KITS 06/2023

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

June 2023

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.

INFO Eduard