Kampfgeschwader 53 'Legion Condor' - KG53 code A1+

Geschwaderkommodoren:

  • Oberst Philipp Zoch, 1 May 1939 - 31 Jul 1939
  • Oberst Erich Stahl, 1 Aug 1939 - Dec 1940
  • Oberst Paul Weitkus, 15 Dec 1940 - 31 Oct 1942
  • Obesrt Karl-Eduard Wilke, 1 Nov 1942 - 31 Mar 1943
  • Obstlt Fritz O. Pockrandt, 14 Apr 1943 - Apr 1945

Stab:

Formed 1 May 1939 in Ansbach from A Stabs-Staffel existed May 1939 - Apr 1942.

Disbanded 15 Mar 1945.

Airfields and Air Base Locations
Date Location Gruppe Aircraft Used
1 May 1939 - 3 Feb 1940 Ansbach   He 111
3 Feb 1940 - 1 May 1940 Schwabisch-Hall   He 111
1 May 1940 - 18 May 1940 Roth   He 111
18 May 1940 - 25 May 1940 Wiesbaden-Erbenheim   He 111
25 May 1940 - 18 Jun 1941 Lille-Nord   He 111
18 Jun 1941 - 9 Jul 1941 Radom   He 111
9 Jul 1941 - 4 Aug 1941 Minsk-Dubinskaya   He 111
4 Aug 1941 - 1 Oct 1941 Orscha   He 111
1 Oct 1941 - 10 Jun 1942 Schatalowka-Ost   He 111
10 Jun 1942 - 5 Aug 1942 Korowje-Selo   He 111
5 Aug 1942 - Aug 1942 Smolensk-Nord   He 111
Aug 1942 - 9 Sep 1942 Seschtschinskaya   He 111
9 Sep 1942 - Feb 1943 Korowje-Selo   He 111
Feb 1943 - Apr 1943 Pleskau   He 111
Apr 1943 - Jul 1943 Korowje-Selo   He 111
Jul 1943 - 10 Sep 1943 Olsufjewo   He 111
10 Sep 1943 - 24 Sep 1943 Gomel-Süd   He 111
24 Sep 1943 - 24 Oct 1943 Bobruisk   He 111
24 Oct 1943 - 22 Nov 1943 Rotmistrowka   He 111
22 Nov 1943 - 5 Dec 1943 Winnitsa   He 111
5 Dec 1943 - 16 Jan 1944 Rauchowka   He 111
16 Jan 1944 - 12 Feb 1944 Schaulen   He 111
12 Feb 1944 - 22 Feb 1944 Proskurow   He 111
22 Feb 1944 - 1 May 1944 Kowno   He 111
1 May 1944 - 25 Jul 1944 Radom   He 111
25 Jul 1944 - 17 Aug 1944 Jesau   He 111
17 Aug 1944 - 27 Aug 1944 Toul   He 111
27 Aug 1944 - 5 Sep 1944 Lachen-Speyersdorf   He 111
5 Sep 1944 - Oct 1944 Reppen   He 111
Oct 1944 - Mar 1945 Bad Zwischenahn   He 111

I. Gruppe:

Gruppenkommandeure:

  • Obstlt Karl Mehnert, 1 May 1939 - 10 May 1940
  • Obstlt Erich Kaufmann, 16 May 1940 - Dec 1941
  • Maj Joachim Wienholtz, Dec 1941 - 30 Mar 1942
  • Maj Fritz O. Pockrandt, 11 Apr 1942 - 13 Apr 1943
  • Maj Karl Rauer, 17 Apr 1943 - Sep 1944
  • Maj Martin Vetter, 15 Oct 1944 - Mar 1945

Formed 1 May 1939 in Ansbach from with:

Stab I./KG53 from Stab I./KG355
1./KG53 from 1./KG355
2./KG53 from 2./KG355
3./KG53 from 3./KG355

In Feb 1940 2./KG53 became and was reformed. I./KG53 was disbanded 9 Sep 1944.

Reformed 9 Sep 1944 in Varelbusch from for airborne V1 launchings.

