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Jagdgeschwader 3 'Udet' - JG3

Aircrew Luftwaffe ace Gunther Lutzow Sep 1941 01

Photo 01: At the start of 'Barbarossa', Major Gunther Lutzow, since 21 August 1940 the Kommodore of JG3, had already been credited with 18 victories and had been awarded the Ritterkreuz on 18 September 1940. On 20 July 1941, Lutzow received the Oak Leaves in recognition of his 40th victory but, on the same day, he had already increased his score by claiming his 41st and 42nd victories. Here, Lutzow is seen (left) with his Adjutant, Oblt. Rudolf von Mentzingen, who had claimed his second victory on 1 August but who was later killed near Novaya Greblya, approximately 50 km NW of Kiev, on 10 August.

Aircrew Luftwaffe ace JG3 Gunther Lutzow winter 1940 01

Aircrew Luftwaffe ace JG3 pilot Franz von Werra after his escape 1941 01-03

Photo 01: Three photographs of van Werra after his escape from Canada; top in New York with bandaged frostbitten ears, in Mexico and at home in Germany with his wife Elfi.

Aircrew Luftwaffe ace JG3 pilot Franz von Werra EF 01-02

Photo 01: Franz von Werra, pictured here in front of one of his Russian victories after his escape and return to active service with I./JG53 on the Eastern Front. Photo 02: On 1 July 1941, the day Hptm. Franz von Werra, the famous escaper, took over I./JG53 from Oblt. Ignaz Prestele who tempomlly replaced Oblt. Wilfried Balfanz (KIA on 24/6/41). On 6 July, von Werm claimed his ninth victory, an SB-2.

Aircrew Luftwaffe ace JG3 pilot Franz von Werra with Simba 1940 01-04

Photo's 01-02: Franz von Werra realized very early in his flying career that in order to become famous he first had to be noticed. Hence the lion cub, which he named 'Simba'.

Photo 03: Simba and Van Werra inspecting a Bf 109E-4. After van Werra was shot down, Simba was adopted by the Staffel until the lion cub died on 13 December 1940.

Photo 04: von Werra's pet lion cub 'Simba' watches intently as a member of the ground crew adds further Abschussbalken to the tail of one of the Gmppe's Bf 109s. After von Werra was shot down over England, 'Simba' was adopted by the Staffel

Messerschmitt Bf 109E-7 I./JG3 Clairmarais-St.Omer France 01

Photo 01: A yellow-nosed Bf 109E-7 of I./JG3 photographed at a snow-covered Clairmarais/St.Omer during the winter of 1940/41. The camouflage is unusual in that the high-demarcation 02/71 upper finish has been enhanced with diagonal stripes. The spinner has a white segment and the spinner cap appears to be halved in red and white. Although the exact identity of this machine remains unknown, the 'Tatzelwurm' on the nose is believed to be in the Stab colour of green. The centreline ETC beneath the fuselage was a feature of the E-7.

Messerschmitt Bf 109E JG3 pre delivery aircraft Stkz CT+AH, Stkz CT+AB and Stkz DB+WN 01

Photo 01: Newly-finished Bf 109E-3s and E-4s, bearing the 'standard' high demarcation 71/02/65 finish await delivery to front line units. All of the Bf 109s seen here were scheduled for delivery to JG3.


