Comments to Part 1 of Dymich’s Article.

This is a comparison between the material available to Dymich and some of the material used by Andrey Mikhailov and me for our forthcoming book on the history of the air war on the Eastern Front, “Black Cross/Red Star”. The excerpts from Dymich’s article are placed between quotation marks, followed by my comments, below.

A shot down Bf 109 from I./JG 54.

“By July 22, (1941) exactly a month after start of the war, 37 out 112 pilots of JG54 were killed or missing and there were no trend toward lowering of the losses.”

According to official casualty lists, fourteen pilots of JG 54 were “killed or missing” between June 22 and July 22, 1941.

“ July 30th, 1941. On this day commander of Group III Arnold Ligniz(25 victories) did not return to his home field. He became the victim of (…) pilots of 7th IAP, Captain Polyakov and Lieutenant Shamin.”

On this day, July 30, 1941, JG 54 registered two pilots lost on combat missions. Unteroffizier Alfred Bleck was shot down in combat with two SB bombers at Shimsk. He was later found by an Hs 126 and rescued. Unteroffizier Bernhard Wronski of III./JG 54 was killed in a force-landing due to unknown circumstances. Lignitz was shot down and captured at Leningrad on September 30, 1941. It is believed that an RS-82 rocket fired by an I-153 hit Lignitz’s Bf 109. Lignitz bailed out and was taken prisoner.

“ On September 11, 1941, JG54 lost (…) Hubert Muterix(43 victories), (…) Muterix had been shot down from point blank range by the pilot of 191st IAP Lieutenant Novikov. It happened 5 km south from the lake Ladoga. Fait had been cruel to Muterix: his most important "rat" of his life he did not even saw. After Muterix plane was damaged by Soviet pilot, he attempt to turn and run a way. He lost control of his BF-109 and crush to his death.”

Oberleutnant Hubert Mütherich was killed in a belly-landing following combat on September 9, 1941. On September 11, 1941, Leutnant Peter-Ferdinand von Malapert of 7./JG 54 was shot down and captured with the Soviets. Von Malapert was “convinced” to side with the Soviets in captivity.

“ On December 17, 1941, leader of the Group I, Julius fon Cella(15 kills) had become a POW in Soviet hands. His BF-109 had been shot down by a pilot of 154 IAP Captain Petr Pokrushev in the area of Novoi' Ladogi. During interrogation in the headquarters of the Leningrad Military district Julius fon Cella acted very honorably. He answered on all questions of the Soviet General Novikov and at the end asked Soviet General to give his personal hand gun to the Soviet pilot which shot down him. This gun is currently displayed in the museum of the Defense of Leningrad.”

  This combat, which according to some old Soviet books took place on December 17, 1941, has been the subject of much speculation. I can’t recall how many times I have received e-mail from people who wonder if I can identify the identity of this “15-victory ace”. My personal conclusion (for various reasons) is that this combat in fact took place early in 1942, rather than on December 17, 1941. Anyway, there are no records of any “fon Cella”/”von Zella” or anything similar in JG 54.

“ On February 14, 1942, in the area of city Velikie Luki had been shot down and killed new commander of Group I, Franz Ekkerle(62 victories). From the four BF-109's of JG54 which were involved in fighting with Hurricanes of 191 IAP, not a single one return to their home base in Relbizy.”

On this day, JG 54 claimed five victories (Nos 1693-1697) for the loss of two aircraft: Eckerle was shot down in combat with Polikarpov biplanes - not by Hurricanes. Gefreiter Kurt Grice of 4./JG 54 was shot down and injured near Chudovo.

“ On March 12, 1942, two fighters from staff "shraffel" did not come back (…) Heinz Bartling(67 victories) (…)Lieutenant Leishte was wounded by rockets. He manage to land his fighter on the Soviet field. Few minutes after landing he died (both shot down by Lieutenant Vasilii Golubev).”

