Comments to Part 2 of Dymich’s Article.

Below is - within quotation marks - the full text of the second part of V. Dymich’s article (edited by Yevgeniy Chizhikov, Y.C.) on JG 54 versus the Soviet Air Force, which I received via Dénes Bernád. Between Dymich’s paragraphs are my comments, opened with “Comment:”.

Christer Bergström

“At the end of December, 1942, JG54 began to change their BF-109's on FW-190A-4, which was superior to BF-109 in most regards. But number of losses did not went down. Total change to FW-190 was only completed by May, 1943.

On January 9, already known to us Lutenant Golubev, had been leading flight of 4 I-16 type 29 from the 4th GIAP. He attack in area of Ladoga Lake German fighter of unknown type and destroyed it. Second German fighter had been damaged by Golubev wingman, but he manage to excape to the clouds. He crashed later.

JG54 lost two new FW-190's and two aces. To the home base it Gatchina did not return pilots from the staff "shtaffel" Alfred Detke(33 victories) and Joseph Brehtl(27 victories). It was his FW-190 was damaged by Golubev's wingman. Berhtl attempted to crash land on the fuselage and was killed on impact North-East of Mgi.”

4 GIAP/VVS-KBF continued operating I-16s until 1943. This I-16 was brought down by a pilot of I./JG 54 in the same area where 4 GIAP/VVS-KBF operated.

Comment: Not really 4 GIAP, but 4 GIAP/VVS-KBF. Vasiliy Golubev’s rank at that time was that of a Kapitan. On January 9, 1943, JG 54 registered no losses. Fw. Josef Brechtl, a 28-victory ace in 7./JG 54, was shot down (piloting a Bf 109 G-2) in aerial combat and listed as missing on January 6, 1943. On that day, III./JG 54 claimed 12 victories near Velikiye Luki. 7./JG 54 claimed seven kills, five of them by Fw. Kurt Stöber, who flew in the same Rotte as Brechtl. Stöber and Brechtl attacked an Il-2 formation. Brechtl scored his 28th but was then shot down and killed. (We have probably identified the Soviet pilot who shot down Brechtl, and this will be published in "Blacl CRoss/Red Star".) Also on January 6, 1943, another Bf 109 G-2, of 3./JG 54, was damaged at Krasnogvardeysk (Gatchina) Airdrome. Fw. Alfred Dettke, a 33-victory ace in 8./JG 54 was shot down (piloting a Bf 109 G-2) and killed in aerial combat on January 5, 1943.

“On January 12, 1943, Golubev's friends from 3rd GIAP meet this new German fighter. For 15 minute Lieutenant Kabrov had been a lone fighting off attacks of 4 FW-190 fighters from I.JG54 in his LaGG-3 and survived. To his help come Captain Zapov and Sergant Shilkov. They quickly shot down one FW-190. For Lieutenant Walter Meyer(58 victories) for whom it was first flight in FW-190 was killed. Three remaining FW-190 decided not to push their luck and got out of the fight.”

Comment: At least according to Vasiliy Golubev’s memoirs, two flights from 4 GIAP/VVS-KBF claimed a Bf 109 as a “collective victory” on that day. According to Soviet sources, the pilot of the German aircraft was captured. It hasn’t been possible to verify this with German loss lists, even taken into consideration that the date in Golubev’s memoirs could be wrong. We plan to check this with the archive of the Soviet Navy in Gatchina. JG 54 registered no losses on January 12, 1943.

“On February 22, 1943, near the Demyansk, finished his war commander of Group II Major Hans ‘Assi’ Hann(108 victories). He was one of the three BF-109G-6 pilots from JG54 which had been shot down in the fight with Yaks from 485th IAP. Fight had been witness by commander of the Air Army General Polynin. Polynin had accurately described this fight in his book ‘Boevye Marshruty’. Major Hann was captured, he only return back to Germany in 1950. At the same fight Gerhard Beutin(60 victories) and Arthur Gartner(27 victories).”

