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Warbirds of the Luftwaffe


Written by Sakhal

This article offers a compilation with some particular aircraft operated by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, including basic information for both the particular aircraft and the aircraft model in general.

Warbirds of the Luftwaffe


Focke Wulf Fw 190 A-3 des Oberleutnants Arnim Faber, 7. Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 2 "Richtoffen"; fiel am 23.6.1942 durch Pilotenirrtum unversehrt in britische Hande.

Focke Wulf Fw 190 A-3 of Lieutenant Arnim Faber, 7th Squadron/Fighter Wing 2 "Richtoffen"; fell on 6/23/1942 by pilot's mistake intact in British hands.

The Fw 190, that was the best fighter of Germany during the war, entered combat in the Channel in the autumn 1941, shooting down three Spitfire on its first encounter. Immediately imposed its superiority over the RAF fighters, being unaffected this situation until the arrival of the Spitfire IX, around one year later. It participated actively in Operation Cerberus/Donnerkeil, code name given to the transit of the German warships Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen through the Channel, the 12th February 1942, shooting down the six Swordfish of an attack unit sent to intercept the ships. During 1942/43 the Fw 190 was deployed in increasing numbers in all the fronts: Russia, the Mediterranean, the Arctic and the Defense of the Reich. Particularly in the Western Front it had a remarkable participation in the attempt of landing at Dieppe and in offensive missions, as fighter-bomber, over southern England. Particularly active in every kind of role, during the fights at Normandy, June-August 1944. During the last years of the war it was the prime fighter in the Defense of the Reich, against the diurnal bombings of the USAAF (including the Sturm Gruppe). It was used limitedly as night fighter. It was exported only to Turkey, in 1943. France used a certain number of them after the war, with the designation NC 900.

Warbirds of the Luftwaffe


Henschel Hs 129 B-1 der 8. Staffel/Schlachtgeschwader 2; Einsatz bei der Schlacht von Kursk, Juli 1943.

Henschel Hs 129 B-1 of the 8th Squadron/Ground Attack Wing 2; action at the Battle of Kursk, July 1943.

Entered action for the first time with the Condor Legion in 1938 (five exemplars were later transferred to the Spanish Air Force), becoming the prime aircraft for tactical reconnaissance in the Luftwaffe, equipping an 80 percent of the units of this kind at the start of the Second World War. Very used during the first campaigns, including the invasion of the Soviet Union, before being replaced by the Fw 189, in 1942. Since then it was used for towing gliders and nocturnal attacks on the Balkans (antipartisan operations) and in the Baltic (units of Estonian and Lithuanian volunteers). The exemplars delivered to Greece in 1939 were very employed during the Italian invasion in the winter 1940-41.

Warbirds of the Luftwaffe


Dornier Do 217 K-1 der I. Gruppe/Kampfgeschwader 66; operierte im Sommer 1943 als Pfadfinder-Maschine bei Nachtangriffen gegen England.

Dornier Do 217 K-1 of the 1st Group/Combat Wing 66; operated in the summer of 1943 as a scout machine in night raids against England.

A variant of the Do 217 E with the fore fuselage completely redesigned and glazing, entering combat the Do 217 K in autumn 1942. The models K and M participated in attacks against Great Britain, ending these with the Operation Steinbock against London in the early 1944. The K-2 equipped with remote-controlled bombs sank the Italian battleship Roma in waters nearby to Corsica, the 9th September 1943 (the next day to the Italian Armistice), acting subsequently against the ships at Salerno and Anzio, sinking a cruiser and a destroyer, and damaging a battleship and two cruisers. During the summer 1944 they took part in the combats at Normandy, attacking the docks and bridges occupied by the Allies. Their last action took place during the last weeks of the war against the bridges of the Oder, in a desperate attempt of stopping the Soviet advance towards Berlin.

Warbirds of the Luftwaffe


Heinkel 219 A-0 "Uhu" der I. Gruppe/Nachtsjagdgeschwader 1; beim ersten Erprobungseinsatz in der Nacht vom 11/12.6.1943 erzielte Major Werner Streib auf dieser Maschine funf Abschusse.

Heinkel 219 A-0 "Uhu" of the 1st Group/Night Fighter Wing 1; in the first test implementation on the night of 11/12-6-1943 Major Werner Streib scored on this machine five kills.