On March 12, 1942, Leytenant Vasiliy Golubev - recently appointed to command the 3rd Eskadrilya of 4 GIAP/VVS-KBF- claimed to have shot down two Bf 109s near his own base. On the rudder of one of the Bf 109s, the Soviets could count 26 victory marks. The pilot - probably Unteroffizier Hans Schwartzkopf of 1./JG 54 - bled to death from his wounds as he tried to escape the Soviets on the ground. Another pilot, Oberfeldwebel Robert Behr of 6./JG 54 was injured as his Bf 109 was severely damaged in a forced landing due to engine trouble. There was no “Heinz Bartling”, but an Uffz. Günter Bartling (11 victories) was killed during this time - either on February 19, 1942 (according to the “Generalquartiermeister loss list”) or on February 25, 1942 (according to unpublished original documents from Stab/JG 54 that Günther Rosipal, and my co-author Andrey Mikhailov and I have used).

“ On April 3, 1942, JG54 lost two Austrian pilots from Group II, Lieutenant Arnoold Kauer(37 victories) and his twin brother Lieutenant Eugen Kauer(6 victories). In the fight with Hurricanes from 485th IAP, both German pilots were shot down. Older brother Arnold had ejected and was captured by Soviet troops. Younger Eugen was killed. victories were credited to the Soviet Major Zimin and Captain Lazarev.”

I haven’t found any trace of either Eugen Kauer or Arnoold Kauer, or anyone with a similar name, in JG 54. Neither were there any losses reported by JG 54 on this day. The last Bf 109 lost by JG 54 in aerial combat prior to that date was Gefreiter Josef Hofer’s Bf 109 of 8./JG 54, which was destroyed in a taran on March 29, 1942. Next, Oberfeldwebel Gustav Walter was shot down by the tail gunner of a Soviet bomber on April 16, 1942.

“ On may 16, already known to us Lieutenant Golubev from 4th GIAP (…) (shot down) commander of the Group III, Lieutenant Hakon fon Bulow(61 victories). It was a shock for JG54, considering the nobility status of the pilots.”

Oberleutnant Hokan von Bülow - credited with six (6) victories - was shot down by a Pe-2 on May 13, 1942. Circling above the crash site, his wingman, Lt. Alfons Schulte-Walter, was shot down by ground fire. Both pilots were reported as missing. Instead, Feldwebel Gerhard Lautenschläger, an ace in 3./JG 54, was shot down and killed in combat with Curtiss P-40s on May 16, 1942. “Feldwebel Lautenschläger failed to return from a mission after achieving his 32nd victory,” was noted in the war diary of JG 54. Lautenschläger’s wingman, Leutnant Walter Nowotny claimed to have shot down Lautenschläger’s victor.

“On May 17, 1942 in fight with LaGG's of the 3rd IAP in the area of Kronhtadta JG54 lost two more pilots from staff "shraffel". Those pilots were Gerhard Lautenshpager(31 victories) and Lieutenant Ossi Unterlehner(27 victories). While two Soviet fighters of the Lieutenants Kaberov and Kostylev received serious damage from guns of Bf-109's, the victory was behind the Soviet pilots.”

Lautenschläger: See above. No Ossi Unterlechner can be found in JG 54. No combat losses were recorded by JG 54 on that date.

“ On May 22, 1942, pilot of Group II, Lieutenant Otto-Bruno Lozert (47 victories), which was Austrian and son one of the best aces of WWI, (was shot down by) Lieutenant Sukov from the 41 IAP.”

No Otto-Bruno Lozert (or Loerzer) can be found in JG 54. There were no losses registered by JG 54 on that date.

“ Hero of the Soviet Union Marshal of Aviation Zimin remembers: "At the start of the summer of 1942 in our area of the front we began to encounter very skilled German aces flying BF-109F. Those German fighters started fight with 2 or 4 aircraft, but they were very proficient with radio and they quickly increased their strength and attack from different directions very aggressively. One June 17, 1942, all 12 BF-109G-2 from 5/JG54 took off from their base in Relbizy in groups of 2 or 4 for ‘clearing"’the air for the attack of Ju-87's. Commanding of the whole group through radio was given to Ioham ‘Dworf’ Vandel. At the same day 7 Hurricanes from the 485 IAP had been patrolling the area around village Ramushevo and covered Soviet ground forces. Soon Soviet pilots discovered large group of Ju-87 which was covered by 4 BF-109's and attack them. 5 Ju-87 were destroyed, but Zimin's group was forced to defend themselves from 16 enemy fighters from the two highest scoring Groups of Luftwaffe. Even being outnumbered, Soviet pilots put up a good fight. Lieutenant Maks Hesse(9 victories), Lieutenant Ludwig Bauer(40 victories) and Welhelm Hubner(? victories) did not return to JG54 home base at Relbizy. They were all killed. One fighter from JG51 ‘Melders’ was shot down as well.”

