Jagdgeschwader 1 'Oesau'
Formed 30 Nov 1939 in Jever. Until 8 Dec 1939 also known as Stab/JG Nordwest.
|Airfields and Air Base Locations|
|30 Nov 1939 - May 1943||Jever||Bf 109E/F/G, Fw 190A|
|May 1943 - 24 Feb 1944||Deelen||Bf 109G, Fw 190A|
|24 Feb 1944 - 5 Apr 1944||Rheine||Bf 109G, Fw 190A|
|5 Apr 1944 - 6 Jun 1944||Lippspringe||Bf 109G, Fw 190A|
|6 Jun 1944 - 28 Aug 1944||St. Quentin-Clastres||Bf 109G, Fw 190A|
|28 Aug 1944 - 2 Sep 1944||Cerfontaines||Bf 109G, Fw 190A|
|2 Sep 1944 - 17 Dec 1944||Greifswald||Bf 109G, Fw 190A|
|17 Dec 1944 - 19 Jan 1945||Twente||Bf 109G, Fw 190A/D|
|19 Jan 1945 - 26 Jan 1945||Insterburg||Bf 109G, Fw 190A/D|
|26 Jan 1945 - 2 Feb 1945||Neukuhren||Bf 109G, Fw 190A/D|
|2 Feb 1945 - 3 Feb 1945||Danzig-Langfuhr||Bf 109G, Fw 190A/D|
|3 Feb 1945 - 8 Apr 1945||Garz/Usedom||Bf 109G, Fw 190A/D|
|8 Apr 1945 - 30 Apr 1945||Ludwigslust||He 162A|
|30 Apr 1945 - 8 May 1945||Leck||He 162A|
Formed 1 May 1939 in Jesau from I./JG130 with:
Stab I./JG1 from Stab I./JG130
1./JG1 from 1./JG130
2./JG1 from 2./JG130
3./JG1 from 3./JG130
On 5 Jul 1940 redesignated III./JG27 with :
Stab I./JG1 became Stab III./JG27
1./JG1 became 7./JG27
2./JG1 became 8./JG27
3./JG1 became 9./JG27
|Airfields and Air Base Locations|
|1 May 1939 - 15 Aug 1939||Jesau||Bf 109D/E|
|15 Aug 1939 - 5 Sep 1939||Heiligenbeil*||Bf 109E|
|4 Sep 1939 - 5 Sep 1939||Mlawa*||Bf 109E|
|5 Sep 1939 - 15 Sep 1939||Lübeck-Blankensee||Bf 109E|
|15 Sep 1939 - Dec 1939||Vorden||Bf 109E|
|Dec 1939 - Jan 1940||Krefeld||Bf 109E|
|Jan 1940 - 16 May 1940||Gymnich||Bf 109E|
|16 May 1940 - 22 May 1940||Charleville||Bf 109E|
|22 May 1940 - 25 May 1940||Guise-Nordost (Tupigny)||Bf 109E|
|25 May 1940 - 31 May 1940||Monchy-Breton||Bf 109E|
|31 May 1940 - 6 Jun 1940||Guise-Nordost (Tupigny)||Bf 109E|
|6 Jun 1940 - 7 Jun 1940||Krefeld||Bf 109E|
|7 Jun 1940 - 9 Jun 1940||Jever||Bf 109E|
|9 Jun 1940 - 10 Jun 1940||Köln||Bf 109E|
|10 Jun 1940 - 11 Jun 1940||Abbéville||Bf 109E|
|11 Jun 1940 - 12 Jun 1940||Cutry||Bf 109E|
|12 Jun 1940 - 15 Jun 1940||Saconin-et-Breuil||Bf 109E|
|15 Jun 1940 - 16 Jun 1940||Romilly-sur-Seine||Bf 109E|
|16 Jun 1940 - 19 Jun 1940||Auxerre||Bf 109E|
|19 Jun 1940 - 27 Jun 1940||Nevers||Bf 109E|
|27 Jun 1940 - 30 Jun 1940||Romilly-sur-Seine||Bf 109E|
|30 Jun 1940 - 2 Jul 1940||Plumentot||Bf 109E|
|2 Jul 1940 - 5 Jul 1940||Carquebut||Bf 109E|
* 1./JG1 at Schippenbeil, 15 Aug 1939 - 4 Sep 1939; 3./JG1 at Arys-Rostken, 15 Aug 1939 - 5 Sep 1939
1./JG1 was reformed 7 Dec 1940 in Vlissingen from Jasta Holland. 3./JG1 was formed 1 Mar 1942 in De Kooy from parts of Erg.Gruppe/JG52. 2./JG1 was formed 5 Jul 1941 in Katwijk from Jasta Munstter-Loddenheide, and finally Stab I./JG1 was formed 1 Sep 1941 in Katwijk from parts of Führer der Jagdkräfte. On 4 Nov 1942 3./JG1 was ordered to Sicily and later Africa, and was later (30 Nov 1942) renamed 6./JG51 A new 3./JG1 was formed at Wangeroog eon the same date.
On 1 Apr 1943 I./JG1 was redesignated II./JG11 with :
Stab I./JG1 became Stab II./JG11
1./JG1 became 4./JG11
2./JG1 became 5./JG11
3./JG1 became 6./JG11
Reformed 1 Apr 1943 in Deelen from IV./JG1 with:
Stab I./JG1 from Stab IV./JG1
1./JG1 from 10./JG1
2./JG1 from 11./JG1
3./JG1 from 12./JG1
On 15 Aug 1944 the Gruppe was increased to 4 staffeln:
4./JG1 from 9./JG77
4./JG1 was disbanded 14 Apr 1945. On 30 Apr 1945 I. and II./JG1 was united at Leck as I. (Einsatz)/JG1.
|Airfields and Air Base Locations|
|1 Sep 1941 - 1 Apr 1943||Jever*||Bf 109E/F/G|
|1 Apr 1943 - 1 Jun 1943||Deelen||Fw 190A|
|1 Jun 1943 - 7 Jul 1943||Amsterdam-Schiphol||Fw 190A|
|7 Jul 1943 - 6 Dec 1943||Deelen||Fw 190A|
|6 Dec 1943 - 16 Feb 1944||Dortmund-Brakel||Fw 190A|
|16 Feb 1944 - 24 Feb 1944||Rheine||Fw 190A|
|24 Feb 1944 - 11 Mar 1944||Twente||Fw 190A|
|11 Mar 1944 - 18 Mar 1944||Hopsten||Fw 190A|
|18 Mar 1944 - 24 Mar 1944||Wiesbaden-Erbenheim||Fw 190A|
|24 Mar 1944 - 5 Apr 1944||Hopsten||Fw 190A|
|5 Apr 1944 - 6 Jun 1944||Lippspringe||Fw 190A|
|6 Jun 1944 - 7 Jun 1944||Montdidier||Fw 190A|
|7 Jun 1944 - 12 Jun 1944||Le Mans||Fw 190A|
|12 Jun 1944 - 13 Jul 1944||Lonrai||Fw 190A|
|13 Jul 1944 - 26 Jul 1944||Semallé**||Fw 190A|
|26 Jul 1944 - 3 Aug 1944||Lonrai||Fw 190A|
|3 Aug 1944 - 11 Aug 1944||Oysonville/Etampes||Fw 190A|
|11 Aug 1944 - 19 Aug 1944||Aulnay-aux-Planches||Fw 190A|
|19 Aug 1944 - 13 Oct 1944||Husum||Fw 190A|
|13 Oct 1944 - 17 Dec 1944||Greifswald||Fw 190A|
|17 Dec 1944 - 14 Jan 1945||Twente||Fw 190A|
|14 Jan 1945 - 23 Jan 1945||Jurgenfelde||Fw 190A/D|
|23 Jan 1945 - 26 Jan 1945||Gutenfeld||Fw 190A/D|
|26 Jan 1945 - 28 Jan 1945||Neukuhren||Fw 190A/D|
|28 Jan 1945 - 2 Feb 1945||Heiligenbeil||Fw 190A/D|
|2 Feb 1945 - 3 Feb 1945||Danzig-Langfuhr||Fw 190A/D|
|3 Feb 1945 - 9 Feb 1945||Garz/Usedom||Fw 190A/D|
|9 Feb 1945 - 9 Apr 1945||Parchim||He 162A|
|9 Apr 1945 - 15 Apr 1945||Ludwigslust||He 162A|
|15 Apr 1945 - 8 May 1945||Leck||He 162A|
* 1./JG1 was based at Vlissingen (7 Dec 1940 - 27 Dec 1940), Bergen (27 Dec 1940 - 21 Jan 1941), Katwijk (21.1. - 26 Apr 1941), Vlissingen (2Jun 194. - 3 Jun 1941), Katwijk (3.6. - 12 Jul 1941), Husum (12.7. - 4 Sep 1941), Wangerooge (14 Sep 1941 - Feb 1942) and Borkum (Feb 1942 - 1 Apr 1943); 2./JG1 was based at Düsseldorf (5.7. - 11 Jul 1941), Katwijk (11.7. - 3 Sep 1941), Jever (3 Sep 1941 - 1 Apr 1943); 3./JG1 was beased at De Kooi (1 Mar 1941 - Aug 1941), Husum (Aug 1941 - Sep 1941), Jever (Sep 1941 - Feb 1942) and Wangerooge (Feb 1942 - 1 Apr 1943); 3./JG1 was ordered to Africa 4 Nov 1942, left Wangerooge 6 Nov 1942 for München-Riem, via Münchengladbach and Mannheim-Sandhofen. Arrived in Tunis 25 Nov 1942, via Vicenza, Foggia, Bari and Comiso. From 26 Nov 1942 attached to II./JG51 and 30 Nov 1942 renamed 6./JG51.
** the main part of I./JG1 moved to Köln-Ostheim, to collect new aircraft, while a small combat detachment went to Semallé. I./JG1 was united again on 26 Jul 1944 in Lonrai.