Comment: No name(s) of the Soviet pilot(s) that claimed to have downed “Assi” Hahn? I must admit that this surprised me. Andrey Mikhailov and I are working on the cases of three Soviet pilots who claimed to have shot down Hahn, and we hope to be able to present the most likely of them in Vol. III of our forthcoming book on the air war on the Eastern Front, “Black Cross/Red Star”. We also are trying to positively identify the Soviet ace to whom Hahn was introduced during his captivity a few days later. According to Arthur Gärtner himself, Gärtner was at the Jagdfliegerschule at Zerbst at that time, and he arrived to JG 54 only on June 2, 1944. Ofw. Gerhard Beutin, victor in 60 aerial combats, was killed while serving with Erg.Gr./JG 54 on February 1, 1943.

“On March 16, 1943, commander of I.JG54 Hauptmann Phillip and Heinz Nikoleit(19 victories) had made mistake which cost one of them his live. At that day for protection of artillery targeting aircraft S-126 which was flying into area of Mgi, had been given only FW-190. Hauptman Phillip had been trusting experience of his wingman. While as it had been proven Nikoleit had not been paying attention to aerial situation. Destruction of the enemy fighter had been ordered to .....(Guess who? - Y.C.) at that point Captain Golubev from 4th GIAP. This Soviet union just finished change to La-5 fighters, and naturally were eager to test their new fighters in fight. Golubev sent two fighters on this mission. He allowed the popular among pilots Lieutenant Dmitriev take Golubev's aircraft number 33. Two Soviet pilots from one pass destroyed both German aircraft. Germans never even saw Soviet fighters. This fast fight which lasted 11 minutes from take off to landing. Lieutenant Dmitriev and Stolyarskii' had been credited with victory each.”

Comment: Uffz. Heinz Nikoleit (probably no victories) of 3./JG 54 was listed as missing on January 16, 1943. No further details are known. No further combat losses were reported by JG 54 on that date. On March 17, 1943, his 26th birthday, Hptm. Hans Philipp and his wingman, Fw. Hans-Günther Reinhard, returned from an engagement with Pe-2s near Lake Ilmen, where Philipp had claimed four victories - Nos. 200-203. Philipp was killed in combat with the 8th USAAF over Germany on October 8, 1943.

“On March 17, 1943, forward observation positions guided commander of 436 IAP Lutenant-Colonel Panov flying P-40E to attack two BF-109's which had been hunting behind Soviet lines. He attack the German pair North of Staraya Russa. After surprised attack one BF-109 turn and run a way to the West. However his friend continue to fight. For 20 minutes enemies had been maneuvering in vertical fight, but victory was behind the Soviet pilot.

Hans Besisseverger(152 victories), commander of Group II, which not long before that received ‘Brocly’ to his Knight Cross had been killed. However to his day Hans Besisseverger is presumed MIA. The reason for that is testimony of Besisseverger's wingman Karl Richter, which states: ‘Last thing I saw was BF-109 of the commander fighting with large group of Soviet fighters’. (Yeah, whole one. - Y.C.)”

Comment: Oblt. Hans Beisswenger, the Staffelkapitän of 6./JG 54, was posted as missing after an air combat near Lake Ilmen on March 6, 1943. His Schwarm was engaged in a combat with four Soviet fighters. Beisswenger claimed two victories (Nos 151-152). The Bf 109 of his wingman Uffz. Munderloh was damaged, and Munderloh reported that he would try to reach his base (he was listed as missing). After that, there was no trace of Beisswenger. Our conclusion is that Beisswenger was brought down by a taran by Starshiy Leytenant Ivan Kholodov of 32 GIAP. Kholodov rammed the Bf 109 that was attacking his wingman, Leytenant Arkadiy Makarov, and managed to bail out. JG 54 recorded no combat losses on March 17, 1943.

“At the end of march, commander of JG54 Colonel Trautloft went up in the chain of command. Now he commanded ‘Ost’ corp, which had been created from JG 51, JG 5, and JG 54. At the same time from training ‘staffel’ had been organized new Group IV. Because of that quantitative size of ‘Grunherz’ increased by 25%.

At the same time at the end of May, 1943, the ‘Green Hearts’ sign, which was also called ‘Green Aces’ in Luftwaffe, had been removed from the JG54 aircraft. ‘Green Hearts’ sign had been proudly displayed on JG54 aircraft from September of 1941, but now they were painted over with gray paint. It was done in order to atract less attention from Soviet pilots, among which shooting down JG54 aircraft had been an honorable thing to do. Except lowering self esteem of ‘Greenherz’ this did nothing toward lowering JG54 losses.”