According to Zimin’s Taktika v boevykh primerakh, p. 91-93, this combat was fought between eight Hurricanes of 485 IAP and twelve Ju 87s escorted by four Bf 109s - the latter reinforced by another eleven Bf 109s - on June 16, 1942. (For some reason, this air combat became rather famous, and an account of it even was published in the local paper Eskilstuna-Kuriren of my Swedish home town!) “ During an air fight that lasted approximately 45 minutes we destroyed 10 and damaged 3 enemy aircraft,” wrote Zimin. We are going to check this with the TsAMO documents of 485 IAP. At this time, Georgiy Zimin served with the rank of a Mayor. Neither JG 54, nor I./JG 51 Mölders, which also operated in this area, recorded any losses on June 16 or 17, 1942. The only Stuka loss registered in this area on these days was a Ju 87 D-1 of 7./St.G. 1 which was shot down by AAA on June 17. Ogefr. Hermann Hesse served with 5./JG 5 and wa posted as missing during a combat sortie in bad weather in the Murmansk area (!) on March 29, 1942. There was no Lt. Ludwig Bauer in JG 54. The only existing Bauer, Fw Gerhard, was killed on September 21, 1941. There was no Wilhelm Hübner in JG 54, but Leutnant Ekhard Hübner of III./JG 3 Udet was shot down and killed in the same area on March 28, 1942. No trace of Wilhelm Hubner found.

“On August 9, 1942, Max-Hellmuth Ostermann was shot down by Lieutenant Sukov of 41 IAP.”

I have nothing to add (other than that Sukov was a Starshiy Leytenant, “Oberleutnant”, at this time, and that his first name was Arkadiy). We had already come to the conclusion that it probably was Sukov who shot down Ostermann on August 9, 1942. His claim is the only Soviet victory claim in this area on that day, and Sukov’s account is well in line with that of the report filed by Ostermann’s wingman Uffz. Bossin.

“ On August 10, 1942, yet another high ranked ace of JG54 was lost. North of city of Rzhev in the fight with Hurricanes had been destroyed fighter of commander of Group II, Karl Cattiga(53 victories). German pilot leave his burning Bf-109, but was captured by Soviet troops. But this fight was also very heavy for Soviet fighters from 485th IAP. 6 Soviet Hurricanes had been fighting for 45 minutes with 12 BF-109's which were much more superior to BF-109. In this fight the best Soviet fighter from 485th IAP Major Kondratiev was killed, but for four more pilots of JG54 this fight was last. It is unknown who exactly shot down ace Karl Sattiga, but victories were credited to Major Kondratiev, Captain Gabrinez, Sergant Taranenko, and Colonel Zimin.”

Hauptmann Karl Sattig was shot down and killed near Rzhev on August 10, 1942. He intercepted six Pe-2s together with his wingman Uffz. Fieber. Fieber was forced to disengage due to an engine hit, and Sattig was never seen again. No other losses were registered by JG 54 in that area on this day, but in 10./JG 51, Feldwebel Richard Brand was shot down and injured north-east of Rzhev.

