Bf 109F-1, WNr. 5628, Obst. Werner Mölders, CO of JG 51, Krefeld, Germany, June 1941
Werner Mölders, nicknamed Vati (Daddy), gained the ace status in the Spanish Civil War where he developed finger-four formation tactics. He was the first pilot to reach the mark of one hundred enemy kills. In June 1940, as CO of III./JG 53, he was shot down by a French fighter and was captured. A month later he was appointed commander of JG 51 and successfully led it in combat against both the RAF and the Soviet Air Force. Due to the fears of Nazi leadership regarding his possible capture or killing, he was withdrawn from combat operations and appointed Inspector of Day Fighters in August 1941. He perished in the crash of a Heinkel He 111 in a storm near Wroclaw on November 22, 1941. He was flying as a passenger to Berlin for the state funeral of Ernst Udet. His score stopped at 115 victories of which he scored 14 in the Spanish Civil War and 68 in fighting on the Western front in Europe. For his achievements, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. The illustrated aircraft was flown by Werner Mölders in the summer of 1941 during a downtime as the unit prepared for Operation Barbarossa (the attack on the Soviet Union). The aircraft carried a camo scheme from the first half of 1941, as the top surfaces were sprayed RLM 71/02 and the bottom ones in RLM 65. The engine cowl sports the unit marking of JG 51, and the rudder displays the pilot’s score.
Bf 109F-2, WNr. 8085, Lt. Jürgen Harder, Stab
III./JG 53, Sobolewo, Germany, June 1941
Jürgen Harder, brother of the better known Harro Harder, achieved his first kill on June 22, 1941, the day Operation Barbarossa began. He joined the Luftwaffe in 1939 and served in 7./JG 53 from early 1941, then became a staff officer in III. Gruppe. In April 1942 he took command of 7./JG 53 in Africa and in February 1944 became commander of I./JG 53 in Italy. Until the end of the war he claimed further 63 kills both on the Eastern and Western fronts. On February 1, 1945, he was decorated with the Knight’s Cross with the Oak Leaves. His luck ran out on February 17, 1945, when, due to the engine failure of his Messerschmitt Bf 109G-14, he crashed to death nearby the town of Strausberg. Harder’s WNr. 8085 later served with 4./JG 51, Jagdgruppe West, underwent an overhaul and its version designation was changed to F-4. It was destroyed on December 2, 1943, in Southern France when it was allocated to Jagdgruppe Süd, commanded by Heinz Bär. In its cockpit, Uffz. Alexis Prinz zu Bentheim und Steinfurt was shot down in combat with American airmen.
Bf 109F-2, WNr. 8235, Hptm. Werner Pichon
Kalau vom Hofe, Stab JG 54, Trakehnen (Yasnaya
Polyana, Russia today), Germany, June 1941
Werner Pichon-Kalau vom Hofe (1917–1999) was a pre-war member of I./ZG 1 and early after start of conflict he served with I./JG 3. After service with III./JG 51 he became in August 1940 Trautloft´s Geschwaderadjutant in JG 54. Later on he acted in JG 54 also as Technischer Offizier and in early 1942 became commander of 7./JG 54. Later in the war he was a member of several fighter command headquarters in Western Europe. He was credited with 21 victories. He achieved his first successes on the Eastern front on June 25 when he shot down two twin-engine bombers as his 7th and 8th victories. His aircraft, which this pilot has captured on color footage, bears the non-standard designation, which relate to his position as technical officer. The airplane was camouflaged on the upper surfaces in brown and green paints.