Comment: Some Fw 190s of JG 54 did not carry the Grünherz sign during the second half of 1943 (among them the Fw 190 flown by Walter Nowotny). However, there are numerous photos showing fighters of JG 54 on the Eastern Front carrying the Grünherz sign throughout 1943 and 1944, as late as in November 1944 (IV./JG 54 at Königsberg).

“On April 13, 1943 (Guess who? - Y.C.) Captain Golubev scored his second and third victory in his La-5. In the pair with his wingman Colonel Katkov from 61st brigade which was part of 4th GIAP he flew on ‘free Hunter’ mission into area of Porzolovskih Swamps near the Leningrad. North of the village Bezzabotny Soviet pilots discovered two groups of FW-190's which had been manuvering on the altitude and away from Soviet pilots. Golubev gain altitude and attack 2 German fighters. One German fighters was damaged and began to turn. He conviniently showed the full area of his wings to La-5's guns. Second burst of guns finished Fw-190. Commander of the 2nd ‘shtaffel’ of JG54 Lieutenant Zigfrid Matushka(29 victories) could not leave his plane. His plane fall on the mine field and explouded.

At the same time Captain Golubev continue his fight and destroy one more German fighter. Theodor Wolfan(17 victories) jump with parashoot and had been captured by Soviet troops. (Sounds like JG54 had serious problems with Golubev).”

Comment: No combat losses were registered by JG 54 on April 13, 1943 - but interecpting Pe-2s of 34 GBAPand Il-2s that were raiding the Krasnogvardeysk Airdrome claimed eleven Soviet aircraft shot down, thereby scoring the Geschwader’s 4000th victory on the Eastern Front. Among the Soviet losses was Mayor Yurchenko, Chief Navigator of an Eskadrilya in 34 GBAP. He was later appointed a Hero of the Soviet Union posthumously. Oblt. Siegfried Graf von Matuschka, a 29-victory ace in 4./JG 54, was killed during a combat mission over France on April 15, 1943, possibly by Major Don Blakeslee of 4 FG/8th USAAF. (4./JG 54 operated in northeastern France during a couple of weeks in the spring of 1943, and was then returned to the Eastern Front.)

  “On May 1, 1943, North of Staraya Russa, had been killed Lieutenant Horst Hanning(98 victories) in fight with Yaks from 485 IAP. He replaces ‘Dworf’ Vandel on the position of commander 5th ‘shtaffel’ not long before that. Horst was shot down by leader of the pair Lieutenant Davydov.”

Comment: JG 54 registered no losses on May 1, 1943. The former JG 54 pilot Oblt.Horst Hannig (98 victories), serving as Staffelkapitän of 2./JG 2 at that time, was killed in combat with Spitfires over France on May 15, 1943. For further details, see the article on Hannig on Dariusz Tyminiski’s ACE PAGE site.

“On the May 22, 1943, did not return home pilot from Group II, Walter Heck(32 victories). His FW-190 had been attacked and destroyed by captain Romanov, the leader of 4 LaGG-3 fighters from 156th IAP. But overall Soviet pilots did not perform well and did not prevent 20+ Ju-87s from attacking the rail road bridge and rail road station Volhov.”

Comment: On May 22, 1943, the Bf 109s (!) of II./JG 54 escorted I./St.G. 1 against the railroad station Volkhovstroy. They were met with ten intercepting Soviet fighters and heavy AAA fire. Uffz. Johann Runge (six victories) of 4./JG 54 was reportedly shot down by AAA and was listed as missing. Fw. Walter Heck’s Bf 109 (5./JG 54) overturned at the landing at Airdrome Mga, killing the 32-victory pilot. One LaGG-3 was claimed shot down by Ofw. Zavier Müller of 5./JG 54. Two Ju 87s of I./St.G. 1 were reportedly shot down by AAA. The latter losses were not filed by the Luftwaffe Generalquartiermeister. (To St.G. 1, May 22, 1943 was a black day. No less than eleven Ju 87s of II./St.G. 1 were registered as shot down by Soviet fighters during a raid against the railroad station at Kursk.)

“On may 16, 1943, Captain Zazaev from 86th GIAP achieved his 16th victory. In area of Novaya Ladoga he destroyed FW-190. His victim was pilot from Group II Lutenan Verner Lochmann(47 victories) which was forced to crush land and was captured.”

