffe blog' presents another blog exclusive  -albeit heavily copyright marked to deter the usual photo-thieves - this very rare image from the collection of JG 300 historian Jean-Yves Lorant.

This is Focke Wulf Fw 190 A-6 'Grüne 1' Werk Nr 550 445 flown by Oberstleutnant Hajo Herrmann and photographed between 03 August 1943 -date of Herrmann's 7th and last wilde Sau victory- and 24 August 1943 when Herrmann was shot down in this aircraft and bailed out 'unverletzt' (uninjured) according to the loss record. Click on the image to view large.

The original photo -measuring just a couple of centimetres square- was in the possession of Stab./JG 300 mechanic Feldwebel Alfred Rademacher for much of his life. It was though in fact retrieved from the dustbin by the author Jean-Yves Lorant who just happened to be visiting Rademacher's widow Gerda as she was disposing of her recently deceased husband's personal effects!

In his 'wilde Sau' article recently published in issue 60 of Aérojournal magazine, C. Ehrengardt attempts to reinforce two 'myths' concerning Herrmann's aircraft and his wilde Sau victory tally. Firstly, that Herrmann flew a Bf 109 T on the Berlin raid of 23-24 August 1943 - he did not. 

The author of the JG 300 history located the relevant loss listing during his research - '100% Fw 190 A-6 WNr 550445' - for the night of 23- 24 August, the pilot being listed as 'unverletzt'. This evidence, along with that of the photo presented above and Herrmann's own account of being shot down that night (he took to his chute and came down in one of the many lakes in the Berlin area) was more than enough evidence to remove any doubt.

M. Ehrengardt thus labels the neat profile artwork  published to accompany his article - " August 1943 ?". The question mark suggests - whether intentionally or not - that the original source of Herrmann's 'Green 1' may be incorrect while in actual fact the caption in Lorant's JG 300 history is accurate...

Below;  just to clear up any 'misunderstanding' the inscription appearing on the reverse of the original photo above reads "Bonn 1943, August, Maschine von Obstlt Herrmann ".

Another 'suggestion' that can be inferred from Ehrengardt's article is that Herrmann only returned five night victories. Well aside from the fact that the rudder markings are perfectly clear in this image, here is a brief listing of the 7 confirmed night victories returned by Hajo Herrmann during wilde Sau operations:

Nachtjagdversuchskommando 4 July 1943 = 1 bomber at 1h30 over Bonn Mehlem
Stab./JG 300 26 July 1943 = 1 bomber
28 July = 1 bomber
30 July = 2 bombers
31 July 1943 = 1 bomber,
03 August 1943 = 1 bomber for his seventh and last night victory as per the rudder victory markings

Even as recently as April 2017 it was still possible to find the less-than-knowledgeable posting images of the horrendous caricature artwork of Herrmann's machine that has been doing the rounds of out-of-date books, articles and internet pages since the mid-1960s!! Take a  (very) quick look here for example. Posting out-dated caricature profile artworks with hopelessly incorrect captions - rather like attempting to revise and refute certain facts diligently proven by a recognised authority - doesn't do much for your credibility I'm afraid.

M. Ehrengardt presents some interesting photos in his article (Gniffke's 'white 11' at Hangelar, Döring's 'Red 6' at Bonn etc...all incorrectly attributed) but his text contains a number of errors. The 'problem' with writing about wilde Sau operations is that the 'official' victories - as usually found on the Internet - represent no more than about 60% of the actual victories returned by the wilde Sau pilots as researched by Jean-Yves Lorant. Numerous victories appear in log-books that were simply never filed with the OKL for reasons that the pilots themselves explained;

-  absence of  witnesses
-  inability to pin-point the crash-site of a downed aircraft and/or wreckage ( at night, downed in many instances over a heavily bombed target area)
- claimed by the Flak who 'appropriated' a certain 'quota' of shot-down bombers according to the number of shells fired.
- dislike of and disinterest in the administrative paperwork especially following the stress and shock of a nerve-shredding and hazardous night-time sortie
- simple lack of diligence : by way of example the log-book of leading wilde Sau ace "Nasen-Müller" details only FIVE of his thirty night victories.

Hence the importance of locating primary source documents or photos or accounts which enable the reality of what happened on wilde Sau operations to be painstakingly reconstructed.

A further word on a couple of the colour profiles/ caption text in Aérojournal no. 60 :

Page 48, top.  "Leutnant Reinhard Krumbach" is an invention of Bobo and his site - evidently an inspiration and source for M. Ehrengardt. This 'pilot' did not exist on any JG 300 flight roster!  "Black 3" as illustrated was indeed a III./ JG 300 aircraft but it was assigned to Lt. Otto Schwamb of 7.Staffel and was an ex III./JG 54 machine, retaining this unit's BLUE fuselage band and black Gruppe Balken. III./JG 300 aircraft never displayed a vertical Gruppe bar -  as readers of Jean-Yves Lorant's JG 300 history would know. For some reason - an inscription on the reverse of a photo of Schwamb - Bobo at has misidentified this photo as he likewise did with Kurt Gabler's machine . Either that or he doesn't read English particularly well!

Page 51 top; now that the original photo on which the profile of "White 4" is based is in the possession of JG 300 authority Jean-Yves Lorant we can confirm that it is not a G-5 but a G-6 (the Werk Nummer is clearly visible). Assigned to I./JG 300 it was a 'Moskito' hunter painted in overall pale grey-blue equipped with power-boost as described by Herbert Schlüter in the JG 300 history (Vol I). It was not equipped with an 'infra-red' detector. Obviously to stand any chance of catching a 'Moskito' the aircraft did NOT mount 20mm Gondelwaffen slung under the wings. The pilot of this machine was a well-known ace of 1./JG 300.  See more here on this blog.

Also on this blog;

biography/obituary of Hans-Joachim Herrmann on this blog

".. Even as defeat appeared imminent, he refused to countenance any concessions to the enemies of National Socialism, vehemently rejecting an idea, floated by the Luftwaffe High Command, that the remnant of the air force should join with approaching American forces and fight alongside them against the Russians. Having fought throughout the war almost entirely against the western Allies, Herrmann was taken prisoner by the Russians on May 11 1945. He spent 10 years in Soviet camps and was one of the last to be released, returning to Germany on October 12 1955. After a period studying law Herrmann opened a legal practice in Düsseldorf in 1965. His clients included Holocaust deniers such as Otto Ernst Remer, Fred A Leuchter and David Irving. Something of an idol to the far-Right, he held political and historical evenings all over Europe to tell a younger generation what it meant to "live for the cause". He continued to make public appearances until 2009. For his services to the Third Reich, Herrmann was awarded the Knight's Cross, Oak Leaves and Swords..."

wilde Sau fighter pilot - Fritz Gehrmann 10./ JG 301

the aircraft of wilde Sau ace Friedrich-Karl Müller of NJGr. 10 and NJG 11