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Jagdgeschwader 5 (JG 5) Eismeer was a Luftwaffe fighter Wing that served during World War II. As the name Eismeer (Ice Sea) implies, it was created to operate in the far North of Europe, namely Norwaymarker, Scandinavia and northern parts of Finlandmarker, all nearest the Arctic Oceanmarker. Just over two dozen fighter aircraft that once served with JG 5 during the war still survive in the 21st century, more than from any other combat wing of any of the Axis air forces of World War II.

History

1942

JG 5 was formed when elements of the I. Gruppe/JG 77 already stationed in Norway was redesignated as I./JG 5 in January 1942. The II. Gruppe was newly created and III. Gruppe was formed from elements of I./JG 1 in May. The unit had the responsibility for providing fighter-cover over occupied territories under Luftflotte 5, and also to provide fighter-support for the Heer (Army) units fighting on the Arctic front in the Murmanskmarker area. JG 5 also had the important task of disrupting traffic on the Murmansk rail-line, as this was the main artery of the Karelian Front defenders.

I. Gruppe was based on the west coast of Norway, in Stavangermarker, to defend against Allied anti-shipping attacks. II. and III. Gruppe was stationed at Petsamo in Finland, to support operations in the East. JG 5 had to cope with challenges that were unique within the Luftwaffe, from 24-hour days during summer when the sun never set, to the complete darkness and extreme cold of the Polar winter.

As 1942 wore on, the increased Allied air pressure towards Norway meant that a part of III. Gruppe and the newly created IV. Gruppe had to be stationed around Trondheimmarker. A second part of III. Gruppe was stationed in Kirkenesmarker, both to provide cover from marauding Soviet Air Force formations, and to help with the intensifying attacks against the Arctic convoys. Leutnant Heinrich Ehrler (6. JG 5) was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes on 4 September for 64 victories.

1943

By January 1943 I. and IV./JG 5 were stationed in Southern Norway, being equipped with the Fw 190A-2, A-3 and A-4. I./JG 5 had its bases on Listamarker, Solamarker, Kjevikmarker and Herdlamarker in the southern part of Norway. IV./JG 5 were distributed on bases around Trondheimmarker, and were equipped with Bf 109Fs and Fw 190As. II. and III. Gruppe faced the Soviets on the Polar Sea Front; at this time they were equipped with the Bf 109F-4. Stab, 4./JG 5 and 6./JG 5 were stationed in Alakurtti, 5., 8., and 9./JG 5 were stationed at Kirkenesmarker and 7./JG 5 was based at Petsamo. As early as March 1943 6. Staffel (commanded by Hpt. Heinrich Ehrler) reached 500 victories.

In early 1943 a Jabo (fighter-bomber) unit was formed within JG 5. 14.(J)/JG 5 was equipped with modified Fw 190A's and commanded by Hptm. Friedrich-Wilhelm Strakeljahn.In May 1943 the unit was responsible for the sinking of two submarines and two freighters within three days and by the end of 1943 has claimed to have sunk over 39,000 tons of Soviet merchant shipping in over 1,000 sorties.

In June 1943 Oberstlt. Gottard Handrick was transferred to 8. Jagddivision, and replaced by the Gruppenkommandeur III./JG 5, Major Gunther Scholz. Mid 1943 also saw JG 5 at its maximum strength. It consisted of 14 Staffeln; 12 regular single-engined fighter Staffels equipped with the Bf 109 and Fw 190, one Bf 110-equipped Zerstörerstaffel and finally the Jabo unit, 14.(J)/JG 5 with the Fw 190. 1943 was also the last year in which JG 5's four Gruppen had any sense of operational unity. I and II. Gruppe left Norway and Finland for good in late 1943 to fight the rest of the war away from their parent Geschwader.

In November 1943, I. Gruppe moved to Romaniamarker as protection for the vital Ploieştimarker oil refineries. The gruppe were placed under the command of Luftflotte 1 for the remainder of 1943. On 26 March 1944 Hauptmann Horst Carganico was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of I./JG 5 participating in the Reichsverteidigung (Defense of the Reich). After combat with USAAF B-17's on 27 May 1944, he was killed when his Bf 109 crashed after hitting high tension cables while force-landing near Chevry, France. Carganico had claimed 60 kills.

1944

In 1944 I. Gruppe was redesignated as III./JG 6 and sent to Francemarker, and it was never replaced. In June - July 1944, Gruppenkommandeur Theodor Weissenberger was credited with 25 victories over Normandy (half the total score by the whole unit during this period).

II. Gruppe was transferred to Northern Russiamarker under the command of Luftflotte 1, and then redesignated as IV./JG 4 and sent back to Germanymarker in early 1945.

IV./JG 5 and 14./JG 5 were transferred to the Arctic Front from Southern Norway in August 1944. The Gruppe joined the first of several large air battles commencing on October 9, opposing the final Soviet offensive against Petsamo. When the day was over, III. and IV./JG 5 had claimed 85 Soviet aircraft shot down (among them the 3,000th victory for JG 5) against the loss of only one pilot killed.

On 1 August 1944 Major Ehrler was promoted to Geschwaderkommodore of JG 5.