II. Gruppe: II./JG1
Formed 15 Jan 1942 at Katwijk (5./JG1 in Vlissingen) from I./JG3 with :
Stab II./JG1 from Stab I./JG3
4./JG1 from 1./JG3
5./JG1 from 2./JG3
6./JG1 from 3./JG3
Stab II./JG1 from Stab I./JG3
4./JG1 from 1./JG3
5./JG1 from 2./JG3
6./JG1 from 3./JG3
Shared its aircraft with II./JG300 between Jul 1943 and Dec 1943. On 15 Aug 1944 the Gruppe was increased to 4 staffeln:
7./JG1 from old 4./JG1
8./JG1 from 7./JG51
8./JG1 was disbanded 8 Apr 1945, and on 1 May 1945 7./JG1 was redesignated 4./JG1, and the Gruppe now had:
On 30 Apr 1945 I. and II./JG1 was united at Leck as I. (Einsatz)/JG1.
|Airfields and Air Base Locations|
|15 Jan 1942 - Feb 1942||Katwijk*||Bf 109F|
|Feb 1942 - 14 Feb 1942||Haamstede||Bf 109F|
|14 Feb 1942 - 25 Feb 1942||Stade**||Bf 109F|
|25 Feb 1942 - 8 May 1942||Katwijk***||Bf 109F|
|8 May 1942 - 4 Mar 1943||Woensdrecht****||Bf 109F, Fw 190A|
|4 Mar 1943 - 1 Apr 1943||Amsterdam-Schiphol||Fw 190A|
|1 Apr 1943 - 13 Jul 1943||Woensdrecht*****||Fw 190A|
|13 Jul 1943 - 18 Mar 1944||Rheine||Fw 190A|
|18 Mar 1944 - 23 Mar 1944||Wiesbaden-Erbenheim||Fw 190A|
|23 Mar 1944 - 7 Apr 1944||Rheine||Fw 190A|
|7 Apr 1944 - 6 Jun 1944||Störmede||Fw 190A|
|6 Jun 1944 - 7 Jun 1944||Montdidier||Fw 190A|
|7 Jun 1944 - 16 Jun 1944||Le Mans||Fw 190A|
|16 Jun 1944 - 18 Jun 1944||Essay||Fw 190A|
|18 Jun 1944 - 19 Jun 1944||Semallé||Fw 190A|
|19 Jun 1944 - 25 Jun 1944||Lonrai******||Fw 190A|
|25 Jun 1944 - 1 Jul 1944||Köln-Ostheim||Fw 190A|
|1 Jul 1944 - 3 Aug 1944||Semallé||Fw 190A|
|3 Aug 1944 - 11 Aug 1944||Unknown||Fw 190A|
|11 Aug 1944 - 16 Aug 1944||Connantre||Fw 190A|
|16 Aug 1944 - Nov 1944||Reinsehlen||Fw 190A|
|Nov 1944 - 17 Dec 1944||Tutow||Fw 190A|
|17 Dec 1944 - 19 Jan 1945||Drope (near Lingen)||Fw 190A|
|19 Jan 1945 - 21 Jan 1945||Insterburg||Fw 190A|
|21 Jan 1945 - 26 Jan 1945||Gerdauen||Fw 190A|
|26 Jan 1945 - 2 Feb 1945||Neukuhren||Fw 190A|
|2 Feb 1945 - 3 Feb 1945||Danzig-Langfuhr||Fw 190A|
|3 Feb 1945 - 7 Apr 1945||Garz/Usedom||Fw 190A|
|7 Apr 1945 - 30 Apr 1945||Warnemunde||He 162A|
|30 Apr 1945 - 8 May 1945||Leck||He 162A|
* 5./JG1 was based in Vlissingen, and 4./JG1 would move to Leeuwarden in Jan 1942. Both joined the rest of II./JG1, when it moved to Haamstede.
** 4./JG1 moved to Uetersen on 14 Feb 1942, and remained there until 25 Feb 1942.
*** 4./JG1 detached to Leeuwarden, 25 Feb 1942 - 8 May 1942, and 6./JG1 detached to Haamstede, 25 Feb 1942 - 8 May 1942
**** 5./JG1 remained at Katwijk, when the II. Gruppe moved to Woensdrecht, and on 20 Jul 1942 moved to Amsterdam-Schiphol. In about Dec 1942 5./JG1 moved back to Woensdrecht and 4./JG1 was detached to Amsterdam-Schiphol instead.
***** 6./JG1 was stationed at Leeuwarden between 25 Mar 1943 and 17 Apr 1943.
****** only a small part of moved to Lonrai, the rest of the Gruppe moved to Köln-Ostheim, to collect new aircraft.
III. Gruppe: III/JG1
8.JG1 (3) - 9.JG1
Formed Jan 1942 in Husum (ordered 6 Jan 1942) with:
On 1 Apr 1943 III./JG1 was redesignated I./JG11 with :
Stab III./JG1 became Stab I./JG11
7./JG1 became 1./JG11
8./JG1 became 2./JG11
9./JG1 became 3./JG11
Reformed 1 Apr 1943 in Deelen with:
Stab III./JG1 new
On 15 Aug 1944 the Gruppe was reorganised and now had:
10./JG1 from old 7./JG1
11./JG1 from old 8./JG1
On 11 Sep 1944 12./JG1 was formed from 1./KG2, and the Gruppe now had 4 staffeln. 12./JG1 was disbanded Apr 1945.
|Airfields and Air Base Locations|
|Jan 1942 - 6 Feb 1942||Husum*||Bf 109E/F, Fw 190A|
|6 Feb 1942 - 1 Mar 1942||Aalborg||Bf 109E/F, Fw 190A|
|1 Mar 1942 - 10 May 1942||Esbjerg||Bf 109E/F, Fw 190A|
|10 May 1942 - 17 May 1942||Aalborg||Bf 109E/F, Fw 190A|
|17 May 1942 - 19 Jun 1942||Kristiansand||Bf 109E/F, Fw 190A|
|19 Jun 1942 - 3 Nov 1942||Kjevik & Lister||Bf 109E/F, Fw 190A|
|3 Nov 1942 - 6 Nov 1942||Stavanger-Sola||Fw 190A|
|6 Nov 1942 - 8 Nov 1942||Herdla||Fw 190A|
|8 Nov 1942 - 1 Apr 1943||Kjevik||Fw 190A|
|1 Apr 1943 - May 1943||Deelen||Bf 109G|
|May 1943 - 7 Nov 1943||Leeuwarden**||Bf 109G|
|7 Nov 1943 - Feb 1944||Volkel||Bf 109G|
|Feb 1944 - 7 Apr 1944||Mönchengladbach||Bf 109G|
|7 Apr 1944 - 6 Jun 1944||Paderborn||Bf 109G|
|6 Jun 1944 - 30 Jun 1944||Beauvais-Tille||Bf 109G|
|30 Jun 1944 - 5 Jul 1944||Wunstorf***||Bf 109G|
|5 Jul 1944 - 9 Jul 1944||Wiesbaden-Erbenheim||Bf 109G|
|9 Jul 1944 - 5 Aug 1944||La Fure||Bf 109G|
|5 Aug 1944 - 17 Aug 1944||Bretigny||Bf 109G|
|17 Aug 1944 - 28 Aug 1944||Vailly-sur-Aisne||Bf 109G|
|28 Aug 1944 - 2 Sep 1944||Cerfontaines||Bf 109G|
|2 Sep 1944 - Sep 1944||Burbach, near Westerwald||Bf 109G|
|Sep 1944 - 8 Oct 1944||Fels am Wagram||Bf 109G|
|8 Oct 1944 - 17 Dec 1944||Anklam||Bf 109G|
|17 Dec 1944 - 13 Jan 1945||Rheine||Bf 109G|
|13 Jan 1945 - 17 Jan 1945||Strausberg||Bf 109G|
|17 Jan 1945 - 19 Jan 1945||Schröttersburg||Bf 109G/K|
|19 Jan 1945 - 21 Jan 1945||Thorn||Bf 109G/K|
|21 Jan 1945 - 23 Jan 1945||Marienburg||Bf 109G/K|
|23 Jan 1945 - 24 Jan 1945||Danzig-Langfuhr||Bf 109G/K|
|24 Jan 1945 - 26 Jan 1945||Jesau||Bf 109G/K|
|26 Jan 1945 - 27 Jan 1945||Neukuhren||Bf 109G/K|
|27 Jan 1945 - 3 Mar 1945||Stolp-Rietz||Bf 109G/K|
|3 Mar 1945 - 4 Apr 1945||Anklam||Bf 109G/K|
|4 Apr 1945 - 27 Apr 1945||Lüneburg||Bf 109G/K|
|27 Apr 1945 - 30 Apr 1945||Rostock-Markgrafenheide||Bf 109G/K|
|30 Apr 1945 - 8 May 1945||Leck||Bf 109G/K|
* detachment remained at Husum Feb 1942 - Mar 1943
** Eelde was also used.
*** part of the Gruppe arrived in Wunstorf on 14 Jun 1944.
IV. Gruppe: IV./JG1
Formed Jan 1942 in Vannes (ordered 6 Jan 1942) with:
On 21 Mar 1942 IV./JG1 was redesignated III./JG5 with :
Stab IV./JG1 became Stab III./JG5
10./JG1 became 1./JG5
11./JG1 became 8./JG5
12./JG1 was to have become 9./JG5, but continued to operate, and became 10./JG5 on 26 Jun 1942.
Reformed 21 Mar 1942 in Werneuchen with:
On 1 Apr 1943 IV./JG1 was redesignated I./JG1:
Stab IV./JG1 became Stab I./JG1
10./JG1 became 1./JG1
11./JG1 became 2./JG1
12./JG1 became 3./JG1
|Airfields and Air Base Locations|
|6 Jan 1942 - 31 Jan 1942||Vannes||Bf 109E|
|31 Jan 1942 - 12 Feb 1942||Brest-Süd||Bf 109E|
|12 Feb 1942 - Feb 1942||Haamstede||Bf 109E|
|Feb 1942 - 21 Mar 1942||Trondheim-Lade*||Bf 109E|
|21 Mar 1942 - Apr 1942||Werneuchen||Bf 109E|
|Apr 1942 - 27 Apr 1942||Döberitz||Bf 109E|
|27 Apr 1942 - 11 May 1942||Leeuwarden**||Bf 109E/F|
|11 May 1942 - 7 Jun 1942||Bergen-op-Zoom***||Bf 109E/F, Fw 190A|
|7 Jun 1942 - 11 Feb 1943||Mönchengladbach||Fw 190A|
|11 Feb 1943 - 31 Mar 1943||Deelen||Fw 190A|
* 12./JG1 remained at Trondheim-Lade until 26 Jun 1942
** 11./JG1 at Düsseldorf, 27 Apr 1942 - 11 May 1942; 12./JG1 remained at Döberitz until 7 Jun 1942, when it moved to Mönchengladbach.
