Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-2
Flown by Oberfeldwebel Wilhelm Schilling, 9./JG 54, Siverskaya, Russia, Sep 1942.
Wilhelm Schilling achieved his first victories during the Battle of Britain. On March 19, 1942, when III./JG 54 surpassed its 500-victory mark, Schilling had contributed twenty to this total. On August 31, 1942, Schilling carried out hsi 500th combat sortie and achieved his 35th victory - which also was 9./JG 54's 200th. On Wednesday, September 2, 1942, eight Soviet Hurricanes of the crack fighter unit 3 GIAP/KBF intercepted a formation of Bf 190s of III./JG 54 and Ju 87s of III./StG 1 near Leningrad. During a combat that lasted for almost an hour, the Soviets claimed four enemy aircraft destroyed, but in return five Hurricanes were shot down; two were total losses and a further three made emergency landings. One pilot, Starshiy Leytenant Aleksey Yevgrafov, was killed. Among the victorious German pilots was Schilling, whos cored his 40th victory in this combat. On September 13, 1942 he was awarded with the German Cross in Gold. After shooting down down an Il-2 - his forth-sixth victory - three days later, Schilling was shot down and seriously injured. On October 10, 1942, Schilling received the Knight's Cross. When he returned to his unit after recovering from his injuries, it had been posted to Germany for Home Defense tasks.
The transfer of III./JG 54 from the Eastern front to Home Defense in the spring of 1943 was a disaster for the unit. The men of this Gruppe, which had accumulated over 1,000 victories in the East, were never accustomed to combat with the four-engine bombers over Germany. On its first two confrontations with U.S. heavy bombers, III./JG 54 lost 15 Bf 109s, and with them, some of its best pilots.
In February 1944, III./JG 54, operated from the airfield Ludwigslust and took part in the air battles of the "Big Week." On the first day of the week, the III. Gruppe shot down six B-17s, but lost eight Bf 109 Gs and three pilots killed. The next day, III./JG 54 lost four aircraft and had four more pilots killed, without any claims of their own. During the two following days, the Gruppe was credited with the destruction of eleven four-engine bombers plus two escort fighters against the loss of two Bf 109s and two pilots. On February 14, 1944, Schilling was shot down and severly wounded for a second time, this time in combat with heavy bombers.
Wilhelm Schilling carried out a total of 538 combat sorties and was credited with 63 victories.
Above Text © Christer Bergström 1997 and 2002
Above Plate © Claes Sundin 2002
Wilhelm Schilling Fact Sheet: (compiled by Gunther Rosipal)
Born: 30 January 1915
Began Career: Joined 3./JG 21 (later 9./JG 54) Spring 1940
First Victory: 12 May 1940
20th Victory: 14 March 1942
40th Victory: 2 September 1942
Wounded in Action: 16 Sep 1942. Flying Bf 109 G-2 (Wr #210436). Hit by flak in right leg.
Awarded Knights Cross: 3 November 1942
Missions Flown: 538
Total Victories: 68, including 8 in the west (4 four-engined bombers)
Lives today in Ascheberg/Holstein-Germany.