WNr. 431007, Maj. Heinz Bär, CO of II./JG 1, Störmede, Germany, April 1944
Heinz Bär is credited with 221 aerial victories, including 16 achieved flying the Me 262 jet fighter, ranking him in eighth place among German WWII fighter aces. In July 1943, as CO of I./JG 77 in the Mediterranean got into conflict with Göring and as punishment was transferred to the position of commander of the operational training Jagdgruppe Süd. In early 1944, however, he was assigned to II./JG 1 in Germany as a simple pilot, due to a physical assault on an NSDAP official. However, he soon took command of the combat formations of this unit, was appointed its provisional commander in March 1944, and was officially appointed at the end of April. Bär achieved 23 victories during his five months with II./JG 1 without being shot down himself. Among his most famous victories were the B-17 “Miss Ouachita” and B-24 “Flak Magnet”, the latter became his 200th victory. Bär’s machine sported the JG 1 emblem, his lucky number 13, and the 200 victory symbol painted on the white rudder that was the designation of formation leaders during this period.
Hptm. Rolf Hermichen, CO of I./JG 11, Rotenburg, Germany, March 1944
Rolf Hermichen achieved 66 kills during the WWII, the first 11 of them as a Bf 110 pilot during the battles of France and Britain. He was transferred to III./JG 26 in November 1941 and first served as an adjutant to Josef Priller, the CO of III. Gruppe. As early as May 1, 1942, Hermichen became Staffelkapitän (CO) of the 3. Staffel. When I./JG 26 moved to the Eastern Front in January 1943, he added eight more kills to his existing 21. Already as Hauptmann, on his return to the Western Front he temporarily led III. Gruppe from June 15 to July 4, 1943 and became CO of I./JG 11 on October 16. There, as a part of the Defense of the Reich, he was very successful in combat against Allied bombers. In total, he had 25 (or 26) of them to his credit. His last success came on April 24, 1944, when he shot down a P-51D. He was shot down himself on May 12 and after withdrawal from operational duty, he served at Headquarters of 2. Jagd-Division. From October 1944 to January 1945, Hermichen served as CO of II./JG 104. His Fw 190A-7 of spring 1944 had the original camouflage colors of RLM 74/75 repainted in varying intensities with the light grey-blue of RLM 76.
Oblt. Otto Kittel, CO of 3./JG 54, Riga-Skulte, Latvia, August 1944
Otto Kittel was born on February 21, 1917, to German parents in Korunov (German: Kronsdorf, since 1945 Krasov) near Jägerndorf (Krnov) in Austria-Hungary. Kittel was apprenticed as a car mechanic in Mladá Boleslav, partly learned Czech and joined the Luftwaffe in 1939. He completed his first combat deployment during the fighting in Yugoslavia in the ranks of 2./JG 54, which was deployed in the advance on Leningrad during the attack on the USSR. On June 24, 1941, Otto Kittel scored his first two aerial victories, and on September 14, 1943, he achieved his 100th kill. In March 1944 he became CO of 3./JG 54 and in May he received his personal Fw 190 A-7, the only machine of this version that was in the armament of I./JG 54. Kittel achieved over 100 victories with his A-7 and the aircraft was lost in combat in December 1944 during Kittel's leave. He was killed on February 16, 1945, in combat with a formation of four Il-2s from 502 ShAP near Džūkste, Latvia. He shot down 267 enemy aircraft during World War II, all on the Eastern Front. This result places him 4th in the Luftwaffe’s fighter ace rankings.
6./JG 300, Holzkirchen, Germany, July 1944
JG 300 was initially tasked with nighttime interception of Allied bombers headed to targets in occupied Europe as was the case with her sister unit JG 301 as well. However, at the beginning of 1944, attention shifted to daylight operations. A red band around the rear of the fuselage was the marking of the JG 300s in the rapid identification system of fighter units. The II. Gruppe of the unit was formed in July 1943 and equipped with heavily armed and armored Fw 190A-8/R2s or R8s in the summer of 1944. But the unit also received 30 A-7s between January and July. The Yellow 18 has the JG 300 emblem painted on the engine cowling. The commander of the 6./JG 300 from March 1944 was Oblt. Ernst-Erich Hirschfeld, who originally served in the Flak, after pilot and fighter training briefly flew with II./JG 54 on the Eastern Front and in August 1943 signed up for night deployment with JG 300. Until his death on July 28, 1944, he achieved 24 victories, 14 of which were four-engine bombers shot down by day and eight by night. He was posthumously awarded the Knight’s Cross in October 1944.
Fw. Klaus Dietrich, Führerjägerstaffel, Rastenburg, Germany, August 1944
This unusual aircraft was the personal machine of Klaus Dietrich, who was a member of the fighter unit that was used to escort Adolf Hitler’s flights, state visits and to provide fighter cover for the Wolf’s lair in Rastenburg, Germany (now Kętrzyn, Poland). The fighter unit (Jagdstaffel) was formed as part of the Führer-Kurierstaffel in the summer of 1944 and its commander was Oblt. Klenk. In June 1944, Klaus Dietrich was assigned to it, having achieved 17 victories during his previous service with 2./JG 51 Mölders. His career with the JG 51 was ended by a dogfight with a La-5 pilot on August 19, 1943. Severely wounded, Dietrich landed at his own airfield with 121 bullet holes in his Fw 190 and had to be airlifted to the rear for surgery. While serving with the Führerjägerstaffel, Dietrich witnessed the arrival and departure of von Stauffenberg during the fateful July 20, 1944. While covering the Wolf’s lair, Dietrich managed to shoot down a Soviet Pe-2 reconnaissance aircraft around noon of August 26, 1944. In January 1945 the unit was disbanded, and Dietrich then tested the freshly produced Me 262.
WNr. 642962, Maj. Hans-Günther von Kornatzki, CO of Sturmstaffel 1, Dortmund/Salzwedel, Germany, early 1944
Hans-Günther von Kornatzki was born in Liegnitz in Lower Silesia (today Legnica, Poland) on June 22, 1906. In 1928, he first joined the army, and transferred to the Luftwaffe on its formation in 1933. In May 1941, he married Goering's secretary Ursula Grundtmann. After she became a victim of an Allied bomber raid on Berlin, he became a supporter, and later a leader, of units tasked with intercepting the heavy bombers with heavily armed fighters from as close a range as possible. The first such unit was Sturmstaffel 1, which was deemed combat ready on January 1, 1944. With his personal mount White 20 fell on March 6, 1944, in a dogfight with two Mustangs Lt. Gerhard Dost. Sturmstaffel 1 was disbanded in May 1944 and Kornatzki took command of II.(Sturm)/JG 4. The black-white-black bands as a quick identification element of Sturmstaffel 1 were taken over by JG 4. On September 12, 1944, he led an attack against a B-17 formation near Magdeburg. After destroying one of the bombers, he was engaged by escort fighters and was shot down. In his attempt to belly in, he hit high-power lines and died in the crash.