*** 10./JG1 remained at Bergen-op-Zoom until 22 Jul 1942, then Amsterdam-Schiphol (22 Jul 1942 - 25 Jul 1942) and Deelen (25 Jul 1942 - 31 Mar 1943)
Formed Nov 1943 at Rheine as a Hohenstaffel with Bf 109G-5 fighters. Disbanded 4 Jan 1944.
|Airfields and Air Base Locations|
|Nov 1943 - 4 Jan 1944||Rheine||Bf 109G-5|
Formed 1 Mar 1944 in Wittmund. On 26 Apr 1944 redesignated 1./JG400.
|Airfields and Air Base Locations|
|1 Mar 1944 - 26 Apr 1944||Wittmund||none|
Personal Pilot emblems
1. Hans Mohr - 2. Josef Kehrle - 3. Hubl - 4. Josef Kehrle - 5. Wolfgang Kosse - 6. Rak 7. Rudolf-Emil Schnoor 8. unknown
Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG1) was a German World War II fighter aircraft unit or 'wing'. The name derives from Jagd, meaning 'hunt' and Geschwader, meaning 'wing'. First formed in May 1939 in eastern Prussia, I./JG1 was one of the original groups created by the Luftwaffe as part of its expansion plans. Similar to many other Luftwaffe fighter units, JG1 was reorganized several times and served as a donor unit during the war to form and enlarge other fighter wings. I./JG1 was disbanded in 1940 and reformed seven months later as an entire fighter wing in Jever. Due to Luftwaffe policy of forming new units out of existing ones and transfers, the history of JG1 is inextricably linked with that of other fighter units.
From 1940 until 1942, JG1 operated primarily over the Western Front and northern occupied Europe. During the initial days of the war, JG1 faced little resistance, apart from occasional Royal Air Force (RAF) excursions. The unit was rarely engaged in large-scale confrontations during this time. From 1942 onwards it was tasked with defense of the Reich duties, which took a heavy toll of both pilots and planes. After D-Day, elements of JG1 were moved to France and were tasked with providing air support to the army Wehrmacht, along with their normal air defense role against Allied bombers. Towards the end of the war, JG1 was tasked with Defense of the Reich. Operation Bodenplatte severely sapped the strength of JG1 like most other wings (Geschwader) of the Luftwaffe. Towards the end of the war, the unit was disbanded and its remaining pilots and aircraft were re-organized into two new groups. What remained of these groups surrendered to Allied forces at the end of the war.
JG1 was a pioneer wing in many areas. It was the first wing to use the Heinkel He 162 jet fighter and to attempt 'aerial bombing' techniques against the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) heavy bomber formations. JG1 introduced fighter-bomber tactics with some degree of success. Another technique devised against bomber formations was the use of Werfer-Granate (Wfr. Gr. or WGr) 21 under-wing rocket mortars.
In the summer of 1944 the 'Oesau' suffix was added to the unit's title, after the Geschwaderkommodore of the time, Oberst Walter Oesau (127 kills), was killed in action over the Ardennes. He was a highly decorated pilot (Experte). Several high-scoring 'aces' associated with this wing received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. The end tally of the wing was close to 700 enemy aircraft. It was the only wing that surrendered its Heinkel He 162 jet fighters to the Allies at the end of the war.
In 1938 the Luftwaffe envisaged a five-year expansion plan that utilized the single-engined Messerschmitt Bf-109s for short-range domestic defense duties and the twin-engined Messerschmitt Bf 110 for external long-range offensive roles. In the summer of 1939, the Luftwaffe dropped its long-term expansion plans in favor of fast mobilization involving the creation of five new Geschwader starting in July 1939. Even those failed to materialize and several groups (Gruppen) were activated. As part of this policy, new groups were formed from existing groups. One such group, I./Jagdgeschwader 131 (JG131), was thus created from II./Jagdgeschwader 132 'Richthofen' (JG132). The new group, I./JG131, was commanded by Major Bernhard Woldenga, and based in Jesau in East Prussia (modern Nivenskoye in Russia). Woldenga was determined to make this unit on par with other groups based in Germany. He set upon modernizing this unit by re-equipping it with the Emil version of the Bf 109E, a process that was complete by June 1939.
In May 1939, the entire organization of the Luftwaffe was changed. As a result a large number of unit re-designations and command title changes took place. Major Woldenga's little-known I./JG131 in Jesau suddenly found itself given the Premier Designation within Luftwaffe of JG1, the group was thus re-designated as I./JG1. This left the high-profile and most senior home front wing, JG2 'Richthofen' in 'second place'. However, on 7 May, just before the invasion of France and the Low Countries, I./JG1 was re-designated as III./Jagdgeschwader 27 (JG27), thus temporarily dissolving JG1. Seven months later, on 7 December 1940, a new I./JG1 was formed at Jever out of several defensive units based on the North Sea coast.
JG1's role was to provide air cover over a large portion of the North Sea coastline. Its commander was Oberstleutnant Carl-Alfred Schumacher. At the time it was essentially an ad hoc unit of miscellaneous flights grouped together into a headquarters group (Geschwaderstab). Their coverage area stretched from the Netherlands to Southern Norway. On 5 January 1942, Schumacher transitioned or handed over, the command of JG1 to Major Erich von Selle. He became commander of the fighter forces for Luftflotte 5 (Jagdfliegerführer Norwegen). Von Selle was instrumental in turning JG1 from a caretaker Headquarters group (Geschwaderstab) to a four-group wing. In early 1944, the Reich Air Ministry (Reichsluftfahrtministerium - RLM) reinforced day fighter units engaged in the Defense of the Reich (Reichsverteidigung). For Jagdgeschwader 1 this meant additional expert aces and squadrons.
Similar to its parent Jagdgeschwader 2, Jagdgeschwader 1 (JG1) was designated to be a 'donor' unit in forming a new unit. Given the large territory JG1 had to cover, it was decided to form a new unit called Jagdgeschwader 11 (JG11). On 31 March 1943, JG1 was split to form the new unit. Two groups of JG1 (I. and III.) were transferred to JG11. Group IV. was re-designated as I./JG1. Thus Jagdgeschwader 1 was left with two operational groups, I. and II. A new group was formed in Leeuwarden, Netherlands and added as III./JG1. This group was headed by Major Karl-Heinz Leesmann who died on 25 July 1943.
The new Jagdgeschwader 1 thus formed was moved to Deelen. The newly formed Jagdgeschwader 11 was tasked with protecting the North German border between Holland and Denmark. Jagdgeschwader 1 was left to protect occupied Dutch territory. The then JG1 Wing Commander Erich Mix was replaced by Major Hans Philipp as Geschwaderkommodore. By mid 1943, JG1 came under the control of Luftwaffenbefehlshaber Mitte, which went on to form Luftflotte Reich. Thus it was responsible for only homeland defense.
For the most part, the organization of JG1 followed the standard Luftwaffe organization for any typical wing (Geschwader). It was always commanded by a Wing Commander (Geschwaderkommodore) who was equivalent to a USAAF Wing Commander or RAF Group Commander. This was a position and not a rank. Although a Geschwaderkommodore was supposed to have the rank of Lieutenant Colonel (Oberstleutnant) or Colonel (Oberst), the position could be filled by a relatively junior officer. There was usually a headquarters flight (Stabschwarm) leading each wing. This flight had four aircraft, one of which belonged to the wing commander. Wing commanders often had two aircraft at their disposal.
Initially most Luftwaffe fighter wings consisted of three groups (Gruppe), which were the equivalent of USAAF groups or RAF wings. Groups were identified using Roman numerals, followed by the unit number; e.g. I./JG1. In 1942 JG1 was the first unit to be expanded to incorporate a fourth group. Partly as a result of JG1's expansion, other Luftwaffe fighter wings incorporated a fourth group from mid-1943.
Emblem of Headquarters Flight JG1.
Each group usually consisted of three to four squadrons (Staffeln), which were identified using numbers; e.g. 3./JG1. Each squadron also had a subordinate headquarters flight (Stabschwarm) associated with it. A squadron with an establishment of 12-16 aircraft usually consisted of three to four flights (Schwarme) of four aircraft usually flying in the 'finger-four' formation. The commanding officer of a squadron (Staffelkapitan) usually held a rank of Senior Lieutenant (Oberleutnant) or Captain (Hauptmann). The flights of a squadron were color coded 'Red','Blue','Yellow' and 'Green'.
Headquarters Flight JG1
A Geschwaderstab was essentially a Headquarters Unit (Stabschwarm) for the entire wing. There were headquarters units at group level as well. In either case, it consisted of four aircraft in total. The wing Headquarters Flight usually carried green color. Initially when JG1 was re-formed in Jever, it was constituted as a Regional Fighter Command (Jagdfliegerführer 2) on 30 November 1939. The aim was to co-ordinate with the Navy (Kriegsmarine) flak and signals units. This autonomous fighter command defending the entire North Sea coastline was placed under the former Commander of Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG77), Oberstleutnant Carl-Alfred Schumacher. Thus was born the Geschwaderstab JG1 (Stab. JG1). This Headquarters Flight was alternatively called JGNord or JGSchumacher. It was equipped with short-range Bf-109 'D' and 'E' variants.
I./JG1 consisted of one Headquarters Flight (Gruppenstab) and Squadrons 1., 2. and 3. It did have something of a formation history, probably because it was one of the original fully equipped groups prior to the war. Major Bernhard Woldenga designed its emblem of the German Crusaders' Cross superimposed with three Bf-109s. It was re-designated and assigned to other wings. As a result, JG1 ceased to exist for 7 months. A new I./JG1 was re-activated only on 7 December 1940. When the Battle of France commenced on 10 May 1940, I./JG1 was put under the administrative control of JG27. After seeing extensive service, the group was re-designated III./JG27 on 5 July 1940.
I./JG1 was reformed in September 1941 in Jever, initially as Headquarters Flight of Nordwest wing (Stab./JGNordwest).It consisted of 1., 2. and 3. squadrons. 1./JG1 was formed on 7 December 1940 in Vlissingen from the Holland Squadron (Jasta Holland). 2./JG1 was formed on 5 July 1941 in Katwijk, Netherlands, from the Munster-Loddenheide Squadron (Jasta Munster-Loddenheide) of Luftflotte 2 while 3./JG1 was formed on 1 March 1941 in De Kooy from parts of the Training/Supplement squadron of JG52 (Ergänzungsstaffel Gruppe/JG52). These three squadrons were working independently until September 1941 when they were grouped into a single group designated I./JG1 under the new group commander Eric Mix. Group Headquarters Flight (Stabschwarm) I./JG1 was formed 1 September 1941 in Katwijk from parts of Leader of the Fighter Force (Führer der Jagdkrafte).
However, 3./JG1 was ordered to Sicily, later Africa; and re-designated as 6./JG51 on 30 November 1941. Another 3./JG1 was formed in Wangerooge on the same day. In January 1944, the 18 Staffel unit was transferred to Dortmund where they were located next to I./JG1. Here they were subordinated to Major Rudolf-Emil Schnoor, the commander of I./JG1. On 15 August 1944, 9./JG77 was transferred to reinforce I./JG1, becoming 4./JG1.