Bf 109F-2, WNr. 6801, Lt. Detlev Rohwer,
Stab I./JG 3, Byelaya Tserekev, Soviet Union, August 1941
Rohwer's fighter career began in September 1939 at the Stab I./JG 3 and the first victory achieved June 6, 1940. He served in the ranks of JG 3 throughout the entire war. He was several times shot down and was several times severely wounded, but he always recovered and carried on flying. Except for when his career, and ultimately his life, ended on March 29, 1944, when his Bf 109G-6 was hit by defensive fire from a B-17. He had to set down, and P-38s in the area were bent on finishing him off. During their attack, Rohwer was seriously wounded. His lower limbs had to be amputated, but he nevertheless succumbed to his injuries the next day. He shot down a total of 38 enemy aircraft and was awarded the Knight's Cross. The illustrated aircraft was flown by Detlev Rohwer during the summer of 1942. The wing camouflage was made up of RLM 70/02 while the fuselage had already been sprayed in RLM 74/75. The sides of the fuselage were covered by irregular snakes of RLM 70. The aircraft markings were supplemented by the typical yellow quick identification aids carried by aircraft serving in the East, a fuselage band, wingtips and engine cowl. The side of the cowl sports the Tatzelwurm, the unit marking of I./JG 3 and Rohwer's personal emblem of the Götz von Berlichingen knight below the cockpit. The right side probably carried the Coat of Arms City of the City of Kiel, the hometown of Detlev Rohwer.
Bf 109F-2/B, Uffz. Richard Übelbacher,
6.(Jabo)/JG 2, Abbeville-Drucat, France, Summer 1941
Austrian Richard Übelbacher was born in 1918 in Innsbruck and after pilot and fighter training he was assigned to 6./JG 2 in the summer of 1940. Its commander was Oblt. Frank Liesendahl, who later became the key officer for the deployment of JG 2 fighter aircraft in the bomber role, primarily against shipping targets. Übelbacher saw combat during the Battle of Britain and achieved his first victory in August 1941. He also achieved an aerial victory during the fight against the Allied landing at Dieppe. At that time, II./JG 2 had already been rearmed to the Fw 190A type. In the autumn of 1942, he moved with his unit to Tunisia and was by then one of the most experienced veterans. He had a total of seven or eight victories to his credit. Übelbacher was killed on March 3, 1943, south-east of Ferryville when he was accidentally shot down by a pair of 1./JG 53 pilots with Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters during a landing maneuver. Richard Übelbacher was buried at Borj Cédria and was posthumously promoted to the rank of Leutnant.
Bf 109F-2, WNr. 9553, Oblt. Siegfried
Schnell, CO of 9./JG 2, Théville, France, November 1941
Siegfried “Wumm” Schnell, a native of today’s Polish Sulecin (then Zeilenzig in Germany) joined the ranks of the Luftwaffe in 1936 and at the beginning of the Second World War he served with 4./JG 2. His first kill was in combat over France on May 14, 1940, others followed over Britain and against English and American pilots over western Europe. After being assigned to JG 54, he first served with its III. Gruppe and on February 1, 1944, he was appointed CO of IV. Gruppe. While serving in this function, he was shot down over Narva on February 25, 1944, by a Soviet fighter, this proving to be a fateful encounter. For his combat results, he was awarded on July 9, 1941, the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves. He downed 93 enemy aircraft in WWII. Siegfried Schnell’s aircraft was camouflaged in the standard Luftwaffe fighter scheme using RLM 74/75/76. Both sides of the fin were decorated with the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and markings symbolizing his victories.
Bf 109F-2, 9./JG 54, Siverskaya, Soviet
Union, December 1941
Oblt. Hans Ekkehard Bob was the commanding officer of 9./JG 54 from November 1940 to July 1943. He joined the Luftwaffe in 1936 and in July 1939 was assigned to 3./JG 21 (later 9./JG 54). Bob achieved his first victory on May 10, 1940, in combat with a Belgian Gladiator. In August 1943 he was appointed CO of IV./JG 51 on the Eastern Front and from May 1944 led II./JG 3 in the Defense of the Reich and Normandy. From August he led the operational training unit II./EJG 2 and he ended the war as a member of Jagdverband 44, unit equipped with the Me 262 Schwalbe. Over the course of some 700 sorties, he shot down sixty enemy aircraft, and was awarded the Knight’s Cross. After the war, he first worked on a farm, later formed his own transportation company and in 1956 he formed the world-famous company BOMAG. The illustrated aircraft was taken over from 6./JG 54 and it was flown by Bob’s Staffel in the winter of 1941/42 in the northern section of the Eastern Front, where in an effort to better hide their aircraft when on the ground, support personnel sprayed them in a washable white paint on the upper surfaces. The aircraft carried the typical identifiers carried on the Eastern Front – a yellow fuselage band and yellow wingtips.
