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Me109

Manufacturer : Messerschmitt
Number Built : 33984
Production Began : 1937
Retired : 1945
Type : Fighter

Willy Messerschmitt designed the BF109 during the early 1930s. The Bf109 was one of the first all metal monocoque construction fighters with a closed canopy and retractable undercarriage. The engine of the Me109 was a V12 aero engine which was liquid-cooled. The Bf109 first saw operational service during the Spanish Civil War and flew to the end of World War II, during which time it was the backbone of the Luftwaffe fighter squadrons. During the Battle of Britian the Bf109 was used in the role of an escort fighter, a role for which it was not designed for, and it was also used as a fighter bomber. During the last days of May 1940 Robert Stanford-Tuck, the RAF ace, got the chance to fly an Me109 which they had rebuilt after it had crash landed. Stanford-Tuck found out that the Me109 was a wonderful little plane, it was slightly faster than the Spitfire, but lacked the Spitfire manoeuvrability. By testing the Me109, Tuck could put himself inside the Me109 when fighting them, knowing its weak and strong points. With the introduction of the improved Bf109F in the spring of 1941, the type again proved to be an effective fighter during the invasion of Yugoslavia and during the Battle of Crete and the invasion of Russia and it was used during the Siege of the Mediteranean island of Malta. The Bf109 was the main fighter for the Luftwaffe until 1942 when the Fw190 entered service and shared this position, and was partially replaced in Western Europe, but the Me109 continued to serve on the Eastern Front and during the defence of the Reich against the allied bombers. It was also used to good effect in the Mediterranean and North Africa in support of The Africa Korps. The Me109 was also supplied to several German allies, including Finland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovakia. The Bf109 scored more kills than any other fighter of any country during the war and was built in greater numbers with a total of over 31,000 aircraft being built. The Bf109 was flown by the three top German aces of the war war. Erich Hartmann with 352 victories, Gerhard Barkhorn with 301 victories and Gunther Rall with 275 kills. Bf109 pilots were credited with the destruction of 100 or more enemy aircraft. Thirteen Luftwaffe Aces scored more than 200 kills. Altogether this group of pilots were credited with a total of nearly 15,000 kills, of which the Messerschmitt Bf109 was credited with over 10,000 of these victories. The Bf109 was the most produced warplane during World War II, with 30,573 examples built during the war, and the most produced fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 units produced up to April 1945. Bf109s remained in foreign service for many years after World War II. The Swiss used their Bf109Gs well into the 1950s. The Finnish Air Force did not retire their Bf109Gs until March 1954. Romania used its Bf109s until 1955. The Spanish Hispanos flew even longer. Some were still in service in the late 1960s.

Me109


Latest Me109 Artwork Releases !
 The highest scoring fighter pilot of all time with a confirmed tally of 352 victories, Erich Hartmann is depicted getting airborne from a snowy airstrip in Czechoslovakia, late in 1944 in a Bf109G-6 of 6./JG 52.

Erich Hartmann - The Ace of Aces by Ivan Berryman.
 Messerschmitt Bf109E-7Bs belonging to III./JG27, during the Balkan Campaign of 1941.  The yellow and white painted areas were used as recognition markings, so that they were not fired upon by friendly ground units during their low-level sorties.

Messerschmitt Bf109E-7/Bs by Jerry Boucher.
 It is a record likely to stand for all time, Erich Hartmann's tally of 352 victories is more than any other pilot in history.  Posted to JG52 over Russia in August 1942 his new Kommodore, Dieter Hrabak, placed the novice pilot under the guidance of Paule Rossman, one of the unit's most experienced and respected Aces.  However, during his very first combat Hartmann became so disorientated that he got lost in cloud and ran out of fuel.  His undoubted skill as a pilot enabled him to survive the inevitable crash-landing, but a few days later and just minutes after scoring his first ever victory, he was shot down - again crash-landing. This time he only just escaped from his burning aircraft before it exploded.  Any other new pilot might have succumbed but Hartmann was made of sterner stuff and , with Rossman's help and guidance, it was not long before everyone in JG52 realised that he possessed exceptional skill.  By the summer of 1943 <i>the Blond Knight</i> and his colleagues were flying up to six missions a day and having now perfected his technique, it was unusual for him to finish a day without a victory.  Never claiming to be an expert marksman, his approach, which took nerves of steel and great flying skills, was to get as close to his enemy as possible before opening fire at the last minute.  Often flying head on, the risks of collision and damage were great - of the sixteen times Hartmann was brought down, eight were as a result of flying into the debris of his victim!  Hartmann's 352 victories were achieved with JG52 - all except one.  It happened during a brief two week spell at the beginning of February 1945 when the top Ace was placed in temporary command of I./JG53.  His new unit were based in Hungary where German Army Group South was in bitter retreat and the fighting was as tough and relentless as ever.  <i>The Blond Knight</i>portrays Erich Hartmann climbing out of his Bf109 G-6 at Weszperem's snow-covered airfield after returning from another arduous mission leading Stab I./JG53 with whom, on 4th February he downed a Yak-9.  It was his 337th victory.

The Blond Knight by Robert Taylor.
 Those Aces with over 100 victories were exceptional.  To reach 200 victories was a spectacular achievement.  Yet two men went even further and accomplished a feat that will never be repeated - both of them shot down more than 300 enemy aircraft which placed them in a league of their own.  They were the elite of the elite, and their names are legendary - Erich Hartmann and Gerhard Barkhorn.  It is no surprise that these iconic Aces scored their victories whilst flying with the legendary fighter wing JG52.  Active from the beginning of the war, the unit fought in the Battle of France, but suffered terrible losses during the Battle of Britain before transferring to the Eastern Front at the outset of Operation Barbarossa, and it was here that it solidified its fearsome reputation.  Operating the Bf109 throughout the war, the Geschwader boasted some of the greatest Luftwaffe pilots of world war two among its ranks - including the top three Aces of all time.  Such renowned pilots as Gunther Rall (275 victories), Wilhelm Batz (237 victories), Hermann Graf (212 victories) and Helmut Lipfert (203 victories) helped this formidable unit notch up more than 10,000 victories, making it the most successful fighter wing in history.  <i>Hunters at Dawn</i> features Hptm. Gerhard Barkhorn, Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG52.  The great Ace, flying his Bf109 G-6, leads the Stab as they climb out from their base near the Black Sea, early November 1943.  The crisp air of day break is temporarily punctuated by the roar of Daimler-Benz engines as the deadly Messerschmitt fighters set off on their daily hunt for Soviet aircraft over the front line.

Hunters at Dawn by Robert Taylor.

Me109 Artwork Collection



One to One by Ivan Berryman.

Eastern Med 1943 by Richard Ward


Greenheart Warrior by Ivan Berryman.


Bf109Es of JG52 by Ivan Berryman.


JG52 - Summer 1940 by Ivan Berryman.


Bf109E of III./JG2 - Summer 1940 by Ivan Berryman.


In Defence of the Homeland by Graeme Lothian. (P)


Spitfires of No.54 squadron during the Battle of Britain by Graeme Lothian. (P)


Hawker Hurricane - War Horse by Graeme Lothian. (P)


Gunther Rall by Ivan Berryman.


Gunther Rall - Black 13 by Ivan Berryman.


JG2 - Gunther Rall and his Wingman by Ivan Berryman.


Gunther Rall - on the Tail of a Yak by Ivan Berryman.


Gunther Rall - 274th Victory by Ivan Berryman.


Tribute to the Blenheim Crews by Ivan Berryman.


Billy Drake - First of Many by Ivan Berryman.


Avro Anson by Ivan Berryman.


Coastal Command - Avro Anson Mk.I by Ivan Berryman.


Fairey Battle Mk.I by Ivan Berryman.


Adolf Galland by Ivan Berryman.


First Victory by Ivan Berryman.


Hans-Ekkehard Bob, Bf109F by Ivan Berryman.


Bf109G of Hans-Ekkehard Bob by Ivan Berryman.


Hans-Ekkehard Bob - No.2 by Ivan Berryman.


High Five by Ivan Berryman.


Collision Course by Ivan Berryman.


Terminal Morane by Ivan Berryman.


Lost Over Dunkirk by Ivan Berryman.


Erich Hartmann by Ivan Berryman.


Me109 - Adolf Galland by Jason Askew. (P)


Schweinfurt Thunderbolts by Jason Askew. (P)


Victory over Africa by Ivan Berryman.