Initial formation of I./JG1
JG1 Unit Date Original unit Location Aircraft type Stab I./JG1 1-Sep-41 Parts of Führer der Jagdkrafte Katwijk Bf-109F-2. 1./JG1 7-Dec-40 Jasta Holland Vlissingen Bf 109E-4, later Bf-109F-2 2./JG1 5-Jul-41 Jasta Munster-Loddenheide Katwijk Bf-109F-2 3./JG1 1-Mar-41 parts of Erg.Gruppe./JG52 De Kooy Bf 109E-4, later Bf-109F-2 4./JG1 15-Aug-44 9./JG77 Aulnay-aux-Planches Focke Wulf Fw-190A-8
In September 1941, Hauptmann Hans von Hahn's I./Jagdgeschwader 3 (JG3) was transferred from the Eastern front to Germany for rest and re-supply. In November 1941, it was transferred to two airfields in the northern Netherlands. On 15 January 1942, it was re-designated as II./JG1 in Katwijk, remaining under the command of Hauptmann von Hahn. Initially, the unit consisted of one headquarter flight (Gruppenstab) Stab II./JG1 and three squadrons (4./JG1, 5./JG1 and 6./JG1). While at Katwijk and Vlissingen, they were assigned the task of coastal defense and protection of shipping routes.
JG1 Unit Date Original unit Location Aircraft type Stab II./JG1 15-Jan-42 Stab I./JG3 Katwijk Bf-109F 4./JG1 15-Jan-42 From 1./JG3 Vlissingen Bf-109F 5./JG1 15-Jan-42 From 2./JG3 Katwijk Bf-109F 6./JG1 15-Jan-42 From 3./JG3 Katwijk Bf-109F 7./JG1 15-Aug-44 From 4./JG1 Connantre Bf-109F 8./JG1 15-Aug-44 From 7./JG51 Connantre Bf-109F
In early 1944, the Reichsluftministerium (Reich Air Ministry - RLM) reinforced the day-fighters of Defense of Reich with an additional squadron from Eastern Front units. On 15 August 1944, II./JG1 was increased to four squadrons. II./JG1 received 7./JG51, originally equipped with the Bf-109G-6 'Gustav' and based at Brest-Litovsk in Poland. When the pilots arrived on 29 May 1944 at the Stormede base, they were equipped with the Focke-Wulf Fw-190. The squadron was re-designated 8./JG1 on 15 August 1944. Notable among the new arrivals were aces Hauptmann Karl-Heinz Weber (Knight's Cross) (136 confirmed victories in 500+ missions), leading 7./JG51, Lt. Friedrich Krakowitzer (23 kills as of 1 June 1944) and Oberfahnrich Günther Heckmann (12 kills). 4./JG1 was re-designated to 7./JG1. From this point until the end in 1945, II./JG1 would consist of its Headquarters Flight, Stab II./JG1, as well as 5., 6., 7. and 8./JG1.
III./JG1 consisted of a headquarters wing (Gruppenstab) and three squadrons numbered 7., 8. and 9./JG1. They were essentially made up of the supplemental squadrons of other wings. By January 1942, most fighting wings (Jagdgeschwader) of the Luftwaffe had created their own Training Group (Ergänzungsgruppe), the purpose of which was to prepare trainees for combat service, usually with their parent wing. Each training group had its own operating squadron (Einsatzstaffel) that doubled as a supplemental squadron, consisting of instructors and trainees. It was from such Einsatzstaffel that III./JG1 was finally formed.
Initial formation of III./JG1
JG1 Unit Date Original unit Location Aircraft type Stab III./JG1 Ordered 6 January 1942 Stab Ergänzungsgruppe/JG52 Husum Bf 109E/F, Fw-190A 7./JG1 Ordered 6 January 1942 From Einsatz-Schwarme/JFS Gleiwitz, Breslau and Konigsberg Husum Bf 109E/F, Fw-190A 8./JG1 Ordered 6 January 1942 From Einsatzstaffel/JG27 Husum Bf 109E/F, Fw-190A 9./JG1 Ordered 6 January 1942 From Einsatzstaffel/JG52 Husum Bf 109E/F, Fw-190A
III./JG1 was formed in January 1942 in Husum. Consisting of 7./JG1, 8./JG1 and 9./JG1. Squadron 7./JG1 consisted of supplemental flights (Einsatz-Schwarme) of fighter pilot schools (Jagdfliegerschule or JFS) Gleiwitz, Breslau and Konigsberg. 8./JG1 was formed from the supplemental squadron (of JG27). Whereas 9./JG1 was formed from the supplemental squadron (of JG52). Headquarters Flight of III./JG1 consisted of supplemental group of JG52. III./JG1 was re-designated I./JG11 on 1 April 1943. A new III./JGwas established on 23 May in Leeuwarden, borrowing units from other fronts. It was led by major Karl-Heinz Leesmann. He was killed on 25 July.
JG1 was one of several wings that was expanded to include a 4th group (Gruppe), the IV./JG1. IV./JG1 was formed around the same time as III./JG1, and was also formed using the training groups (Ergänzungsgruppen) and training squadrons (Einsatzstaffeln) of other wings.
Initial formation of IV./JG1
JG1 Unit Date Original unit Location Aircraft type Stab IV./JG1 6-Jan-42 Stab of Ergänzungsgruppe/JG53 Vannes Bf 109E 10./JG1 6-Jan-42 Einsatzstaffel/JG2 Vannes Bf 109E 11./JG1 6-Jan-42 Einsatzstaffel/JG26 Vannes Bf 109E 12./JG1 6-Jan-42 Einsatzstaffel/JG51 Vannes Bf 109E
On 21 March 1942 IV./JG1 was re-designated as III./JG5. It was re-established on the same day in Werneuchen with some squadrons out of previous IV./JG1 and training squadrons of fighter schools 1 and 4. On 1 April 1943, IV./JG1 was re-designated as I./JG1 as part of the vertical split of JG1.
Aircraft of Jagdgeschwader 1
When JG1 was formed, it primarily used the Messerschmitt Bf 109E-1. Later on in mid-1942, II., III. and IV./JG1 started converting to the Fw-190; I./JG1 did not adopt the Fw-190, but operated Bf-109 'E' and 'F' and later 'G' models, including the specialized 'F-4/Z' and 'G-1' (the latter also being pressurized) high-altitude fighter with GM-1 boost. From April 1943, I./JG1 largely transitioned to the FW 190A, while III./JG1 returned to the Bf 109G. In April 1944, III./JG1 was one of the first Luftwaffe units to have been equipped with the Bf-109G-5/AS with improved supercharger and MW-50 boost.
Bf 109E-3 flown by the original I./JG1 in France 1940
Fw-190A-3 similar to the one used by II,III and IV./JG1.
Towards the end of the war, I. and II. JG1 were the first units to equip with the Heinkel He 162A-2 Salamander. In February 1945, deliveries of the He 162 started for I./JG1 after the unit moved to Parchim. Around April 1945, II./JG1 had moved to the airfield at Rostock-Marienehe near the Heinkel factory. From this airfield, II./JG1 started receiving the deliveries of the new aircraft.
Unit emblem and color schemes
When JG1 was initially formed under Major Woldenga as a group I./JG1, its emblem was designed by Woldenga himself. The emblem of the unit was of a German Crusader's cross on which a flight of three Bf-109s was transposed.
Due to Luftwaffe's policy of reinforcing units in need by drawing upon other unit's manpower, many units acted as donor units to form or enhance other units. Whenever a new unit was formed from donor unit, the new unit would continue to use the same emblem. Hence when Woldenga's I./JG1 was incorporated into JG27, I./JG1's original emblem became that of III./JG27. When JG1 was reformed in 1940, II./JG1's emblem was the Tatzelwurm, a mythical Norse serpent. This emblem probably had its origins with its parent, JG3. Several of the squadrons as well as Groups (Gruppen) tended to inherit the emblems of their parent units after moving to JG1. For each squadron, individual flights (Schwarme) tended to be color-coded to follow the Finger Four formation. Usually those were 'green', 'red', 'yellow' and 'white'. Usually the Headquarters Flight for the wing (Geschwaderstab) or for the group (Gruppenstab) carried the green emblem.
I./JG1 'Red 9' had an emblem of the German Crusaders' Cross superimposed with three Bf-109. Later the I./JG1 from Jever was re-designated as III./JG27. At which time a similar emblem was adopted by JG27 with the planes facing down instead of up. I./JG1 was also the only group that displayed the aircraft numeral on the engine cowling until it was re-designated III./JG27. Each of the squadrons of this group had its own emblem as well. For example, 2./JG1 had a sword slicing Chamberlain's umbrella in two. This emblem was short-lived due to reassignment to JG27.
The badge of 9./JG1 when III./JG1 wasformed, was a flintlock pistol on a heart surrounded by the words, (translated from German) 'Who Shoots first gets more out of life'. After his appointment as Geschwaderkommodore Lieutenant Colonel Walter Oesau introduced a new emblem on 12 November 1943, that was to be used by all JG1 Groups, a red-winged '1' inside a white diamond, which was surrounded by a black circle. Both II./JG1 and III./JG1 quickly adopted this symbol as well in place of their traditional markings. There seem to have been some disputes over this emblem, with one version enclosing the white diamond with a red circle instead of a black one.
In spring 1943, in order to quickly recognize and regroup after an engagement, I./JG1 introduced striking geometric pattern of alternating black and white horizontal stripes on the cowling. Other units of I./JG1 (formerly IV./JG1) used checkerboard pattern on the cowling. I./JG1 was unique in using a variation of a more colorful identification scheme of checkerboard black-and-white-striped engine cowlings. The checkerboards were divided into black-white, black-red and black-yellow for the 1., 2. and 3. Staffeln respectively.
After the Sturmstaffel unit came under I./JG1, they started painting prominent 'Black and White' aft fuselage bands. I./JG1 started painting 'Red' aft fuselage band to distinguish from JG11 and the Sturmstaffel aircraft after a combined engagement and regrouping on Defense of the Reich (Reichsverteidigung) duties. Use of these colored fuselage bands was abandoned in mid-1944. At one point, a color scheme of painting the tail rudder in white was introduced for units dedicated to Defense of Reich duties.
The original I./ JG1 while based in Jesau, had little part in the Invasion of Poland. Within Eastern Prussia, they were re-deployed to three forward bases; Heiligenbeil (near the Baltic coast), Schippenbeil and Arys-Rostken (near the Polish border). Since the Polish air force had its hands full dealing with armored divisions, I./JG1 had negligible involvement. No enemy aircraft were downed. The only casualty was a pilot of 2./JG1 injured by friendly flak. On 5 September 1939, the group moved back to Jesau. After a ten day stop in Lubeck-Blankensee, the group arrived at Vorden. Although from now on I./JG1 came under administrative control of JG27. I./JG1 was temporarily put under administrative control of JG77 on 4 June 1940. It came back under control of JG27 few days later.