Comment: On May 16, 1943, JG 54 registered two aircraft losses, both Bf 109s, with both pilots lost: Uffz. Hermann Leicht of 4./JG 54 was killed during a combat mission. Uffz. Kriebus (II./JG 54) was listed as missing. No further details are known. Lt. Werner Lohmann (no victory claims are known, but he hardly scored 47), piloting an Fw 190 A-5 of 6./JG 54, was shot down and listed as missing near Ossinovets. If Dymich has information that this pilot was captured, it would be interesting to know his source.

“On May 30, 1943, 8 Soviet P-40 from 191st IAP had been involved in defending Soviet positions from attack of 48 German He-111 and Ju-88 bombers which was covered by 20 FW-190. However the most of the fighting had been done by pilots of 240th and 275th IAD, which flew Yaks and Lavochkins. When German bombers one by one start to fly home, they were attacked by Soviet P-40s. In the area of Shlisseburg Major Mitrohin in 15 minutes destroyed 2 He-111 and got into a fight with Fw-190. P-40K had been inferior to the German fighter, but had some adventage in manuverability. Expirienced German pilot made mistake by trying to out manuver P-40. FW-190 got hit in the engine, which flame out, and plane went down. Herber Erdmann(34 victories) from staff ‘shtaffel’ ejected and was captured by Soviet troops.

During his interegation in the headquoters of 13th Air Army Erdmann told that ‘his main desapointment in his mistake in the fight with old P-40, six of which he easely shot down in Africa, where he fought in JG 27’.

He was a bit relieved when he learned about his apponent. Major Mitrohin fought from the first days of war and destroyed 19 enemy aircraft personaly and another 6 in group.”

  Comment: On May 30, 1943, JG 54 escorted KG 53 twice against Soviet shipping on Lake Ladoga, in coordination with raids by the German “Siebel ferries”. The combat described above was the late afternoon raid, which followed when the Soviet “Redut” radar spotted the 47 He 111s of KG 53 that, escorted by JG 54, flew against shipping on Lake Ladoga. The strong Soviet fighter- and AAA defense managed to tear the He 111 formation apart. KG 53 registered one He 111 H-16 shot down by Soviet fighters and another three damaged, one of which made a belly landing. Apart from Mayor Vasiliy Mitrokhin’s claim, Mladshiy Leytenant Ivan Somov of 32 GIAP also claimed an Fw 190 shot down during this combat. Attempting to defend an He 111 which came under attack from several Soviet fighters, Fw. Johann Fieber (piloting a Bf 109 G-2!) of 6./JG 54, was shot down and listed as missing. It is not known if Fieber scored any victories. This was the only combat loss registered by JG 54. JG 54 claimed 13 victories (including the 171st victory of Oblt. Max Stotz) while the participating Soviet fighter units claimed to have shot down seven He 111s and eleven German fighters for the loss of three own fighters. Uffz. Herbert Erdmann served with IV./JG 27, which was formed in the Balkans in May 1943. He survived the war with one victory credit.

“On July 5, 1943, North-East of Kursk in the combat with La-5s had been lost 2 FW-190 from I.JG 54 piloted by Reinhard Zeiler(109 victories) and his wingmen Hugo Hunerfield (28 victories).

At that day 4 Soviet fighters, lead by commander of 523rd IAP Captain Harchenko, took off to cover 6 Pe-2 bombers. Not far a way from the front line Soviet aircraft where attacked by 8 FW-190. Pair lead by Captain Mischenko continue to cover Pe-2's, while pair lead by Harchenko separated and attack FW-190. It was very dificult fight, Soviet pilots barely excaped German guns, but Captain Harchenko manage to shot down one enemy aircraft, while his wingman Lieutenant Smorchkov damaged another. In that fight both La-2 suffered serious damaged and where forced to land far a way from the base.

Major Zeiler was killed, Lieutenant Hunerfield jumped from the plane and was captured.”

Reinhard Seiler returning from a combat mission with JG 54.

