Bf 109G-4/R6, WNr. 14997, Lt. Erich Hartmann, 7./JG 52, Taman, the Soviet Union, May 1943
Lt. Erich Hartmann, the most successful fighter
ace in history, began to ply his trade with 7./JG
52, to which he was assigned on October 10, 1942.
He first flew the Bf 109G-2, but by the first half of
March 1943, the unit began accepting the Bf 109G-4.
From the beginning of May 1943, after gaining
his 11th and 12th kills, he was made Rottenführer
(leader of a two-aircraft flight) and his score
began to quickly rise to reach 352 by the end
of the war. For his success, he was awarded
the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords
and Diamonds. Hartmann’s “White 2” was
camouflaged in the standard Luftwaffe scheme
consisting of RLM 74/75/76. The factory codes
on the fuselage sides and the bottom of the
wings were not completely obliterated, but
only partially oversprayed with a white wave
(III. Gruppe marking), the white number 2 and
a yellow band, which together with the yellow
bottom wing tips was common to Luftwaffe
aircraft operating on the Eastern Front.
The front of the aircraft carried the marking of
its previous user, I./JG 52. Flying this aircraft,
Uffz. H. Meissler was forced to land behind
enemy lines by Soviet fighters due to an engine
failure on May 28, 1943 and was taken prisoner.