Stab I./KG53 from Stab III./KG3
1./KG53 from 7./KG3
2./KG53 from 8./KG3
3./KG53 from 9./KG3

Disbanded 15 Mar 1945.

Airfields and Air Base Locations
Date Location Gruppe Aircraft Used
1 May 1939 - Aug 1939 Ansbach   He 111
Aug 1939 - 8 Sep 1939 Schonfeld   He 111
8 Sep 1939 - 9 Sep 1939 Neudorf   He 111
9 Sep 1939 - 15 Sep 1939 Giessen   He 111
15 Sep 1939 - 6 Feb 1940 Ansbach   He 111
6 Feb 1940 - 10 May 1940 Roth-Kiliansdorf   He 111
10 May 1940 - 18 May 1940 Gelchsheim   He 111
18 May 1940 - 21 Jun 1940 Gross-Ostheim   He 111
21 Jun 1940 - 9 Jul 1940 Evreux-le-Courdray   He 111
9 Jul 1940 - 12 Jul 1940 Wevelghem   He 111
12 Jul 1940 - 18 Jun 1941 Vitry-en-Artois   He 111
18 Jun 1941 - 29 Jun 1941 Grojek   He 111
29 Jun 1941 - 2 Jul 1941 Rogoznica   He 111
2 Jul 1941 - 9 Jul 1941 Miedzyrzee   He 111
9 Jul 1941 - 4 Aug 1941 Minsk-Dubinskaya   He 111
4 Aug 1941 - 1 Oct 1941 Orscha   He 111
1 Oct 1941 - Dec 1941 Schatalowka-Ost   He 111
Dec 1941 - Jan 1942 Ansbach   He 111
Jan 1942 - Mar 1942 Riga   He 111
Mar 1942 - Jun 1942 Korowje-Selo   He 111
Jun 1942 - Aug 1942 Gostkino   He 111
Aug 1942 - Dec 1942 Seschtschinskaya   He 111
Dec 1942 - Feb 1943 Korowje-Selo   He 111
Feb 1943 - Mar 1943 Pleskau-Süd   He 111
Mar 1943 - Apr 1943 Gablingen   He 111
Apr 1943 - Jul 1943 Korowje-Selo   He 111
1 Jul 1943 - Sep 1943 Olsufjewo   He 111
Sep 1943 - Dec 1943 Kowno   He 111
Dec 1943 - 22 Feb 1944 Proskurow   He 111
22 Feb 1944 - 1 May 1944 Kowno   He 111
1 May 1944 - 25 Jul 1944 Radom   He 111
25 Jul 1944 - 21 Aug 1944 Heiligenbeil   He 111
21 Aug 1944 - Sep 1944 Nancy   He 111
Sep 1944 - 9 Sep 1944 Neubrandenberg   He 111
Sep 1944 - Dec 1944 Varelbusch*   He 111
Dec 1944 - Mar 1945 Leck**   He 111

* 1./KG53 at Varelbusch, 2./KG53 at Ahlhorn, 3./KG53 at Vechta.

** detachment at Husum

II. Gruppe:

Gruppenkommandeure:

  • Obstlt Kohlbach, 1 May 1939 - Jul 1940
  • Maj Reinhold Tamm, 23 Jul 1940 - 18 Aug 1940
  • Maj Hans Steinweg, 18 Sep 1940 - Jul 1941
  • Obstlt Hans Bader, 25 Jul 1941 - (?)May 1942
  • Obstlt Schulz-Mullensiefen, May 1942 - 14 Apr 1943
  • Maj Herbert Wittmann, 25 May 1943 - Mar 1945

Formed 1 May 1939 in Schwabisch-Hall from with:

Stab II./KG53 from Stab II./KG355



4./KG53 from 4./KG355
5./KG53 from 5./KG355
6./KG53 from 6./KG355

Began airborne V1 launchings in Oct 1944. Disbanded 15 Mar 1945.