 Messerschmitt Bf 109 E Emil

   IL-2 Sturmovik 'Cliff's of Dover' Blitz

   IL-2 Sturmovik Battle of Stalingrad

   DCS World - has no 3D model


Hans von Hahn crest

Luftwaffe pilot Hans von Hahn

Hans von Hahn was born on 7 August 1914 at Frankurt in Main. He joined the navy as a sea-cadet in 1934 but transferred to the Luftwaffe in 1935. On 16 September 1939, von Hahn was appointed Staffelkapitän of 8./JG53. He served under the command of Hauptmann Werner Mölders (115 victories, RK-Br, killed in action 22 November 1941), Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG53. He recorded his first victory on 22 December 1939, when he shot down a RAF Hurricane fighter of 73 Squadron northwest of Metz in France. Von Hahn recorded five confirmed victories during the French campaign. Von Hahn was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of I./JG3 on 27 August 1940. During the Battle of Britain, von Hahn added a further six victories to his tally, including two Hurricanes on 7 October to record his 10th and 11th. victories. Operating over the Eastern front, von Hahn raised his victory total to 31. He claimed three Russian twin-engine bombers shot down near Brody on 26 June 1941 to record his 14th through 16th victories. Von Hahn recorded his 20th victory on 6 July, when he shot down two Russian DB-3 twin-engine bombers near Shepetowka. Hauptmann von Hahn was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 9 July 1941 for 21 victories. He recorded nine victories in July, including three Russian SB-2 twin-engine bombers shot down near Berdichev on 14 July (25-27).

In September 1941, von Hahn led I./JG3 back to the Western front. On 15 January 1942, I./JG3 was redesignated II./JG1. Von Hahn retained leadership of II./JG1. Reputedly, he was later relieved of this command and confined to quarters in June 1942 under somewhat mysterious circumstances relating to the shooting of a sentry. In October 1942, von Hahn was transferred to the Geschwaderstab of JG5. On 1 January 1943, he transferred to the staff of the General der Jagflieger. He was appointed Kommodore of JG103 on 21 July 1943. From April 1945, he held the post of Kommandeur of JagdfliegeRGührer Oberitalien based at Verona in Italy. Von Hahn survived the war. He died on 5 November 1957 at Frankfurt im Main.

Hans von Hahn was credited with 31 victories achieved in over 300 missions. He recorded 12 victories over the Western front.

Luftwaffe pilot List of aerial victories for Hans von Hahn

No Date Time A/c Type Unit Location / Comments
1 22.12.1939 15:05 8./JG53 15km NE Metz / Hurricane of 73Sqn, RAF
2 21.5.1940 19:10 LeO 451 8./JG53 Châlons-sur-Marne
- 21.5.1940 - Morane 8./JG53 E Paris / not confirmed
- 21.5.1940 - Curtiss 8./JG53 E Paris / not confirmed
3 24.5.1940 18:15 Curtiss 8./JG53 -
4 31.5.1940 19:08 Curtiss 8./JG53 Abbeville
- 3.6.1940 14:35 8./JG53 Paris / not confirmed
5 3.6.1940 - Morane 8./JG53 Paris
6 7.6.1940 16:53 Morane 406 8./JG53 Compiegne
7 25.8.1940 18:27 8./JG53 10km E Portland
8 5.9.1940 - I./JG3 London area
9 15.9.1940 - I./JG3 N London
10 7.10.1940 - I./JG3 Thames Estuary
11 7.10.1940 - I./JG3 Thames Estuary
12 10.1.1941 13:30 I./JG3 25km NE Nieuport
13 25.6.1941 15:10 I-153 I./JG3 20km SE Dubno
14 26.6.1941 6:10 DB-3 I./JG3 NE Brody
15 26.6.1941 6:15 DB-3 I./JG3 NE Brody
16 26.6.1941 14:20 SB-2 I./JG3 Szcurowcze
17 29.6.1941 15:00 I-153 I./JG3 12km W Brody
18 29.6.1941 15:05 I-153 I./JG3 12km W Brody
19 5.7.1941 11:45 Pe-2 I./JG3 NW Gudnow
20 6.7.1941 15:40 DB-3 I./JG3 SE Shepetowka
21 6.7.1941 15:45 DB-3 I./JG3 SE Shepetowka
22 10.7.1941 15:10 I-17 I./JG3 10km S Kurin
23 10.7.1941 15:15 SB-2 I./JG3 4km S Barbolok
24 12.7.1941 14:55 DB-3 I./JG3 15km E Shitomir
25 14.7.1941 14:30 SB-2 I./JG3 30km SW Berditschew
26 14.7.1941 14:31 SB-2 I./JG3 30km SW Berditschew
27 14.7.1941 14:32 SB-2 I./JG3 30km SW Berditschew
28 11.8.1941 6:45 SB-2 I./JG3 6km SE Wihenkij
29 11.8.1941 6:48 SB-2 I./JG3 6km W Borispol
30 14.8.1941 12:50 I-16 I./JG3 10km SE Kanew
31 16.8.1941 10:00 I-17 I./JG3 3km SW Kanew

