Thursday 16 July 2020

Eastern Front fighters - Exito Decals - Maj. Gordon M. Gollob Kommodore JG 77

Having recently posted some 'highlights' from the history of JG 77 on this blog, Exito Decals have just featured another JG 77 ace on a new decal set featuring three Bf 109 Eastern Front aces. Entitled 'Eastern Front fighters' the set includes nicely-rendered artwork from Anders Hjortsberg of Maj. Gordon Gollob's F-4 flown during June 1942 as the recently appointed (and relatively short-lived) Kommodore of  JG 77..

another 'exclusive' Luftwaffe Blog extract from a 'history' of JG 77;

"....In mid-May 1942 and promoted to Major, Gollob took command of Jagdgeschwader 77 deployed in the southern sector of the Eastern Front. He had returned the majority of his 86 victories as Kommandeur of II./JG 3. At JG 77 he succeeded the famous Gotthard Handrick who had been leading the Geschwader virtually since the invasion of the USSR. Gordon M. Gollob was to experience the important fighting in the Crimea (Sevastopol) and was very quickly in the thick of the action as JG 77 supported German ground forces pushing into the Kertsch peninsula.

On May 12, III./JG 77 claimed eight victories but lost two pilots including the Kapitän of 9. Staffel, Hptm Brutzer, shot down and killed in combat. He was replaced by Lt. Horst Marotzke. The following day II./JG 77 claimed eighteen. Shortly after Gollob's arrival, on May 16, 1942, the Kommodore himself shot down three LaGG-3s. Enjoying good back-up the Kommodore quickly took the pulse of the front in the sector and upped the number of combat sorties he flew. On 17 May, he was credited with three R-5s and another LaGG-3. The next day, three more R-5s fell to his guns; it was the same story on May 19! On the 20th, he claimed a DB-3 (his hundredth victory) as well as a LaGG-3. At that time he was not the only great ace of the unit since the Kommandeur I./JG 77, Hptm Heinz Bär, was himself credited with his 103rd victory the day before (four I-16s shot down in one combat). But it was rare to see a Kommodore committing himself so much in combat.

The fighting in the Crimea was in full swing. On 7 June, Operation Störfang, the great assault on the fortress of Sevastopol, was launched. I. and II. Gruppen were based at Sarabus while III. Gruppe shifted to Oktoberfeld some 40 km north of Sarabus, all three Gruppen flying in support of Luftwaffe bombers assaulting the fortress. On this day Gollob returned his 102nd victory downing another LaGG-3. Gollob's organizational skills were put to good use as he was responsible for coordinating all the fighter units in the region and was determined to live up to the confidence placed in him by General Wolfram von Richthofen, commander of VIII. Fliegerkorps. On June 23, 1942, Gollob was awarded the Swords to his Ritterkreuz. However at this juncture Jagdgeschwader 77 was to be split up. At the end of June 1942, I./JG 77 left for Sicily to operate against Malta. At the same time, II./JG 77 was sent to the Voronesch sector. Gollob therefore only had III. Gruppe under his direct command when Sevastopol fell on July 3.  On July 22, 1942, Major Herbert Ihlefeld, Kommodore of JG 52, was seriously injured in a takeoff accident at Taganrog airfield at the controls of a Fi 156. Gollob was ordered to ensure the transition and departed to take command of JG 52 while keeping his role as Kommodore of JG 77.  During August 1942, Gordon Gollob was credited with forty more victories, obtaining his 150th (and last) Luftsieg on the 29th of that month. He was the first Luftwaffe fighter ace to reach this figure. The next day, he learnt that he had been awarded the Diamonds, becoming only the third member of the Wehrmacht to be so honoured. At the same time he received a Flugverbot (flying ban, as had Ihlefeld before his accident). On 30 September 1942, the Austrian was withdrawn from the front - the Wiener Kronen Zeitung carried a report in its edition of 23 September of Gollob of being welcomed by cheering crowds of well-wishers while enjoying a spell of leave in Graz (below). His departure from the East more or less coincided with that of JG 77 itself, the Geschwader being posted piecemeal to the Mediterranean to relieve JG 27 engaged in Africa.

Exito site

More extracts from the unpublished history of JG 77 on this blog here