In November 1944, IV./JG 5 returned to Southern Norway. Up to the end of the war this unit formed the air defence against the Allied raids on targets in Norway, principally the submarine bases at Trondheimmarker and Bergenmarker.

The Sinking of the Tirpitz

On 12 November 1944 Avro Lancaster bombers of 9 and 617 Squadrons raided the Tirpitzmarker in Tromsø fjord. Major Ehrler belatedly scrambled to intercept at the head of a formation of JG 5 Bf 109G's, but the fighters were too late. The Tirpitz was sunk with the loss of a thousand sailors. Ehrler was court martialed and sentenced to three years Festungshaft, and stripped of his command. (He was killed flying with JG 7 on 4 April 1945).

Achievements

Throughout its operational history JG 5 found itself faced with overwhelming numbers of Soviet aircraft. Often groups of 100-200 bombers and fighter planes had to be met with 20-30 German fighters. The losses suffered by JG 5 were remarkably low in comparison to the losses they inflicted on the enemy.

However, total losses of pilots (dead, captured or wounded) was at least 380 - essentially the entire operational strength replaced twice over three years. Total claims for aircraft shot down appear to be approximately 3,200. In addition to the 208-kill ace Ehrler, JG 5 boasted several other high scoring aces, including Theodor Weissenberger, who scored 208 victories and Walter Schuck who scored 206 victories and was awarded the Knight's Cross with Oakleaves.

Surviving aircraft that served with JG 5

About twenty of JG 5's Messerschmitt Bf 109, comprising six E-models, eight 109F-models and seven G-models; and six of JG 5's Focke-Wulf Fw 190, five of them A-models and one F-model, survive into the 21st century, believed to be (at about 27 aircraft) the highest number of surviving WW II-era piston-engined German combat aircraft from any single Geschwader-designated operational unit. The oldest existing aircraft of all that served with JG 5 in World War II is the Bf 109E-3 with Werknummer 1983 that was assigned to JG 5's 5th Staffel, housed at Charleston Aviation Services, Colchester, England in the UK currently undergoing restoration, with the oldest Fw 190 remaining in the world, the A-2 model that served with JG 5, bearing s/n 5476, existing in Texas awaiting restoration. The lone surviving Fw 190 F-model that served with JG 5 is under restoration in Florida to possibly become the first restored, original BMW 801 radial-engined Fw 190 since the end of World War II to fly again in coming years with The White 1 Foundation in Kissimmee, Florida.

Commanding officers

Geschwaderkommodore

  • Oberstleutnant Gotthard Handrick, May 1942 - June 1943
  • Oberstleutnant Günther Scholz, June 1943 - May 1944
  • Major Heinrich Ehrler, May 1944 - February 1945
  • Oberstleutnant Günther Scholz, February 1945 - May 1945


Gruppenkommandeure

I./JG 5

  • Major Joachim Seegert, January 1942 - April 1942
  • Hauptmann Gerhard von Wehren, April 1942 - February 1943
  • Hauptmann Gerhard Wengel, February 1943 - 10 January 1944
  • Oberleutnant Robert Müller, 10 January 1944 - 25 January 1944
  • Major Erich Gerlitz, 25 January 1944 - 16 March 1944
  • Major Horst Carganico, 26 March 1944 - 27 May 1944
  • Hauptmann Theodor Weissenberger, 4 June 1944 - 14 October 1944


II./JG 5

  • Major Hennig Strümpell, January 1942 - April 1942
  • Hauptmann Horst Carganico, April 1942 - 26 March 1944
  • Hauptmann Theodor Weissenberger, 26 March 1944 - 3 June 1944
  • Oberleutnant Hans Tetzner, 4 June 1944 - 19.7 1944
  • Oberstleutant Franz Wienhusen, 1 September 1944 - October 1944
  • Hauptmann Herbert Treppe, February 1945 - May 1945


III./JG 5

  • Hauptmann Günther Scholz, March 1942 - June 1943
  • Major Heinrich Ehrler, June 1943 - May 1944
  • Hauptmann Franz Dörr, May 1944 - May 1945
  • Oberleutnant Rudolf Glöckner, 1944/1945


IV./JG 5

  • Hauptmann Hans Kriegel, unknown - April 1944
  • Oberleutnant Rudolf Lüder, 3 October 1943 - unknown
  • Hauptmann Fritz Stendel, 15 May 1944 - May 1945


Staffelkapitäne

13. (Z)/JG 5

  • Olt Felix Maria Brandis, 25.1.42 - 2.2.42
  • Olt Max Franzisket, February 1942 - March 1942
  • Oberleutnant Karl-Fritz Schloßstein, March 1942 - June 1942
  • Oberleutnant Hans Kirchmeier, June 1943 - September 1943
  • Hauptmann Herbert Treppe, September 1943 - July 1944


14. (Jabo)/JG 5

  • Hauptmann Friedrich-Wilhelm Strakeljahn, February 1943 - February 1944


See also



Notes

  1. Hafsten[et al.], Flyalarm - Luftkrigen over Norge 1939-1945, 145


References



External links




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