Günther Rall

(1918 – 2009)

Günther Rall was, with his 275 victories, the third most successful fighter ace in history. In August, 1939, he was attached to III./JG 52, and

remained there until the spring of 1944. His first kill came in the Battle

of France, and then (as CO of 8. Staffel) took part in the Battle of Britain,

and also the battle over Crete. His second victory didn’t come until the

conflict began with the Soviets. By the end of November, 1941, he gained

another 34 victories, but was himself shot down and suffered spinal injuries that took him some eight months to recuperate from. During this

period he met a doctor that eventually became his wife. In July, 1942,

he returned to the Eastern Front, and for his one hundredth victory was

awarded the Oak Leaf to go with the Knight’s Cross he received not even

two months previous. In April, 1943, he was credited with JG 52’s 5000th

kill, and at the end of August, he attained the two hundred mark. From

the beginning of June, 1943, he was named CO of III./JG 52, which was

the most successful component of JG 52. This unit amassed over 10,000

kills, and Rall’s III. Gruppe was credited at least with 4,000 of them. His

personal best month came in October, 1943, over the course of which he

destroyed forty Soviet fighters. In the spring of 1944, JG 52 needed to

pick five commanders with signifi cant enough combat experience against

fighters to be recalled back to Germany, to take part in the planning of

the ‘Defense of the Reich’. Günther Rall became the commanding officer of II./JG 11 on April 19th, and less than a month later, on May 12th,

he was shot down during combat with 56th FG Thunderbolts and suffered a hand injury. In the fall of 1944, he became CO of Verbandsführerschule des Generals der Jagdflieger, and in the final weeks of the war he

took over command of JG 300. After the war, he returned to flying, not

avoiding the military, and progressively built a second career. He trained

in the United States, and became a pioneer in the use of the F-104 in

Germany. In the sixties, he was Kommodore of Jagdbombergeschwader

34, and later commanded the 3rd and 1st Luftwaffendivision, and at the

start of the seventies, he became Inspekteur der Luftwaffe. Up to 1975,

he was Germany’s attaché to NATO.

Serious challenge to the current air defense system were Allied fast

reconnaissance and bomber aircraft, British Mosquitos in the first

place. Since 1943 RAF deployed them in the small scale disruptive

but annoying attacks and Luftwaffe lacked the means to stop them.

The reconnaissance Mosquitos and Spitfires flying during daylight

at the high speed and altitude presented another problem. In August

1944 the special anti-Mosquito flight was established to counter the

disruptive raids of the De Haviland Mosquito squadrons commanded

by RAF Light Night Strike Force.

At the end of summer, 1944, as a reaction to destructive raids

conducted by De Havilland Mosquito light bombers of the Light Night Strike Force RAF, a specialized anti-Mosquito unit was formed,

10./JG 300, also called ‘Mosquito Staffel’, under the leadership of Karl

Mitterdorfer. The unit flew out of Jüterbog and was tasked with intercepting lone Mosquitos bombing Berlin and other fast enemy aircraft

attacking by night. Mosquito Staffel was equipped with the new high-performance Bf 109G-14/AS, built by Messerschmitt at Regensburg.

Its high-performance characteristics came from its power plant, the

DB 605D, coupled with the MW50 water injection system, boosting

power output for temporary emergency situations. Thanks to its high

maximum speed at high altitude, around 10,000m, the Bf 109G-14/AS

had at the very least, a theoretical chance of intercepting successfully the fast Mosquito, flying at these heights. Vectoring to the target

was done through a modification to the Wilde Sau method, utilizing

a hybrid of ground control, guidance using directional beams and

ground-based searchlights, which brought some success, despite not

stopping or even limiting these attacks.

Using 10./JG300 as the foundation, the II./NJG11 was formed in November still equipped with Bf 109. in January 1944, based on the experienced personnel of I./JG300, the night fighter 1./Nachtjagdgruppe 10 (NJGr.10) was established flying Fw 190A, Bf 109G, Bf 110 and

other types. in August 1944 2./NJG 11 was formed from the section of

1./NJGr. 10 and in October 3./NJG 11 from the remainder. And on August 28, to complete this process, 1./NJG 11 emerged from 6./JG300.

A number of NJG 11 operational single-engine fighters were equipped

with radar but a portion was without it and continued flying Wilde

Sau missions. And then we have Sonderkommando Stamp established

in November 1944, shortly renamed Sonderkommando Welter after

a new commander. This experimental unit operated Me 262A-1a in

the night fighter role without the airborne radar i.e. in Wilde Sau

style. On January 28, 1945 the unit was renamed as 10./NJG 11. Until

April 1945 it was flying out of Burg airport at Magdeburg, then on April

24 it flew over to Reinfeld and on May 7 to Schleswig-Jagel where on

May 8 the unit surrendered to the British.



8th AF Grand Finale

Let’s go back to fall 1944 when the Oil Campaign was at its peak.

In November the 8th AF conducted 13 raids, 15th AF 12. In November

the fuel production in Germany dropped to 31% of the June production. November 2 the 8th AF deployed 1174 bombers and 968 fighters in

the raid on Merseburg/Leuna. All 15 fighter groups of the 8th AF flew

the mission. During the raid RLV lost 133 out of 305 deployed aircraft

which represents 44%. This repeated itself on almost every raid. On

November 6 RLV command conference took place at Hitler’s den. Angry Hitler expressed the opinion that further aircraft supplies to RLV

was only a waste of material. A day after, Göring delivered his famous

address at Wannsee. In in 3 and half hours long emotional speech he

humiliated the whole Luftwaffe command.

On November 27 the 8th AF conducted an interesting operation.

10 fighter groups flew a mock raid on Merseburg. Half of the fighter

groups flew at the altitude typical for the bombers in order to lure

RLV fighters into the combat. The other half flew the top cover. JG 3

and JG 3 did not take the bait and disappeared from the area. However JG 300 and JG 301 were ambushed and lost 39 aircraft destroyed

and 27 pilots killed. 8th AF bombers in the meantime bombed the

marshalling yards in the southern Germany without any interference

from Luftwaffe fighters.

In December the 8th AF refocused on Berlin. On December 5 the ammunition factory in Tegel was attacked. 1st and 3rd Bombing Division sortied on Berlin while 2nd BD on Munich. RAF Bomber Command

dispatched its bombers escorted by Spitfires to Soest, a historic town

between Paderborn and Dortmund, with large marshalling yards. This

well planned operation completely disintegrated the RLV defense

as they literally did not know what to do first. JG1 was engaged by

Mustangs even before it commenced the attack. It lost 37 aircraft

and 25 pilots and was effectively out of the action. JG 301 and JG 27

above Soest shared the same fate. In total RLV lost 77 aircraft and 44

pilots, the Americans and British did not loose a single bomber. 8th

AF lost 11 Mustangs and RAF one Spitfire. RLV commanders were going

insane at that time. The American flyers were duly fulfilling the task

Gen. Arnolds had given them and were close to finish it.

On December 16 the German counter offensive in Ardennes was launched and the weather was bad. 8th AF operated above Ardennes, as

conditions permitted, while 15th AF flew missions over Germany almost without any RLV fighters opposition. Nevertheless, on Christmas

Eve, December 24, 8th AF conducted its largest raid deploying 2700

aircraft. Then it returned to Ardennes. On December 31 and New Year’s 1945 It continued the strategic bombing. The ill-fated German

Operation Bodenplatte, which practically finished the hard-tested

INFO Eduard - July 2021