Star of Africa by Ivan Berryman.


Snow Warriors by Ivan Berryman.


Gunther Rall - Me109 Ace by Ivan Berryman.


Black 13 - Gunther Rall by Ivan Berryman.


Lucky 13 - Gunther Rall by Ivan Berryman. (P)


Tribute to Gunther Rall by Ivan Berryman. (P)


Battle of Britain - Tribute to the Luftwaffe Aces by Graeme Lothian. (P)


Combat over the Russian Front by Jason Askew. (P)


Me109s on the Russian Front by Jason Askew. (P)


First to Fall by Ivan Berryman.

Messerschmitt 109 by D A Lande.

Horrido! Rall by Les Carter.


Merlin Roar by Anthony Saunders.


No Escape by David Pentland.


The Last Patrol by David Pentland.


Zemke's First Fan by David Pentland.


Combat Over Normandy by Graeme Lothian.


Fighter General by Graeme Lothian.


Eagles Over the Steppe by Graeme Lothian.


Caucasus Dawn by Graeme Lothian.


The Right of the Line by Graeme Lothian.


The Battle for the Skies Over Dieppe, 19th August 1942 by Graeme Lothian.


Adolf Galland / Messerschmitt Bf109 E-4 by Ivan Berryman

Bf109 K-4 by Randall Wilson. (GL)

Voyage into Destiny by Robert Taylor.


Arctic Hunters by Richard Taylor.


Green Hearts by Ivan Berryman.


Homeward Bound by Anthony Saunders.


High Summer by Anthony Saunders.


Open Assault by Robert Taylor.


Tribute to Erich Hartmann by Graeme Lothian.


Tribute to Johannes Steinhoff by Graeme Lothian.


Clash of Eagles by Anthony Saunders.


Tribute to Hermann Graf by Graeme Lothian.

Dawn Eagles Rising by Robert Taylor.


Flt Lt Walter Lawson by Ivan Berryman.


Adversaries by Ivan Berryman.


Victory Above Dover by Ivan Berryman.

Feeding the Wolves Bite by Brian Bateman.


A Day for Heroes by Ivan Berryman.


Break Out by Anthony Saunders.


Anton Hafner by Ivan Berryman.


Ltn. Hans-Ekkehard Bob of JG21 Becomes an Ace by Ivan Berryman.


Fear Nothing by Anthony Saunders.


Into the Fray by Richard Taylor.


Evening Reflection by Richard Taylor.

Air Armada by Robert Taylor.


Black Tulip on Final by Brian Bateman.

Valiant Response by Robert Taylor.


Deadly Pursuit by Richard Taylor.


Close Call by Robert Taylor.


Stormclouds Gather by Nicolas Trudgian


Tigers in Normandy by Nicolas Trudgian.


Most Memorable Day by Robert Taylor.


Head on Attack by Robert Taylor

Angels Three Zero by Robert Taylor


Combat Over Beachy Head by Nicolas Trudgian.


Dragons of Colombert by Nicolas Trudgian


Fighter Legend - Adolf Galland by Nicolas Trudgian.


First Flap of the Day by Nicolas Trudgian.


Assault on the Capital by Robert Taylor


Head to Head by Nicolas Trudgian

Combat Over London by Robert Taylor

Special Duties by Robert Taylor.


Russian Roulette by Robert Taylor.


Steinhoff Tribute by Robert Taylor.

Three Hundred Club by Nicolas Trudgian


Kursk - Clash of Steel by Nicolas Trudgian.


Looking for Trouble by Philip West.


The Battle for Britain by Robert Taylor.


Foes Now Friends by Alan S Holt

Knight's Move by Robert Taylor


Messerschmitt BF109E-3 by Keith Woodcock.


Final Victory by Simon Atack.

Black Devil by Nicolas Trudgian. (B)

Hot Pursuit by Nicolas Trudgian. (B)


Morning Chorus by Gerald Coulson.


Horrido! by Robert Taylor.


Desert Victory by Nicolas Trudgian.


JG-52 by Robert Taylor.

Bitter Engagement by Robert Taylor.


Low Level Encounter by Gerald Coulson.


Knight of the Sky by Gerald Coulson.


Me109 of JG26 by Graeme Lothian. (P)


Hunters in the Desert by Robert Taylor (AP).


Tribute to Capitano Ugo Drago by Ivan Berryman.

The Eagles Divide by Robert Taylor.


Tribute to Oberleutnant Heinrich Ehrler by Ivan Berryman.


Eagle's Rest by Ivan Berryman.

The Long Short Days by Robert Taylor.


Knight of the Reich by Robert Taylor.


Eye of the Sun by Robert Taylor.


Hunters at Dawn by Robert Taylor.


The Blond Knight by Robert Taylor.


Messerschmitt Bf109E-7/Bs by Jerry Boucher.


Erich Hartmann - The Ace of Aces by Ivan Berryman.


The Last Eagle, Innsbruck, Austria, May 1945 by David Pentland.


Target ahead, Kursk, Central Russia, July 1943 by David Pentland.


The Frozen North, Petsamo, Finland, January 1943 by David Pentland.


Eagle in the Snow, Petsamo, Finland, January 1943 by David Pentland.


Above the Cauldron by David Pentland.


Taran over the Kuban by David Pentland.


Early Risers by David Pentland.


Jagers by David Pentland.


Kannonenboot by David Pentland.


Stabsschwarm by David Pentland.


First Combat by David Pentland.


Messerschmitt versus Messerschmitt by David Pentland.


Ikarus Downed by David Pentland.


New Enemy by David Pentland.


Bombers Bane by David Pentland.


A Nimble Foe by David Pentland.


Breaking the Ring by David Pentland.


Tip of the Spear by David Pentland.


Hand of Fate by David Pentland.


Assi and Julius by David Pentland.


Battle of the Bight by David Pentland. (P)


Victory Flypast by David Pentland. (P)


The Count by David Pentland. (P)


Hande Hoch! by Michael Turner.


Achtung - Indianer, Rechts by Iain Wyllie.

High Summer by James Dietz.


Duel Below Zero by Keith Woodcock.

Defence of the Realm by Adrian Rigby.

Final Encounter (Spitfire v Messerchmitt) by Michael Turner.

Eagle Attack by Nicolas Trudgian


Desert Sharks and Eagles by Nicolas Trudgian.

Spitfire Country by Nicolas Trudgian.


Messerschmitt Country by Nicolas Trudgian

Bf109 Aces of North Africa and the Mediterranean.

Bf109D/E Aces 1939-41.

Bf109F/G/K Aces of the Western Front.

Bf109 Aces of the Russian Front.

Bf109 Defence of the Reich Aces.

More Bf109 Aces of the Russian Front.

The Messerschmitt BF 109.


Abbeville Boys by Robert Taylor.


Ace of Aces by Robert Taylor.

Aces on the Western Front by Robert Taylor.


Birth of a Legend by Robert Taylor.


Duel of Eagles by Robert Taylor.


Eagle Attack by Robert Taylor.

Eagles High by Robert Taylor.


Eagles out of the Sun by Robert Taylor.

Hartmann Tribute by Robert Taylor.

JG52 by Robert Taylor.


Knights on the Eastern Front by Robert Taylor.


Sting of the Black Tulip by Robert Taylor.

Struggle for Supremacy by Robert Taylor.

The Channel Dash by Robert Taylor.

Eagles at Dawn by Robert Taylor.


Eagles on the Channel Front by Robert Taylor.


Malta - George Cross by Robert Taylor.


Eagle Strike by Simon Atack.

A Pistol Whipping by Stan Stokes.

A Costly Victory by Stan Stokes.

Black Devil of the Ukraine by Stan Stokes.

Canadian Heroes by Stan Stokes.


Defiant but Doomed by Stan Stokes.

Yellow 14 by Stan Stokes.


Hunter of the Arctic Sea by Timothy OBrien.