Comment: On this day, the first day of Operation Zitadelle, the VVS mounted 3,385 combat sorties in this area, while the Luftwaffe carried out 4,475 sorties. 176 Soviet and at least 26 Luftwaffe aircraft were registered as lost by each side. There were huge air combats, and I personally doubt that it is possible to detect who shot down whom. In any case, I./JG 54, which operated in this area, registered three Fw 190s shot down or force-landed. Lt. Helmut Zürn and Uffz. Egon Raues were killed or listed as missing. No one of them are known to have scored any victories. Maj. Reinhard Seiler, the Gruppenkommandeur in I./JG 54, was shot down and seriously injured in the morning of July 6, 1943. While escorting Ju 87s of II./St.G. 1 near Orel, the Fw 190s of I./JG 54 were involved in a stiff combat with Il-2s escorted by Yak-9s. Seiler claimed one Yak-9 shot down - his 100th victory - but was in turn shot down himself. He bailed out with three bullet wounds. Having recovered from his wounds in August 1944, Seiler served as a fighter instructor for the remainder of the war. Lt. Udo Hunerfeld served with JG 54. I have no other information regarding this pilot. At least, Seiler’s Fw 190 is the only aircraft loss registered by JG 54 on July 6, 1943.

“On July 9, 1943, simular fait reached Hans-Ioham Happach(20 victories) from II.JG 54. In the fight with four La-5 from 254 IAP his FW-190 had been shot down. The pilot used his parashoot to excape. The victory was credited to Lieutenant Nazimov.”

Comment: Piloting an Fw 190 A-5, Uffz. Hans Happatsch, a 20-victory ace in 2./JG 54, was listed as missing on July 9, 1943. This took place over the Orel-Kursk battlescene. According to my sources, 254 IAP operated in the Leningrad area, far from that place, at that time.

“On July 13, 1943, in the area of Leningrad, had been shot down one of the oldest pilots of JG 54, 32 years old Peter Bremer(40 victories) from staff ‘shtaffel’. His nick was ‘Fox’. His FW-190 was destroyed my Soviet pilot from 29th GIAP Peter Pokryshev. Bremer was captured after he crash landed on Soviet territory.”

Comment: Fw. Peter Bremer, a 40-victory ace in 2./JG 54, was shot down in aerial combat and captured at the Orel-Kursk battlescene on July 13, 1943. According to my sources, Mayor Petr Pokryshev commanded 259 IAP in the Leningrad area at that time.

“On July 16, 1943, East of Vitebsk, 6 FW-190 had fought 6 Yaks of 28th GIAP. After 20 minute rellecoster ride, one German fighter was shot down, the other got out of the fight. Soviet pilots believed because they lost their leader.

This is exactlt what hapened. One of the young pilots of 28th GIAP, Lieutenant Kozlovskii ramed one of the FW-190 in the cockpit of which had been killed commander of first ‘shtaffel’ Lieutenant Gunter Shell(71 victory).

Lieutenant Kozlovsky survived and even manage to fly back to his homefields where he managed to crush land his Yak-9 on the fuzelage.”

Comment: Lt. Günther Scheel (3./JG 54) took off for an escort mission for Ju 87s at 0707 hrs on July 16, 1943. Having completed this task, Lt. Scheel jumped a formation of Yak-9s on the return flight. He was credited with shooting down two Yak-9s, but the left wing of his Fw 190 collided with his second victim. The wing was torn off and the Fw 190 descended. It caught fire a. 50 m above the ground and crashed on impact, at 0806 hrs., 12 km northeast of Bolkhov (above Soviet-held territory south of Orel). Scheel had scored 71 victories on about 70 combat sorties. Luftflotte 6, to which I./JG 54 belonged, claimed 40 victories against nine own aircraft lost on July 16, 1943.

“On July 22, 1943, commander IV.JG 54 Haupyman Rudolffer lead 12 fighters of his group into training flight to the front line. Majority of pilots were from JG 1 and JG 26 just ransfered to JG 54. While being too concentrated on talking through radio pilots of ‘Grunherz’ did not saw the attack of two La-5 from 4th GIAP. Two FW-190's Rudolffer and his wingman was damaged and whole German formation break up. Rudolffer ejected over the German territory and return to JG 54. It was one of his 9 jumps. His wingman Rudolph Gepeke (27 victories) was killed. Second attack did not bring success to Soviet pilots. They aborted attacks as there were no reason to hunt FW-190's which were runing home.”