Victories : 31
Awards : Ritterkreuz (9 July 1941)
Units : JG53, JG3, JG1, JG5, JG103

Luftwaffe pilot List of aerial victories for Hans von Hahn

Date Pilot Name Unit Enemy A/C Type Height Time Location
22-Dec-39 Hans von Hahn 8./JG53   15.05 15km NE Metz
21-May-40 Hans von Hahn 8./JG53 Morane 406     East of Paris
21-May-40 Hans von Hahn 8./JG53 Hawk-75A     East of Paris
21-May-40 Hans von Hahn 8./JG53 Leo 451   19.10 Chalons-dur-Marne
24-May-40 Hans von Hahn 8./JG53 Hawk-75A   18.15  
31-May-40 Hans von Hahn 8./JG53 Hawk-75A 5100m 19.08 Abbeville
03-Jun-40 Hans von Hahn 8./JG53   14.35 Paris
03-Jun-40 Hans von Hahn 8./JG53 Morane 406     Paris
07-Jun-40 Hans von Hahn 8./JG53 Morane 406   16.53 Compiegne
25-Aug-40 Hans von Hahn 8./JG53 3800m 18.27 10km ost Sudspitz Portland
05-Sep-40 Hans von Hahn Stab I./JG3     Raum London
15-Sep-40 Hans von Hahn Stab I./JG3     North of London
07-Oct-40 Hans von Hahn Stab I./JG3     Thames Estuary
07-Oct-40 Hans von Hahn Stab I./JG3     Thames Estuary
10-Jan-41 Hans von Hahn Stab I./JG3     25km nordEast of Nieuport

Luftwaffe pilot Günther 'Franzl' Lützow

Oberst Günther 'Franzl' Lützow was born on 4 September 1912 at Kiel to an illustrious German naval family. He was descended from an old Prussian family of the same name. In 1931, he learned to fly at the Deutschen Verkehrsfliegerschule at Schliessheim. Later, he underwent fighter pilot training at the clandestine  erman base at Lipetsk in Russia. 1934 saw Lützow serving as a Leutnant with an Infantry Regiment before transferring to the newly formed Luftwaffe. Initially, he served with I./JG132 'Richtofen'. Lützow commenced his operational career as a fighter pilot as Staffelkapitän of 2./J88 of the Condor Legion during the Spanish Civil War. Between March and September 1937, Oberleutnant Lützow accumulated five victories, including the first ever recorded by the Bf 109, and was awarded the Spanienkreuz in Gold mit Schwerten und Brillanten. From November 1938, Lützow undertook instructing duties at Jagdfliegerschule 1, based at Werneuchen, before being appointed Gruppenkommandeur of I./JG3 on 3 November 1939. He led the Gruppe through the French campaign recording nine victories, including his first in World War 2, on 14 May 1940, when he shot down two French Curtiss Hawk 75 fighters near Dinant. Lützow led I./JG3 into the Battle of Britain. On 21 August 1940, Oberstleutnant Lützow was appointed Kommodore of JG3. He recorded eight further victories during the aerial battles over England. Lützow was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 18 September. In spring 1941, Stab/JG3 was relocated to Mannheim-Sandhofen in Germany for rest and refit. Here the unit received new Bf 109 F-2 fighters before again being relocated to the Channel front on 4 May 1941.