Upon arrival at Vorden the first aircraft credited to I./JG1 was a Bristol Blenheim of No. 110 Squadron RAF on a recon mission. In February 1940, Major Bernhard Woldenga was promoted to the position of Inspectorate of Fighters. He was succeeded by Joachim Schlichting. On May 1940 the unit had its first casualty of Lieutenant Horst Braxator against Armee de l'Air. The unit went on to participate extensively in the Battle of France. I./JG1 was officially re-designated as III./JG27 on 5 July 1940.
I./JG1 claimed 82 air victories during the Battle of France, with Hauptmann Wilhelm Balthasar as the top scorer with 23 kills, and Leutnant Ludwig Frantisek with nine. Since JG1 consisted of the one group at the time, this represented entire score of JG1.
After being re-established in December 1940, I./JG1's primary responsibility was the air defense of Germany and its occupied territories. In this role, the unit almost exclusively worked in the Netherlands prior to its transfer to central west Germany. Following the Allied invasion of the continent, I./JG1 was tasked with the defense of Northern Germany and the approaches across the North Sea. Its main opponents through 1940-41 were therefore lone RAF reconnaissance aircraft, the anti-shipping aircraft of RAF Coastal Command and the medium bombers of Bomber Command's 2 Group, although the group would see little action compared to other theaters during 1941. During this time, this sector was considered relatively safe compared to other theaters.
Unlike other wings such as JG2 and JG26, JG1 was somewhat insulated from the RAF's 'Lean into Europe' Circus campaign of 1941. One reason could be that the small groups of bombers and their escorts didn't have sufficient range to reach German airspace. For part of 1941, the wing Commander (Geschwaderkommodore) was Lieutenant colonel (Oberstleutnant) Erich Mix. A veteran of World War I, and over 40 years of age, Mix nevertheless flew frequently, claiming a Blenheim as his 13th kill in mid-1941.
Defense of the Reich 1942-1943
JG1 took part in the famed Channel Dash, in which it helped form part of the aircover for the German Kriegsmarine squadron consisting of battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, with cruiser Prinz Eugen on 13 February 1942. In May II./JG1 was assigned to the defense of the Netherlands. The unit was deployed at Woensdrecht and Katwyk. Its first victory in this capacity was scored by an Unteroffizier Meisner of 6./JG1. The group had been involved in several battles previously, including the Battle of France and the Eastern Front campaigns. By September 1941, the group, under its prior designation as I./JG3, had 421 kills to its name. As II./JG1, it was tasked with the air defense of occupied Netherlands from 13 December 1941. By early 1942, the group had started to switch from its earlier Bf-109F-4s to the Focke-Wulf Fw-190. It had completed equipping with Fw-190 'A-2' and 'A-3' fighters by 12 May 1942. Throughout much of 1942, most of the kills scored by JG1 during their defence of shipping lanes and coastal regions. One notable ace from this period is that of Oberfeldwebel Gerhardt, the then leading scorer of JG1. He took his tally to nine on 17 February 1942.
From late 1942 onwards, the increasing USAAF bomber offensive now brought JG1 to the forefront of the Defense of the Reich, operating at high altitudes against the American bomber streams of the 8th Air Force. By then they had been equipped with the Bf-109G 'Gustav' with pressurized cabins. JG1 experimented with several official and unofficial ways of downing the heavy bombers with varying degrees of success. One of the unofficial method Leutnant Heinz Knoke developed was 'air bombing' the bombers from above using a delay-fused 250 kg bomb with 15 second fuse, although the loss of aircraft performance and vulnerability of the bomb-carrying aircraft to fighters meant the method was not widely adopted. When he dropped it for the first time from 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) above the bomber formation on 22 March 1943, he reported breaking off the wing of one of the bombers. Actually only B-17 lost that day was to a III./JG1 Fw-190. JG1 also pioneered the use of underwing Werfer-Granate (Wfr. Gr. or WGr) 21 rocket mortars as a 'stand-off' anti-bomber weapon in mid-1943, although they proved too heavy for the fighter aircraft and were removed later in the year.
By the start of 1943, all the groups were equipped with the Fw-190 except I./JG1, which was still using the Bf-109G. The first large-scale air battle between JG1 and VIII Bomber Command occurred when the latter bombed the naval base in Wilhelmshaven on 27 January 1943 with a combined force of 64 B-17 Flying Fortress (B-17) and 27 B-24 Liberators (B-24). Facing them were I., II. and IV./JG1. 53 of the B-17s made it to the target. I./JG1's Jever base was bellow the intended route and they attacked in full strength under Hauptmann Günther Beise, equipped with the Bf-109G-1. In broken cloud cover, they intercepted at 25,000 ft (7,600 m). Probably the lack of heavy armament on the Bf-109 or the lack of experience on the I./JG1 showed. This conflict had less than satisfactory results. Many of the bomber crew recalled heavy but ineffective flak. It had tracked them from Frisian Islands till the target. The crew also noted the Bf-109s didn't press home their attack. Although most of the B-17s had some combat damage, only one of the Flying Fortresses failed to return. The first ever American casualty of 'Defence of Reich' campaign was Captain Vance Beckham of 305th Bomber Group B-17F (41-24637). There were five claims of which one was marked unconfirmed. So the bomber may have been shot down by either Oberleutnant Hugo Frey of 2./JG1, or by Feldwebel Siegfried Zick also of 2./JG1, as his second kill. Five of the Bf 109s went down with three pilots dead. Damage to the navel base was minimal.
The B-24 Contingent flew mostly as planned but Cloud cover over target and bad radio communication broke up the formation. The smaller B-24 flight, lost their way from start. They crossed into Holland near Woensdrecht. After wondering over North Netherlands they turned back north towards north sea where they got rid of their bombs. II. and IV./JG1 took off after them from Woensdrecht and Mönchengladbach respectively. 5. and 6. squadrons of JG1 had to refuel at Schiphol which delayed them. Squadron 4 went straight after the bombers and was able to make one pass. Two Liberators were claimed but never confirmed. 12./JG1 of IV./JG1 had better luck. They intercepted over Terschelling downing two Liberators of their own. Of these, one was the result of a collision with a downed Fw-190 that cut the bomber's tail. For 12./JG1 that was the only loss as a result.
Geschwaderkommodore Hans Philipp. (13 March 1917 - 8 October 1943)
There was a repeat bombing raid on 4 February 1943. This time the night-fighter wing Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG1), equipped with Bf 110 Zerstorer twin-engined fighters, joined the fray along with I./JG1, II./JG1 and IV./JG1. Due to poor weather conditions, for I./JG1, only 3./JG1 out of the three squadrons was able to find the formation, claiming one B-17. II./JG1 and IV./JG1 claimed six B-17 downed at the cost of two fighters.
I./JG1 claimed four B-17s and four B-24s on 26 February 1943 during an attack on the Wilhelmshaven U-boat yards. Two Liberators were confirmed lost. One was claimed by Oberleutnant Heinz Knoke, who went on to become Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG1. He also later won the Knight's Cross as part of III./JG11 on 27 April 1945. The other was claimed by Unteroffizier Leo Demetz of 3./JG1. Thirteen B-17s were downed by JG1 in total.
On 18 March 1943, 76 B-17s and 27 B-24s were sent to bomb Vegesack U-Boat Yards near Bremen. I./JG1, IV./JG1 and parts of III./JG1 along with some Nachtjagdgeschwader squadrons intercepted the bombers southwest of Heligoland. Knoke and his wingman Dieter Gerhardt each attacked one B-24 bomber head on. Knoke's target exploded but was also claimed by Oberleutnant Walter Borchers of 8./NJG3. After the mission, Borchers' black Bf 110 was recalled by crew. Gerhardt's target B-24 was able to limp back to England while he was shot down over North sea by another bomber he was attacking. Although the conflict lasted for two hours, it was not very effective. Four B-17s and five B-24s were claimed to have shot down for the loss of two pilots and three aircraft. Actually only one B-24 and one B-17 was lost with another one limping back to base.
On 1 April 1943, Oberfeldwebel Fritz Timm of 3./JG1 shot down a Lancaster, one of the few credited to JG1. On 17 April 1943, Hauptmann Fritz Losigkeit, Gruppenkommandeur of I./JG1 (previously IV./JG1), shot down his first B-17. His unit claimed a total of three of which two were confirmed for the loss of one pilot and two Fw-190s. 17 other B-17s were shot down that day by JG1 and JG11. The wing served almost exclusively in North Germany and the Netherlands until June 1944, when it was transferred to Central and Western Germany. From there, JG1 would go on to serve in France, providing air cover over the Army (Wehrmacht) during the Battle of Normandy and suffering heavy casualties.
On 11 June 1943, Leesmann's new III./JG11 saw action for the first time. The group intercepted a formation of B-17s approaching Wilhelmshaven. Leutnant Eugen Wintergerst Staffelkapitan of 9./JG1 claimed one B-17. It was his twenty first victory. It was also his first one since joining JG1 on western front. He had only recently been appointed to III. group from IV. group.
VII Bomber Command organized its first largest attack on Ruhr, Mission No. 65 on 22 June 1943. Main part of this involved bombing synthetic rubber plant in Huls by ten B-17 groups. It also included eleven of the YB-40s. JG1 intercepted and was credited with fifteen bombers. The YB-40s, being slower to respond, were victim of the flak.
On 25 June 1943, there was another B-17 formation headed into Germany. However both the primary and secondary targets were covered with cloud and the bombers turned their attention to two convoys off of Frisian Islands. A total of eight assorted groups of fighters went after them. III./JG1 claimed seven bombers. Leader of III./JG1, Leesmann was responsible for one of them. III./JG1 lost two pilots including Leesmann's adjutant Oberleutnant Friedrich Hardt. Three pilots were injured as well. The weather on 25 July wasn't good. Two of the bomber formations of VIII Bomber Command selected their secondary target. Third had to completely abandon its mission. III./JG1 was up along with two other units. Although they downed three bombers, they also lost their leader Leesmann. He crashed into the north sea along with his 37th victim. Next day, the bombers went after Continental and Nordhafen rubber works in Hanover along with Hamburg U-Boat Yards. Feldwebel Alfred Miksch of 8./JG1 and Hauptmann Robert Olejnik new leader of III./JG1, each claimed one each.