Top 100000 Aces for this aircraft
NameVictoriesInfo
Erich Hartmann signatures352.00Top scoring Ace of all time.
Gerhard Barkhorn signatures301.00
Gunther Rall signatures275.00
Otto Kittel267.00
Walter Schuck signatures206.00
Anton Hafner204.00
Walter Krupinski signatures197.00
Joachim Kirschner188.00
Johannes "Macky" Steinhoff signatures176.00
Wolf-Dietrich Wilcke162.00
Hans-Joachim Marseille158.00
Hans Beisswenger152.00
Friedrich-Karl Muller140.00
Rudolf Trenkel signatures138.00
Herbert Ihlefeld signatures137.00
Walter Wolfrum signatures137.00
Adolf Dickfeld signatures136.00
Otto Fonnekold136.00
Karl-Heinz Weber136.00
Joachim Muncheberg signatures135.00
Wilhelm Lemke131.00
Walter Dahl128.00
Dieter Hrabak signatures125.00
Adolf Galland signatures104.00
Max-Hellmuth Ostermann signatures102.007th pilot to score 100 victories.
Eino Ilmari Juutilainen signatures94.17
Edmund "Paul" Rossmann signatures93.00
Helmut Bennemann signatures92.00
Karl Neumann75.00
Alfred Heckmann71.00
Helmut Ruffler signatures70.00
Hans-Ekkehard Bob signatures60.00
Gunther Seeger signatures56.00
Gerhard Schopfel signatures45.00
Johannes Schmid45.00
Norbert Hannig signatures42.00
Friedrich Korner signatures36.00
Erwin Leykauf signatures33.00
Werner Hohenberg signatures33.00
Willi Reschke signatures28.00
Kurt Schade signatures27.00
Emil Clade signatures27.00
Arnold Lignitz25.00
Friedrich Schelker signatures22.00
Franz von Werra21.00
Ernst Scheufele signatures18.00
Wolfgang Schenck signatures18.00
Heinz Radlauer15.00
Eduard Neumann signatures13.00
Alfred Ambs signatures7.00
Franz Elles signatures5.00
Johannes Bachmann signatures5.00
Manfred Leisebein signatures5.00
More...
Squadrons which flew this aircraft
SquadronInfo
EJG1
Jagdschule 3
JG1
JG103
JG11
JG132'Richthofen'
JG21
JG26
JG27
JG3
JG300
JG302
JG4
JG5
JG51
JG52
JG53
JG54
JG77'Ace of Hearts'
JGr Losigkeit
JGr Ost
JGr Sud
JGr101
JGr126
LG2
TrGr186
ZG76
Pilot signatures for this aircraft
NameInfo
Adolf Dickfeld (deceased)A highly successful Ace, Adolf Dickfeld was posted to Russia with III/JG52 in 1941. He was one of the first pilots to score 100 victories. Later with JG2 in North Africa, and JG11 in Defence of the Reich, bringing his total to 136 victories. He was awarded the Knights Cross. Sadly, Adolf Dickfeld died 17th May 2009.
Ambassador Franz EllesLuftwaffe Me109 pilot and 5 victory ace.
Colonel Herbert Ihlefeld (deceased)Born 1st June 1914 in Pinnow Pommern and died 8th August 1995 in Wenningen lower Saxony. Joined the Luftwaffe in 1936 and scored nine victories during the Spanish Civil War. Flew 1000 combat missions and claimed 132 enemy aircraft with 56 on the Western Front including 26 spitfires and 67 on the Russian Front. Participated in the air war over Poland, France and the Battle of Britain. In 1941 Ihlefeld was transferred to the Balkans for the invasion of Yugoslavia. He was shot down by AA fire and captured by the Yugoslavian Army. 8 days lated he was rescued by the German troops. Ihlefeld participated in the assault on Crete, claiming his 36th kill, a Hurricane. He then commanded Jagdgeschwader 77 in time for Operation Barbarossa in June 1941. In April 1942 Ihlefeld became the 5th pilot to reach 100 victories and his unit 1/JG77 was credited with 323 enemy aircraft kills compared to the loss of only 17 Bf109s. Ihlefeld then took command of Jagdgeschwader 52 in June 1942 but he was involved in a landing accident and badly injured and was not ready to return to active service until July 1943. In May 1944 he commanded JG11 and then JG1 during the defence of the Reich. In 1945 he took command of Jagdgeschwader 1 equipped with the Heinkel 162.
Dieter Hrabak (deceased)Dieter Hrabak was shot down in his first aerial combat during the Polish Campaign. He survived to become one of the Luftwaffes most respected and popular leaders. He scored his first victory in the Battle of France, and got 15 more during the Battle of Britain. By Eagle Day he was in command of II./JG 54, which he led until taking command of JG 52 in 1942. He was the first JG 54 Ace to be awarded the Knights Cross. He ended the war back in command of JG 54, and was credited with 125 victories.