Lützow led JG3 during the invasion of Russia. On 17 July 1941, he recorded his 40th victory. He was awarded the Eichenlaub (Nr 27) on 20 July. On 17 September, he shot down his 72nd victim. He was shot down by flak on 23 September, force-landing behind enemy lines. He successfully returned unhurt. In October, he recorded 29 victories, including five Russian twin-engine bombers shot down on 8 Aces of the Luftwaffe - Günther Lützow October. He was awarded the Schwerten (Nr 4) on 11 October 1941, after his 92nd victory. He became the second Experte to achieve 100 victories, when he downed three Russian fighters in the Moscow area on 24 October to record victories 99 through 101. Lützow was promptly grounded on orders from above. On 4 November, he led Stab/JG3 back to Germany and a base at Wiesbaden-Erbenheim to rest and re-equip. In May 1942, Lützow led JG3 back to the Russian front commencing operations in the Kharkov area. There followed much action in the Crimea and before Stalingrad. Lützow added one additional victory when he shot down a Russian I-61 fighter on 21 May 1942 for his 107th victory. On 11 August 1942, Lützow was posted to the staff of the General der Jagdflieger where he took up the role of Inspector of Day Fighters, Eastern area.

In July 1943, Oberst Lützow was appointed Kommandeur of Jagdabschnittsführer Italien, based at Naples. In September, the unit was absorbed into JagdfliegeRGührer Oberitalien. He then commanded 1. Jagddivision based at Döberitz from 15 September until 23 March 1944, where he assumed overall command for day and night fighter operations in north western Germany, Holland and Belgium. By January 1944, he was commanding 4. Fliegerschuldivision based at Strassburg, responsible for the training of new fighter pilots. Lützow would become known as the prinicipal architect behind the so-called 'Fighter Pilots' Mutiny'. In fact the 'Mutiny' was a valiant and well-intended attempt to 'save' Adolf Galland who had been dismissed as General der Jagdflieger for his outspokeness of the Luftwaffe high command. Lützow's part in the affair was regarded as 'mutiny' by Göring who relieved him of his command of 4. Fliegerschuldivision and had him posted, in exile, to Italy to take over Jagdfliegerführer Oberitalien. He was later granted approval to join Adolf Galland's JV 44. Lützow recorded two additional victories flying the Me 262 jet fighter, but then went missing on 24 April 1945 near Donauworth attempting to intercept a USAAF B-26 twin-engine bomber raid. His body was never recovered and his aircraft never found…

Günther Lützow was credited with 110 victories achieved in over 300 combat missions. He scored 5 victories during the Spanish Civil War. He recorded 20 victories over the Western Front, including at least one four-engine bombers, and 85 victories over the Eastern Front.