30 July 1943 was the last day of what the bomber crew called, the 'Blitz Week' campaign. Mission No. 80 targeted the Fieseler factory in Kassel again. III./JG1 was not scrambled until the bombers were on the way back. They along with III./JG11 finally intercepted the bombers near Dutch border over Emmerich am Rhein. Süddenly they were confronted by one hundred P-47 Thunderbolts. Although the range of P-47 was limited, on this occasion, they used Drop tanks. This was the first major fighter engagement of 'Defense of Reich' campaign although in Dutch airspace. III./JG1 suffered damage to three Bf-109G aircraft of which two were beyond repair. Leutnant Eugene Wintergerst of 9./JG1 shot down one P-47. This was the first P-47 lost in 'Defense of Reich' campaign. Although 56th Fighter Group and 78th Fighter Group recorded loss of one fighter, its not known which of the two was shot down by Wintergerst. Two bombers were shot down as well.
On 12 August 1943, 330 B-17s were sent to bomb designated targets in western Germany. They were escorted for the first time by P-47s with drop tanks. II./JG1 suffered heavy machine losses along with losing one pilot. Six Fw-190s had to belly land and another six had heavy damage.
On 8 October 1943, JG1 lost their Oberstleutnant Hans Philipp (206 kills), against P-47 fighters of the 56th Fighter Group. The Headquarters Flight (geschwaderstab) of JG1 heard Philipp announce a victory over a Thunderbolt. The last transmission from him was, 'Reinhardt, attack!'. Oberfeldwebel Reinhardt was Philipp's wingman on that day. He last saw the Wing Commander's aircraft disappear into a cloud. Reinhardt was wounded after colliding with an enemy aircraft, but made a successful forced landing.
When II./JG1 received additional squadrons from the Eastern Front, there were several experts among the arrivals. Notable among the new arrivals was Hauptmann Karl-Heinz Weber (Knight's Cross) (136 confirmed kills in 500+ missions), leading 7./JG51, Oberleutenant Friedrich Krakowitzer (23 kills as of 1 June 1944) and Warrant Officer Günther Heckmann (12 kills). It was during late 1943 that Walter Oesau was appointed commanding officer of JG1.
Providing air support to the army in the Bastogne area was getting harder for II./JG1. They were losing experienced pilots. On 26 December 1943, three pilots were lost. Those were Leutnant Horst Ertmann, Oberfeldwebel Georg Hutter and Oberfeldwebel Reinhard Flecks of 5./JG11 and 6./JG11. Other pilots lost in the same area included, Unteroffizier Ferdinand Nusse and Johann Ruburg along with three other pilots of 8./JG1. Those were Leutnant Heinz Fresia, Oberführer Paul Bruhl and Oberführer Helmut Bullenkamp.
On 28 December 1943, 6./JG1 lost three pilots. Those were Unteroffizier Gerhard Hartwig and Rudolf Wezulek dying over Mesum and Oberfeldwebel Werner Essinger bailing over Burgsteinfurt. Hauptmann Hans-Georg Hackbarth, who had joined JG1 on 15 November was promoted to replace Hans Ehlers at I./JG1, who died on 22 December 1943.
D-Day and beyond 1944
Major Hans-Gunther von Kornatzki got permission to form a experimental unit to try a new method of attack. The Sturmstaffel 1 consisted entirely of volunteers. It was not a punishment nor a suicide unit. The idea was drawn from Army's Sturm detachments that engaged the enemy in close quarters. A heavily armed and armored Fw-190 the so-called Sturmbocke (Battering Rams), would attack the bombers from rear in tight arrowhead formation. closing right in until there is a strong possibility of victory. In January 1944, the 18 Staffel unit was transferred to Dortmund where they were located next to I./JG1. Here they were subordinated to Major Rudolf-Emil Schnoor, the commander of I./JG1.
Following the shooting down of his 100th Spitfire on 26 October 1941, Oberst Walter Oesau was banned from further combat flying. This was done in an effort to conserve valuable experts from front line combat. He was appointed Commander of fighter forces Brittany (Jagdfliegerführer Bretagne) in the summer of 1943 before being appointed as commander of JG1 on 12 November 1943. Major Hermann Graf had taken command of JG1 barely the month before, he was transferred to take over JG11. The ban on Operational flying was lifted (or probably ignored) for Oesau upon his appointment, similar to that of Graf. Graf intended to take other pilots with him who had been with him for a long time. Oesau refused to release Hauptmann Alfred Grislawski, appointing him instead as Staffelkaptain of 1./JG1. Oesau claimed additional 14 kills with JG1.
On 24 February 1944, Eighth Air Force attempted to repeat the success of 20 February. 1st and 2nd Divisions flew due east towards Germany, whereas the 3rd division flew east-northeast without escort. After crossing into Schleswig-Holstein in northeast Germany, they attacked targets along the Baltic sea coast. The 1st and 2nd Divisions were considered to be the main thrust of the attack and hence the 3rd Division went unmolested. The B-24 bombers of the 2nd Division were scheduled to bomb Gotha in central Germany. JG1 was directed to attack the B-24s. Due to strong tailwinds and flying at lower altitude, the bombers were separated from their escorting fighters. The fighters of JG1 reached Gotha before the bombers. Major Bar led II./JG1 in a diving attack from higher altitude and claimed four B-24s despite escorting P-47s. I./JG1, on the other hand, attacked head-on, resulting in five B-24s downed. At the time an 'assembly directive' was in effect that dictated that the senior pilot landing at any fighter airfield would assume command of all the other fighter pilots (irrespective of unit) who had landed on that airfield with a serviceable aircraft. This applied to the repeat attack on retreating bombers. Oesau of JG1 and Hauptmann Karl Borris of I./JG26 led two such attacks with improvised command.
By January 1944, II./JG1 was based in Northern Germany as a 'Defense of the Reich' (Reichsverteidigung) unit under Group Commander Hauptmann Walter Hockner (62 kills). Its component squadrons were 4, 5 and 6./JG1. II./JG1 had great successes despite high odds against Allied bombing raids. The group also had three noted experts transferred in. Those were Hauptmann Hermann Segatz (33 kills with JG51, JG26 and JG5), Oberleutnant Georg-Peter Eder (33 kills by then) and Major Heinz Bar (179 kills). On 4 February 1944 Hauptmann Hermann Segatz replaced Hauptmann Walter Hoeckner (moved to JG4 on 31 January) as group leader of II./JG1. Oberleutnant Georg-Peter Eder (33 kills by then) was assigned as Staffelkapitan of 6./JG1 on 15 March 1944, after recovering from wounds suffered while serving with JG2.
Major Heinz Bar. (21 March 1913 - 28 April 1957)
Although Bar was a Major leading I./JG77, his criticisms of the Luftwaffe leadership's failings led Reichsmarschall Göring to demote him as Staffelkapitan leading an operation training group. He was transferred on 21 January 1944 to 6./JG1 as an ordinary pilot. Walter Oesau the wing Commander of JG1 welcomed him with a warning that he had to promise to the authorities that Bar was not to be given any command responsibilities. Oesau did however managed to utilize Bar's skills as formation leader. After the death of Segatz on 8 March 1944, Bar was appointed as acting commander of II./ JG1.
On 6 March 1944, Jimmy Doolittle ordered his entire bomber force of 730 bombers on a mission to bomb Berlin. This was part of the Air Battle of Berlin. They were escorted by 644 fighters from 8th Air Force, 9th Air Force and the RAF. With many fighters doing repeat sorties, overall fighter strength was 943. Commander of I. Jagdkorps requested and received reinforcements from II. Jagdkorps and 7 Jagd-Division. Oesau led the wing Headquarters Flight and I./JG1. Major Bar led II./JG1. They were accompanied by I./JG11 and III./JG54. They intercepted sixteen B-17s of 100th Bomb Group who were escorted by P-47s of the 78th Group. At around noon that day just as the escorts were turning back, one of the concentrated Luftwaffe attack began. Ten B-17s went down in the first wave. There were several waves of attacks on the bombers in multiple directions. Most of the pilots ended up exhausting their ammunition. In the end after 25 minutes, twenty bombers went down before escorting P-47s arrived.
During first half of 1944, Allied attacks on railway networks had thoroughly frustrated Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring. Göring was not at all happy with the inability to stop the bombing runs, and he questioned the commitment of several fighter wing leaders who were not flying and leading their units on a regular basis. On 11 May 1944, Allied Air Forces attacked vital railway networks in northeast Belgium and eastern France. More than 1,000 B-17 and B-24 bombers of the 8th Air Force were sent. They were escorted by an even greater number of fighters. Oesau was sick and in bed at the time, but angered by Göring's insinuations, took off with two other fighters of the Headquarters Flight in his 'Green 132' Bf-109.
There are various versions regarding his death. One version suggested that his wingman reported damage and was asked to break off. Alone over the Ardennes, he was engaged by at least four escorting P-38s or possibly by P-51s. In the ensuing dogfight that lasted for 20 minutes, he was killed and crashed near St. Vith. In his memory, Jagdgeschwader 1 was granted the 'Oesau' suffix.
'Red 23', an FW 190A-7 flown by Maj. Heinz Bar of II./JG1. This may have been the aircraft in which Bar scored his 200th victory on 22 April 1944.
Bar was finally reassigned as wing commander of JG3 on 21 May 1944. He had 23 victories in the four months with II./JG1 and was replaced by Oberleutnant Georg-Peter Eder. Hauptmann Weber was appointed to command III./JG1 on 7 June 1944. On D-Day, II./JG1 received orders to transfer west. From their base near Stormede, at 4:25 am, 32 Fw-190A-8s took off under the command of Oberleutnant Eder, and headed for Essay after refueling at Montdidier, France. By late afternoon all the aircraft landed at Montdidier. Due to delays in refueling, the Gruppe took off next day at dawn. News came that their original destination was bombed and hence they diverted to Le Mans. The newly added Staffel 7./JG51 (later named 8./JG1) was attacked by Mustangs near Le Mans, with Lt. Johann Brunnler shot down and killed near Chateaudun. Both I./JG1 and II./JG1 along with II./JG53 were based at Le Mans for some time with a complement of 100 Fw-190s and Bf-109s.
The next day, however, saw the notable loss of Hauptmann Karl-Heinz Weber, commander of III./JG1 who was shot down and killed by Mustangs. It was from Le Mans that JG1 started to perform fighter-bomber (Jagdbomber or Jabo) missions. Even though neither I. nor II./JG1 had any training, on 8 June 1944 both groups were sent off on ground-attack missions after some rudimentary training. II./JG1 started off at 11:00 am with 25 Fw 190s for an attack on Allied shipping off the Normandy coast. They went unmolested except for flak hits. On 9 June, II./JG1 attempted another fighter-bomber attack with twenty aircraft off the coast, and were saved by bad weather conditions. However, RAF aircraft bombed Le Mans airfield that night, resulting in II./JG1 losing seven aircraft and five damaged. Oberleutnant Rudiger von Kirchmayr flew back to 4./JG1 after his release from hospitalization on 12 June in Stormede. En route he was attacked by Spitfires over Flers, claiming an unconfirmed kill as a result. According to RAF records only one Hawker Typhoon of No. 266 Squadron RAF crashed near Flers on this date as a result of flak damage. There was a follow-up bombing attack on 15 June resulting in a loss of two more Fw-190s.
