WNr. 600?69, Hptm. Waldemar Wübke, Sachsenberg Schwarm, Ainring, Austria, May 1945
Waldemar Wübke was one of the few Luftwaffe fighter pilots to survive combat duty over the entire course of the WWII. He started his fighter pilot career in May 1940 as a Leutnant with I./JG 27. In July he was transferred to 9. Staffel of III./JG 54, flying the Bf 109E-4 and went through the Battle of Britain with this unit. He was credited with 15 victories plus one at night, first of this tally being Blenheim shot down over the Channel on September 9, 1940. Wübke was shot down six times during his spell with the JG 54 and twice wounded. His career ended with the JV 44, where he flew “Platzschutz“ (airfield defense) missions with the so called “Papagaistaffel”, where he accompanied other experienced German fighter pilots. Their task was to provide cover for Adolf Galland’s group of Me 262 jets during take-offs and landings. Due to the rather inexperienced women-crewed Flak defensive artillery of the Munich-Riem airfield, the Fw 190D-9s of the JV 44 were painted red on undersurfaces, highlighted by white stripes to make the recognition of friendly fighters as easy as possible for them. According to the newest findings these stripes were not reaching the tail on the fuselage bottom but ended at the front of the wheelbays. Wübke’s Dora was an example from the Fieseler factory with typical no-bulges three piece machine guns cover and with later production blown canopy. The inscription “Im Auftrage der Reichsbahn” had been on various Wübke machines since the beginning of the war. He started using it when he returned to his home base several times by train after being shot down.
WNr. 500698, Lt. Günter Seyd, 7./JG 26, Uetersen, Germany, May 1945
JG 26 was established on November 1, 1938, (originally as JG 132) with Eduard von Schleich, an ace with 35 kills in WWI as its first Kommodore. JG 26 entered the war under the command of Hans Hugo Witt but stayed in Germany during the invasion of Poland. It than operated on the Western Front until 1943, with its most famous Kommodore, Adolf Galland, taking command on August 22, 1940. Galland was leading JG 26 for the rest of the Battle of Britain and well beyond until December 5, 1941. In early 1943, JG 26 was to replace JG 54 in the Luftflotte 1 formation on the Eastern Front, but in the end, it was only a brief episode of I./JG 26. The group continued to operate in France and then as a part of the defense of the Reich system. From late 1941 onwards all Gruppe except III./JG 26 started their conversion to Fw 190As, the first to receive Fw 190D-9s were I. Gruppe and II. Gruppe starting from mid-October 1944. Lt. Günter Seyd of 5./JG 26 took off with this aircraft from Uetersen on May 5, 1945, but due to an engine failure he made an emergency landing in Schleswig. In the only known photograph, the lower engine cowling appears slightly darker and it is likely it was painted RLM 76 early (probably taken from another aircraft), but a yellow color cannot be completely ruled out. The brown color of the fuselage numbers was unusual, with only a few Staffeln within the Luftwaffe using it. However, 7./JG 26 kept this habit throughout the war. Günter Seyd scored a single kill during the war when he shot down a Lancaster from No. 405 (or No. 582) Sqn. RAF west of Cologne on December 23, 1944. It was not only his first kill, but also the first kill of II./JG 26 after conversion to Fw 190D-9.
WNr. 210003, Oblt. Hans Dortenmann, 12./JG 26, Germany, 1945
Oblt. Hans Dortenmann, an ace with 38 kills to his credit and holder of the Knight’s Cross, flew this Fw 190D-9 WNr. 210003 from September 1944 until the end of the war, when he personally destroyed the aircraft. Dortenmann scored 18 kills with this Dora, making him the most successful fighter pilot on this type. The aircraft also became the longest-serving Dora in combat. It would begin its career as a “Red 1” while Dortenmann was a member of III./JG 54. At the end of February, III./JG 54 was redesignated IV./JG 26, which also brought a change in the markings of the aircraft. As Staffelkapitän of 12./JG 26, Dortenmann now had a black “1” on his Dora, with the typical white and black stripe identifying JG 26 and a wave mark on the rear, indicating his affiliation with IV. Gruppe. At the same time, the camouflage was modified, with the colors of RLM 74/75 being replaced by the shades of RLM 81/82, and a later type of blown canopy was fitted in place of the early straight one. The lower surfaces were to carry a full coat of RLM 76. The keel and rudder were painted yellow while still in the ranks of JG 54.
Stab I./JG 2, Frankfurt/Rhein-Mein, April 1945
Assignment to JG 2 is probable but not certain in the case of this aircraft. It relies mainly on the appearance of the identification markings. JG 2 was one of the oldest fighter units of the Luftwaffe. It was formed as Jagdgeschwader Richthofen as early as 1934, from May 1, 1939, it was designated JG 2 Richthofen after the most successful WWI fighter. The first Kommodore was Oberst Gerd von Masow and during the Polish campaign JG 2 was assigned to the defense of the Reich. It subsequently joined the fighting on the Western Front and after the Battle of Britain remained in France until September 1944. Shortly thereafter, I. Gruppe and III. Gruppe began taking over their first “Doras” in the second half of October. Hptm. Franz Hrdlicka, an ace with 60 confirmed kills, took over the command of I. Gruppe from December 18. He was a native of Dvorska, the suburb of Brno city in than Czechoslovakia, but of German nationality. Hrdlicka (means dove in Czech) led the I. Gruppe until March 25, 1945, when he was killed in combat with American fighters. According to some sources, his score may have been as high as 96 victories. This aircraft sported the designation of the I. Gruppe Stab (staff) and was found in the middle of the runway at Frankfurt/Rhein-Main Airport. Apparently, it had made an emergency landing, possibly due to engine failure, judging by the oiled lower engine cowling. The aircraft was not recovered and was found where it had stopped by the Allies. There it remained until the spring of 1946. Apparently, it was a second production run aircraft at Fieseler, the 600xxx series.
WNr. 210909, Maj. Gerhard Barkhorn, JG 6, Welzow, Germany, February 1945
Gerhard Barkhorn’s JG 6 personal aircraft was produced by the Fiesler Kassel factory. The inscription “Christl” under the cockpit is a diminutive of the name of Barkhorn’s wife Christy. The marking on the fuselage identifies the aircraft as belonging to Geschwader Kommodore. During the war, Barkhorn achieved a total of 301 victories, which ranks him as the second most successful fighter ace of all time. All of his kills were scored in the ranks of JG 52, with the first one scored on July 2, 1941 and the last one on January 5, 1945. He then commanded JG 6 and at the very end of the war became a member of JV 44 armed with Me 262 jets. For his achievements in combat, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross on August 23, 1942, with the Oak Leaf added on January 11, 1943 and the Swords on March 2, 1944. After the war he continued to serve in the Bundesluftwaffe. The coloring of his Dora is a reconstruction, only photographs of the central part of the fuselage are known. These show, among other things, that the design of the Kommodore markings was smaller than was usual.