Luftwaffe pilot List of 110 aerial victories for Günther 'Franzl' Lützow

No Date Time A/c Type Unit Location / Comments
1 6.4.1937 - I-15 2. J/88 Spain
2 22.5.1937 - I-15 2. J/88 Spain
3 28.5.1937 - I-15 2. J/88 Spain
4 18.8.1937 - I-15 2. J/88 Spain
5 22.8.1937 - I-16 2. J/88 Spain
6 14.5.1940 20:20~ Curtiss I./JG3 NW Dinant
7 14.5.1940 20:20~ Curtiss I./JG3 NW Dinant
8 15.5.1940 13:20 Curtiss I./JG3 SE Charleroi
9 19.5.1940 19:15 I./JG3 N Arras
10 31.5.1940 19:35 Morane 406 I./JG3 S Amiens
11 31.5.1940 19:35 Morane 406 I./JG3 S Amiens
12 3.6.1940 - Curtiss I./JG3 Compiegnie-Meaux
13 6.6.1940 - I./JG3 St Valéry-Abbeville
14 8.6.1940 13:05 I./JG3 Abbeville
15 16.8.1940 - I./JG3 -
16 26.8.1940 - Defiant Stab/JG3 -
17 26.8.1940 - Defiant Stab/JG3 -
18 7.9.1940 - Stab/JG3 -
19 9.9.1940 - Stab/JG3 -
20 15.9.1940 - Stab/JG3 -
21 5.10.1940 - Curtiss Stab/JG3 -
22 5.10.1940 - Curtiss Stab/JG3 -
23 5.11.1940 - Stab/JG3 -
24 22.6.1941 4:30 I-18 Stab/JG3 -
25 23.6.1941 - SB-2 Stab/JG3 -
26 23.6.1941 - SB-2 Stab/JG3 -
27 24.6.1941 - I-153 Stab/JG3 -
28 26.6.1941 13:20 SB-2 Stab/JG3 -
29 26.6.1941 - SB-2 Stab/JG3 -
30 26.6.1941 - Pe-2 Stab/JG3 -
31 27.6.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
32 28.6.1941 - Pe-2 Stab/JG3 -
33 7.7.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
34 10.7.1941 - V-11 Stab/JG3 -
35 10.7.1941 - I-53 Stab/JG3 -
36 10.7.1941 - I-53 Stab/JG3 -
37 10.7.1941 - I-53 Stab/JG3 -
38 11.7.1941 - I-16 Stab/JG3 -
39 15.7.1941 - I-16 Stab/JG3 -
40 15.7.1941 - I-16 Stab/JG3 -
41 15.7.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
42 16.7.1941 - SB-2 Stab/JG3 -
43 16.7.1941 - I-16 Stab/JG3 -
44 16.7.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
45 17.7.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
46 20.7.1941 - V-11 Stab/JG3 -
47 20.7.1941 - V-11 Stab/JG3 -
48 29.7.1941 - I-16 Stab/JG3 -
49 31.7.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
50 31.7.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
51 31.7.1941 - I-16 Stab/JG3 -
52 7.8.1941 - I-153 Stab/JG3 -
53 7.8.1941 - I-153 Stab/JG3 -
54 8.8.1941 - I-153 Stab/JG3 -
55 9.8.1941 - Pe-2 Stab/JG3 -
56 9.8.1941 - I-16 Stab/JG3 -
57 11.8.1941 - R-5 Stab/JG3 -
58 12.8.1941 12:35 I-153 Stab/JG3 -
59 12.8.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
60 13.8.1941 - I-16 Stab/JG3 Kanev region / I-16 of 88IAP VVS flown by Mladshiy Lt Ivan Novikov
61 13.8.1941 - I-16 Stab/JG3 Kanev region / I-16 of 88IAP VVS
62 6.9.1941 - R-10 Stab/JG3 -
63 6.9.1941 - R-10 Stab/JG3 -
64 7.9.1941 - SB-2 Stab/JG3 -
65 7.9.1941 - SB-2 Stab/JG3 -
66 7.9.1941 - I-153 Stab/JG3 -
67 7.9.1941 - I-153 Stab/JG3 -
68 8.9.1941 - R-10 Stab/JG3 -
69 9.9.1941 - I-26 Stab/JG3 -
70 9.9.1941 - SB-2 Stab/JG3 -
71 11.9.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
72 11.9.1941 - I-61 Stab/JG3 -
73 12.9.1941 - SB-2 Stab/JG3 -
74 13.9.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
75 13.9.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
76 14.9.1941 - I-26 Stab/JG3 -
77 17.9.1941 - PS-84 Stab/JG3 -
78 5.10.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
79 5.10.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
80 5.10.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
81 5.10.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
82 6.10.1941 - I-153 Stab/JG3 -
83 6.10.1941 - I-153 Stab/JG3 -
84 6.10.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
85 7.10.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
86 8.10.1941 12:00 Pe-2 Stab/JG3 -
87 8.10.1941 12:01 Pe-2 Stab/JG3 -
88 8.10.1941 12:02 Pe-2 Stab/JG3 -
89 8.10.1941 14:25 DB-3a Stab/JG3 -
90 8.10.1941 14:28 DB-3a Stab/JG3 -
91 9.10.1941 12:00 I-18 Stab/JG3 -
92 9.10.1941 - I-16 Stab/JG3 -
93 9.10.1941 - Il-2 Stab/JG3 -
94 9.10.1941 - Pe-2 Stab/JG3 -
95 10.10.1941 14:10 I-18 Stab/JG3 -
96 10.10.1941 14:13 I-18 Stab/JG3 -
97 11.10.1941 11:10 I-61 Stab/JG3 -
98 12.10.1941 14:30 Pe-2 Stab/JG3 -
99 12.10.1941 14:35 Pe-2 Stab/JG3 -
100 12.10.1941 - TB-3 Stab/JG3 -
101 14.10.1941 - I-61 Stab/JG3 -
102 14.10.1941 - DB-3 Stab/JG3 -
103 23.10.1941 15:25 I-16 Stab/JG3 -
104 24.10.1941 10:40 I-16 Stab/JG3 -
105 24.10.1941 10:50 I-16 Stab/JG3 -
106 24.10.1941 14:23 I-16 Stab/JG3 -
107 21.5.1942 12:30 I-61 Stab/JG3 -
108 29.7.1942 10:20 LaGG-3 Stab/JG3 NE Kalatsch
109 ?.4.1945 - Viermot JV 44 -
110 24.4.1945 - B-26 JV 44 Augsburg area