Dieter Hrabak was born on 19th December 1914 in a small village near Leipzig. Upon graduation from high school, he hoped to become a commercial pilot, but in 1934 Hrabak joined the Reichsmarine. Within 6 months he transferred to the newly formed Luftwaffe for flight training. By April 1939, Hrabak was recognised as an experienced pilot and given command of a squadron in Vienna. On his very first combat mission in September 1939 over Poland, he was shot down - the first of 11 times. Hrabaks first aerial victory came during the Battle of France. Flying an Me109, he claimed five more victories before the armistice. In the summer of 1940, his squadron was incorporated into a newly formed fighting wing, JG54 Green Hearts. Hrabak commanded II./JG54, one of the wings three groups as the Luftwaffe began its assault on England. During the Batttle of Britain he brought his score to 16 Royal Air Force fighters and Field Marshal Goring personally decorated him with the Knights Cross. In the spring of 1941, II./JG54 flew in the short campaign against Yugoslavia. When Operation Barbarosa began in Russia, he flew on the northern sector of the front and fought over Leningrad. In November 1942, Hrabak took command of JG52 on the southern front and fought over Stalingrad. In August 1943, he got his 100th aerial victory and in November, Hitler awarded him Oak Leaves to the Knights Cross. In early 1944, JG52 achieved its 10,000th aerial victory - the most by any Luftwaffe wing. In October 1944, he returned to his old wing, the Green Hearts, as Commander. Flying the Focke Wulf Fw190, he fought until near the end of the war in Kurland. After the war, he worked in the auto and chemical industry. He was a key architect in rebuilding the modern German Air Force. In 1953, Chancellor Adenaur asked him to help form a new German Air Force. Hrabak personally interviewed most of the officers who would form the nucleus. In mid-1955, he came to the United States and trained on modern jets. In the summer of 1956, he returned home to command the Advanced Pilot Training Centre at Furstenfeldbruck AB. By 1960, he commanded all GAF flying training centres. Two years later, he took charge of the air defence sector covering northern Germany and the Netherlands. In 1964, he was named NATOs Chief of Air Defence, Central Europe, until he became special manager for the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. Finally, as a major general, he commanded the GAFs tactical command, retiring on 1st October 1970. He died on 15th September 1995.
Fahnrich Klaus VollgoldBorn on 16th October 1925 in Zwickau, Klaus was called up to join the Luftwaffe in the summer of 1943, where he underwent training to qualify as a fighter pilot. Posted to join JG52 in the east flying Me109s, Klaus took part in 30 combat flights, and scored 3 confirmed victories before the war came to an end.
Fahnrich Manfred LeisebeinJoining the Luftwaffe in the summer of 1943, aged 18, Manfred Leisebein was posted, after completing his fighter pilots trianing, to 3./JG52 in Russia. Flying Me109s throughout his 37 combat flights, Manfred scored a total of 5 aerial victories with JG52, and was awarded the Iron Cross II
Feldwebel Erich BrunotteBorn in 1923, Erich Brunotte joined the Luftwaffe and started immediate pilot training in June 1941. He flew on the Eastern Front with 1./Gruppe Nauhaufklarungs Geschwader 102, and later transferred to fly with IV./Jagdgeswader 51 Molders, in the 13th Staffel. Promoted to Unteroffizier in December 1944, and Feldwebel in April 1945, he flew most marks of the Bf109, and the Fw190. His very last combat mission was in the Fw Dora 9 on 3rd May 1945 at Flensburg in northen Germany.
Feldwebel Ernest GiefingErnest Giefing was born on February 7th, 1924 in Stockerau, Austria. After graduating from flight school he joined the training unit Jagdschule 107 in July, 1943 and later joined Jagdschule 107 as a flying instructor. Five months later, Giefing was posted to Jagdgeschwader 2 Richthofen (JG2) followed by a posting to JG7 in December 1944. Ernest Giefing held the rank of Flight Sergeant by the end of the war, having flown approximately 75 combat missions including 12 in Me262 jets, and gaining four confirmed aerial victories, two in the Me262 and two flying the Me109. Ernest Giefing was shot down four times, the fourth time on March 24th, 1945 - the day of his last combat mission.
Feldwebel Heinz RadlauerHeinz Radlauer learnt to fly gliders in 1940, aged 17, and joined the Luftwaffe in August 1941. After Fighter School, in June 1944 he was posted to join JG51 Molders then fighting on the Eastern Front near Minsk, scoring his first victory in October of that year. Heinz Radlauer fleew the Bf109G, the Fw190A, and at the end of the war the Fw190D, by which time he had notched up over 100 combat missions, flying his last combat mission on 30th April 1945. Credited with 15 air victories, all on the Eastern Front, he was awarded the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class.
Feldwebel Johannes BachmannBorn in Aue near Dresden in 1921, Johannes Bachmann joined the Luftwaffe in the spring of 1943. After training as a pilot, he was posted to join 9./JG52 in Russia where in over 40 combat missions on Me109s, he scored 5 confirmed air victories before the war ended.
General Adolf Galland (deceased)Adolf Galland fought in the great Battles of Poland, France and Britain, leading the famous JG26 Abbeville Boys. He flew in combat against the RAFs best including Douglas Bader, Bob Stanford Tuck and Johnnie Johnson. In 1941, at the age of 29, he was promoted to Inspector of the Fighter Arm. In 1942 Hitler personally selected Galland to organise the fighter escort for the Channel Dash. He became the youngest General in the German High Command but open disagreements with Goering led to his dismissal at the end of 1944. He reverted to combat flying, forming the famous JV44 wing flying the Me262 jet fighter, and was the only General in history to lead a squadron into battle. With 104 victories, all in the West, Adolf Galland received the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. Born 19th March 1912, died 9th February 1996. Born in 1911, Adolf Galland learned to fly at a state-sponsored flying club in the early 1930s. In 1933 he was selected to go to Italy for secret pilot training. Galland flew for a brief time as a commercial airline pilot prior to joining the clandestine Luftwaffe as a Second Lieutenant. In April of 1935 he was assigned to JG-2, the Richtofen Fighter Wing, and in 1937 he joined the ranks of the Condor Legion flying the He-51 biplane fighter in support of General Franco during the Spanish Civil War. Despite flying 280 missions, Galland attained no aerial victories, a rather inauspicious start for a pilot would go on to attain more than 100 aerial victories - the highest for any pilot who flew on the Western Front. During Germanys invasion of Poland, Galland was assigned to an attack squadron and he flew over fifty ground sorties. He was promoted to Captain for his efforts, but Galland was anxious to return to a fighter squadron, and he got his wish in October of 1939 when he was transferred to JG-27. It was with JG-27 that Galland first learned to fly the Bf-109. In May of 1940 JG-27 flew in support of the invasion of Belgium, and Galland achieved his first combat victory on May 12. Two months later his score had risen to more than a dozen, and at this time he was once again transferred to JG-26 situated on the Channel Coast. Engaging the RAF on a daily basis during the Battle of Britain, Gallands score rose steadily until it exceeded 40 victories by September. After a short leave Galland rejoined JG-26 in Brittany, where the squadron played a defensive role. Following Germanys invasion of Russia in June of 1941, JG-26 became one of only two German fighter squadrons left on the Channel Coast. This resulted in plenty of flying, and by late in 1941 Gallands victory totals had reached 70. Following a near brush with death when the fuel tank of his 109 exploded, Galland was grounded for a time, and sent to Berlin where he was made the General of the Fighter Arm, reporting directly to Goring and Hitler. Galland spent most of the next few years carrying out inspection tours, and was at odds with his superiors about the need for an adequate fighter defense to negate ever-increasing Allied bombing of Germanys cities. He continued to fly combat missions when the opportunity presented itself, despite Gorings orders to the contrary. In January of 1945 almost 300 fighters were lost in an all-out attack on Allied airfields in France, a mission Galland did not support. He was dismissed as General of the Fighter Arm for his insubordination, but reflecting his flying abilities Hitler ordered Galland to organize JV-44, Germanys first jet-equipped fighter squadron. By March of 1945 Galland had recruited 45 of Germanys best surviving fighter pilots, and this new squadron was given the difficult task of trying to counter the daily onslaught of 15th Air Force bombers coming at Germany from the South. Gallands final mission of the War occurred on April 26 when he attained his 102nd and 103rd confirmed aerial victories prior to crash landing his damaged Me262. Several days later the War was over for both Galland and Germany. General Galland died in 1996.
General Gunther Rall (deceased)A young pilot with III/JG52 at the outbreak of war. He quickly demonstrated his natural ability and leadership qualities, scoring his first air victory early in the Battle of Britain, and by July 1940 was leading 8/JG52. After transfer to the Eastern Front his air victories mounted at an astonishing rate. A crash hospitalised him but within nine months he was back in the cockpit, and, when commanding III/JG52, gained the Wings 500th victory. Gunther fought throughout the war to become the 3rd highest Ace in history with 275 victories. He was awarded the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. Gunther Rall was born on March 10, 1918 in the small Bavarian town of Gaggenau, Baden. Immersing himself in Boy Scout activities during the difficult economic times in Germany following WW 1, Rall finished school in 1936 and joined the German Army. Influenced by a friend, who was a young officer in the Luftwaffe, Rall entered pilots school in 1938. His initial posting was with JG52. He attained his first aerial victory during the Battle of France in May of 1940. During the Battle of Britain JG52 absorbed many casualties, and Rall was promoted to Squadron Commander at the young age of 22. With his fair-hair and smooth complexion the young officer looked even younger than his years. But behind this pleasant exterior was a fierce competitor with the heart of a tiger. Later, Ralls squadron would support the attack on Crete, followed by deployment to the Southern Sector on the Eastern Front. Ralls victory totals began to mount. Following his 37 th victory, GiInther was himself shot down. He was lucky to survive the crash, but with a badly broken back he would spend most of the next year in various hospitals. In Vienna at the University Hospital he would meet his future wife, Hertha. Miraculously, Rall recovered and returned to the Luftwaffe in August of 1942. By November his score exceeded 100 and he was awarded the Oak Leaves to accompany the Knights Cross he was awarded only weeks earlier. As the War progressed against Russia, Rall began to encounter ever more experienced Soviet pilots flying better performing aircraft. Despite this fact, and being shot down several more times himself, Ralls victory tally kept rising. By March of 1944 the ace had attained 273 aerial victories. With the War now going badly for Germany, Rall was transferred to the Western Front. He was able to attain only two more victories against the swarms of Allied bombers and fighter escorts which now pounded Germany every day and night. In May of 1944 Rall was shot down by a P-47. Losing his thumb in the battle he remained out of combat until later in 1944. Ralls final assignments included flying 190Ds as Kornmodore of JG300, and flying the Me-262 jet. Ralls 275 aerial victories (attained on less than 700 combat sorties) make him the third highest scoring ace of all time. If not for the down time suffered as a result of his broken back, Rall might have actually equaled or exceeded Erich Hartmanns alltime record of 352 aerial victories. Rall was not much for socializing during the War. He was a fierce competitor with a businessmans attitude about flying. He was an excellent marksman, and possibly the best deflection shot expert of the War. He continued to fly with the Bundeslufwaffe following the War, serving as its Commander-In Chief in 1970-74. Sadly Gunther Rall died on 4th October 2009.
General Johannes Steinhoff (deceased)By early 1940 Macky Steinhoff was leading 4 / JG-52 during the Battle of Britain. He was then transferred to the eastern front where his success continued. In the final stages of the defence of the Reich he joined JV-44 flying the ME 262 in which he scored 6 victories before being seriously burned in a crash. He flew 939 missions scored 178 victories and was awarded the Knights Cross with Oak leaves and swords.
General Walter Krupinski (deceased)Walter Krupinski first saw combat against the RAF on the Western Front. Transferring to the east, he became a Squadron Commander in the legendary JG52. In 1943 his victories reached 150 but, in March 1944 with 177 victories to his name, he was transferred to Germany to command JG11. Flying high altitude Me109s, he chalked up another 12 victories before being wounded. In September 1944 he was promoted Kommandeur of III./JG26 and led them on Operation Bodenplatte before joining Galland's famous JV44. He completed the war with 197 victories in over 1100 missions.

