WNr. 8326, Maj. Günther von Maltzahn, CO of JG 53, Bila Tserkva, The Soviet Union, July 1941
Günther “Henri” von Maltzahn was born on October
20, 1910 in Wodarg, Pomerania. He started his military
career in 1931 as a member of a cavalry regiment.
In 1935 he was transferred to the Luftwaffe. At the
beginning of the war he was in command of II./JG
53 at the rank of Hauptmann. After achieving ten
victories, he was promoted to Major and appointed
as Kommodore of JG 53 in October 1940. At the end
of the year, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross.
After the attack on the USSR, he achieved his 42nd
victory on July 24, 1941 and received the Oak Leaves
to the Knight’s Cross. From the autumn of 1941 until
June 1943, he led Geschwader in the Mediterranean.
During aerial combat over Malta, he was shot down
off Valletta on May 11, 1942 and was rescued from the
sea by the crew of Dornier Do 24. In total, he achieved
68 victories. He had to relinquish command of JG 53
after he contracted malaria and served in senior staff
positions in Italy and Germany until the end of the
war. He was one of the Luftwaffe’s most prominent
figures and did not hesitate to be publicly critical of
the German command. He died in Düsseldorf in June
1953. His aircraft was camouflaged by RLM 74/75/76
shades. On the nose the emblem of JG 53, staff
markings and identification elements of the Eastern
Front were applied. On both sides of the rudder the
kill marks were applied.
Hptm. Dietrich Hrabak, CO of II./JG 54, Ostrov, The Soviet Union, July 1941
Dietrich Adolf “Dieter” Hrabak was born on
December 19, 1914, in Gross-Deuben near Leipzig.
He originally served in the navy and joined the
Luftwaffe in 1935. At the beginning of the war he
commanded 1./JG 76 and was shot down during
the Polish campaign on September 3, 1939, but
escaped capture. He achieved his first aerial
victory on May 13, 1940, when he shot down
a French twin-engine reconnaissance Potez 630.
In total, he scored six kills in the French campaign.
In the Battle of Britain, as the commander of
II/JG 54, he scored 10 kills and was awarded the
Knight’s Cross in October 1940. He flew on the
Eastern Front from the first day of the attack
on the USSR. This aircraft dates from this period
and was camouflaged with RLM 74/75/76 shades,
darkened on the sides with RLM 02 patches and
RLM 70 stripes. On both sides of the rudder kill
marks were painted. Hrabak was appointed
Commodore of JG 52 fighting in the southern
part of the Eastern Front in November 1942 and
achieved his 100th victory on August 2, 1943. He
was awarded the Oak Leaf Cluster in November.
In October 1944 he became Commodore of JG 54
and at the end of the war he managed to evacuate
a significant part of this unit from Kuronsk in the
Baltic. In total, he achieved 125 victories. After
the war he participated in the formation of the
Bundeswehr and retired in 1970 in the rank of Major
General as the Gen. der Kampffliegerverbände im
Führungsstab der Luftwaffe.
Hptm. Hans Philipp, CO of I./JG 54, Krasnogvardeysk, The Soviet Union, March 1942
Hans “Fips” Philipp, an ace with 206 kills to his
credit over the course of some 500 sorties, was
born on March 17, 1917, in Meissen. He joined the
Luftwaffe in 1936. At the beginning of the Second
World War, he served with I./JG 76, redesignated
II./JG 54 in July 1940. As a member of this unit,
he participated in the fighting over Britain and
the Balkans. He also took part in Operation
Barbarossa and was appointed CO of JG 1 in April
1943. For his combat success he was awarded
the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords.
Philipp was shot down on October 8, 1943, and did
not survive his attempt to bail out. The aircraft
flown by Hans Philipp was camouflaged with
white color over the upper and side surfaces to
better suit the conditions of the winter of 1942 in
the vicinity of Leningrad. The Gruppe Commander
marking was carried on the fuselage, as were
the II. Gruppe and JG 54 (Green Heart) identifiers.
Both sides of the rudder carried kill marks. The
landing gear covers were removed due to their
tendency to pile up snow.