Victories : 110
Awards : Ritterkreuz (18 September 1940)
Eichenlaub (20 July 1941)
Schwerten (11 October 1941)
Units : J/88, JG3, JG51, JV 44

Luftwaffe pilot List of aerial victories for Günther 'Franzl' Lützow

Date Pilot Name Unit Enemy A/C Type Height Time Location
14-May-40 Gunther Lutzow Stab I./JG3 Hawk-75A   20.20± NW Dinant
14-May-40 Gunther Lutzow Stab I./JG3 Hawk-75A   20.20± NW Dinant
15-May-40 Gunther Lutzow Stab I./JG3 Hawk-75A   13.20 SE Charleroi
19-May-40 Gunther Lutzow Stab I./JG3 4.500m 19.15 N. Arras
31-May-40 Gunther Lutzow Stab I./JG3 Morane 406   19.35 S Amiens
03-Jun-40 Gunther Lutzow Stab I./JG3 Hawk-75A     Compiegne-Meaux
06-Jun-40 Gunther Lutzow Stab I./JG3 1500m - St. Valery-Abbeville
08-Jun-40 Gunther Lutzow Stab I./JG3 7500m 13.05 Abbeville
15-Aug-40 Gunther Lutzow Stab I./JG3      
16-Aug-40 Gunther Lutzow Stab I./JG3 3200m - -
26-Aug-40 Gunther Lutzow StabJG3 Defiant 6000-7000m - -
07-Sep-40 Gunther Lutzow StabJG3 3300m - -
09-Sep-40 Gunther Lutzow StabJG3 800m - -
15-Sep-40 Gunther Lutzow StabJG3 4500m - -
05-Oct-40 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 P-40 Warhawk      
05-Oct-40 Gunther Lutzow StabJG3 Curtiss P-36 500m - -
05-Oct-40 Gunther Lutzow StabJG3 Curtiss P-36 3200m - -
05-Nov-40 Gunther Lutzow StabJG3 3500m - -
22-Jun-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 I-18   04.30  
26-Jun-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 SB-3   13.20  
12-Aug-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 I-153   12.35  
08-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 DB-3A   14.28  
08-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 DB-3A   14.25  
08-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 Pe-2   12.02  
08-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 Pe-2   12.01  
08-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 Pe-2   12.00  
09-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 I-18   12.00  
10-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 I-18   14.13  
10-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 I-18   14.10  
11-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 I-61   11.10  
12-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 Pe-2   14.45  
12-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 Pe-2   14.30  
23-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 I-16 Rata   15.25  
24-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 I-16 Rata   10.40  
24-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 I-16 Rata   10.50  
24-Oct-41 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 I-16 Rata   14.25  
21-May-42 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 I-61   12.30  
29-Jul-42 Gunther Lutzow Stab /JG3 LaGG-3 1200m 10.20 NE Kalatsch
24-Apr-45 Gunther Lutzow JV44 B-26 Marauder   - Raum Augsburg

