D-5 to the Fw 190 F-8, and some pilots began their conversion training in December, with instructions from an Oberfeldwebel of I./SG 2.
One converting pilot recalled that the Fw 190 F-8 “was a huge change
compared to the Ju 87”, due to its much greater speed. However, the
III. Gruppe soon returned to action with its faithful old Stukas due to
the desperate situation in Hungary.
By 8 December, Red Army advances to the north and south-west of
Budapest placed the city in an eastward-facing bulge, very vulnerable
to encirclement. Adolf Hitler desired a counterattack in the region in
coming weeks, and promised some armoured units. In the meantime,
Heeresgruppe Süd had to hold on in freezing weather with its weak
forces. Luftflotte 4 was as strong as it had been since September
1944 in terms of the number of units it had on strength, and bad weather allowed the pilots and ground personnel some much-needed
rest. When the skies were good enough for flying, big efforts were
made, including more than 300 ground-attack sorties on 8 December,
more than 200 the next day, and another 300-plus on 11 December.
German aircraft captured by US forces at the end of the war in Wels, Austria. On the left
stands Fw 190 F-8 „yellow 7“ of 6./SG 10 after retreat from battles in Hungary and eastern
A City Encircled
Austria. It is an early Fw 190 F-8 from production series 580000. Yellow rudder and front
of engine cowling is visible as Luftflotte 4 marking. Yellow “V” is probably applied on
The German tanks had arrived for a counterattack by mid-December, part
lower surface of port wing.
but it was the Soviets who struck first, on 20 December, as 2. and
3. Ukrainian Fronts advanced from either side of Budapest, suppor- and another 68 between the twentieth and the 25th. The reinforceted by two entire air armies. All of SG 2 and SG 10 were on strength ments were much-needed after months of hard fighting.
with Luftflotte 4 at this stage, but only 56 sorties were flown on the The German relief attempt began from Komárno on the opening day
opening day of the Red Army offensive, due to bad weather. A Ger- of 1945, and Heeresgruppe Süd reported:
man counterattack the next day achieved only very limited success, “Our own air force was badly hindered by cloud cover, but carried out
and the Soviet thrusts from north and south were closing in behind 180 sorties against enemy positions in the area of Székesfehérvár
Budapest, which was full of civilians and unprepared for a lengthy and north-east of Tata-Tóváros. They destroyed one tank, twenty vesiege. By Christmas Day, Budapest’s fate was sealed, and I. and hicles, and one locomotive.”
II./SG 10 and III./SG 2 operated in the early afternoon to the west and Over the next couple of days, every time the German offensive senorth-west of the city. While escorting III./SG 2 around midday, Oblt. emed to be making progress, the Soviets reacted and held it. The
Norbert Schmitt, the long-time Staffelkapitän of 3./SG 10, claimed offensive was supported by around 360 sorties on 2 January, and
a Soviet R-5 shot down while it was landing near Zsámbék, just west Luftflotte 4 units claimed 29 tanks and 135 trucks destroyed on 3 Jaof Budapest.
nuary. The fourth day of the year proved to be a costly one, incluOn 27 December 1944, the 2. and 3. Ukrainian Front spearheads met ding Ritterkreuz-holder Oblt. Manfred Goetze of 8./SG 10, and Ofw.
at the Danube River and completed the encirclement of Budapest, Friedrich ‘Frido’ Müller of 1./SG 2 both killed. Bad weather on 5 and
trapping four German and two Hungarian divisions. German thoughts 6 January restricted Luftflotte 4 efforts, and the German offensive
immediately turned to a relief operation, as more troops and tanks had almost come to a halt in any case. In Budapest itself, the situawere dispatched to Hungary, although Hitler would not tolerate talk tion was becoming more desperate by the day, and there was bitter
of giving up the city. Meanwhile, Luftflotte 4 continued to operate as house-to-house fighting. An audacious German drive for Budapest
much as the grey and cloudy skies allowed. 97 ground-attack aircraft to relieve the garrison was made in the second week of January, but
of I. Fliegerkorps were sent out on 29 December in poor visibility to had failed by 10 January.
operate in front of 6. Armee, hitting a railway station, and tank and ve- After a quieter week, on 18 January, IV. SS-Panzerkorps jumped off
hicle concentrations. For the month of December, Luftflotte 4 ground- from the northern tip of Lake Balaton in a new German offensive, and
-attack aircraft claimed the destruction of 88 tanks, 547 trucks, and made very good ground to the south-east, reaching the Danube the
715 vehicles, while losing 21 aircraft in return, with fifteen others mi- next day. I./SG 2 and II./SG 10 were amongst the units that provided
ssing. This was a significant contribution to the German defence in support in the improved weather conditions on the eighteenth, and
the Budapest region.
around 270 Luftwaffe sorties were undertaken. More success was
Although the war was going badly for the Germans in late-1944 and achieved by both Luftflotte 4 and Heeresgruppe Süd in the following
early 1945, the aircraft production system was still functioning, and week, and the Germans now started thinking more ambitiously.
the Fw 190 F-9, the ultimate ground-attack version of the Focke-Wulf However, those German plans were dashed by a new Soviet attack
aircraft, began to arrive at Luftflotte 4 in January 1945. However, beginning on 27 January 1945, coinciding with a blizzard in central
the F-9 would only over supplement the Fw 190 F-8, not supplant it. Europe.
Overall, January 1945 saw many vital replacement Fw 190 F aircraft The siege of Budapest would conclude with unconditional German suarrive at Luftflotte 4, including 69 between the fourth and the eighth, rrender on 13 February 1945. The battle for Hungary continued beyond
W.Nr. 586188, Stab III./SG 10, Vysoké Mýto, Czechoslovakia, May 1945
INFO Eduard - May 2021