German Fighters &
German Pilot’s View of the Kassel Air Battle
The Messerschmitt Bf 109, commonly called the Me 109 (most often by Allied aircrew and even amongst the German aces themselves even though this was not the official German designation), is a German World War II fighter aircraft designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser during the early to mid-1930s.
The Focke-Wulf Fw 190 Würger (English: Shrike) is a German single-seat, single-engine fighter aircraft designed by Kurt Tank in the late 1930s and widely used during World War II. Along with its well-known counterpart, the Messerschmitt Bf 109, the Fw 190 became the backbone of the Luftwaffe's Jagdwaffe (Fighter Force). The twin-row BMW 801 radial engine that powered most operational versions enabled the Fw 190 to lift larger loads than the Bf 109, allowing its use as a day fighter, fighter-bomber, ground-attack aircraft and, to a lesser degree, night fighter.
Short account of Enemy Mission on September 27, 1944
By Ernst Schroeder
Written March 5, 1987
At 10:00 hours, on September 27, 1944, as the pilot of the 5th Squadron (II Group) of Fighter Wing 300, I took off from Finsterwalde Air Base to fight American bombers who had invaded the Kassel area. We were about 30 A/C, Focke-Wulf 190 A 8. We headed west and climbed up to an altitude of 7500 meters where the Americans were attacking. We were directed towards the enemy forces by radio by the 1st Fighter Division at Doeberitz. At 11:00 hours we sighted the enemy: a large formation of B-24 bombers was directly ahead of us, evidently without fighter escort.
When we approached the bombers in a closed formation, suddenly some of these large A/C started to catch on fire, some of them even blew up. This led us to believe that other German Fighter formations had attacked the Americans before us. But then it was very quickly our turn. My Squadron Leader and I had had a test gyro-sight installed in our A/C. With the aid of this sighting mechanism I was able to down two B-24s within seconds. The second one of these two planes had already caught fire before I shot it down.
In order to get the two downings confirmed, I circled the debris in order to determine their crash site. This was a very dangerous task because I had a hard time avoiding all the debris and parachutes.
At about 2000 meters, I flew through a thin layer of clouds, below them I observed a pair of straight railroad tracks on which a train was stopped. Some woody hills expanded just north of these railroad tracks. Many A/C had crashed and exploded on the fields and in the woods. Clouds of smoke were billowing up past the cloud cover. Also, white parachutes were scattered all over the fields. When I flew at a very low altitude to memorize the features of the landscape, I was suddenly approached by a P-51 B with a yellow nose. After passing each other, we both turned our A/C around and again headed at each other with blazing guns. During the first approach I received two hits in the tail unit. During the second approach, while we were making another frontal approach, my guns failed. Evidently, I had used up all my ammunition when firing at the two bombers, or my guns were jamming. I do no longer know exactly what happened. We made about four or five more frontal passes at each other, but all that was left for me to do, in order not to get hit again, was to take “evasive” action. After the last frontal approach of the American, I finally “hugged” the ground and was lucky enough to escape—most likely because of the camouflage paint job of my A/S, “Red 19-Koelle-alaaf1”.
At 11:30 hours, I landed at the airfield at Langensalza. The hits from the Mustang in my tail unit were insignificant. The A/C was later repaired at Erfurt-Bindersleben and returned to my Squadron.
If the American pilot of the 361st FG is still alive, he should definitely remember this unusual (the story ends here).
Pledge of the Pilots of the Assault Groups (Sturmgruppen) of the 3rd, 4th, and 200th Fighter Wings
We commit ourselves to fight for the defense of the Reich in accordance with the principles and fighting rules of the Assault Groups. We know that, as pilots of the Assault Groups, we are specifically called upon to protect the life and limb of our population at home and to defend them to the utmost.
We pledge that, during each mission that leads to contact with the four-engine aircraft of the enemy, we will attack the enemy at close range and, if we do not succeed to down the enemy with our aircraft’s weapons, we will destroy the enemy by ramming his aircraft.
Note: The ramming maneuvers were supposed to be executed in such a manner that the pilot would survive. In the process, one was proceeding on the assumption that the ruggedness of the FW-190 A8 R2 would allow the pilot to bail out unhurt.
Two ramming methods were recommended:
The first method was to descend onto the wing of a four-engine bomber between the engines, which would surely result in the wing braking apart.
The second method was to crush the tail unit of a bomber with the propeller and the armored encasing ring of the oil collar.