Airfields and Air Base Locations
Date Location Gruppe Aircraft Used
1 May 1939 - Aug 1939 Schwabisch-Hall   He 111
Aug 1939 - 3 Feb 1940 Roth   He 111
3 Feb 1940 - 1 May 1940 Manching   He 111
1 May 1940 - 18 May 1940 Oedheim   He 111
18 May 1940 - 22 Jun 1940 Zellhausen   He 111
22 Jun 1940 - 12 Jul 1940 Schallhausen   He 111
12 Jul 1940 - 18 Jun 1941 Lille-Nord   He 111
18 Jun 1941 - 9 Jul 1941 Radom   He 111
9 Jul 1941 - 4 Aug 1941 Minsk-Dubinskaya   He 111
4 Aug 1941 - 1 Oct 1941 Orscha   He 111
1 Oct 1941 - 10 Jun 1942 Schatalowka-Ost   He 111
10 Jun 1942 - 5 Aug 1942 Korowje-Selo   He 111
5 Aug 1942 - Aug 1942 Smolensk-Nord   He 111
Aug 1942 - 9 Sep 1942 Seschtschinskaya   He 111
9 Sep 1942 - Dec 1942 Korowje-Selo   He 111
Dec 1942 - 12 Jan 1943 Greifswald   He 111
12 Jan 1943 - 6 Feb 1943 Voroschilovgrad   He 111
6 Feb 1943 - 15 Feb 1943 Stalino   He 111
15 Feb 1943 - 24 Feb 1943 Dnjepropetrovsk   He 111
24 Feb 1943 - 8 Mar 1943 Kirovograd   He 111
8 Mar 1943 - 19 Mar 1943 Dnjepropetrovsk   He 111
19 Mar 1943 - Apr 1943 Pleskau   He 111
Apr 1943 - 15 Jul 1943 Gablingen   He 111
15 Jul 1943 - 10 Sep 1943 Olsufjewo   He 111
10 Sep 1943 - 24 Sep 1943 Gomel-Süd   He 111
24 Sep 1943 - 24 Oct 1943 Bobruisk   He 111
24 Oct 1943 - 22 Nov 1943 Rotmistrowka   He 111
22 Nov 1943 - 5 Dec 1943 Winnitsa   He 111
5 Dec 1943 - 16 Jan 1944 Rauchowka   He 111
16 Jan 1944 - 12 Feb 1944 Schaulen   He 111
12 Feb 1944 - 20 Feb 1944 Proskurow   He 111
20 Feb 1944 - 1 Jun 1944 Schaulen   He 111
1 Jun 1944 - 25 Jul 1944 Piastow   He 111
25 Jul 1944 - 17 Aug 1944 Jesau   He 111
17 Aug 1944 - Aug 1944 Le Bourget, Verdun   He 111
Aug 1944 - 4 Sep 1944 Babenhausen   He 111
4 Sep 1944 - Oct 1944 Reppen   He 111
Oct 1944 - Mar 1945 Bad Zwischenahn*   He 111

* 4./KG53 at Bad Zwischenahn, 5./KG53 at Jever, 6./KG53 at Wittmund.

III. Gruppe:

Gruppenkommandeure:

  • Maj Friedrich Edler von Braun, 1 May 1939 - (?)Mar 1940
  • Maj Willi Rohrbacher, (?)Mar 1940 - Feb 1941
  • Maj Richard Fabian, Feb 1941 - Apr 1942
  • Maj Walter Brautkuhl, Apr 1942 - 5 Aug 1942
  • Maj Hans Waldforst, 17 Aug 1942 - 13 Sep 1942
  • Maj Hubert Munch, 21 Oct 1943 - 27 May 1943
  • Maj Emil Allmendinger, 24 Jun 1943 - 18 Mar 1945

Formed 1 May 1939 in Giebelstadt from with:

Stab III./KG53 from Stab III./KG355
7./KG53 from 7./KG355
8./KG53 from 8./KG355
9./KG53 from 9./KG355

In Jul 1944 8./KG53 became 11./KG53 and was reformed.

Began airborne V1 launchings in Oct 1944. Disbanded 21 Mar 1945.