Bf 109F-4, WNr. 7205, Oblt. Josef Priller,
CO of 1./JG 26, St. Omer-Arques, France, October 1941
This aircraft was produced in August 1941 by the WNF and became the personal mount of Josef “Pips” Priller, who was commander of 1./JG 26 “Schlageter” at that time. Rudder shows his 55th victory, which was achieved on October 21, 1941. On both sides of the fuselage, a heart card symbol with the name of Priller’s wife Jutta was painted under the cockpit. Priller began his military career in the infantry in 1935 and joined the Luftwaffe a year later. After fighter training, he was assigned to Stab I./JG 51 in November 1938 and transferred to I./JG 71 (later II./JG 51) in July 1939. In October 1939 he became CO of 6./JG 51 and recorded his first two aerial victories on May 28, 1940. By October he had increased his number of victories to 20 and was awarded the Knight’s Cross. In November 1940 he was transferred to JG 26 and became CO of 1. Staffel, which he led for a year. After achieving his 58th victory he became CO of III./JG 26. During 1942 he achieved a further 23 victories and in January 1943 became commander of JG 26. His last victory, the 101st one, came in October 1944 and in early 1945 Priller became Inspector of Day Fighter Units in Western Europe. He attained the rank of Oberst and was awarded the Oak Leaves and Swords in addition to the Knight’s Cross.
Bf 109F-4/Z, WNr. 7420, Lt. Hermann A.
Graf, CO of 9./JG 52, Kharkov-Rogan, Soviet Union, May 1942
Hermann Anton Graf was born on October 24, 1912. He trained as a locksmith and was a keen football player in his youth. Later he took up sailing and entered the army in 1939. In the spring of 1940, he served in JG 51 and participated in the Battle of France. In April 1941, he fought over Greece and Crete, but did not record any victories during this period. His first kill came on August 4, 1941, near Kiev and things changed. At the end of January 1942, he received the Knight’s Cross for 45 kills, in May 1942 he achieved his 100th aerial victory and received Oak Leaves and Swords in addition to the Knight’s Cross. He was the fifth in line of pilots to be awarded the Diamonds to the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords on September 29, 1942. Graf became part of propaganda campaigns, even a member of the Luftwaffe football team. At the end of the war, he was leading JG 52 and retreated with the unit from East Prussia, through Silesia and into Bohemia. He surrendered on May 8, 1945, in Písek (South Bohemia) to the Americans. They promptly handed him over to the Russians and Graf spent more than four years in captivity.
Bf 109F-4/Trop, Maj. Erich Gerlitz, CO of
III./JG 53, Martuba, Libya, May 1942
Austrian Erich Gerlitz graduated from the military academy in Wiener Neustadt in 1935 and became commander of Jagdstaffel 5 of the Austrian Jagdgeschwader II. After the Anschluss of Austria he became commander of 3./JG 135 (later 3./JG 51). In March 1940, he was appointed commander of 7./JG 2 and after several other posts, in April 1941 he became CO of 2./JG 27. He served with Jagdgeschwader 27 during the following year, briefly serving as commander of 7. Staffel and in December 1941 was appointed CO of II./JG 27, which was then fighting in Africa. In May 1942, after achieving 15 victories, he became commander of III./JG 53 “Pik As”, which was operating in the same theatre of operations. He won three more victories with this unit. His personal aircraft was apparently retained from his previous posting. He led the unit until October 1942, after which he served for some time as part of the Luftwaffe HQ branch in Romania. In January 1944 he returned to combat as commander of I./JG 5, which was then based in Bulgaria. After moving to Western Europe, he was killed on March 16, 1944, in a dogfight with a P-47.