Comment: The Soviet fighter unit that Dymich here refers to, is 4 GIAP/VVS-KBF. (4 GIAP/VVS-KBF was the former 13 IAP of the VVS of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet, KBF; there was no 4 GIAP of the Red Army Air Forces, VVS-KA.) It is not excluded that Hptm. Erich Rudorffer (who claimed 222 victories during WW II), the Gruppenkommandeur of the new IV./JG 54, was shot down and had to bail out on this date. Rudorffer actually was shot down sixteen times and had to bail out on nine occasions during the course of the war. (Rudorffer nevertheless survived and still is alive and well.) Fw. Rudolf Gerecke, a 27-victory ace in 12./JG 54, was shot down and injured (reportedly by a LaGG-3, which could have been a misidentification for a La-5) in the same area that 4 GIAP/VVS-KBF operated on July 22, 1943.

“One July 30, 1943, from ‘free hunting’ did not return young commander of Group II Henrihh Hung(68 victories). His FW-190 was shot down by a pilot of 154th IAP Lieutenant Sidorenko. This mission started not very good for Sidorenko. At first his leader could not take off because of engine problems. After that Sidorenki himself was jumped by two German hunters. Death was close: German shells flew right over the canopy of the Soviet fighter and cut the antena. But Soviet fighter did not panic. He flew into the cloud and made manuver which Germans did not expected. Then he appeared on the six of the German pair and open fire. One German fighter went down, and another run on top speed West.”

Comment: I agree with Dymich. Andrey Mikhailov and I had also, previously, come to the conclusion that it probably was Leytenant Vasiliy Sidorenko who shot down Hptm. Heinrich Jung on July 30, 1943 (although, according to our sources, he served with 254 IAP/269 IAD of 14 VA). A detailed description of this combat will be published in Vol. III of “Black Cross/Red Star”.

“But on August 2, 1943, had been shot down and this German fighter. Pilot of 4th GIAP Captain Kostylev found pair of German FW-190 over the Finland Bay and shot down one of them. Lieutenant Hervert Broendle(58 victories) jumped from his burning fighter. He was taken POW by the crew of the Soviet torpedo boat.” Comment: 4 GIAP here probably is a mistyping. Georgiy Kostylev served with 3 GIAP/VVS-KBF. Lt. Herbert Broennle had served with JG 54 previously, but was later posted to 2./JG 53. He was shot down and killed by a Spitfire over Sicily on July 4, 1943. Broennle’s total victory score was 58. On August 2, 1943, JG 54 registered one combat loss in the area mentioned by Dymich: an Fw 190 A-4 that crash landed at Krasnogvardeisk Airdrome.

“On August 3, 1943, North-West of Vitenbsk, pilot of 28th GIAP Hero of the Soviet Union Captain Smirnov had been ‘hunting’. In the surprised attack he attack and destroyed one of 8 FW-190's which flew into Soviet rear. German fighter fall to the ground and explouded. The vrekage buried commander of the Group I Gerhard Homut (63 victories).”

Comment: Maj. Gerhard Homuth (63 victories), Gruppenkommandeur of I./JG 54, took off on a combat mission together with his wingman Oblt. Otto Vinzent in the vicinity of Kursk on August 3, 1943. About 20 km to the south of Kromy, Homuth and Vinzent were engaged by a composite formation of Airacobras, P-40s and La-5s. Following a 20-minute dogfight, Oblt. Vinzent lost sight of Homuth, and returned to base alone. Homuth was listed as missing.

  “The Homut's position of leading Group 1 took Hanz Gez (82 victories), but he did his job for less than 24 hours. On August 4, 1943, in the fight with fighters of 18th GIAP, Gez had been shot down over the same spot as his previous leader. From 12 FW-190 home return only 5. In this fight had been shot down two Yaks from8 lead by captain Zamorin, but all Soviet pilots were a live.”

Comment: Oblt. Hans Götz (82 victories) was killed in combat while attacking a formation of Il-2s north-east of Karachev on August 4, 1943. Apart from Götz’s aircraft, I./JG 54 registered a second Fw 190, piloted by Fw. Helmut Mais, lost in this area on that date. The pilot was killed. According to documents from I./JG 54, Uffz. Anton Held of 1./JG 54 was also killed in combat on August 4, 1943 (July 23, 1943, according to another source). Another three Fw 190s of I./JG 54 were reported as damaged in accidents on the same day. Also in the same operational area, Ofw. Klaus Maisenger and Ofw. Paul Pausinge of the Fw 190-equipped IV./JG 54 were killed. 18 “Vitebskiy” GIAP operated in the same area as Götz, Mais, Held, Pausinge and Maisenger were killed. We have compiled all victories claimed by this unit in 1941 from Soviet archives and will soon compile the victories for this unit in 1942 and 1943, and we will look into this case. “On August 19, 1943, group of fighters lead by Smirnov again had been fighting JG 54. That time groups had equal strength of 12 fighters each. The fight was only over when almost all fuel had been burned. Two Yaks and two TW-190 were lost. On this day commander of ‘shtaffel’ 5 Max Shtoz (189 victories) jumped from his burning FW-190 and become a POW. Henrix Koller(49 victories) was killed.”