Walter Krupinski, known as Graf Punski or Count Punski in the Jagdwaffe, was a swashbuckling fly-boy with a phenomenal record of 197 aerial victories. Krupinski not only never lost a wingman, but also had the ability to help beginners develop to their full potential. He joined the Luftwaffe in 1939 as a student in the 11th Flying Training Regiment. He first served with the Jagderganzungsgruppe JG52, a combat replacement unit, flying the Me109, in October 1940. By the end of 191, he had earned the Iron Cross 1st class after his seventh victory and was awarded the German Cross in Gold and the Knights Cross one year later after scoring over 52 aerial victories. Krupinski taught the aerial art of closing with the enemy aircraft until it filled the windscreen before firing. It was during this time that the young Erich Hartmann was assigned as Krupinskis wingman. The young and overly enthusiastic Hartmann was seriously struggling in his first attempts at aerial combat, resulting in severe reprimands by the group commander. However, under Krupinskis expert tutelage, Hartmann mastered the art of aerial combat and went on to become the top scoring fighter ace in the world with 352 victories. While still a first lieutenant, Krupinski was selected as Dquadron Commander of 7.JG52 in the spring of 1943. On 5th of July of the same year, he scored victories 80 to 90 - 11 in one day! He later transferred to the Reich Defence in the west with 1./JG5 in the spring of 1944. His units mission was to help halt the Allied strategic bombardment campaign against Germany. Krupinski continued to rack up aerial victories and was awarded Oak Leaves to the Knights Cross after his 177th victory. He was promoted to Captain and became Group Commander of II./JG 11. Later, Krupinski became Group Commander of II./JG 26 Schlageter Group. In March 1945 he joined General Adolf Gallands famed Jagdverband 44 and flew Messerschmitt Me262 jet fighters until the end of the war. After logging a total of 1,100 combat missions, Krupinski was officialy credited with 197 aerial victories. Krupinski was also wounded seven times in aerial combat and received the Verwundetenabzeichen in Gold - the German equivalent of the American Purple Heart. A civilian after the war, Krupinski later joined the new Luftwaffe in 1952 and was promoted to major in 1955. He received jet fighting training from the Royal Air Force and became the first commander of the Jagdbomber Geschwader, Fighter-Bomber Wing - 33. Krupinski flew various jet fighters in the German Air Force, but held dear the last aircraft he flew until his retirement, his beloved F-104G Starfighter. General Krupinski retired as Commander of the German Air Force Tactical Air Command in 1976.

