the July 25 and 26, and just before midnight on July 27, there was

a raid by 729 Lancaster and Halifax bombers of the RAF. This raid

also dropped some 2,400 tons of bombs on the city, a large number of

which were M69 incendiary bombs that turned the centre of the city

into a fiery hell. Further raids with fewer losses were conducted on

the night of the July 29 and 30 and the August 2 and 3. The loss of life

was monumental, and reportedly some 42,500 people lost their lives,

the majority of them civilians. The event produced the first known

firestorm, with flames reaching into the air several kilometers. The

effectiveness of countering this raid was woefully inadequate partly because of, among other factors, the use of Window metal strips

which severely limited the functionality of both ground and airborne

radar systems. The result of the effect of the raid and the resulting

ineffectiveness in countering it, as well as the firestorm, was that the

door was opened to implementing new concepts of night fighting. This

involved the use of traditional day fighters in free-roaming intercepts.

The driving force behind this concept was the very successful and

highly decorated bomber pilot, Col. Hans-Joachim Herrmann, nicknamed Hajo Herrmann. He had proposed trying out this concept as early

as the end of 1942. He also personally tested this concept in practical

terms in the spring of 1943 and received the go-ahead to form an

evaluation unit.

Jagdgruppe Herrmann

Stab/Versuchskommando Herrmann was officially activated on June

26, 1943 at Deelen, the Netherlands. The unit was composed of experienced pilots, largely of former transport and bomber pilots with

expertise in blind flying techniques. The aircraft were borrowed from

JG 1 and JG 11. Herrmann’s unit was based at Bonn-Hangelar and received its baptism of fire during a raid on Cologne on the night of the

July 3 and 4, 1943. Herrmann’s pilots brought down ten British aircraft

for the loss of one of their own. Herrmann himself was credited with

one kill. After the use of Window over Hamburg, they began to be

considered the only effective combat element at the disposal of the

Luftwaffe. The tactic, that involved interception without the use of

ground control or airborne radar, where the fighters roamed at will

and wreaked havoc among enemy bombers in any given operational

area, much like wild boars, was dubbed ‘Wilde Sau’ (Wild Boar).

Hans-Joachim „Hajo“ Herrmann

(1913 – 2010)

Hans-Joachim „Hajo“ Herrmann (1913 - 2010) originally worked as

a policeman, then joined the army and in August 1935 was recruited

to the Luftwaffe with the rank of Leutnant. He first served with

Fliegergruppe Nordhausen and in 1936 was assigned as a bomber

pilot to 9./KG 253. In August of that year he was deployed in the

Spanish Civil War. He flew with the Legion Condor in that theatre

until April 1937 and was awarded the Spanish Cross in Gold with

Swords. Later in the ranks of his Geschwader, renamed KG 4, he

took part as commander of the 7th Staffel in the attack against Poland, Norway and France. At the end of May 1940 he was shot down

over Dunkirk. In September 1940 he received the Honor Goblet „For

Special Achievement in the Air War“ and in October he was awarded

the Knight‘s Cross. In 1941 he also served briefly with KG 54 and

IX. Fliegerkorps, but in September he became commander of III./

KG 30 and joined the fight against Allied convoys on the routes to

the Soviet Union. In the summer of 1942 he was transferred to the

Stab of General der Kampfflieger and was in charge of technical and

tactical changes in the deployment of bomber units. From May 1943,

he experimented with the „Wilde Sau“ tactic and achieved his first

night victory on the night of July 3-4. In the same month he founded

JG 300, and in August he was awarded the Oak Leaf Cluster and

simultaneously appointed to command the Jagddivision 30 and inspector of night fighters. In January 1944 he was awarded with the

Swords to the Knight‘s Cross and two months later became commander of the Jagddivision 1. From November 1944 he served with the

Stab of the II Fliegerkorps and in January 1945 became commander

of the 9. Fliegerdivision. He was the initiator of the formation of

a fighter unit which was to crash its machines into Allied bombers

(Rammkommando Elbe), and at the end of the war he organized an

air operation for sabotage in the rear of the enemy (Unternehmen

Bienenstock), whose activities ended at the base Salzburg-Ainring.

Here he got into a dispute with the commander of JV 44 Heinz Bär

and threatened him with personal liquidation. After the war he was

a Soviet prisoner of war until 1955. He was one of the influential

and fanatical military commanders who lost track of the realities of

the war situation and whose decisions led to unnecessary casualties.

After returning to West Germany, he became a lawyer and was an

active neo-Nazi and Holocaust denier.



The evaluation unit’s designation was changed to Jagdgruppe Herrmann in July 1943, and it was integrated into II./JG 1. I./JG 300 was

activated in August 1943. In the first phase of its existence, the unit

shared aircraft with day fighter units II./JG 11 and III./JG 11. Another

two units, JG 301 and JG 302, were established later, during the fall

of 1943, but the shortage of new aircraft dictated that only one Gruppe of each of these Jagdgeschwader units had their own equipment.

The remaining groups (Gruppen), dubbed ‘Aufsitzer’, or, less flatteringly, ‘Boar’s Ass’, were forced to continue to rely on borrowed aircraft

from day fighter units. All three Wilde Sau units, JG 300, 301 and 302,

were, under Hermann’s leadership, integrated into the Jagddivision

30 and were subordinate to Luftwaffebefehlshaber Mitte.

Wilde Sau concept

Bf 109G-5 and G-6 fighters that were tasked with Wilde Sau missions

carried minimal modifications for night flying. Pilots had to be specialized in blind flying and in firing at targets at night. To prevent

being blinded by exhaust flames at night, the aircraft had visor plates,

called Blendschutzleiste, mounted over the exhaust stubs on both sides of the engine cowl. In the vicinity of the bomber targets, typically a burning agglomeration, silhouettes of the attacking bombers

were discernible, but the high level of contrast above these areas,

the exploding shells of the anti-aircraft guns, searchlight beams, the

glare of the fires below reflecting off clouds, smoke, and other effects,

easily led to pilot disorientation. Important flight instruments were

doubled and placed on a blind flying panel, ensuring important flight

data in case of damage to the aircraft. Navigation and landing lights

were usually left off, as were landing strip lights. Take-offs and landings were usually carried out in total darkness, and only in cases of

emergency , there would be a light placed at the end of the runway,

pointing straight up, that would indicate to a pilot the axis of the

runway. The aircraft carried standard radio equipment, augmented

by a FuG 16ZY navigation system, using directional beams to aid in

navigating, and the FuG 25a IFF system. For acoustic identification of

friendly aircraft, first and foremost among localized counter-air defensive units, exhaust mounted sirens were installed, called Eberspächer. This emitted a distinctive and easily identifiable tone. As an aid

to visual identification, an infrared light was installed on the bottom

surface of the wing, and in cases of emergency, a flare could be fired

out from the cockpit.

Fuel carried by the Bf 109G-6, under normal conditions, allowed for

around eighty minutes of flight time, fifteen of which were generally

INFO Eduard - July 2021