Comment: Hptm. Max Stotz (189 victories), the Staffelkapitän of 5./JG 54, was shot down during combat with Soviet fighters and bailed out over Soviet-held territory near Vitebsk on August 19, 1943. He is listed as missing. Another Fw 190 of 5./JG 54 was registered as damaged. It would be most interesting to learn from which source Dymich has that Stotz was captured. Also on that day, Ofw. Hermann Schleinhege of Stab/JG 54 was shot down and injured after claiming one Yak-1 and one Il-2 (his victories Nos. 21 and 22). The units under command of Luftflotte 6, to which II./JG 54 belonged, carried out 1,060 sorties and claimed 21 victories against the loss of two Fw 190s, two Ju 87s, two He 111s and one Ju 88 on August 19, 1943.

“In 1943 the results of the fight were not good enough for commanders of 28th GIAP, because of that right after a fight pilots were forced to carry out full investigations of all mistakes they made in the fight.”

Comment: After all, 28 GIAP was credited with 63 victories (23 Bf 109s, 23 Fw 190s, seven Fw 189s, six Ju 88s and four Hs 126s) against fourteen Airacobras lost in combat between December 1, 1942 and August 1, 1943.

“On August 27, 1943, pilot of 154 IAP Lieutenant Sidorenko shot down his second FW-190 in the area of Chudovo which had been protection the artiolery spoter plane. German fighter started to fall, hit the ground, and explouded. The pilot of Group I Ksevier Muller(47 victories) was killed.”

Comment: According to German documents, Ofw. Xaver Müller, a 47-victory ace in 5./JG 54, was killed as his Fw 190 was hit by enemy (artillery?) fire on the ground on August 27, 1943. Unfortunately, I have no further information. No other combat losses were registered by JG 54 on August 27, 1943.

“On September 15, 1943, in the combat with Yak-9 had been shot down and killed two pilots from I.JG 54. Hans Grubert(35 victories) and Ioham Grubert(4 victories), twin brothers. The victory was credited to Lieutenant Brazhinez and German from 41 IAP.”

Comment: Uffz. Hans Grübert and Uffz. Joachim Grübert, both of I./JG 54, were killed in action on September 15, 1943. Nothing is known about the victory claims of these two pilots.

“On September 22, 1943, the Captain Tatarenko from 4th GIAP shot down in area of Novoy Ladogi FW-190 fighter. Fridrix Rozental(45 victories) from 5.JG 54 had crush landed on Soviet territory and was captured.”

Comment: Uffz. Friedrich Rosenthal, piloting an Fw 190 A-5 of 6./JG 54, was shot down and killed in aerial combat on September 22, 1943. Nothing is known about his victory claims.

“On October 10, 1943, from ‘free hunting’ in area of Smolensk did not return pair of FW-190 from Group I. Lieutenant Karl Fuxs(67 victoriess) and Kurt Pabler(31 victory) to this day presumed missing. But their fait is known.

Hero of the Soviet, Marshal of Aviation Zimin, which in those days had been commander of 240th IAD remmbers: ‘After start of Nevel'skoi attack operation, German fighters start to show extream activity. Pilots from "Grunherz" and "Melders" again start to use good old "free hunting" near our bases near Smolensk. On October 10, 1943, I had been told that pilots from 86th GIAP Lieutenant Manulin and Kurizyn hunt down and destroyed German pair. Soon those German "hunters", which jumped from their planes, were brough to division. Those were real aces which scored many victories’.”

  Comment: Ofw. Karl Fuchs (67 victories) of 3./JG 54 and Uffz. Kurt Pabler (no information on victories) of 1./JG 54 were both shot down on October 10, 1943, Pabler getting killed and Fuchs listed as missing.

  “Two days later, Lieutenant Danilin from 133rd GIAP, destroyed one more ‘hunter’. This was pilot from 2/JG 54 Hans-Gunter Reihtardt(44 victories) which did not return home on October 12.”