He received the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves. He died 7th October 2000.
Generalmajor Friedrich Korner (deceased)Born 24th January 1921. Friedrich Korner joined the Luftwaffe in November 1939 and after training joined II/.JG27 in North Africa. On 19th March 1942, over Tobruk, Korner claimed his first victory, and with his 10th victory, over an RAF P-40, he claimed the 1000th victory for JG-27. He scored a further 20 victories in June 1942, including 5 in a day where he shot down three South African Air Force P-40s and two RAF Spitfires. He became the 7th most successful Ace in North Africa, but was shot down in his Bf-109 while taking off to intercept a bomber group. He was taken prisoner, and sent to Canada as a PoW, released in 1947. He recorded a total of 36 victories flying the Bf109, was awarded the German Cross in Gold on 21st August 1941, and the Knights Cross on 7th September 1942, after his capture. After the war, he conitnued in the post-war Bundesluftwaffe, retiring from military service in June 1979. He died on 3rd September 1998, in Paris.
Generalmajor Josef HaibockFlew Me109s & Fw190s in the West & East with JG26, JG52 & JG3 scoring 77 victories.
Gerhard Barkhorn (deceased)Gerhard Barkhorn joined II/JG52 in August 1940. In June 1943 he was promoted Kommandeur II/JG52, and in November that year he became only the fifth fighter pilot to reach 200 victories. He achieved his 300th victory on 5th January 1945. Promoted Komodore of JG6 near the end of the war, he was then summoned by Galland to join JV44. Barkhorn flew 1104 missions, and with 301 victories was the second highest scoring Ace in history. He was awarded the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. Born 20th May 1919, died alongside his wife 8th January 1983 in a car accident.
Hannes Trautloft (deceased)Hannes Trautloft is one of the Luftwaffe's great fighter leaders, scoring his first air victory in the Spanish Civil War in August 1936. Returning to Germany in 1937 he joined the national aerobatics team flying the Me109. Soon after the outbreak of World War II, Hannes took command of I./JG20 taking part in the Battle of Britain, before moving to the Balkans as Kommodore of JG54. Now leading the group on the Russian Front, JG54 took part in the heavy fighting, first in the Me109, then the Fw190. In the summer of 1943 Hannes Trautloft joined General Galland's staff. As a 'mutineer' he was sacked by Goering, thus ending an illustrious combat career comprising 550 combat missions and 57 aerial victories. he died 11th January 1995.
Hauptmann Alfred Grislawski (deceased)Alfred Grislawski joined 9./JG52 in 1940, quickly becoming an Ace. An outstanding fighter pilot, his air victories were 133 in over 800 combat missions until he was severely wounded. he was awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves. Died 19th September 2003.
Hauptmann Emil Clade (deceased)Born 26th February 1916, Emil Clade joined the Luftwaffe in April 1937. At the outbreak of war he was with 1 Staffel JG27 and took part in the Battle of France, the fighting over Dunkirk and then in 1940, based in the Pas de Calais, in the Battle of Britain, where he scored his first victory flying the Me109E. In early 1941 Emil was posted with JG27 to North Africa where he flew continually until the German forces were eventually defeated at the end of 1942. By the end of the war he had survived 6 bail outs and scored 26 air victories. He was awarded the German Gold Cross, and Iron Cross 1st Class. Sadly, Emil Clade passed away in May 2010.
Hauptmann Gunther NordenholtzAfter joining the Luftwaffe in December 1941 and training as a fighter pilot, Gunther Nordenholz joined JG11 where he flew Messerschmitt Bf-109s and Fw190s, scoring a victory over a P-51 Mustang. He flew against the heavy bombers of the US Eighth Air Force in the Defense of the Reich, and fought in combat against B-24s over western France during the Normandy Invasion. Posted to Bremen in late 1944, he was wounded during an air raid at his base, before being transferred to the Eastern Front. He finished the war flying the Bucker Bu181 and was captured by the British on 8 May 1944, later rejoining the new German Air Force as an instructor.
Hauptmann Karl-Fritz Schlossstein (deceased)Karl-Fritz Schlossstein initially flew Me110 heavy destroyers with JG5, when th Group first arrived in Norway in 1942 to provide air cover for the convoys supplying the rapidly increasing German garrison in that country. He commanded 13(Z)/JG5 from the summer of 1942 to June 1943, and then converted to fly Me109s. Later in Norway he flew the Me410 Hornet with ZG76, but finished the war with JG54 Greenhearts flying Fw190s in the Defence of the Reich. He died on 18th July 2017.
Hauptmann Rudolf Trenkel (deceased)Rudolf Trenkel was born on 17 January 1918 at Neudorf in the Ballenstedt region of Sachsen. He joined the army in 1936 but transferred to the Luftwaffe in 1939. On 22 February 1942, Trenkel was posted to JG 77 based on the southern part of Eastern front. Unteroffizier Trenkel was assigned to III./JG 77. He flew with 7./JG 77 and on 26 March he claimed his first victory over I-153 biplane fighter. Trenkel was transferred to JG 52 based on the Eastern front on 1 May 1942. He was assigned to the Geschwaderstab. He claimed three victories serving with this unit. On 15 June 1942, Feldwebel Trenkel was transferred to 2./JG 52 based on the Eastern front. Trenkel recorded his 20th victory on 2 November. On 17 December, Trenkel shot down six enemy aircraft to record his 23rd through 28th victories. He recorded five victories on 16 April 1943 (46-50) and four victories on 2 June (73-76). Trenkel was transferred to Ergnzung-Jagdgruppe Ost in June 1943. Reputedly he claimed three victories with the unit. Oberfeldwebel Trenkel was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 19 August for 76 victories. In October 1943, Trenkel returned to front line duty with 2./JG 52. He claimed 18 victories during October. However, on 2 November, he was shot down in Bf 109 G-6 (W.Nr. 140 167) Black 3 by a Russian Yak-9 fighter and badly wounded. Following his recovery from the wounds received in November 1943, Trenkel trained as an officer and transferred to Stab/JG 52 with the rank of Oberleutnant. On 14 July, Trenkel claimed his 100th victory. On 15 August 1944, Trenkel was appointed Staffelkapitn of 2./JG 52. In October, Trenkel claimed 12 victories in 10 days but was shot down five times. On 15 October, Trenkel shot down six enemy aircraft (122-127). He was shot down again on 15 March 1945 by flak. Trenkel baled out of his stricken Bf 109 G-14 (W.Nr. 465 260) Black 12 wounded. Following the surrender, US troops handed over Trenkel to the Russians. However, after four weeks, he was repatriated due to the deterioration of the wounds received in his last combat. He died on 26 April 2001. Rudolf Trenkel was credited with 138 victories in over 500 missions. Of the 138 victories recorded over the Eastern front, at least 42 were Il-2 Sturmovik ground attack aircraft.
Karl-Georg Genth12th Staffel D-9 pilot Uffz Karl-Georg Genth, who flew with III./JG26. Genth was shot down in Yellow 15 near Enschede on 7th March 1945 by Tempests of No.3 Squadron, bailing out and hitting the tailplane of his D-9, and breakinghis left arm in the fall. Genth also flew the 109G-6, G-10 and K-4 variants, and flew with the extremely popular Hptm Walter Krupinski on several missions in which Krupinski was Gruppenkommandeur. Genth also took part in the air battle which brought down the famed Tempest ace Foob Fairbanks on 28th February 1945. Genth tallied a final total of 2 victories.
Kurt SchadeOne of the early JG52 Aces. Kurt Schade led 0/JG52 from November 1941 until 23 March 1942. A moment after his 27th victory - the fourth in a day, the engine of Kurts Me109 was completely destroyed by Russian gunfire, and burst into flames. Kurt was forced to bail out behind enemy lines. Captured by the Russians, he spent almost 8 years in Russian captivity. In September 1943 Erich Hartmann took over command of the 9th Staffel.
Leutnant Alfred Ambs (deceased)Born in Gladbeck on the 23rd January 1923, Alfred Ambs joined the Luftwaffe on the 10th July 1942. Initiqally attached to a training unit, he flew Ju88s, Me110s, Me109 and Fw190 aircraft. He was in the following units : Flg.Rgt. 53, Luftkriegsschule 3, Flugzeugfhrerschule C14 in Prague. Flugzeugfhrerschule B33 (Prague-Rusin), and Zerstrergeschwader 101. As the war situation worsened, Ambs was transferred to train on the new Messerschmitt 262 fighter with JG7 in Lechfeld. Flying with this unit, Ambs shot down 6 Allied aircraft to finish the war an Me 262 jet Ace. He flew his last mission on 23rd March 1945, and had flown a total of nearly 75 missions on the Me262. Sadly, Alfred Ambs passed away on 30th March 2010.
Leutnant Jorg CzypionkaVery few Luftwaffe pilots flew the Me262 jet as a night-fighter. Jorg Czypionka was one of them. In 1944 he flew Fw190 and Me109 night fighters before moving to 10./NJG11 flying high altitude Me109s. In January 1945 he joined a new unit - Kommando Welter - which was formed within 10./NJG11 to counter the RAF Mosquitos flying fast intruder operations. Equipped with single seat Me262 fighters he flew his jet 'Red 6' alongside the top scoring jet ace of all time, Kurt Welter, scoring two confirmed night victories over Mosquitos.
Leutnant Norbert Hannig (deceased)Norbert Hannig began operations with JG54 on the Eastern Front near Leningrad in early 1943, flying first the Messerschmitt Bf109G, later converting to the Fw190. He became a Staffelkapitan with JG54, notching up an impressive 42 victories. Towards the end of the war, in early 1945, he converted to fly the new jet fighter, the Me262, and flew it in combat with III./JG7 from their airfield base at Brandenberg-Briest. Norbert Hannig died on 21st February 2014.
Major Gerhard Schopfel (deceased)Gerhard Schopfel was Staffelkapitan of 9./JG26 at the outbreak of war, and became Kommandeur of III./JG26 in August 1940. In December 1941 he succeeded Adolf Galland as Kommodore of JG26 until Januray 1943. Later, Kommodore of JG4 and JG6. He flew over 700 combat missions, achieving 40 victories, all in the West. He was awarded the Knight's Cross in 1940. Died 17th May 2003.
Major Hans-Ekkehard Bob (deceased)After success in the Battle of Britain, Hans-Ekkehard Bob took over leadership of 9./JG54 in 1940. The following year he was awarded the Knights Cross. Transferring to the Eastern Front his victories rose steadily to 50 by September 1942. His Group later transferred back to the West for a short period, where in April 1943, he rammed a B-17 Fortress. Returning to the Eastern Front as Kommander of IV./JG3, he ended the war as Adjutant of Gallands JV44 in the West. In his 700 missions he scored 60 victories.
