Text: Jan Bobek
Illustration: Antonis Karydis
Landing on the island
In one of the Boxart Stories in the last
issue of Eduard INFO magazine, I mentioned the formation of I./JG 1, which became
one of the key fighter groups in the Defence
of the Reich during the second half of the
War. With the cover of Fw 190 A-8 October
release, we are getting back to this unit.
Also, the pilot whose aircraft is depicted on
the boxart is not mentioned in our kits for
the first time. It is Lt. Heinz-Günther Lück.
He was born on February 13, 1921, in Duisburg. After pilot and fighter training, he was
assigned as a Feldwebel to JG 1 in August
1942. At the end of the year, he was promoted to the rank of Leutnant and served
briefly with 2./JG 1. But in July 1943, he was
assigned to 1./JG 1. He scored a total of six
aerial victories over B-17 bombers; one
them was recorded as shared. He scored
his first kill on July 26, 1943, near Emden.
Lück’s combat career ended on April 9,
1944, while fighting an American air raid
that was heading for Pomerania and occupied Poland. The Americans sent 542 bombers with fighter escorts over the continent. Their route took them over the North
Sea and Denmark, and the crews faced
very bad weather. Only 402 B-24s and B-17s made it over the target, accompanied
by 719 Thunderbolt, Mustang and Lightning
fighters. Bombardment groups lost 32
machines and 177 were damaged. Bomber gunners claimed 45 certain victories,
eight probable and reported also further
14 German machines as damaged. Escort
fighters claimed 20 certain kills and lost
Germans sent 356 single-engine fighters
and 56 twin-engine fighters against the
raid. But only 232 made it to contact enemy.
After the fight, they wrote off 27 fighters
and lost 14 airmen killed or missing.
Fw 190 pilots of I. and II./JG 1 formed a battle group that managed to make a concentrated attack on a formation of sixty
Liberators. The Americans were initially without fighter cover, but soon Thunderbolts
intervened. They were engaged not only
by Focke-Wulf pilots, but also by their colleagues in the lighter Bf 109 Gs of III./JG 1,
which provided fighter escort. JG 1 fighters
reported ten victories over bombers and
three in combat with American fighters. In
the process they themselves lost four Fw
190s, two of their pilots were killed and two
were wounded. One of them was Lt. Lück.
During the fight, the engine of his White
14 was hit by defensive fire from the bombers. He had to look for a place to make
an emergency landing, and the opportunity presented itself on the Danish Island
of Ærø. Flying with him was another colleague in White 3 aircraft which suffered
a technical problem. They circled the island for a while to find a suitable landing
site and finally landed near Stokkeby. Lück
crashed into a small dike and injured his
head on the dashboard. He was taken to
hospital in Ærøskøbing with a concussion.
However, this was not his first injury. He
first had to be treated after a motorcycle
accident on November 30, 1943, near
Deelen in the Netherlands.
His Fw 190 A-8 W. Nr. 170050 was dismantled after a few days and transported
to the mainland. It was manufactured by
Focke-Wulf in Cottbus in February 1944 and
originally bore the factory marking DU+KX.
This machine was flown to I./JG 1 on April
3 by Uffz. Helmut Riehl, a pilot from 2./JG 1.
The machine was assigned to 1./JG 1 and,
in addition to the fuselage number, was given a red stripe on the rear fuselage, which
was an element of JG 1’s rapid identification system for Luftwaffe fighter units. When
Lück made his emergency landing, the aircraft still did not have the JG 1 emblem with
the winged red 1 on the engine cowling.
It was one of the first A-8s that I./JG 1 received. Until March 1944, it used mainly
A-4, A-6 and A-7 versions. During April
1944, I./JG 1 received a total of 34 Fw 190
A-8 fighters but lost eight during the same
month. April was the month that brought
the heaviest losses yet for I./JG 1, losing 24
aircraft in combat. Worse times were yet
to come in July 1944 during the fighting in
Normandy this unit had 30 fighters destroyed by the enemy and even 37 during the
fighting in December.
Lt. Heinz-Günther Lück, wounded in an
emergency landing, did not return to combat duty and served in various staff positions. His unfortunate landing apparently
saved his life.