JG54West-40Aug12

August 12, 1940

0830 – 0930 Hours

Dawn broke with the promise of clear weather over southeast England. The Messerschmitt’s of III Gruppe lifted from Guines-Sud and began the ascent to a patrol altitude of 6,000 meters. The mission was a Free Hunt in the Folkestone-Dungeness region in support of the Do-17s of I./KG2 attacking the airfield at Lympne. II./JG 54, I./JG 26 and II./JG 52 also contributed to the large formations of Messerschmitt’s escorting the bombers.

Twelve Spitfires of 610 Squadron scrambled from Hawkinge, while 54 Squadron's eleven Spitfires departed Hornchurch to intercept the incoming raid. 610 Squadron spotted the bombers above them over New Romney at 16,000 feet. While they were climbing to engage the Do-17s, the Spitfires were bounced by the 109's of III Gruppe. A swirling dogfight developed and raged from Dover to Dungeness and across the Channel

Spitfire “DW-K” of 610 Squadron, Hawkinge airfield, circa July 1940.

Ltn. Max-Hellmuth Ostermann of 7./JG 54 was impressed with the maneuverability of the Spitfire and the aerial acrobatics of its pilots. Ostermann is attributed to have been flying the 109 E-4 "White 5" when he found himself behind the Spitfire (DW-H) of 610 Squadron, flown by F/Lt Edward B B Smith. Ostermann describes hitting the Spitfire with his first burst, causing it to immediately begin to burn. The stricken aircraft fell in the New Romney area. F/Lt E B B Smith managed to bail out into the sea and was rescued but suffered slight burns and wounds from shell splinters. Smith was Ostermann's third victory.

Fw. Erwin Leykauf, another pilot of 7./JG 54, also claimed a Spitfire over New Romney. This could be the 610 Squadron Spitfire (DW-N) of F/O F T Gardiner, who's machine received cannon shells to its left aileron and cockpit areas. Gardiner, wounded, managed to crash land at Biggin Hill.

Screened by the numerous German fighters, KG 2 hit Lympne airfield unmolested and all bombers returned to base safely. Along with Ostermann's and Leykauf's victories, German 109 pilots claimed a further 4 Spitfires. 610 Squadron reported 1 Spitfire lost and 3 damaged. 54 Squadron lost 1 aircraft and 2 damaged. In the confusion of the broiling dogfight, RAF pilots claimed 7 destroyed Messerschmitt’s and another 9 as "probably destroyed." No III Gruppe machines were lost. The only total loss reported by the Luftwaffe was a 3./JG 26 Bf 109 E-1 to a 54 Squadron Spitfire with its pilot killed.

August 12, 1940

1230 – 1300 Hours

III Gruppe machines were in the air again for the second time today. The task was a close escort mission of Do-17 bombers from I./KG 2. The Dornier bombers, in conjunction with Me-110's of Erprobungsgruppe 210, carried out an attack on the Manston airfield. The day's earlier attacks on the RDF stations along the coast had knocked a "hole" in the radar coverage. As such, the British at Manston were caught by surprise and several British fighters were destroyed on the ground. Manston was declared out of action for over a day.

The Hurricanes of 501 Squadron and Spitfires of 65 Squadron arrived at the scene after the bombers and escort had already turned back to France. Although they gave chase, all bombers and escort returned to base without loss. An Me 110 did crash-land at Calais after suffering engine failure. 501 Squadron lost a Hurricane near Ramsgate, but there is not a corresponding Luftwaffe claim.

August 12, 1940

0830 – 0930 Hours

Dawn broke with the promise of clear weather over southeast England. The Messerschmitt’s of III Gruppe lifted from Guines-Sud and began the ascent to a patrol altitude of 6,000 meters. The mission was a Free Hunt in the Folkestone-Dungeness region in support of the Do-17s of I./KG2 attacking the airfield at Lympne. II./JG 54, I./JG 26 and II./JG 52 also contributed to the large formations of Messerschmitt’s escorting the bombers.

Twelve Spitfires of 610 Squadron scrambled from Hawkinge, while 54 Squadron's eleven Spitfires departed Hornchurch to intercept the incoming raid. 610 Squadron spotted the bombers above them over New Romney at 16,000 feet. While they were climbing to engage the Do-17s, the Spitfires were bounced by the 109's of III Gruppe. A swirling dogfight developed and raged from Dover to Dungeness and across the Channel

August 12, 1940

0830 – 0930 Hours

Dawn broke with the promise of clear weather over southeast England. The Messerschmitt’s of III Gruppe lifted from Guines-Sud and began the ascent to a patrol altitude of 6,000 meters. The mission was a Free Hunt in the Folkestone-Dungeness region in support of the Do-17s of I./KG2 attacking the airfield at Lympne. II./JG 54, I./JG 26 and II./JG 52 also contributed to the large formations of Messerschmitt’s escorting the bombers.