Airfields and Air Base Locations
Date Location Gruppe Aircraft Used
1 May 1939 - Aug 1939 Giebelstadt   He 111
Aug 1939 - 1 Oct 1939 Gross-Ostheim   He 111
1 Oct 1939 - 3 Feb 1940 Giebelstadt   He 111
3 Feb 1940 - 1 May 1940 Schwabisch-Hall   He 111
1 May 1940 - 12 Jul 1940 Frankfurt/Rhein-Main   He 111
12 Jul 1940 - Dec 1940 Lille-Mouvaux   He 111
Dec 1940 - 18 Jun 1941 Lübe*   He 111
18 Jun 1941 - 9 Jul 1941 Radzyn   He 111
9 Jul 1941 - 4 Aug 1941 Minsk-Dubinskaya   He 111
4 Aug 1941 - 1 Oct 1941 Orscha   He 111
1 Oct 1941 - Jan 1942 Schatalowka-Ost   He 111
Jan 1942 - 15 Jul 1942 Ansbach   He 111
15 Jul 1942 - 16 Aug 1942 Chartres   He 111
16 Aug 1942 - 1 Sep 1942 Smolensk-Nord   He 111
1 Sep 1942 - 20 Oct 1942 Gostkino   He 111
20 Oct 1942 - Apr 1943 Dno   He 111
Apr 1943 - 1 Jul 1943 Pleskau   He 111
1 Jul 1943 - 19 Jul 1943 Osulfjewo   He 111
19 Jul 1943 - 5 Dec 1943 Gablingen   He 111
5 Dec 1943 - 25 Jan 1944 Puchwitschi   He 111
25 Jan 1944 - 31 Jan 1944 Kowno   He 111
31 Jan 1944 - 9 Feb 1944 Schaulen   He 111
9 Feb 1944 - 21 Feb 1944 Uman   He 111
21 Feb 1944 - 30 Mar 1944 Schaulen   He 111
30 Mar 1944 - 30 Apr 1944 Mielec   He 111
30 Apr 1944 - 9 Jul 1944 Radom   He 111
9 Jul 1944 - 25 Jul 1944 Grojek   He 111
25 Jul 1944 - 17 Aug 1944 Jesau   He 111
17 Aug 1944 - 27 Aug 1944 Toul   He 111
27 Aug 1944 - 6 Sep 1944 Lachen-Speyersdorf   He 111
6 Sep 1944 - Oct 1944 Nieder-Seyfersdorf   He 111
Oct 1944 - 17 Feb 1945 Schleswig*   He 111
17 Feb 1945 - Mar 1945 Greifswald**   He 111

* 8./KG53 at Liegnitz, 9./KG53 at Freiwaldau

* 7./KG53 at Leck, 8./KG53 at Schleswig, 9./KG53 at Eggebeck

** 7./KG53 at Alt-Lönnewitz

IV. Gruppe:

Gruppenkommandeure:

  • ?
  • Maj Joachim Wienholtz, 21 Mar 1941 - 3 Dec 1941
  • Maj Karl-Andreas Zahn, 4 Dec 1941 - 11 Apr 1943
  • Maj Ludwig Grözinger, 12 Apr 1943 - 20 Aug 1944

Formed Jun 1940 in Giebelstadt as Schulstaffel/KG53. Disbanded Sep 1940, and absorbed by III./KG53.

Reformed 21 Mar 1941 now as Gruppe with:

Stab IV./KG53 new
10./KG53 new
11./KG53 new
12./KG53 new

13./KG53 was formed Sep 1942 at Orleans-Bricy.

IV./KG53 was disbanded 20 Aug 1944.

Airfields and Air Base Locations
Date Location Gruppe Aircraft Used
Jun 1940 - Sep 1940 Giebelstadt*   He 111
21 Mar 1941 - Nov 1941 Lille-Nord*   He 111
Nov 1941 - ?.42 Vembrechis*   He 111
?.42 - ?.42 Ansbach-Katterbach*   He 111
?.42 - 6 Feb 1944 Orleans-Bricy*   He 111
7 Feb 1944 - Feb 1944 Landsberg/Lech*   He 111
Feb 1944 - 20 Aug 1944 Szolnok*   He 111

* 10./KG53 at Vembrechis (Mar 1941 - ?.42), and Wiener Neustadt? (7 Feb 1944 - 20 Apr 1944)

* 11./KG52 at Märkisch-Friedland (26 Mar 1941 - Jun 1941), Vembrechis (Jun 1941 - ?.41), Lille-Nord (?.41 - ?.42), Ansbach-Katterbach (?.42 - 21 Nov 1942), Cormeilles (22 Nov 1942 - 30 Dec 1942)

* 12./KG53 at Vembrechis (Jun 1941 - ?.41), Schwabisch-Hall (?.42 - ?.42), and then Ansbach-Katterbach.