On 15 June 1944, Feldwebel Günther Henschel of 8./JG1 downed a Mustang north of Caen. There was one Fw-190 downed without human loss. On the afternoon of 16 June 1944, II./JG1 moved its complement of 25 Fw-190s to Essay, France. It was tasked with defending the skies over the beaches of Normandy. From there it flew patrols over the battle area for the next four days. During the transfer, 8./JG1, once again flying independently, was probably attacked by the P-51s of the 354th Fighter Wing, near Alencon. In the ensuing dogfight, JG1 lost three pilots and one mechanic riding passenger. Also lost were two other aircraft without human loss. 8./JG1 claimed the downing of two P-51s. Those were credited to Lt. Friedrich Krakowitzer (24th kill) and Oberfeldwebel Günther Heckmann (13th kill) each. The base at Essay was bombed the same day by B-24 Liberators, making the airfield unsuitable for any missions.
This prompted a transfer from Essay to the landing ground at Semalle, south-east of Alencon. As the unit was establishing itself at the new base, they came under fresh attack from a force of Mustangs which, in a few minutes of co-ordinated strafing runs, shot up the airfield, destroying 15 Fw 190s, and putting II./JG1 out of the battle. On 17 August 1944, II./JG1 transferred back to Reinsehlen, Germany, for re-equipping with He 162 Salamanders. Around 11 non-operational Fw-190s were destroyed - resulting in the final losses of II./JG1 in Normandy. In the ten weeks in Normandy, II./JG1 lost 27 pilots, three captured and two wounded. A total of 106 aircraft were lost for various reasons, including the 11 destroyed.
On 21 November, the 8th Air Force attacked the Merseburg oil yard. There were 1,149 bombers escorted by 858 fighters. In poor flying conditions, facing them was JG1 along with other wings. Many of the pilots of JG1 were fresh students with hardly any experience of handling the fighter. I./JG1 was nearly wiped out due to the loss of 20 aircraft. The Wing was then assigned to help support preparations for the Ardennes counter-offensive, which would restart the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 and January 1945.
In late 1944, the Luftwaffe planned the launch of Operation Bodenplatte with the aim of crippling Allied air forces in the Low Countries. It was also aimed at reviving the bogged-down progress of the Wehrmacht during the Battle of the Bulge. The operation was launched on New Year's Day, 1945. JG1 participated in this action. The orders were to destroy as many enemy aircraft on the ground as possible. Each pilot was ordered to perform at least five strafing runs. This made several pilots unable to pay attention to enemy fighters in the air. This also caused the pilots to exhaust their ammunition on the ground targets, leaving nothing with which to defend themselves. This is probably one of the reasons for such a heavy price paid. Although a large number of allied aircraft were destroyed, the Luftwaffe lost a large number of pilots that were irreplaceable.
JG1's targets on this day were:
* 131 Polish Fighter Wing RAF (302 'Poznanski'Squadron, 308 'Krakowski' Squadron and 317 'Wilenski' Squadron) located near Ghent/Sint-Denijs in Belgium.
* 485 (NZ) Squadron located near Maldegem in Belgium.
* Other Spitfire squadrons near Ursel in Belgium.
On 1 January 1945, there was a terrific dogfight which caused heavy damage to Allied forces. However, JG1 paid an even heavier price, losing ten pilots killed, seven missing in action with eight being captured.
Among those lost by I./JG1 was its group commander, Hauptmann Georg Hackbarth (30 kills). During a fight with the Polish Spitfires, he was engaged by Flight Sergeant Joseph Stanowski, who was returning to the airfield at Ghent. Hackbarth's Fw-190A-8 was shot down as a result. It crashed in the back of a flower shop near St. Pieters railway station. The body of Hauptmann Hackbarth was thrown clear of the wreckage into the street. Fw. Karl Hahn was also shot down by Stanowski that day. Another casualty for I./JG1 was Feldwebel Harry Klints whose Fw-190 'Green 5' crashed near Zwijnaarde, once again being credited to Stanowski. However, Stanowski had to crash-land himself for lack of fuel after shooting down a third. As Squadron No. 308 returned to base on being recalled, they shot down four more of the I./JG1 fighters.
It was then that II./JG1 arrived on the scene. Fw. Edger Ardner of 5./JG1 managed to empty his magazines on the parked planes. He was engaged by two Spitfires and shot down. However, he was able to bail out and was taken prisoner. Hastily recalled, No. 317 Squadron joined the melee upon arrival. Warrant Officer Stanislaw Piesik shot down another Fw-190.
One version suggested that some of the downed JG1 pilots faced the wrath of the Belgium civilians. The body of one of the pilots was stripped and attacked by an angry mob. Another pilot, Unteroffizier Fritz Hoffman, barely escaped by involuntarily surrendering to Allied forces after being shot down by Flight Lieutenant Czeslaw Mroczyk of 317 Squadron. He was a POW, along with 10 other pilots shot down the same day. Other pilots like Feldwebel Paul Mayr and Leutnant Ernst Von Johannides died after being shot down by No. 317 Squadron. In turn, Flight Lieutenant Tadeusz Powierza was shot down and killed. Another Allied pilot crash-landed after downing a German aircraft. As more Spitfires arrived, the balance slowly turned in the favor of the Allies.
Flying Officer Tadesusz Szlenkier shot down the Fw-190 piloted by Harry Klints, who was chasing another Spitfire. Szlenkier in turn was attacked by another German pilot and crash-landed. Pilot Officer Andrezj Dromlewicz was credited for downing another German aircraft after a lot of evasive action. Flight Lieutenant Mach too shot down another German aircraft after a wild chase at ground level. However, he was in turn chased by another German Fw-190 that was shot down by his wing man, Warrant Officer Stainslaw Bednarcyzk.
After taking a lot of punishment, the remaining pilots of I./JG1 and II./JG1 started their homeward journey, although some of whom were downed by enemy flak. One such casualty was Fw. Paul Wunderlich. They also came under fire from friendly flak, downing even more pilots. It was probably due to the fact that the German flak crew was unaware of secret Luftwaffe mission. In all, JG1 claimed 32 Spitfires, one B-17 and one Short Stirling. However, RAF records state only 13 Spitfires were lost, and only eight were shot down in aerial combat. Just four were listed as lost in aerial engagements with JG1. Two Allied pilots died from the Polish squadrons. In all, JG1 lost 12 pilots killed in action with six more POW. Some six were considered to be missing in action and probably died. One pilot was wounded in action.
JG1's commander, Oberst Herbert Ihlefeld, was reasonably upset upon return. He personally ran into friendly flak that didn't improve his mood. He had lost the commander of I./JG1, Georg Hackbarth, who was later replaced by bomber pilot Major Günther Capito. This was the same Capito who had the misfortune of being the only wingman of Erich Hartmann shot down. JG1 never recovered from those losses.
Defense of the Reich 1945
After the disastrous losses of Operation Bodenplatte, and failing to maintain air superiority over the Ardennes area, a severely weakened II./JG1 was beginning to transfer from Western Germany to Insterburg in East Prussia (modern Chernyakhovsk in Poland). I./JG1 had to face British fighters over Hengelo-Twente area on 14 January 1945. In an engagement in fog, JG1 lost twelve pilots with seven being killed, three wounded and two missing. Not used to flying blind, the fighters were scattered all over North Germany. The spitfires shot down entire 1. and 2./JG1 squadrons at the Twente airport as they took off for the loss of two. Of note was the loss of Unteroffizier Gunter Sill of I./JG1 flying Fw-190D-9. Ihlefeld threatened to court martial Major G. Capito the new leader of I./JG1 for that disastrous loss but wasn't able to do so in the process of transferring to Eastern front. In Poland, they were briefly assigned to Luftflotte Reich (the Air Fleet assigned to defend what was left of Germany from the final Allied offensives).
It was during this time that the unit began converting to the new jet-propelled Heinkel He 162A 'Volksjager', which would replace the unit's Fw-190As. Some 12 pilots were killed flying the new fighter, mainly through flying accidents. I./JG1 had moved back to Parchim, performing 'Defense of the Reich' duties. Since this was not far from Rostock-Marienehe, where the Heinkel factory was located, it was easier for the pilots of I./JG1 to pick up the new jets. I./JG1 started training on the new jet aircraft in March 1945. However, with Germany on the brink of collapse, transportation and fuel supply was getting difficult with the increased Allied air attacks.
On 7 April 1945, 134 B-17 Flying Fortresses bombed the field at Parchim. In two days, I./JG1 relocated to a nearby airfield at Ludwigslust. They had to move again a week later, north to the airfield at Leck. Around this time, II./JG1 had moved to airfield at Marienehe and started taking delivery of He 162s. These new jet aircraft would never see widespread combat with JG1 due to their late introduction. With a shortage of pilots, aircraft and fuel, JG1 could no longer field their full complement or effectively fly operations as required.
The new He 162 had about half an hour's worth of fuel. This endurance was simply not enough, and at least two of JG-1's pilots were killed making Deadstick landing after exhausting their fuel. By April, I./JG1 had scored a number of kills, but at the cost of 13 He 162s and 10 pilots. The losses were mostly attributed to issues with the He 162 such as engine flame-outs or occasional structural failures, which can most probably be attributed to poor design and insufficient development time. On 24 April 1945, III./JG1 was disbanded.
On 19 April at least one He 162 of 3./JG1 fell victim to a Hawker Tempest of 222 Squadron. Leutnant Gerhard Steimer wrote:
We took off from the concrete runway in Leck, Kirchner (Fhj.Fw Günther Kirchner) stayed 30 metres behind me on my right side as usual;... We climbed up to about 200 metres, when suddenly two Thunderbolts appeared behind us and instantly shot down Günther Kirchner's plane. I saw him jettison canopy and catapult but his parachute did not deploy. I was very lucky that the Thunderbolts did not press on with another attack.
The times and heights of the combat match closely with an account by Flight Lieutenant G. Walkington of 222 Squadron who reported shooting down an unusual looking German aircraft while out on an armed reconnaissance in the area. At times the blunt-nosed, elliptical-wing Tempests were misidentified as Thunderbolts. This was the first loss of an He 162 in combat.
On 30 April 1945, II./JG1 was combined with I./JG1 at Leck to form two new groups (Gruppen): I. (Einsatz)/JG1 and II. (Sammel)/JG1; a combined total of about 50 pilots and aircraft. Within days of this last re-organization, the original JG1 ceased to exist as the war in Europe ended. Surviving JG1 crews collectively turned in their He 162s to the Allies. On 4 May 1945, all of JG1's surviving He-162s were formed into a special consolidated Intervention groups (Einsatzgruppen). However on 5 May 1945, there was a ceasefire which effectively grounded the He 162s.