Detlev Rohwer personal emblem

Luftwaffe pilot Detlev Rohwer

Units: Stab I/JG-3 (6/40), 6/JG-1 (1/42), Stfkpt 2/JG-3 (10/42 S.U.), Kdr II/JG-3 (2/44)

Awards: RK(10/5/41), EK 1 & 2, Wound Badge, Fighter Operational Clasp

Known Aircraft: Bf 109E(ditched 9/40), Bf109E-7 WNr 3760 (dam 11/40), Bf 109F-1 WNr 6601 '(o' (7/41), Bf 109F-2's WNr 5449 (75% dam;enemy fire & 8187(dam 7/41), Bf 109G-6 WNr 440295 '((' (WIA 3/30/44)

Remarks: On 29 March, 1944, after attacking four engine bombers, he had to force land Bf 109G-6 Wk# 440295 'Black ((' at Mettingen, near Ibbenbüren, was attacked by a group of P-38's on the ground, and seriously wounded. After a leg amputation, he died 30 March, 1944. On 29 November, 1942, he made a force landing with wounds back in friendly territory in Bf 109G-2 Wk# 13910, after taking a Flak hit near Chir. 29 victories in the East. His 1st known victory, a Blenheim at St. Valery/Abbeville, 6 June, 1940. Nos.2 & 3, both Hurricanes N of London on 15 September, 1940. His 4th a Hurricabe SE of London on 9 October, 1940. His 1st known Soviet victory, a MiG-3 on 13 November, 1942. An Il-2 on 21 November, 1942. Another western (n.L.), a P-47 on 20 May, 1943. His 31st, a P-47 at Havelte, E of Steenwijk on 8 October, 1943. His 36th a P-47 on 10 February, 1944. His 37th a P-38 10 km W of Wittenberge on 6 March, 1944. Bowers/Lednicer, 38 victories.

Luftwaffe pilot Asisbiz database list of 13 out of a posible 38 aerial victories for Detlev Rohwer

Date Pilot Name Unit Enemy A/C Type Height Time Location
Thursday, June 06, 1940 Detlev Rohwer Stab I./JG3     St Valery-Abbeville
Sunday, September 15, 1940 Detlev Rohwer Stab I./JG3     North of London
Sunday, September 15, 1940 Detlev Rohwer Stab I./JG3     Raum London
Wednesday, October 09, 1940 Detlev Rohwer Stab I./JG3     SE London
Friday, November 13, 1942 Detlev Rohwer 2./JG3 MiG-3 Low Level 11:35 30 541
Saturday, November 21, 1942 Detlev Rohwer 2./JG3 Il-2 Sturmovik 150m 11:42 49 372
Thursday, May 20, 1943 Detlev Rohwer 2./JG3 P-47 Thunderbolt 7000m 12:58 2211
Friday, October 08, 1943 Detlev Rohwer 2./JG3 P-47 Thunderbolt 7500m 15:00 EN-8 (Havelte E Steenwijk)
Thursday, October 14, 1943 Detlev Rohwer 2./JG3 P-47 Thunderbolt 8000m 14:08 KF-4 or KJ-4 (Rosendaal)
Sunday, October 24, 1943 Detlev Rohwer 2./JG3 B-26 Marauder 4500m 12:20 QE-1 (Auxi-le-Chateau)
Thursday, February 10, 1944 Detlev Rohwer Stab II./JG3 P-47 Thunderbolt      
Monday, March 06, 1944 Detlev Rohwer Stab II./JG3 P-38 Lightning 7500m 14:20 ED-15 (10km W Wittenberge)
Wednesday, March 08, 1944 Detlev Rohwer Stab II./JG3 P-38 Lightning 7500m 15:12 05 Ost S/GU (Hannover)