Staffelkapitän:

  • Maj Gerhard Joachim, Dec 1942 - Jun 1944

Formed Jul 1942 in Agram from Disbanded Jun 1944.

Airfields and Air Base Locations
Date Location Gruppe Aircraft Used
Jul 1942 - Jul 1942 Agram   Do 17Z
Jul 1942 - Aug 1942 Korowje-Selo?   Do 17Z
Aug 1942 - Sep 1942 Seschtschinskaya?   Do 17Z
Sep 1942 - Dec 1942 Korowje-Selo?   Do 17Z
Dec 1942 - Jun 1944 Agram*   Do 17Z

* Sarajevo-Butmir airfield was also used.

Kampfgeschwader 53

Active: 1939-1945
Country: Germany
Allegiance: Nazi Germany
Branch: Luftwaffe
Type: Bomber Squadron
Role: Tactical and Direct Ground Support.
Size: Air Force Wing
Nickname: Legion Condor
Engagements: Battle of the Netherlands Battle of Belgium Battle of France Eastern Front Western Front

Kampfgeschwader 53 'Legion Condor' (English: Condor Legion) (KG 53) was a Luftwaffe bomber wing during World War II. Its units participated on all of the fronts in the European Theatre until it was disbanded in May 1945. It operated three of the major German bomber types: the Dornier Do 17, Heinkel He 111 and the Junkers Ju 88.

History

Kampfgeschwader 53 was formed on 1 May 1939 at Ansbach, Germany with Stab./KG 53, I Gruppe, II Gruppe and III Gruppe.

Wartime service

Poland

The Geschwader was initially put on 'standby' in western Germany, in case of an Allied offensive. As a result, most of its Gruppen did not see action in the campaign. I./KG 53 was put under the command of Luftflotte 1. It had a strength of 31 He 111s, all serviceable. It was committed from the first day, but on 6 September it was moved to Luftflotte 4. The Gruppe lost only 1 aircraft in the campaign.

Denmark and Norway

The Geschwader undertook training during the campaign, and did not take part in the battle.

France and the Low Countries

I./KG 53 flew support missions against supply and rail targets in the Reims area. Later targets in Abbeville, Amiens, Rouen and Arras were attacked. I./KG 53 recorded zero losses in the first two days. II./KG had 36 He 111s on strength and participated at the Sedan breakthrough, attacking targets around Lille, and supported I./KG 53.

Battle of Britain

Assigned to Luftflotte 2 I./KG 54 was relocated to Wevelgem, Belgium on 1 July 1940. It carried out operations over Britain until 11 May. It remained inactive until 18 June when it was withdrawn to Poland. II./KG 53 continued until the same date. Its targets included night attacks against RAF Fighter Commands airfields, most in East Anglia. It took part in the heavy air fighting on the 18 August 1940, dubbed, 'The Hardest Day'. III./KG 53 continued to support the other Gruppen, all of which were involved in the 15 September raid, known as the Battle of Britain Day.

Eastern Front

The Geschwader supported the operations of Army Group Centre in the initial phase of the war in the east. It participated in the Battle of Bialystok-Minsk, Battle of Brody, Battle of Kiev and Battle of Smolensk. It supported the push to capture Moscow, which resulted in the failed Battle of Moscow. It was withdrawn to Germany to rest in December 1941 - January 1942. KG 53 supported Fall Blau and the German Sixth Army at the Battle of Stalingrad, and took part in the desperate resupply operation after the Russian counteroffensive had encircled the Sixth Army. Attacks were also carried out in northern Russia, against Leningrad. Strategic bombing attacks were also conducted against Gorki in June 1943, aimed at the Tank factory at Gorkovskiy Avtomobilniy. All of GAZ No. 1 plants 50 buildings, 9,000 metres of conveyors, 5,900 units of equipment and 8,000 tank engines were destroyed.