'Throughout the entire war, our JG1 had the thankless task of defending the north-west flank of the Reich, which, until the Americans entered the air war, merited little attention. The Geschwader came to the fore with the start of the 'Defense of the Reich', which was to be a harsh baptism of fire.'
Eberhard Burath former Adjutant from JG1,
Notable successes and losses
One of the most famous group commanders (Gruppenkommandeure) of JG1 was Major Heinz 'Pritzl' Bar, before he was promoted as wing commander of JG3. Credited with 220 kills, Bar was the 8th ranking aerial 'Ace' of all time. Other notable aces were Oberstleutnant Georg-Peter Eder, the highest-scoring Luftwaffe ace against the USAAF, who would go on to become a 'jet ace', scoring at least 12 and possibly 24 victories in an Me 262 while serving with Kommando Nowotny and JG7. According to Luftwaffe rules of engagement, there has to be a witness (human or gun camera) for a confirmation of the kill. Also a confirmed kill required complete destruction and/or pilot bailout. Simply put 'no witness = no kill'. Together, this ensured accurate reporting, however it also resulted in many unconfirmed and uncredited kills. Although an unconfirmed kill made for good morale boost & daily Group press release, Reich Air Ministry clerks had a special stamp for such claims. It said 'Without Witness' (Ohne Zeugen!). Such claims were supposedly rarely confirmed. However in some cases, those claims did match with actual allied losses.
An example of such unconfirmed kills was that of Oberleutnant Rudiger von Kirchmayr of Staffel 4./JG1. He was flying back alone to join his squadron on 12 June 1944. In a confrontation with Spitfires, he claimed to have shot one down over Flers. Since there was no witness, this kill went unconfirmed. According to RAF records no Spitfire was lost over this area. The Gruppe's 700th victory occurred on 29 April 1944, credited to Oberlt. von Kirchmayr as his 15th kill. There were several high-scoring pilots associated with JG1. For example, Alfred Grislawski had a score of 134 to his name, Georg-Peter Eder had 78, and Walter Oesau had 127 confirmed prior to his death.
However, despite notable successes, losses were also high. For example, five of the fourteen Group commanders (Gruppenkommandeure) of II./JG1 were killed in action while serving with II./JG1. The notable losses were Oberstleutnant Rohwer, and Hauptmanns Kijewski, Wickop, Seegatz and Dahne. During early 1944, prior to D-Day, II./JG1 was led by one of its four experienced formation commanders. These were Hauptmann Segatz, Major Bar, and Oberleutnants von Kirchmayr and Eder. Yet the unit suffered heavy losses (along with most other wings in the West) of 48 pilots killed, 23 wounded, and 158 aircraft destroyed for 164 confirmed victories. Of these, 119 were USAAF four-engined bombers.
Significantly, the highly experienced and irreplaceable experts were among the losses. The most notable loss of II./JG1 was its Kommandeur, Hauptmann Seegatz (KIA 8 March 1944, 40 kills). The Group (also lost seven experienced team leaders (Rottenführer) and flight leaders (Schwarmführer).
* Unteroffizier Erich Negraszus (KIA 11 February 1944, 3 Kills),
* Feldwebel Heinz Fuchs (KIA 24 February 1944, 11 Kills),
* Unteroffizier Hans-Joachim Tunger (KIA 3 March 1944, 4 Kills),
* Feldwebel Heinz Kahl (KIA 12 May 1944, 9 Kills),
* Unteroffizier Helmut Stiegler (KIA 12 May 1944, 6 Kills),
* Unteroffizier Heinrich Weber (KIA 16 May 1944, 3 Kills),
* Leutnant Günther Buchholz (KIA 31 May 1944, 5 Kills).
When 8./JG1 (originally 7./JG51) was transferred from Eastern front, it had 15 pilots in May 1944. By August, twelve pilots had been killed, one captured and another severely wounded; only Leutenant Günther Heckmann was the sole pilot remaining.
The Luftwaffe units committed to battle after the D-Day landings suffered further catastrophic losses against the overwhelming numbers of allied fighters present. In the ten weeks of action following D-Day, II./JG1 lost 106 aircraft (41 in air combat) and 30 pilots, for just 32 air claims. Many experienced and irreplaceable Experte were killed during this time. Hauptmann Karl-Heinz Weber, Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG1 (136 claims) was killed in action against Polish Wing Mustangs on 7 June 1944, north of Paris, while on 17 June 1944, Leutnant 'Toni' Piffer (35 claims) was shot down and killed in aerial combat with USAAF fighters over La Cordonnerie.
On 16 June 1944, while 8./JG1 was moving from Le Mans to Essay, France came under attack by the P-51s of 354th Fighter Wing, near Alencon. In the ensuing dogfight, 8./JG1 lost three pilots and one mechanic riding passenger. Those were Uffz. Günther Henschel, Uffz. Franz Zechner, and Feldwebel Helmuth Heidemann. The mechanic was Uffz. Herbert Redlich. Also lost were two other aircraft without loss of life.
Total pilot losses in World War II were 464 killed in action, 174 wounded, 94 killed in accidents, and 16 POW.
JG1 Knight's Cross recipients
The following soldiers received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross or a higher grade while being assigned to Jagdgeschwader 1.
Name Knight's Cross Oak Leaves Schumacher, Carl-AlfredCarl-Alfred Schumacher 01940-07-21 21 July 1940 Olejink, RobertRobert Olejink 01941-07-27 27 July 1941 Grislawski, AlfredAlfred Grislawski 01942-07-01 1 July 1942[b] Awarded 446th Oak Leaves 11 April 1944 Ehlers, HansHans Ehlers 01944-06-09 9 June 1944 Eder, Georg-PeterGeorg-Peter Eder 01944-06-24 24 June 1944 Awarded 663rd Oak Leaves 25 November 1944 Piffer, Anton-RudolfAnton-Rudolf Piffer 01944-10-20 20 October 1944
Wing Commanders (Geschwaderkommodore)
Originally JG1 was formed as a single Group I./JG1 in 1938. A full wing was formed only in Nov 1939. The first Wing Commander was Schumacher.
* Oberstleutnant Carl-Alfred Schumacher, 30 November 1939 - 5 January 1942
* Major Erich von Selle, 6 January 1942 - 27 August 1942
* Oberstleutnant Erich Mix, August 1942 - 31 March 1943
* Oberstleutnant Hans Philipp, 1 April 1943 - 8 October 1943
* Major Hermann Graf, October 1943 - 10 November 1943
* Oberst Walter Oesau, 12 November 1943 - 11 May 1944
* Major Heinz Bar (acting), 12 May 1944 - 20 May 1944
* Oberst Herbert Ihlefeld, 20 May 1944 - 8 May 1945
Group Commanders (Gruppenkommandeure)
Originally JG1 was formed only as a single group I./JG1 under Woldenga. That group was re-designated as III./JG27. JG1 thus temporarily ceased to exist. It was reactivated 7 months later under Schumacher in November 1939. But a formal I./JG1 came to exist in September 1941.
* Major Bernhard Woldenga, 1 May 1939- February 1940
* Hauptmann Joachim Schlichting, 13 February 1940 - 5 July 1940
* Oberleutnant Erich Mix, September 1941 - August 1942
* Oberleutnant Paul Stolte, August 1942 - September 1942
* Hauptmann Günther Beise, September 1942
* Major Fritz Losigkeit, 1 April 1943
* Hauptmann Rudolf-Emil Schnoor, 15 May 1943
* Hauptmann Hans Ehlers, 17 April 1944
* Hauptmann Georg Hackbarth, 28 December 1944 - 1 January 1945
* Major Günther Capito, 3 January 1945
* Oberleutnant Emil Demuth, 15 January, 1945 - 12 April 1945
* Major Werner Zober, 1 May 1945 - 5 May 1945
* Hauptmann Hans von Hahn, 15 January 1942 - June 1942
* Oberleutnant Detlev Rohwer, 20 June 1942 - October 1942
* Major Herbert Kijewski, October 1942 - 16 April 1943
* Hauptmann Dietrich Wickop, 17 April 1943 - 6 May 1943
* Hauptmann Robert Olejnik, May 1943 - 28 June 1943
* Hauptmann Walter Hoeckner, 28 June 1943 - 31 January 1944
* Hauptmann Hermann Segatz, February 1944 - 8 March 1944
* Major Heinrich Bar, 15 March 1944 - 12 May 1944
* Oberleutnant Georg-Peter Eder, 13 May 1944 - June 1944
* Oberleutnant Rudiger Kirchmayr, June 1944 - July 1944
* Hauptmann Hermann Staiger, 1 August 1944 - January 1945
* Oberleutnant Fritz Wegner, December 1944 - 1 March 1945
* Hauptmann Paul-Heinrich Dahne, March 1945 - 24 April 1945
* Hauptmann Rahe, 1 May 1945 - 5 May 1945
In April 1943, III./JG1 was re-designated as I./JG11. A new group was added to JG1 as III./JG1 based on Operation squadrons of Fighter schools.
* Hauptmann Herbert Kijewski, 6 February 1942 - October 1942
* Hauptmann Rudolf-Emil Schnoor, October 1942 - November 1942
* Major Walter Spies, October 1942 - 31 March 1943
* Major Karl-Heinz Leesmann, 1 April 1943 - 25 July 1943
* Hauptmann Robert Olejnik, 26 July 1943 - 8 October 1943
* Hauptmann Friedrich Eberle, 9 October 1943 - 27 April 1944
* Major Hartmann Grasser, 27 April 1944 - 31 May 1944
* Hauptmann Karl-Heinz Weber, 3 June 1944 - 7 June 1944
* Hauptmann Alfred Grislawski, 7 June 1944 - June 1944
* Hauptmann Erich Woitke, June 1944 - August 1944
* Oberleutnant Erich Buchholz, July] 1944 - September 1944
* Hauptmann Heinz Knoke, 13 August 1944 - October 1944
* Hauptmann Erich Woitke, October 1944 - 24 December 1944
* Hauptmann Harald Moldenhauer, 25 December 1944 - 5 May 1945
IV./JG1 was re-designated as I./JG1 in April 1943. Afterward there was no IV./JG1 added to JG1 and JG1 continued to exist as three group wing until its dissolution.
* Hauptmann Günther Scholz, January 1942 - March 1942
* Hauptmann Fritz Losigkeit, March 1942 - 1 April 1943
Thanks also to Clint Mitchell & Luftwaffe Experten Message Board for the use of some of their emblems
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