Comment: I./JG 54’s Fw. Hans-Günther Reinhard, the old wingman of Hans Philipp, was killed in action in October 1943. His final score was 44 victories.

“On October 11, 1943 ‘Grunherz’ lost another two pilots which flew in to 1/JG 54 for ‘cleanning of air’ into the area of railroad station Yarzevo. But German fighters could not break to target through Yaks of 900th IAP. In the fight had been shot down and killed one of the luckiest pilots of Group I Lieutenant Anton Debele(94 victories). His fait also shared Karl Fisher(33 victories). One FW-190 each was credited to Lieutenant Lisezkii' and Duman.”

Comment: The date that we are dealing with here is unclear. On October 11, 1943, Luftflotte 6 carried out 747 sorties in support of the Third Panzer Army in this area. I./JG 54 registered one loss in this area: Lt. Horst Keller (victory number unknown) force-landed his Fw 190 A-6 after sustaining battle damage and was injured. In about the same area, two Bf 109s of 10./JG 51 collided during an aerial combat. Uffz. Helmut Neu was listed as missing while Lt. Rudolf Wagner survived with injuries on this October 11, 1943. At 0950 hrs. on November 11, 1943, Ofw. Anton Döbele of 1./JG 54 scrambled against Il-2s in the Smolensk-Vitebsk area. During the aerial combat, his Fw 190 touched an Fw 190 of JG 51. Döbele lost control of his plane and rammed the Il-2 that he was attacking. Both aircraft went down and crashed at 1042 hrs. north of the Rollbahn Vitebsk-Smolensk, i.e. in the same area as mentioned by Dymich. Oblt. Karl-Reinhardt Fischer of 3./JG 54, an ace with 33 victories, was killed in action in November 1943, possibly on the 11th. 7./JG 51 registered the Fw 190 A-5, “White 2”, shot down in aerial combat to the east of Vitebsk on November 11, 1943. The pilot, Fjfw. Herbert Riegel, was listed as missing. Uffz. Karl Fischer (no victories known) is listed as killed in aerial combat with an a US P-38 fighter near Anguoise in France on July 26, 1944.

“1943 was ending for ‘Grunzherz’ the way it started - lossing of FW-190. One Decepber 15, 1943, in area of Orshi in the fight with P-39th had been shot down and killed major Hubertus fon Bonin(77 victories). This expirienced German ace, which scored 6 victories in Spain, shot down pilot of 67 GIAP Captain Novichkov.”

Comment: At 1325 hrs. on December 15, 1943, Maj. Hubertus von Bonin, Geschwaderkommodore of JG 54, took off from the airbase at Vilnius together with his wingman. Ten minutes later, the two Fw 190 pilots spotted and attacked six Il-2s escorted by - according to the German combat report - nine Yak-9s. Having unsuccessfully attacked an Il-2, von Bonin was charged by a Soviet fighter. Von Bonin attempted to escape in a steep dive. But the Soviet fighter followed him and fired two or three short and well-aimed fire bursts. At an altitude of 900 m, von Bonin’s heavily damaged Fw 190 made a left turn and descended, crashing 7 km east of Gorodok at 1339 hrs. German troops found the remains of von Bonin. Von Bonin was credited with 77 victories.

“On the same day over Baltic had been damaged FW-190 of ober-Lutenant Joseph Pohsa(43 victories) from 5/JG 54.

Around noon, 6 FW-190F-8 from SG 5 while being covered by 4 FW-190, try to attack the air fields at Lavensaari. In the fight with fighers La-5 German group desintergrated and did not complited their mission. Many FW-190 barely maked to Finland, while Pohs had been forced to use his parashoot. He landed into the sea and probably sunked. His fait is unknown. Commander of 4 fighters from 4th GIAP Bychkov, which destroyed Ju-88 on the same day, now added one more FW-190.”

Comment: Oblt. Josef Pöhs served with II./JG 54 from the beginning of the war, achieving 43 victories. According to various German sources, he was killed in a flight accident while testing an Me 163 near Bad Zwischenahn in Germany on December 30, 1943.

“Pahs become one of 112 JG 54 fighters which was killed or captured in 1943. Yevgeniy Chizhikov.”

© Christer Bergström, Andrey Mikhailov 2000

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