Sunday, 10 April 2016

Anti bomber pilots, in defense of the Reich. Part 4


Why the role of these units were so important? In 1944, the weight of bombs dropped by the Allies on Reich reached the highest level of 993 000 tons, while the Luftwaffe dropped vain 9334 tonnes. Allied average tonnage monthly dropped for the year (77 743) exceeded the total tonnage of bombs dropped on Britain within six years of war (75 655).
Oberfeldwebel Willi Frös of 5./ZG 26 just returned from operational flight and stand on wing root of his Messerschmitt Me410B-1 at Königsberg-Neumark in May 1944 to be greeted by his ground crew. Visible is the Zielfernrohr 4A telescopic sight in the armoured windscreen.  Frös is holding a bandoleer of flare  of cartridges in his hand. It is believed he accounted for five Viermots shot down.
An Messerschmitt Me210A-1 of ZG 26 seen at Diepholz, in Germany, in ugust 1943 following its return to the Reich from North Africa. The aircraft has been adapted for its new home defence role by the fitting of under wing twin 21 cm WGr mortar tubes intended for breaking up enemy bomber Pulks.
A pair of Messerschmitt Bf110G-2 Pulkzerstörer of 3./ZG 76, fitted with under wing twin 21 cm WGr mortar tubes for breaking up enemy bomber formations. Although enjoying the relative comfort of being able to fire such weapons from a distance, in reality, the slow Bf110s were relatively easy prey for Allied fighter escorts.
Messerschmitt Me410B-1/U4s of 5./ZG 26 gathered at Königsberg-Neumark in the spring of 1944. The aircraft are fittes with the long-barreled 5 cm BK 5 cannon, a weapon adapted from a tank gun. It was known that when used effectively, a hit with one 5 cm round was enough to bring down a heavy bomber.

Hauptmann Eduard Tratt (left), the Gruppenkommaandeur of II./ZG 26, clad a captured British leather flying jacket, talks with one of his pilots on 22 February 1944. Tratt ranks as the most successful Zerstörer pilot of the war with 38 victories, which include four four-engined aircraft. The day this photograph was taken, however, Tratt was shot down and killed while combat with B--17s.
A Messerschmitt Bf110G of III./ZG 26 stands ready for its 21 cm WGr mortar tubes to be rearmed

Two 21  cm WGr air-to-air mortar tubes suspended beneath the wing of an Messerschmitt Me410. The fuse tips of the loaded shells are visible. The mortar was adapted from an infantry weapon, and was designed to blow up individual bombers through blast or scatter their formations to break down cohesion and defensive firepower.
Oberfeldwebel Walter Loos in the cockpit of Focke-Wulf Fw190A-8 'Blue 14' of Stab/JG 300. Loos was posted to 11./JG 3 in January 1944 and scored his first Herausschuss in 6 March. He would go on to ccount for another eight Herausschuss and five four-engined bombers shot down. He later moved to Stab/JG 300 and then Stab/JG 301. Loos was warded the Knights Cross on 20 April 1945 and of his 38 victories, 22 were Viermots.
Eastern front Experte Oberfeldwebel Helmut Rüffler of 4./JG 3 (left) commenced operations in the defence of the Reich in September 1943 and ended the war with eight confirmed four-eengined kills. He is seen here posing with Gefraiter Hans Kupka and the latter's Bf109G-6 'White 13' at Roteenburg in February 1944.

Hauptmann Peter Jenne of 1./ZG 26 ranks alongside Leutnant Rudolf Dassow, also of ZG 26, as one the two highest-scoring Zerstörer pilots against four-engined day bombers with 12 such victories out of a total f a least 17. Jenne claimed two B-24s shot down on 22 December - a feat he repeated on 17 December the following year.