Major Wolfgang Schenck (deceased)Born 7th February 1913, Wolfgang Schenck joined the Luftwaffe in 1936. After training he was assigned to JG132 flying Me109s before the squadron was renamed ZG1 and converted to Me110s. He took part in operations against Poland, Norway and France but was hospitalised for three months after being wounded. After recovering, he joined EG210, an experimental squadron, to develop fighter bomber tactics. Renamed as SG210, the squadron later took part in the advance into Russia, where Schenck was awarded his Knights Cross. In March 1942 Schenck took command of 1./ZG1, and was awarded the Oak Leaves to his Knights Cross with this unit. He went on to command SG2, flying Fw190s in the Mediterranean. Later, from December 1944 to January 1945, Schenck commanded KG51, flying the newly developed Me262 jet fighter-bomber. Flying over 400 missions, Schenck scored 18 aerial victories and sunk 28,000 tons of shipping. Wolfgang Schenck passed away on 5th March 2010.
Max-Hellmuth Ostermann (deceased)Born in Hamburg on 11th December 1917, Max-Hellmuth Ostermann joined the Luftwaffe in March 1937. He flew Me110s with I./ZG1, participating in the invasion of Poland before transferring to JG21 in April 1940. During the Battle of France, he claimed his first victory, shooting down a French fighter on 20th May 1940. He claimed one more victory during the French campaign before the squadron was redesignated JG54 and fought in the Battle of Britain, where Ostermann claimed a further 6 victories. Participating in the Balkans campaign, he shot down a Yugoslavian Me109 fighter, before moving to fight the Russians on the eatern front. With 29 victories claimed, he was awarded the Knights Cross on 4th September 1941. He scored his 50th victory on 20th January 1942, increasing his total to 70 by the 20th of March that year. Early in May, after scoring his 97th victory, Ostermann was shot down but was unharmed. Returning to action, he scored his 100th victory on 12th May 1942, and was the 7th pilot to score this total. He was shot down on the same mission, suffering sufficient wounds to keep him out of action until August. On 9th August 1942, he scored his 102nd victory, but was shot down and killed by Russian fighters soon afterwards.
Oberfeldwebel Erich AxthammerBorn 3rd December 1920, he joined the Luftwaffe in November 1938, learning to fly on Me109s and Me110s. He was posted to the eastern front flying the Hs123. In March 1943, he joined SG1, again on the eastern front, flying over 300 missions with the Hs123. He then served with 1./SG152, 5./SG77 and later 8./SG10 from August 1944. After 505 missions he was awarded the Knights Cross on 28th April 1945. He also flew the Fw190. In a final total of 530 missions, 305 of which were on the Hs123, he destroyed many ground targets, including armoured vehicles, supply vehicles and flak guns. After the war he became a miner, but rejoined the Bundesluftwaffe in 1958, as a carrier and helicopter pilot, retiring in 1979.
Oberfeldwebel Helmut Ruffler (deceased)Helmut Ruffler joined 9./JG3 in February 1941 and was soon to prove himself a masterful fighter pilot. His scores began to mount quickly and by the end of 1942 his tally had risen to 50 victories. Surviving being shot down in 1943, he was posted as a much needed fighter instructor but was soon back in the fray - joining 4./JG3 in the home defence of the Reich. In March 1945 he was promoted Staffelfuhrer of 9./JG51. Shot down 5 times during the war, Helmut Ruffler fleww over 690 missions and scored 98 victories. He was awarded the Knight's Cross in December 1942. He died on 21st September 2001.
Oberfeldwebel Werner Hohenberg (deceased)Werner Hohenberg joined JG52 in July 1942, flying with 8th Staffel. On July 9th 1942 he was badly wounded when his aircraft was hit by Russian flak, causing him to be in hospital until November 1st, 1944. He was then posted to JG2 'Richtofen' on the Western Front. On January 1st, 1945 he took part in Operation Bodenplatte, and was again shot down, this time by US flak. Landing behind British lines he was taken POW. Werner Hohenberg flew over 200 combat missions, scoring 33 air victories. He was awarded the Iron Cross. He died in October 2001.
Oberfeldwebel Willi ReschkeOne of the outstanding younger Luftwaffe pilots, Willi Reschke was one of the leading members of JG300 Wilde Sau flying the Fw190A in the 'Defence of the Reich'. Towards the latter months of the war he transferred to the Stabsschwarm of JG301, still flying the Fw190A. Awarded the Knight's Crossin April 1945, he was credited with 26 victories - all in the west - including 18 four engined bombers.
Obergefreiter Walter ErkerJoining the Luftwaffe towards the end of the war, he was posted to II./JG103 on the Baltic coast of northern Germany. Here he flew Bf109s with the 5th Staffel but, on 20 October 1944 a fellow pilot collided with him in mid-air at around 700 feet. Although he just managed to bale out he was severely injured and spent the remainder of the War recovering.
Oberleutnant Ernst Scheufele (deceased)Joining the Luftwaffe in October 1940, Ernst Scheufele was posted to Norway in June 1942, to join 4./JG5. There, flying Me109s he carried out a total of 67 escort missions for the German battleships Bismarck and Tirpitz. In October 1943 he joined II./JG5 flying over Arctic waters, in Finland, and on the Russian Front, before transferring to the defence of the Reich in June 1944. On 3 December 1944 he was shot down by an American flak battery near Saxony, wounded and taken prisoner. He had a total of 18 victories. Sadly, Ernst Scheufele died on 18th February 2010.
Oberleutnant Erwin Leykauf (deceased)Born in January 1918, Erwin Leykauf learned to fly at glider school and Luftkriegschule, before being called up to fly at the beginning of the war. He flew with JG21 at the beginning of the Battle of Britain, which soon became JG54 where he scored his first 7 victories. Transferring to the Balkans and later the Eastern Front he was forced into an emergency landing behind enemy lines during Operation Barbarossa, eventually making his way back to rejoin his unit. On the night of 22nd - 23rd June 1942, he claimed 6 victories in less than one hour. In August 1943, Leykauf began converting with JG54 to the Fw190 fighter. At the end of the war he was with JG7, flying the Me262, although he did not get a chance to fly any missions on the jet fighter. Erwin was awarded the Iron Cross I and II and his victories had climbed to 33.
Oberleutnant Gunther Seeger (deceased)In February 1940, Gunther Seeger was an Unteroffizier with 3./JG2, scoring his first victory in the early days of the Battle of Britain. he served on the Channel Front until December 1942, including several months with the Geschwaderstabsschwarm. He transferred to the Mediterranean theatre with II./JG2 before joining 6./JG53. In February 1943 he joined 7./JG53 becoming Staffelkapitan in September 1944. Awarded the Knight's Cross, Gunther Seeger scored 56 victories.
Oberleutnant Joachim BerkingJoining the Luftwafte in November 1939, Joachim Berking was commissioned and trained as a pilot on Ju52s and He111s as part of KG53 based at Lille in northern France. In May 1942 he was posted to KG55 Grief in Russia, joining the 4th Staffel based in Djepropetrowsk, where he completed 291 combat missions, of which 60 were night operations. In November 1943 he returned to France to become head of training of 1 L/KG5 5 at Dijon. After this posting he converted to fighters, training on the Me109, and in April 1945 was posted to command 4./JG27 Marseille. He received the Iron Cross I and II, the German Cross in Gold, and a special honorary trophy from Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering for outstanding services in air combat.
Oberleutnant Kurt SchulzeAfter serving with the Air Signals Corps during the Blitzkrieg through the Low Countries and France, Kurt Schulze then flew as a Me110 Wireless Operator over southern Russia, before returning to the west. Here he flew night missions against England in Do217s with I./KG2. In September 1943 he transferred to train as a fighter pilot, and flew 65 missions in Me109s with III./JG5 on the Arctic Front, scoring three victories. In November 1944 he flew in the ill-fated defence of the German battleship Tirpitz. In March 1945 he commanded I./JG51 in the encircled east German city of Danzig, before returning to Norway in May 1945 to command 16./JG5.
Oberleutnant Walter Schuck (deceased)Initially with JG3, Walter Schuck was posted north to 7./JG5 in April 1942. On 15 June 1944 he chalked up his 100th victory during a day when he shot down 6 aircraft. Two days later he had his most successful day, achieving 12 victories in twenty-four hours, a feat never surpassed in JG5. On 1 August, he assumed command of 10./JG5. Walter Schuck transferred to fly the Me262 as Staffelkapitan of 3./JG7, and achieved 8 further victories flying the new jet. His final tally was 206 air victories. He was awarded the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves. Walter Schuck died on 27th March 2015.
Oberst Eduard Neumann (deceased)A veteran of the Spanish Campaign, Edward Neumann, at the start of the war, was leading 4./JG26 in France, later promoted Adjutant of I./JG27. He took part in the Balkan Campaign before moving in 1941 to North Africa, where I./JG27 was the only German fighter unit for the first nine months. In 1942 he became Kommodore of JG27, a position which he held throughout the remainder of the Desert Campaign. He was credited with moulding the careers of many outstanding pilots, the best known being the young Hauptmann Marseille. Following the defeat of Rommel's Afrika Korps at El Alamein JG27 covered their retreat back to Tunisia. When his wing left the desert, 'Edu' Neumann was transferred to the Staff of General of the Fighter Arm, where he remained until 1944. Promoted to Oberst in the autumn of that year, he took over as Fighter Commander of Northern Italy. Edu Neumann ended the war as one of the Luftwaffe's most highly respected Commanders. Died 9th August 2004.
