Bf 109F-4/Trop, WNr. 10137, Oblt. Hans-Joachim Marseille, CO of 3./JG 27, Ain-el-Gazala, Libya, June 1942
Hans-Joachim “Jochen” Marseille became the most successful German fighter pilot fighting against the Western Allies. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. As an excellent pilot, and master of gunfire and dogfighting, he also shoved a respect and grace to his opponents as he tried to save downed enemy airmen in the desert by dropping news of their fate on the other side of the front. On September 30, 1942, he flew the Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2/Trop as he led escort mission of the 3. Staffel to cover a squadron of Ju 87 Stukas. On the return leg, a smoke filled the cockpit and Marseille was forced to bail out. Hitting the rudder after the emergency exit of the plane, he lost consciousness, and his parachute did not open. Seconds later, Marseille died from the impact on the ground. The aircraft had the upper camouflage color RLM 79 sprayed all over the fuselage sides as a non-standard finish. The lower surfaces were sprayed with RLM 78 and the camouflage was complemented by the markings of the aircraft operating on the Southern front, i.e., white wingtips, white spinner and a band on the aft fuselage of the same color. The engine cowling bore the emblem of I. Gruppe JG 27 on both sides.
Bf 109F-4, WNr. 7183, Hptm. Hans Hahn, III./JG 2, St. Pol, France, October 1941
Hans “Assi“ Hahn, a fighter ace and recipient of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves was in command of 4./JG 2 from December 1939. From October 1940 he overtook the lead of III./JG 2. Fifty kill marks on the rudder of his aircraft represented his combat success on the Western Front. Hahn added the fiftieth kill to his tally on October 13, 1941, when he shot down a Spitfire near Boulogne-sur-Mer. Altogether he destroyed 66 enemy aircraft in the West. In late 1942 “Assi” Hahn moved to the East and commanded II./JG 54 from November 1, 1942. On February 21, 1943, he was downed, captured and spent seven years in captivity, returning back to Germany in 1950. He wrote a book about his life in prison “Ich spreche die Wahrheit” (I Speak the Truth). Hahn’s total score stands at 108 kills. The rooster head painted on the fuselage was the crest of III./JG 2, based on Hahn’s family name (“der Hahn” means “the rooster” in English).
Bf 109F-4, Maj. Hannes Trautloft, CO of JG 54, Relbitsy, the Soviet Union, March 1942
Hannes Trautloft entered combat in the Spanish Civil War. He flew the Bf 109 and participated in the development of tactics for this fighter aircraft. He fought in the Polish campaign as well as in France and managed to achieve at least one victory in every campaign. On August 25, 1940, he assumed command of JG 54. He led this fighter unit through Operation Barbarossa, the attack on the Soviet Union, and in subsequent combat till July 5, 1943. Trautloft was credited with 58 victories and he was awarded the Knight’s Cross on July 27, 1941. His personal aircraft wore a non-standard camouflage scheme. It is not clear which colors were used by JG 54 during its deployment to the Soviet Union.
Bf 109F-4/Z, WNr. 13325, Oblt. Viktor Bauer, 9./JG 3, Shchigry, the Soviet Union, June 1942
This aircraft was flown by Viktor Bauer, the holder of the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and an ace with 106 kills. He achieved most of them in combat with Soviet pilots. Bauer flew this particular aircraft in the summer of 1942, when German Group of Armies A advanced on Stalingrad. The unit received Messerschmitts originally intended for service in North Africa, thus camouflaged in RLM 78/79 colors. The segments of RLM 74/70 (some sources state RLM 75/71) were added to the desert camouflage scheme to make the camouflage more effective in the Eastern Front environment. The yellow wingtips, fuselage band and lower cowling were typical for airplanes flown in the East Front. The name Ellen referred to Bauer’s wife, the III./JG 3 emblem was painted on the nose of the aircraft. Bauer achieved his 106th and last kill on August 9, 1942, northwest of Stalingrad. The very next day he was hit by enemy fire, wounded, and had to belly-land his crippled plane. After rescue, Bauer served in various posts of Ergänzungs (replacement) units.
Bf 109F-4/B, Oblt. Frank Liesendahl, 10.(Jabo)/JG 2, France, June 1942
During late 1941, the Luftwaffe considered renewing bombing of Great Britain and coastal shipping. Each fighter unit fighting against the Great Britain was ordered to single out one Staffel for this purpose. The 10. (Jabo) Staffel played this role within JG 2. Under command of Oblt. Frank Liesendahl pilots sank 20 vessels (total tonnage 630,000 BRT) over a four-month period. Liesendahl was killed when attacking cargo vessels near Brixham on July 17, 1942. Posthumously he was promoted to Hauptmann rank and was awarded the Knight’s Cross as well. Liesendahl’s personal mount wore a standard day fighter camouflage consisting of RLM 74/75/76. The ship-munching fox was a 10. (Jabo) Staffel badge. Note the symbols of vessels damaged or sunk by Liesendahl on the rudder.
Bf 109F-4, WNr. 13169, Fw. Heinrich Bartels, 8./JG 5, Petsamo, Finland, September 1942
The Austrian Heinrich Bartels, a German ace with 99 kills achieved during some 500 combat sorties and holder of the Knight’s Cross served on all fronts the Luftwaffe units were engaged. Half of his kills were gained in the north while with JG 5 against Soviet pilots. He met his fate on December 23, 1944, against P-47s of the USAAF’s 56th FG in the Battle for the Ardennes. The wreck of his aircraft was discovered in 1968 near the town of Bad Godesberg in Germany. He flew this aircraft in the second half of 1942 during fighting in northern Finland. The aircraft was camouflaged in RLM 75/71/76 in a non-standard style dictated by operational conditions. In September 1942, the rudder displayed 29 kill marks, corresponding to his score. After Bartels was awarded the Knight’s Cross and after reaching 45th victory, his crew chief painted the award on the rudder of the airplane.