Twelve Spitfires of 610 Squadron scrambled from Hawkinge, while 54 Squadron's eleven Spitfires departed Hornchurch to intercept the incoming raid. 610 Squadron spotted the bombers above them over New Romney at 16,000 feet. While they were climbing to engage the Do-17s, the Spitfires were bounced by the 109's of III Gruppe. A swirling dogfight developed and raged from Dover to Dungeness and across the Channel

A formation of 56 Squadron Hurricanes.

The Hurricanes broke into "flights" and attacked the bombers in small groups. The Dorniers flew in formation at 15,000 feet, while the 109 escorts zig-zagged above and behind the bombers at 20,000 feet. The Hurricanes were able to get in amongst the bombers without JG 54 noticing their charges were under attack. The bombers were forced to fend for themselves; the skillful Dornier gunners kept many a RAF pilot from pressing home an attack. Meanwhile, "Yellow Section" had placed themselves between the bombers and the III Gruppe escorts who, now alert to the danger, dove to the aid of KG 2. Yellow Section Hurricanes attempted to shield their bomber-attacking comrades by firing in front of the diving 109's. Several German pilots, unwilling to fly into massed tracer fire, aborted their dives and zoomed back up. However, this tactic wouldn't prove successful indefinitely and soon a general melee of fighter-vs-fighter combat ensued.

The pilots of III Gruppe filed claims for 6 RAF fighters. Fighter Command reported the loss of 2 Hurricanes and 1 Spitfire. A Spitfire and a Hurricane made force-landings after suffering damage in combat.

56 Squadron lost the Hurricane piloted by P/O Geoffrey Page, who was likely a victim of a Grunherzjager. Page described attacking the Dorniers from astern and below, braving the return fire of the gunners, when his Hurricane was hit. The cockpit was filled with flame and smoke and he felt a pain in his leg. P/O Page managed to extract himself from the stricken aircraft and take to his parachute. The winds took his parachute over the sea, where he landed and was safely fished out.

On the debit side of things, III./JG 54 suffered its first losses of the Battle of Britain. Oblt. Albrecht Dress of Stab III./JG 54 was shot down by Hurricanes and crash-landed near Margate and taken prisoner. The British pilots pursued the egressing raids out to the sea. One of them managed to catch a 7. Staffel piloted by Gefr. Hellmuth Stabner, who went missing. A Messerschmitt each from 8. and 9. Staffel limped across the Channel and crashed-landed with wounded pilots.

“White <-+” of Oblt. Albrecht Dress, shot down on 12 Aug 40.

The British filed claims for 3 109's destroyed and a further 12 damaged / probable destroyed. They also claimed 3 Dorniers shot down and another 4 damaged. No KG 2 bombers went down, but 4 returned back to base with damage, and three of those logged as total (100%) losses.

III Gruppe Verlustliste:

DATUM MUSTER WNR STKZ TF TK STAT ORT NAME VORNAME RANG LS AZ VERB UMST1 UMST2 UMST3 SCH1
8/12/40 Bf109E-4 ? we ? 100% Ärmelkanal Stabner ? Gefr. ? ? 7. LK ? ? verm.
8/12/40 Bf109E- ? sw ? 60% Fl. Pl. Guines-Süd Schön Anton Oblt. ? ? 8. BrL ? ? verw.
8/12/40 Bf109E-4 ? ge 13 + 50% Ärmelkanal Eberle Josef Ltn. ? ? 9. LK U ? verw.
8/12/40 Bf109E-4 ? we <-+ 100% Ärmelkanal Dress Albrecht Oblt. ? ? III/St LK ? ? verm.

 

Sources:

Christer Bergstrom / Claes Sundin, Hans-Ekkehard Bob (Ace Profile 1: The Men and Their Machines).

Christer Bergstrom / Claes Sundin, Max Hellmuth Ostermann (Ace Profile 2: The Men and Their Machines).
Christer Bergstrom, The Battle of Britain: An Epic Conflict Revised.

Nigel Parker, Battle of Britain Combat Archive: Volume 3.
Battle-of-Britain-Diary.org.uk.

Gunther Rosipal – JG 54 Loss List.

Tony Wood – Luftwaffe Aerial Claims.
Jerry Scutts, Jagdgeschwader 54: Aces of the Eastern Front.
Werner Held, Hannes Trautloft, Hans-Ekkehard Bob, JG 54: A Photographic History of the Grunherzjager.