The last Sturmjäger

Text: Jan Bobek

Illustration: Piotr Forkasiewicz

The Fw 190 depicted in combat with Marauders on the boxart of the Fw 190 A-8

kit, was found at the end of the war in Neubiberg, Bavaria. It belonged to 6./JG 300,

which was part of Jagdgeschwader 300. It

was originally a night fighter unit fighting

against British bombers with single-seat

aircraft, whose pilots oriented themselves

in combat by illumination from burning cities or ground searchlights. This tactic was

dubbed “Wilde Sau” (wild boar) and became synonymous with JG 300 and its sister units JG 301 and JG 302. Neil Page and

Vladimír Šulc describe this topic in more

detail in Eduard INFO 07/2021.

In June 1944, JG 300 was transferred to

the subordination of the Defense of the

Reich for daytime combat against American

four-engine bombers. Its II. Gruppe received Fw 190s with additional armor and

30mm outer guns. This was the so-called

Sturmgruppe, or attack group, and was designated II./(Sturm) JG 300. It was to attack

and destroy bombers at close range, while the other Gruppen of JG 300, armed

with lighter Bf 109s, were tasked with

protecting their heavier colleagues.

The transition to day operations and different operational conditions was handled

very quickly by II. Gruppe. Its commander

during this period was WWI twelve victory

ace Major Alfred Lindenberger, at that time

a nearly 50 years old veteran of the legendary Jasta Boelcke. He shot down three

four-engine bombers and one Mustang

August 2022

in the fall of 1944. The II. Gruppe made its

last combat deployment against bombers

as part of the Defense of the Reich during

the protection of the refineries on March

2, 1945. The unit managed to shoot down

four B-17s from the 385th BG but lost eight

Fw 190s and four pilots after the Mustangs


The last time II./(Sturm) JG 300 was deployed as part of the Defense of the Reich was

on March 24. The mission was to attack

an American landing on the east bank of

the Rhine as a part of the Allied Operation

Vanity. Of the whole JG 300 it was

II. Gruppe that suffered the heaviest losses.

Its 32 pilots were to keep radio silence and

fly in formation low over the ground to

reach the Bocholt-Wesel sector and

attack the gliders. However, near Göttingen they were attacked by Mustangs

from the 353rd FG and only about ten

Fw 190s returned to base. Most of the remaining veterans were killed in the fight

and the Sturmgruppe was taken out of action against bombers. During the last five

weeks of the war, II./JG 300 was based in

Bavaria and tasked with attacking enemy

columns, fighter-bombers and observation aircraft.

The most experienced airman left with

the 6th Staffel was Ofw. Rudolf “Bulle”

Zwesken, although some writers have speculated whether he even existed. He was

born to Sudeten German family on August

13, 1919, in Maršíkov (Marschendorf), in the

district of Šumperk (Mährisch Schönberg)

in the Moravian part of the Sudetenland

of what was then Czechoslovakia. In 1943

he apparently served with the 1./JG 52 but

did not achieve any victories there. In April

1944 he was transferred to 6./KG 51, which

was then rearming to twin-engine Me 410s

as part of a planned conversion to the Me

262 jets. However, he was soon transferred to 6./JG 300 and became one of unit's

most successful pilots.

From June 21, 1944, to the end of December he shot down 15 aircraft. He told his

wingmen that “it was better to be a live

parachutist than a dead pilot” and did not

hesitate to bail out of an undamaged aircraft in case he assessed that he had no

chance of winning a dogfight. However, his

feats included shooting down two bombers

with a burning Fw 190 or colliding with

a bomber and landing with aircraft which

had more than a meter of its wing missing!

Zwesken was nominated for the Knight's

Cross in January 1945, which was awarded

on March 21, 1945. In the last four months of fighting, he won at least five more

victories and often led the airmen of the

6th Staffel into battle. By some accounts

he was captured after the war, other

sources suggest he evaded capture.

He died in 1946 or 1947.

There is speculation of either suicide or

a pub conflict with allied soldiers who shot

him. His daughter collaborated on one of

the publications that came out on JG 300.

INFO Eduard