Bf 109E-7/B, 8./ZG 1, Belgorod, Soviet Union, June 1942
The III. Gruppe, of which the 8. Staffel was a part, was established in January 1942 in Lechfeld and was equipped like the other
Gruppe Zerstörergeschwader 1 with Bf 109E aircraft. Its first deployment followed from May 1942 on the Eastern Front. Here it
flew first from Belgorod field airfield, followed by a move to Kutejnikovo airfield in July. In August there was a further change of
operation, the unit was first equipped with the problematic Me 210s and its new area of operation was North Africa.
Like the other ZG 1 aircraft, the Messerschmitt Bf 109Es of the 8. Staffel had a wasp painted on the nose, which had originally
been the marking of the SKG 210 unit, from which the I. and II. Gruppe ZG 1 were formed by renaming in January 1942.
Bf 109E-7/Z, WNr. 7677 F, Oblt. Josef Priller, CO of 1./JG 26, St. Omer, France, June 1941
Josef ”Pips“ Priller was born on July 27, 1915, in Ingolstadt, Bavaria. In 1935, he joined Wehrmacht, and as soon as one year later,
in October 1936, he started to attend the fighter pilot training. He managed his first shot down as a commander of 6. Staffel JG 51
when he downed a Spitfire above Dunkerque on May 28, 1940. In November 1940, he was appointed a commander of the 1./JG 26.
On December 6, 1941, he became commander of III./JG 26, from January 11, 1943, he led the whole Jagdgeschwader 26. His total
number of victories kept growing. On December 20, 1941, his successes were rewarded and Priller was decorated with Knight´s
Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. On January 28, 1945, he was appointed a post of an Inspekteur der Jagdflieger Ost, where he remained till the end of WWII. Priller’s total score of shot downs was 101 enemy aircraft, all of them achieved in the Western Front. After the war he married Johanna Riegele, the proprietor of a brewery and became general manager
of Riegele brewery in Augsburg, Germany. He died of heart attack on May 20, 1961. His aircraft sported standard Luftwaffe fighter
camouflage of the time, consisting of the colors of RLM 71/02/65 and yellow rudder as well as engine cowling. The fuselage was
given the markings of JG 26 affiliation, the pilot's personal marking of a heart-shaped ace with the name of his future wife plus
the 1. Staffel JG 26 emblem of an eagle.
INFO Eduard - December 2021