Restructuring of RLV fighter units

In July 1944 it became clear that deployment of the twin-engine heavy fighters in day attacks against the bomber formations protected by

fighter escorts is ineffective and the units equipped with twin-engine

fighters started to restructure and re-equip with single-engine fighters.

For example ZG 26 became JG 6. Since August 1, the number of

aircraft forming a Staffel was increased to 16 and number of Staffels

in the Gruppe increased from three to four. During the summer 1944

RLV managed to establish 8 new Gruppen, mostly based on twin-engine fighter units personnel but also bomber and transport aircraft

crews and of course, pilot schools graduates. Restructuring also entailed disbanding of some units. In June the majority of JG 302 was

disbanded including Stab/JG 302. The only surviving JG 302 unit,

I./JG 302, which operated independently, from February to May 1944

out of Helsinki as Einsatzkommando Helsinki for example, was in

October 1944 integrated into JG 301 as III./JG 301. It was equipped

with Fw 190A-8 and operated as a heavy Gruppe but lacking the armored Fw 190A-8/R2. Its aircraft were standard A-8 carrying four 20 mm

cannons and two 12.7 mm machine guns lacking the armor. In the fall,

the armored Fw 190A-8/R2 were being phased out of the heavy Gruppen and replaced by standard Fw 190A-8s or had the weight reduced

by removing the outer applique armor and sometimes 30 mm cannos

as well. In its initial configuration these cannons were quite effective

weapons against the bombers. A single 30 mm round was sufficient

to destroy B-24 (three were needed to destroy a sturdier B-17) but

in case of a dogfight with Mustangs, Focke Wulfs were cumbersome,

clumsy and almost defenseless. As we can see further, such combats

did occur and Fw 190A-8/R2 losses were extremely high.

Oil Campaign continues

Walther Dahl

(1916 – 1985)

Walther Dahl joined the army in 1935 and was accepted into the

Luftwaffe in the autumn of 1938. In 1939 he became a flight instructor and in May 1941 was assigned to Stab JG 3. On the first

day of the attack against the Soviet Union he achieved his first

victory and in July 1941 was transferred to II./JG 3. In April 1942

he became commander of the operational training 1. Staffel Ergänzungsgruppe Süd. In August 1942 he returned to the Eastern

Front as Adjutant of Kommodore of JG 3 „Udet“ and in December he received the German Cross in Gold and also the Honor

Goblet „For Special Achievement in the Air War“. In April 1943,

he achieved his 51st victory and was transferred to the Stab of

the General der Jagdflieger, who at that time was Adolf Galland.

In July 1943 he became commander of III./JG 3 „Udet“, which

at that time was finishing its deployment on the Eastern Front

and moving to Germany to join the Defense of the Reich. At its

head, Dahl became one of the most famous commanders in the

fight against the American four-engine bombers. In March 1944,

he was awarded the Knight‘s Cross at the rank of Major. Two

months later he was appointed commander of Jagdgeschwader

z.b.V. and in June 1944 he took command of JG 300. By the end

of 1944 he had achieved his 92nd victory, was awarded the Oak

Leaf Cluster and promoted to the rank of Oberstleutnant. But

due to disputes with Göring, he was removed from his post as

commander of JG 300 and in January became inspector of fighter

units. Even in this capacity he continued to fly combat sorties and

in the last weeks of the war he achieved several victories in the

Me 262 with III./EJG 2. The authors differ on the number of his

victories. According to E. Obermaier, Dahl achieved 129 victories

in 678 combat sorties, 30 of which were four-engined bombers.

After the war, he had close ties to organizations and media with

a far-right orientation.

After a short break, during the Normandy landing in June, USAAF continued attacking the refineries and factories producing the synthetic

fuel, railroad infrastructure and other targets. In July also 15th AF

operating out of Italy joined the attacks on Germany. Between 19 and

31 July 15th AF conducted seven large operations, 8th AF conducted

five, at 2% average loss of the deployed aircraft. That was quite some

difference compared to 1943! Wilde Sau units also joined the attacks

against the 15th AF formations, for example on July 25, during the

raid on Linz, these units were attacking the Americans together with

II./JG 27, I./JG 300, II./JG 300 and I./JG 302. On August 3 during the

15th AF raid on Friedrichshafen, the I./JG 300 shot down 8 Liberators

at the loss of 11 own aircraft.

The already mentioned II.(Sturm)/JG 300 was officially established on

August 9. Quite exemplary deployment of the Gefechtverband composed of Stab/JG 300, I./JG 300, II. (Sturm)/JG 300 and IV. (Sturm)/

JG 3 took place on August 15 during the raid on Wiesbaden. I./JG 300

flying the top cover, kept Mustangs far from the Focke-Wulfs resulting

in 8 B-17s shot down at the loss of 10 own fighters and 5 pilots killed.

The second Gefechtverband composed of II./JG 5 and III./JG 53 attacked without the top cover and reported the same results, 8 B-24s shot

down at the loss of 10 own aircraft. Walter Dahl rather optimistically

reported 83 B-17s and 18 fighters shot down. The actually losses officially recorded by USAAF were 13 B-17s, 5 B-24s and 5 Mustangs. On

August 19 the 15th AF flew the last attack against Ploiesti, Romania

and further concentrated on the raids on Germany. From 20 to 29

August it performed the raid on Germany every single day. For the

first ten days of September there was a lull in fighting. There was

an inclement weather in the West and 15th AF was conducting the

repatriation flights in Romania and the operation in support of the

attacking Russians and new allies, the Romanians. On August 23 Romanians surrendered and after a rather injudicious German bombing of

the Royal Palace, on August 24 Romania declared the war on Germany.

On September 11 the lull on the Western front was over when the 8th

AF deployed 1131 bombers and 715 fighters in the operation against

Germany. RLV managed to muster the opposition of 355 fighters from

12 fighter groups (Gruppen) concentrated into three Gefechtverbände

led by three Sturmgruppen. The strongest Gefechtsverband was led

by Walter Dahl. His pilots attacked 92nd BG above Merseburg and

shot down eight B-17s (further four B-17s crashed behind the Allied

lines) at the loss of 7 aircraft. However during the repeated attack,

II.(Sturm)/JG300 was scattered by Mustangs and lost 13 Fw 190A-8.

The second Gefechtsverband, composed of II.(Sturm)/JG4, III./JG4

and Stab/JG1, led by Major Specht (JG11), attacked 100th BG box

without the fighter cover above Kovářská (Schmiedeberg) in Krušné

Hory (Ore Mountains or Erzgebirge) and shot down 11 B-17s, later

three more crashed behind the Allied lines.

The September 11 operations demonstrate the typical combat conditions above Germany in fall and a rather disproportionate losses suffe-



INFO Eduard - July 2021