Bf 109F-4, Lt. Walter Nowotny, 3./JG 54,
Krasnogvardeysk, Soviet Union, July 1942
An Austrian with Czech ancestry, Walter “Nowi” Nowotny came from Gmünd near the border with Czechoslovakia. He joined the Luftwaffe in October 1939 and was assigned to 9./JG 54 in February 1941, shortly after which he was transferred to Stab Erg. JGr. 54. With this training part of JG 54 he achieved his first victory in Baltic on July 19, 1941. In March 1942 he was transferred to 3./JG 54 and by the beginning of August he had achieved over 40 victories with this unit. After recovering from wounds he suffered, he became commander of 1./JG 54 in October 1942 and in August 1943 was appointed commander of the entire I./JG 54. Walter Nowotny was a holder of the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, and shot down 258 enemy aircraft over the course of 442 combat sorties. He was killed in combat with American escort fighters near an airfield at Hesepe on November 8, 1944, when flying his Me 262 Schwalbe. The aircraft carried a non-standard scheme consisting of two greens on the upper surfaces, probably RLM 70 and RLM 71, typical for JG 54. The lower surfaces remained in RLM 76. The wingtips were painted in RLM 04 yellow on the lower surfaces, which was an identification mark of aircraft serving on the Eastern Front. The port and starboard wheel wells have different designs. The fuselage number is painted on the undercarriage legs.
Bf 109F-4, WNr. 13376, Hptm. Heinz Bär, CO
of Stab I./JG 77, Comiso, Sicily, July 1942
Heinz “Pritzl” Bär successfully fought over all major battlefields of World War II. He first served in the Luftwaffe in the 1930s as a mechanic but aspired to become a fighter pilot. Despite opposition from his superiors, he got into flight training and became a Ju 52 transport pilot with I./JG 51. With this unit he was unofficially trained on the Bf 109, which had to be retroactively legalized. He achieved his first victory in September 1939 and by April 1945 had scored 220 more successes. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. After a previous command of 12./JG 51, he was appointed commander of I./JG 77 in the Crimea in May 1942. He then successfully led this unit for a year in the Mediterranean and Africa. At the end of the war he was in the rank of Oberstleutnant in command of the elite JV 44 armed with Messerschmitt Me 262s. After the war he continued to fly sport planes but was killed on April 28, 1957, during an air show demonstration of extremely slow flight in an LF-1 Zaunkönig. The Bf 109F-4 carried a classic Luftwaffe scheme comprised of RLM 74/75/76. Previous marking was oversprayed in a dark color, probably RLM 70. The white fuselage band identified aircraft fighting In the Mediterranean, but in this case, wingtips were not painted white.
Bf 109F-4, Uffz. Hans Döbrich, 6./JG 5,
Petsamo, Finland, September 1942
This aircraft was flown by Hans Döbrich, a fighter ace credited with 65 victories. He was downed three times and seriously wounded during the last incident. He never flew a combat sortie again. During the second half of 1942, II./JG 5 was equipped with “Friedrichs” manufactured for service in a tropical environment. The desert camouflage colors consisting of RLM 79 and RLM 78 were applied at the factory. Feldflugpark (Repair Field Unit) in Pori added segments of RLM 74/70 (some sources state RLM 75/71) which helped to camouflage effect over the northern territory. The green shamrock on the cowling was a crest of 6./JG 5.
Bf 109F-4/Trop, WNr. 8673, Hptm.
Hans-Joachim Marseille, CO of 3./JG 27, Quotaifiya, Egypt, September 1942
Hans-Joachim “Jochen” Marseille became the most successful German fighter pilot fighting against the Western Allies. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. A master of piloting, shooting and dog fighting, he also shoved a respect and grace to his opponents as he tried to save downed enemy airmen in the desert by dropping news of their fate on the other side of the front. Marseille used this plane after his return from Rome and achieved 49 victories with this last of “Friedrichs” he used from August 24, 1942, to September 25, 1942. On September 30, 1942, he flew the Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2/Trop as he led escort mission of the 3. Staffel to cover a squadron of Ju 87 Stukas. On the return leg, a smoke filled the cockpit and Marseille was forced to bail out. Hitting the rudder after the emergency exit of the plane, he lost consciousness, and his parachute did not open. Seconds later, Marseille died from the impact on the ground. After his death, WNr. 8673 was used by 1./SG 2 but was hit by flak and lost southward of El Alamein on October 22, 1942. The aircraft had the upper camouflage color RLM 79 sprayed all over the fuselage sides as a non-standard finish. The lower surfaces were sprayed with RLM 78 and the camouflage was complemented by the markings of the aircraft operating on the Southern front, i.e., white wingtips, white propeller cone and a band on the aft fuselage of the same color. The engine cowling bore the emblem of I. Gruppe JG 27 on both sides.