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Aces of Aviation

Henschel Hs 129 of Bruno Meyer

Henschel Hs 129 of Bruno Meyer

Henschel Hs 129 from the IV Panzergruppe of the Schlachtfliegergeschwader 9, piloted by Hauptmann Bruno Meyer in the Battle of Kursk, in July 1943.

Wingspan: 14.20 meters.

Length: 9.75 meters.

Height: 3.25 meters.

Engine[s]: Two Gnome-Rhône 14M 4/5 of 700 horsepower.

Maximum speed: 407 kilometers/hour.

Service ceiling: 9000 meters.

Range: 690 kilometers.

Armament: One MK 101 30-millimeter cannon; two MG 151 20-millimeter cannons; two MG 17 7.92-millimeter machine guns.

Born the 13th November 1915 in Jeremie, Republic of Haiti, in the West Indies, Bruno Meyer joined the German Army the 4th April 1934, but was later transferred to the Luftwaffe, attending the Hildesheim Flight School in 1937. During the Campaign of Poland he served in the only assault group that the Luftwaffe had, the Lehrgeschwader 2, equipped with Henschel Hs 123 biplanes and commanded by Major Werner Spielvogel, which attacked Radom, Warsaw and Modlin. Meyer remained in this unit during the Battle of France and took part in the attacks upon Arras, Cambrai and Soissons. He also took part in air combats during the Battle of Britain.

In 1941, during the Campaign of Greece and Crete, Meyer was appointed Staffelkapitan of the 5th Staffel of the Lehrgeschwader 2. The LG 2 remained active during the early stages of Operation Barbarossa and Meyer took part in the combats at Wop, before being transferred to the northern sector where he took part in the tank battle at Vitebsk. The 21st August 1941, after fulfilling 200 flight missions, he was awarded the Knight's Cross.

In October 1942 Meyer was transferred to North Africa, where he joined the Schlachtgeschwader 2. The following month, he was appointed Oberleutnant of the 4th Staffel, which was equipped with Henschel Hs 129 for anti-tank missions. Escaping to Italy before the fall of Tunisia, Meyer returned to Germany to create and command the 4th Gruppe of the Schlachtfliegergeschwader 9, leading this unit to the Eastern Front in time to take part in the Operation Zitadelle, the massive tank battle which began the 5th July 1943 in the area of Kursk.

After three days of terrible combats between both armored forces, it was entrusted to Meyer's group the support of the German southern flank, as it was expected that the Russian reinforcements attacked from that side. On the early morning of the 8th July, the pilots of a patrol group led by Meyer spotted a certain number of Russian tanks moving across the forested area near Belgorod. Calling to base to ask for reinforcements, Meyer ordered his pilots to attack.

Shortly after joined the fight several flights: the 4/SchG 1 led by Oberleutnant Dornemann, the 4/SchG 2 led by Hauptmann Matuschek, the 8/SchG 1 led by Leutnant Orth and the 8/SchG 2 led by Oberleutnant Franz Oswald. Without suffering losses, the sixty Hs 129 aircraft led by Meyer destroyed or put out of action more than eighty Russian tanks and many other armored vehicles which were about to attack the unguarded flank of the II SS Panzer Korps.

The largest part of the Hs 129 close-support aircraft were used in the Eastern Front. Among the interchangeable weapons that they could mount was the BK 7,5 75-millimeter anti-tank cannon, capable of destroying the IS-2 heavy tank with a single shot. Also Meyer's unit used this cannon in the Battle of Kursk. Thereafter Meyer continued his flight missions in the Eastern Front, achieving special success in Kriwoy Rog. In July 1944 he was sent to the headquarters of the High Command of the Luftwaffe, where he spent nearly the whole rest of the war in bureaucratic positions.