The Kampfgeschwader supported Operation Citadel, and the subsequent Battle of Kursk. On 14 October 1943 the unit took part in a short strategic bombing campaign in Russia. USAAF formations had been flying shuttle missions to Soviet territory after bombing German targets. The operation, named Zaunkönig, struck at American airfields in Russia, as well as Soviet targets. KG 53 and KG 55 took part in the attack. The Russians failed to defend these aircraft from Luftwaffe attacks and the bombing destroyed some 44 B-17 bombers and damaged 26 others. Another 15 fighters were also destroyed. However, the Soviets began Operation Bagration soon after, and the Kampfgeschwaders switched back to supporting ground forces.

Most of the units Gruppes were disbanded by October 1944. It appears that the last unit, 14.(Eis)/KG 3 was disbanded on 4 March 1945; its remaining personnel went to KG 76.

Western Front

KG 53 was withdrawn from the Eastern Front in August 1944 and began operations over Britain, flying bomber equipped V-1 flying bombs. Operations were suspended on 25 January 1945, due to fuel shortages, Allied defences and the inability to see the results.

Bomber operations over the Eastern Front 1941-42

Croatian Air Force Legion (HZL) aircrew pose in front of their Dornier Do 17Z bomber in recognition of the unit's 1,000th sortie over the Eastern Front, 16th September 1942.

Officially designated '15.(Kroatische)/KG 53'., the bomber squadron was equipped with Dornier Do 17Z aircraft. It arrived on the Eastern Front on 25 October 1941, after training at the Grosse Kampfflieger Schule 3, in Greifswald, Germany. Their first area of operations was near Vitebsk. The rest of the Bomber Squadron's assignments were in the Northern Sector of the Eastern Front, including the bombing of Leningrad and Moscow. On 9 November 1941, the Squadron was congratulated by Fieldmarshall Kesselring for its actions thus far. After flying some 1,500 sorties on the Eastern Front, the Squadron and its aircraft were re-deployed to Croatia in December 1942, to help combat the growing Yugoslav Partisan threat to the Axis foces on the Yugoslav Front.

Bomber operations over Croatia 1943-45

Upon its return the Legion's bomber squadron was redesignated 1./(Kroat.)KG after having flown its nine Dornier Do 17Z bombers from Russia back to Croatia. The Dorniers proved a welcome addition to the strike power of the Axis forces fighting the Yugoslav Partisans on the Yugoslav Front right up to the end of July 1944, when it was incorporated into the ZNDH. In late 1943, a second squadron, 2./(Kroat.)KG was formed to provide operational training. It was equipped with Italian designed and built CANT Z.1007 and Fiat BR.20 bombers.

  • Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen,
  • Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen,
  • Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen,
  • Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen,
  • Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen,
  • Flugzeugbestand und Bewegungsmeldungen,

Citations:

  1. de Zeng 2007, Vol 1, p. 162 - 163.
  2. de Zeng 2007, Vol 1, p. 163.
  3. de Zeng 2007, Vol 1, p. 165.
  4. Bergström 2007 p. 20.
  5. Bergstrom 2008, p. 33.
  6. de Zeng et al., 2007, Vol.1, p. 170.
  7. Scutts 1994, p. 31-32.
  8. de Zeng et al. Vol.1 2007, p. 170.

Bibliography:

  • Bergström, Christer (2007). Barbarossa - The Air Battle: July-December 1941. London: Chervron/Ian Allan. ISBN 978-1-85780-270-2.
  • Bergstrom, Christer (2007). Stalingrad - The Air Battle: November 1942 - February 1943. London: Chervron/Ian Allan. ISBN 978-1-85780-276-4 .
  • Bergström, Christer (2007). Kursk - The Air Battle: July 1943. London: Chervron/Ian Allan. ISBN 978-1-903223-88-8.
  • de Zeng, H.L; Stanket, D.G; Creek, E.J. Bomber Units of the Luftwaffe 1933-1945; A Reference Source, Volume 1. Ian Allan Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-1-85780-279-5

 

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This webpage was updated 5th January 2019