This was the first German night fighter, designed as such and possibly the best of its class (in its first combat a single He 219 managed to shoot down five RAF Lancaster in half a hour), despite its operative life were plagued by political opposition. Built under private initiative, it was soon claimed by the night fighting pilots; however its development was abandoned in benefit of other designs that were a failure. Heinkel continued building a limited number, despite official opposition, which allowed this aircraft to serve until the end of the war, albeit in a much lower number than the Ju 88 and Bf 110. Only two Gruppen and a special anti-Mosquito unit were fully equipped with this aircraft.

Warbirds of the Luftwaffe


Junkers Ju 87 D-5 des Oberleutnants Hans Ulrich Rudel, Gruppenkommandeur II. Gruppe/Schlachtgeschwader 2; Ostfront, Winter 1943/44.

Junkers Ju 87 D-5 of Lieutenant Hans Ulrich Rudel, group commander in the 2nd Group/Ground Attack Wing 2; Western Front, winter 1943/44.

The Ju 87 D entered service in the late 1941 and despite being better in many aspects than previous versions, it could not keep the good reputation acquired by those, since it had to face the growing Allied air superiority, so after some months it was withdrawn from diurnal missions, with the exception of some fronts in which the Luftwaffe still kept a certain superiority. It was used mainly in the Eastern Front, as well as in North Africa and the war theaters of Italy and the eastern Mediterranean. From 1943 it equipped in increasing numbers the nocturnal attack Gruppen in the Eastern Front, the Balkans and Italy, and particularly the version Ju 87 G anti-tank operated until the end of the war against the Soviet armored forces. The largest part of the exemplars used by the allied countries of the Axis, were employed in Russia and particularly the ones delivered to Romania in 1943, were used later against the Germans after signing that country the Armistice, and some captured by the German forces were in turn used to attack targets held by their former users.

Warbirds of the Luftwaffe


Messerschmitt Me 410 A-3 der 2. Staffel (F)/Aufklarungsgruppe 122; Einsatz uber Italien, Winter 1943/44.

Messerschmitt Me 410 A-3 of the 2nd Squadron (F)/Scouting Group 122; employment over Italy, winter 1943/44.

The Me 410, which entered service at the beginning of the summer 1943, was a development of the failed Me 210, with different engines and including on its design all the improvements added on the former. Initially it was used as fighter-bomber in actions against Great Britain, as well as in reconnaissance and as Zerstorer (destroyer) in the Mediterranean. From the spring 1944 it replaced the Bf 110 in the diurnal fight in the Defense of the Reich, suffering many losses at the guns of the USAAF monomotor fighters. It was used also against ships in the Atlantic coast in France and as night fighter in the Eastern Front.

Warbirds of the Luftwaffe


Heinkel He 177 A-3 "Greif" der I. Gruppe/Kampfgeschwader 100; flog Anfang 1944 von Rheine und Chateaudun aus Nachtangriffe gegen London.

Heinkel He 177 A-3 "Greif" of the 1st Group/Combat Wing 100; flew in early 1944 from Rheine and Chateaudun for night attacks against London.

This was the only heavy, strategic, cuatrimotor bomber, designed as such, in service with the Luftwaffe during the Second World War. The He 177 presented the unique feature of having its engines coupled in pairs, which in the long term was a serious drawback due to the easiness of fire. It entered combat in the summer 1942, acting sporadically against Great Britain and in supply missions to Stalingrad; it also took part in the fight against ships (employing Hs 293 missiles) in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, in the winter 1943-44. It reappeared over Great Britain during Operation Steinbock, from January to May 1944, and against the Soviet forces in the summer 1944; in this last front acting either as units of up to 90 aircraft or in isolated missions at low altitude against armored targets. In total it was employed by nine Kampfgruppen and several experimental units.

Warbirds of the Luftwaffe


Junkers Ju 88 G-1 der 7. Staffel/Nachtjagdgeschwader 2; landete am 13.7.1944 mit geheimem Lichtenstein-SN-2-Radar und Flensburg-Gerat irrtumlich in Woodbridge, Gross-britannien.

Junkers Ju 88 G-1 of the 7th Squadron/Night Fighter Wing 2; landed on 13/07/1944 with the secret Lichtenstein SN-2 and Flensburg-Gerat radars by pilots' mistake in Woodbridge, Great Britain.

The Ju 88 G, which was the definitive model of night fighter, entered service at the beginning of the summer 1944, replacing the previous models C and R, and even the Bf 110. In the late 1944 constituted the standard equipment of the largest part of Nachtjagdgruppen, being used by many of the most prominent aces of the last months of the war. Additionally it was the last aircraft that effectuated nocturnal incursions over Great Britain in March 1945, suffering severe losses (one of them was the last German aircraft shot down in that country). Many of the first G-1 were employed in the program Mistel.

