Who are the officers on the cover of our Limited series scale
kit Adlerangriff? Did they survive World War 2? Lets find out!
Airmen on the photo are members of Stab III./JG 51 at St Omer
- Nord in the summer of 1940. From right: commander of III./
JG 51 legendary Hauptmann Hannes Trautloft, Nachritenoffizier Leutnant Herbert Wehnelt, Technischer Offizier Leutnant
Werner Pichon-Kalau vom Hofe and Adjutant Oberleutnant
Otto Kath. All four survived the war.
On July 19, 1940, during Kanalkampf period, these men took
part in fight of III./JG 51 against Defiants of No. 141 Squadron RAF.
Only two British aicraft out of nine survived the massacre, very
much thanks to arrival of No. 111 Squadron Hurricanes. German
pilots claimed 11 Defiants shot down including 6 by Stab officers
mentioned above. There was only one loss on German side, Otto
Kath crash landed his damaged „Emil“ back in France.
Hannes Trautloft (1912 - 1995) entered flight training in 1931
and gained his military training secretly in USSR. He took part in
Spanish Civil War where he scored five victories and took part in
tests of Bf 109 prototypes. In 1937 he was member of winning
German team in international round-the-alps air race in Switzerland flying Bf 109s. After several appointments as Staffelkapitän
in various units and taking part in Polish campaign he became
commander of I./JG 20 (later III./JG 51) in mid September 1940.
One of his Staffelkapitäns was Walter Oesau who took over Trautloft´s job on August 24, 1940. When Trautloft was leaving his men
almost after one year, his unit had 100 victories on the scoreboard. His next assignment was nothing less than to organize new
Jagdgeschwader 54 that got name „Grünherz“ after Trautloft´s
home region Thuringia. Under his command JG 54 became one
of most successful fighter units of Luftwaffe on the Eastern Front.
After July 1943, Trautloft was active in several high command supervision roles of day fighter units. Trautloft‘s involvement in the
so-called “Mutiny of the Fighter Pilots” in 1945 led to his removal
and subsequent posting to 4. Flieger-Schul Division. After the war,
Trautloft joined the Bundesluftwaffe and retired in 1970 with the
rank of Generalleutnant. Trautloft was credited in WW2 with 58
victories in 560 missions and was awarded with Knight Cross. You
can find out more about Hannes Trautloft in August 2010 edition
of Eduard INFO magazine (https://www.eduard.com/out/media/
Herbert Wehnelt (1918 - 2007) entered Luftwaffe in 1936
and before the war became member of JG 2. In spring 1940 he
was assigned to I./JG 20, but did not follow Trautloft to JG 54.
He stayed with his original Jagdgruppe and in March 1942 became
commander of 7./JG 51. In June 1943 he briefly took over whole
III./JG 51 before new commander arrived. Wehnelt got seriously
ill in August 1943 and did not return to combat unit. Since beginning 1944 he commanded various operational-training units till
the end of war. His final rank was Major and he gained 36 victories.
Wehnelt was awarded with German Cross in Gold. In 1954 he entered Bundesluftwaffe and got jet fighter training by RAF in 1956.
His final rank was Generalleutnant and he retired in 1974.
Werner Pichon-Kalau vom Hofe (1917 - 1999) was a pre-war
member of I./ZG 1 and early after start of conflict he served
with I./JG 3. After service with III./JG 51 he became in August
1940 Trautloft´s Geschwaderadjutant in JG 54. Later on he acted in JG 54 also as Technischer Offizier and in early 1942 became commander of 7./JG 54. Later in the war he was a member
of several fighter command headquarters in Western Europe.
He was credited with 21 victories.
Otto Kath (1915 - 1984) began his training in 1936. After pre-war service in JG 2 he joined Trautloft´s unit in September 1939
and served as his Adjutant from 1941 till 1943. He scored 8 victories, gained rank of Hauptmann and after injury in September
1943 did not return to service.
Herbert Wehnelt and Hannes Trautloft.