“ One September 18, 1942, in the fly book of Lieutenant Sukov had been put those words: ‘Combat mission, take off at 1:09 PM, LaGG-3. Leader of the group. Providing cover form Il-2's from 448th ShAP. Fight with 8 Bf-109 North or railroad station Tosno. Shot down leader of the German group, which was honored by a Knight Kross.’ On this day 6 pilots from 41st IAP had been fighting with pilots from II/JG54. First, Germans attempt to attack Il-2's, which attacked Tosno railroad station. After a while number of German fighters doubled. Even so, Soviet pilots continue to be effective fighting in pairs in vertical and horizontal fights and providing support for each other. There were no losses among Soviet Il-2's and Soviet LaGG's. Pointless attacks cost ‘Grunherz’ one more pilot. The German box champion in the light weight Herbert Findeizen(67 victories) jumped from his burning plane and became a POW.”

JG 54 recorded no losses on September 18, 1942. However, it is interesting to note that Leutnant Wilhelm Schilling of 9./JG 54 was injured (but not shot down) while intercepting Il-2s on September 16, 1942. On October 10, 1942, Schilling was awarded with the Knight’s Cross for 47 victories - the last of which was claimed on Sept 16, 1942. At this time, Herbert Findeisen served as a pilot in a Nahaufklärungsstaffel. He was not shot down on September 18, 1942, and he did not join JG 54 until late in 1944. Findeisen ended the war with JG 54 in May 1945.

“ On September 18, 1942, Captain Zelenov from the 154th IAP had intercepted lonely German BF-109 in the area of Novoi Ladogi. After short fight he damaged German fighter. The pilot from Group I, Peter Zigler (49 victories) had been wounded. He attempted to reach his home´field but could not. He crushed and was killed.”

Feldwebel Peter Siegler (48 victories) of 3./JG 54 was shot down in a dogfight with Soviet fighters near Leningrad on September 24, 1942. It is far from excluded that Dymich is right on this issue; there are frequent cases of “date messes” in both German and Soviet reports from WW II. It would be interesting to find out which source Dymich has based this information on.

“ On October 7, 1942, North of Ilmen Lake in the fight with Yaks from 283rd IAP was killed commander of fifth "shtaffel" Ioham Vandel(75 victories), which was also known as "Dworf" for his short heights and constant concentration. This skilled German fighter had been exhausted and killed in the 25 minute fight by Lieutenant Zaizev. It was first out of 12 Zaizev victory.”

On October 7, 1942, Oberleutnant Joachim Wandel, the Staffelkapitän of 5./JG 54, and his wingman, Uffz. Ransmeyer, engaged two Soviet fighters near Lake Ilmen. Wandel claimed one of the Soviet fighters shot down, but was then himself shot down by the second one. This was Wandel’s 75th and last victory.

“On October 25, 1942, Soviet major Solomatin from 92nd IAP … (shot down and killed JG 54’s) Bernhard Shulten (59 victories) (near the Budugoschi).

Oberleutnant Bernd Schulten (who was no significant ace; nothing is known about his score) of Stab/JG 54 was killed on September 25, 1942, as his Bf 109 was rammed by the Bf 109 of his wingman, Feldwebel Wefers, during take off. Jg 54 registered no losses on October 25, 1942.

“On November 11, already known to us (…) Captain Sukov (shot down his) third holder of the Kight Cross Lieutenant Hans-Iohim Heier(53 victories) from III.JG54.”

Leutnant Hans-Joachim Heyer, an ace in 8./JG 54 with 53 victories, was listed as missing after a combat on November 9, 1942, when he collided with a Soviet fighter. One of the pilots - it is not clear who it was - was seen to bail out. On November 11, 1942, the only loss recorded by JG 54 was Ofhr. Hans-Joachim Diepgen of 3./JG 54, who was shot down by Soviet fighters.

“ On December 6, 1942, over the Baltic Sea, had been lost pilot from staff "shtaffel" Orbert Pheiffer(37 victories), who was champion of the World in mountain skiing. His BF-109 was shot down, after a long fight, by a Captain Sukhov from 3rd GIAP.”

Unteroffizier Norbert Pfeiffer (no victories) of 10./JG 54 was reported missing in aerial combat near Oranienbaum on November 3, 1942. On December 6, 1942, 4./JG 54 lost a Bf 109 (pilot not known) in a belly-landing near Ramushevo during a combat mission.

© Christer Bergström, Andrey Mikhailov 2000

Comments to Part 2 of Dymich's Article

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