Oberst Erich Hartmann (deceased)Erich Hartmann started his career as Paule Rossmans wingman, and it was obvious that here was a very special pilot. Promoted Staffelkapitan of 7/JG52 in July 1943, he was shot down and taken prisoner for four hours before escaping. In September he took over 9/JG52. In March 1944 he reached the 200 victory mark. He later le 4/JG52, then briefly I/JG52, and lastly Gruppenkommandeur of I/JG52. Hartmann scored a total of 352 victories, more than any other pilot in history, and was awarded the Knights Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. Erich Hartmann is the top-scoring fighter pilot in history. During WWII he shot down the equivalent of almost 15 Allied squadrons in aerial combat. In some 850 aerial combats he shot down 352 Allied planes and was shot down himself 16 times. He was never wounded. Hartmanns mother taught him to fly at age 14 and in 1942 at age 20 he was flying Me109s on the Eastern front. His first combat mission was disastrous. He spoiled his leaders attack by going for the kill himself, then mistook his leaders Me109 for a Russian fighter and fled in panic. Were it not for super ace Walter Krupinski believing in Hartmanns abilities he might well have had his flying career ended. Krupinskis tutoring coupled with the fact that Hartmann was a crack shot, turned him around. He scored his first victory on November 5th 1942 and by September 1943 he had completed 300 missions with 95 victories to his credit. In August 1944 Hartmann was awarded the Diamonds to his Knights Cross - Germanys highest decoration and one that was awarded to only 27 German militar ypersonnel. Hitler made the award personally. Before the award ceremony he was demanded to hand over his sidearm before meeting with Hitler. Hartmann told the generals that if Hitler could not trust his front line officers, he could stuff his Diamonds. After a brief confusion he was allowed to carry his pistol. Hartmanns success resulted from the lessons he learned from Krupinski - do not fire until your enemys plane fills your windscreen. That resulted in a sure kill with a minimum amount of ammunition expended. Almost every kill Hartmann made was a near collision. After the war Hartmann surrendered to the Americans, who turned him over to the Russians. He was singled out for especially brutal treatment and was illegally held by the Russians until 1955 when Chansellor Adenaur personally visited Moscow and arranged for his release. The Russians had used every persuasive device known to convert Hartmann to Communism and get him to join the DDR airforce. Upon his return to Germany, his friend and fellow ace, Walter Krupinski, urged him to join the new German Air Force with other old friends such as Barkhorn and Hrabak. Since he felt he was too old to begin a new career, he did. He was given refresher training in the United States and was selected to command the Richthofen Wing in the new German Air Force, the first fighter wing to be rebuilt since the war. He filled that and other jobs in the new Luftwaffe with great distinction until his retirement. He died 20th September 1993.
Oberst Hermann Buchner (deceased)Hermann Buchner was born in Salzburg, Austria, 30th October 1919. Hermann Buchners first combat role was ground attack. After 215 combat missions he was badly injured when his Me109 exploded at 22,000ft. Returning to action in 1943, he flew a further 200 missions before again being wounded. Back in action a third time, he fought in the Crimea and Romania. After 500 ground attack missions he transferred to join Nowotny, the Me262 jet trials unit, and then 9./JG7. He was the first jet pilot in history to score a victory. Hermann Buchner had 58 air victories plus 48 tanks, numerous trucks and anti-aircraft units. He was awarded the Knights Cross in July 1944. Hermann Buchner died in Lorsching, 1st December 2005, aged 86.
Oberstleutnant Helmut Bennemann (deceased)Helmut Bennemann was born 16th March 1915. During the Battle of Britain Helmut Bennemann was Gruppenadjutant with I./JG52 on the Channel Front. In April 1942 he was Staffelkapitan of 3./JG52 in the east and was appointed Kommandeur of I./JG52 from June 1942 until October 1943. Posted to Italy in November 1943, he was promoted to Kommodore of JG53 (Ace of Spades) in this theatre and in the defence of Germany. He commanded JG53 on Operation Bodenplatte. Helmut Bennemann flew over 400 missions, scoring 92 victories and was awarded the Knight's Cross. He died 17th November 2007.
Paule Rossmann (deceased)One of the most respected leaders in JG52, Paule flew in the Battle of Britain before transferring to Russia. Hartmann began as Rossmanns wingman. In July 1943 he landed behind enemy lines in an attempt to rescue a fellow pilot but was captured by the Russians. He had scored 93 victories, and been awarded the Knights Cross. Died 4th April 2004.
Stabsgefreiter Hubert-Lufwig PflaumAfter joining the Luftwaffe and completing his flight training, he originally flew Heinkel 111 bombers with IV./KG 27 Boelcke. Towards the end of the war, however, he transferred to train as a fighter pilot, and after qualifying joined II./JG53 PikAs where he flew Bf109s with 6 Staffel in the Defence of the Reich.
Ulrich Steinhilper (deceased)Ulrich Steinhilper was born on the 14. September 1918 in Stuttgart. In 1936, he succesfully tested for Luftwaffe flight training. As a cadet, he mastered the Heinkel 72 Cadet and the Focke Wulf 44 Goldfinch, received his pilot's badge and then went to an operational unit. Steinhilper was assigned as adjutant to Condor Legion veteran Adolf Galland. at the beginning of 1939, Steinhilper "volunteered" to command the group's radio communications unit and worked hard to integrate this new technology into flying operations. His unit was redesignated I./JG 52 in April 1939 and in the summer moved operation to a airfield east of Bonn. During the invasion of Poland, the group defended the Ruhr industrial region. In September 1939, Steinhilper was assigned a Messerschmitt Bf109 numbered "Yellow 16." and were involved in combat over France until May 1940. In early August 1940, I./JG52 returned to combat in the opening days of the Battle of Britain. Steinhilper destroyed his first three enemy fighters, Spitfires, during a ground attack on RAF Manston. On 19 September, and at the end of the month he got his 4th victory. By the end of October, he had logged over 150 sorties across the Channel and had become an ace.with his 5th victory. On the 27th October 1940, Steinhilper was shot down by the Spitfire of Sgt Bill Skinner of 74 squadron, He became a POW first in England and then in Canada. On the 23 November 1941 Oberleutnant Ulrich Steinhilper escaped from Bowmanvill Ontario and managed to make it to Niagara Falls within two days. Steinhilper unknowingly spent 30 minutes in the neutral United States clinging beneath a train car as it sat idle in a Buffalo, New York railyard. In less than three weeks, he escaped again and made it as far as Montreal, Quebec. Within four months Steinhilper would attempt a third escape. On February 18, 1942 Steinhilper and a friend, disguised as painters, used a ladder to escape over two barbed wire fences. The pair would make it as far as Watertown, New York before being arrested by police. Steinhilper was soon sent to Gravenhurst, Ontario where he attempted two further escapes. Steinhelper is known to be the greatest german escaper of the war. After the war Steinhilper worked for IBM and In 1972, IBM credited Steinhilper for the concept of "word processing." Ulrich Steinhilper also has written three autobiographical books - Spitfire On My Tail, Ten Minutes To Buffalo, and Full Circle. In 1980 the remains of Steinhilpers ME109 was found in a marsh near Canturbury and is now preserved at the kent Battle of Britain Museum at Hawkinge. Sadly, we have learned that Ulrich Steinhilper passed away on 20th October 2009.
Unteroffizier Friedrich SchelkerJoining the Luftwaffe in the autumn of 1940, Friedrich Schelker was posted to I./JG52 at Dnepropetrowsk a year later, flying the Me109F. Later when serving with 7./JG51 in the southern sector of Mariupol he was shot down and badly wounded. After hospitalisation, in 1943 he was transferred to fly the Fischler Fil56 Storch. Friedrich served throughout the Eastern Front, in Russia, Rumania and Hungary. He scored 22 victories and was awarded the Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class.
Unteroffizier Gunther Kolb (deceased)Gunther Kolb joined I./JG5 in the autumn of 1944 under the command of Major Weissenberger. A few weeks later, at the end of that year he was posted to join IV./JG5 in norway, where he flew both Me109s and Fw190s on coastal and shipping patrols until the end of the war.
Unteroffizier Gustav DreesBorn in 1923, Gustav Drees was called up for military service in 1942, and with a passion for flying joined the Luftwaffe. After training as a fighter pilot he was immediately posted to the Eastern Front with his first front-line unit - JG54 Green Hearts, where he flew the Me 109. In very early 1943 he became one of the first of the JG54 pilots to fly the Fw190A in combat. With four air victories to his credit with JG54 in Russia, towards the end of the war he was posted to join JG 108 in Austria, where he stayed until the end.
Unteroffizier Heinz KernHeinz Kern qualififed as a Luftwaffe pilot and was posted to join III./JG5 Eismeer. He flew both the Me109 and Fw190, and saw action in France, Austria, Norway and Finland. Flying with II./JG5 he flew escort missions in the northern Arctic waters to the Tirpitz, and later flew with IV./JG5
Unteroffizier Helmut HeckesHelmut Heckes joined the Luftwaffe in August 1941, and in October 1943 was posted to I./JG52 based at Novo-Saporozhe in the southern Russian sector. He flew combat in most variants of the Me109. He joined 12./JG11 in 1944. Shortly afterwards, following 72 successful combat missions, he was shot down by a Lagg 5 on June 26th 1944. Spending six months in hospital his wounds were so severe that he was unable to fly again for the rest of the war. He was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd Class.
Unteroffizier Otfried SahlBorn in Eigenrode on 17th August 1925, Ottfried was called up for service in 1943, joining the Luftwaffe in July of that year. Trained as a fighter pilot he was posted to the Eastern Front to join 5./JG52, where he undertook 35 combat operations on Me109s before the end of the war.
Walter Wolfrum (deceased)Walter Wolfrum first saw combat in the Crimea with 5/JG52. He was shot down three times, and wounded twice before scoring his first victory. With his score at 70 he was again wounded, but returned to take command of 1/JG52 in May 1944, taking part in the fiercely fought defence of the Ploesti oilfields. he was again wounded, but returned to command 1/JG52 until the end of the war. he had flown 423 missions, achieved 137 victories, and was awarded the Knights Cross. Sadly, Walter Wolfrum passed away on 26th August 2010.
Known Individual Aircraft Records
DateTypeDetailsInfo
5th December 1940Me1094144 Mk.E7 Crash landed 75% badly damaged at Calais-Marck Airfield on return after combat with fighters.
5th December 1940Me1095563 Mk.E4 , White C, Crashed into sea after combat with fighters, StaffelKapitan Oblt. Heinz Vogeler Killed.
5th December 1940Me1095968 Mk.E7 , White 4, Crashed into sea after combat with fighters. Lt. Hans Heinemann Killed.
5th December 1940Me1096324 Mk.E Damaged. Oblt. Menge wounded in combat over England.
5th December 1940Me1095816 Mk.E Force Landed, damaged.
6th November 1941Me109 Mk.F4 , Black 1, Shot down a Spitfire then pilot Johannes Schmid was killed after a wing clipped the sea while circling the downed Spitfire.

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