Warbirds of the Luftwaffe


Focke Wulf 190 D-9 der III. Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 54 mit Erkennungsband der Reichsverteidigung; flog im Oktober 1944 in Achmer Jagdschirm fur Dusenjager-Kommando Nowotny.

Focke Wulf 190 D-9 of the 3rd Group/Fighter Wing 54 with Recognition Band for the Defense of the Reich; flew in October 1944 into Achmer for hunting under Jet Fighter Command Nowotny.

The Fw 190 D-9, which entered service in the autumn 1944, was popularly known as "Langnasse" (Long Nose) or "Dora 9", being used initially in the defense of the airfields in which operated the experimental units of Me 262, protecting these during the landings and takeoffs, from the possible attacks of Allied fighter-bombers. Later it took part in the Operation Bodenplatte (attacks against the Allied airfields in Netherlands, the 1st January 1945). Despite the growing production, the largest part of the D-9 had to remain in land due to the lack of fuel during the last weeks of the war.

Warbirds of the Luftwaffe


Messerschmitt 163 B-1 "Komet" der 2. Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 400; Abfangeinsatz gegen amerikanische Tagbomber in Leipzig-Brandis, Winter 1944/45.

Messerschmitt 163 B-1 "Komet" of the 2nd Squadron/Fighter Wing 400; interception against American diurnal bombers in Leipzig-Brandis, winter 1944/45.

The Me 163, which was developed from the long family of tailless gliders (and with engine) designed by Lippisch, entered service in May 1944, being assigned to the defense of the production plants of synthetic fuels. Its first combat took place in the late July, attacking B-17 bombers of the USAAF without positive results. Despite it equipped a Jagdgruppe between mid 1944 and the spring 1945, it was slightly used, and also its limited operational range and the scarcity of fuel and trained pilots, resulted in only nine victories for this aircraft while the losses in combat were 14. The development started in Japan could not be completed, flying only one J8M1 prototype before ending the war in the Pacific.

Warbirds of the Luftwaffe


Messerschmitt 262-1a "Schwalbe" der 3. Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 7 "Nowotny", Brandenburg-Briest, Marz 1945.

Messerschmitt 262-1a "Schwalbe" of the 3rd Squadron/Fighter Wing 7 "Nowotny", Brandenburg-Briest, March 1945.

This was the first jet that participated in operations entering service, as an experimental unit, in the beginning of the summer 1944. Due to the insistence of Hitler on its development as Blitzbomber (Fast Bomber), it was used as such in the Western Front, from August 1944; however, shortly after it was allowed its development as pure fighter, equipping several units during the last months of the war, including an elite one, composed by veteran pilots of great experience. Simultaneously it was used by some Staffeln specialized in short range reconnaissance and even as night fighter in the defense of Berlin. The program started to convert four Kampfgruppen (Combat Wings) in fighter units equipped with the Me 262A, was interrupted by the end of the war, happening the same to the development of the version Me 262C Heimatschutzer (Protector of the Homeland), that used an additional engine. After the war the Me 262 was produced in small scale by Avia in Czechoslovakia, in versions with one and two seats (S-92 and CS-92), serving these until mid the 1950s.

Warbirds of the Luftwaffe


Heinkel He 162 A-2 "Salamander" (Werknr. 120074) des Staffelkapitans Oberleutnant Demuth, 3. Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 1; Leck (Schleswig-Holstein), April/Mai 1945.

Heinkel He 162 A-2 "Salamander" (Factory number 120074) of Squadron Captain Lieutenant Demuth, 3rd Squadron/Fighter Wing 1; Leck (Schleswig-Holstein), April/May 1945.

The prototype of this aircraft, which would be known as "Spatz" (Sparrow), "Salamander" (Salamander) or more popularly "Volksjager" (Fighter of the People), was built and flown for the first time in just ten weeks, on the late 1944. In the design primed the mass production, both in the aircraft and the pilots that would use them (it was intended to produce about 4000 per month, taking the crews from the Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth). None of these ambitious plans materialized and the only unit that received the Volksjager was a Jagdgruppe, reconstituted four days before the end of the war in Europe.

Categories: Aviation - World War Two - 20th Century - [General] - [General]

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Website: Military History

Article submitted: 2014-10-02


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