Luftwaffe pilot Franz von Werra

Franz von Werra was born on 13 July 1914 at Leuk in the Berner Oberland region of Switzerland. Von Werra was appointed Adjutant on the staff of II./JG3, on its formation at Zerbst on 1 February 1940. He participated in the French campaign, initially based at Phillippeville in France, and claimed his first victory on 20 May 1940, when he shot down a RAF Hurricane near Arras. On 22 May, Leutnant von Werra scrambled when three French Breguet 690 twin-engine bombers appeared over the airfield. He succeeded in shooting down two of them, the second near Albert, southwest of Cambrai after a lengthy 20-minute chase. By the conclusion of the French campaign von Werra had four victories to his credit. On 28 August 1940, von Werra gained a measure of notoriety when he returned from a mission over England claiming nine RAF Hurricane fighters shot down over Kent. Although there were no witnesses his success was recognised and much propaganda made of his feat. It would appear that four victories were confirmed as von Werra's fifth through eighth aerial victories and the remainder credited as ground victories. On 5 September, von Werra participated in a bomber escort mission to the area south of London. The formation encountered RAF Spitfire fighters and in the subsequent aerial combat, von Werra's Bf 109 E-4 (W.Nr. 1480) 'Black <' received hits from friendly fire. He attempted to fly home alone but was pursued by a Spitfire and forced down near Marden. Von Werra was captured and imprisoned in England. He twice attempted to escape, on 7 October and 20 December, but was recaptured both times. After his second failed escape attempt, von Werra was sent to a prison camp in Canada. He managed to escape on 21 January 1941 and made his way through the USA, Mexico, South America and Spain to reach Germany on 18 April. Von Werra was the only German prisoner of war held by the British to successfully escape and return to his homeland. Oberleutnant von Werra was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 14 December 1940 for eight aerial victories and five aircraft destroyed on the ground.

On 1 July 1941, von Werra was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of I./JG53 based on the Eastern front. He recorded 13 victories in this theatre, including his 20th and 21st victories on 31 July. From 7 August 1941, I./JG53 began withdrawing from Russia to Germany for rest and re-equipment. By late September, the Gruppe had re-equipped with the new Bf 109 F-4 fighter and relocated to Katwijk in the Netherlands. Von Werra took off in Bf 109 F-4 (W.Nr. 7285) on a practice flight on 25 October 1941. He suffered engine failure, crashed into the sea north of Vlissingen and was killed. Franz von Werra was credited with 21 victories. He recorded 13 victories over the Eastern front.

Luftwaffe pilot List of aerial victories Franz von Werra

Date Pilot Name Unit Enemy A/C Type Height Time Location
20-May-40 Franz von Werra Stab II./JG3   16.29 15km E Arras
22-May-40 Franz von Werra Stab II./JG3 Breguet 690 Low Level 12.36 Saudemont
22-May-40 Franz von Werra Stab II./JG3 Breguet 690   12.52 Cambrai
22-May-40 Franz von Werra Stab II./JG3 Potez 63   14.26 SW Cambrai
20-May-40 Franz von Werra Stab II./JG3   16.29 15km E Arras
22-May-40 Franz von Werra Stab II./JG3 Breguet 690 Low Level 12.36 Saudemont
22-May-40 Franz von Werra Stab II./JG3 Breguet 690   12.52 Cambrai
22-May-40 Franz von Werra Stab II./JG3 Potez 63   14.26 SW Cambrai
28-Aug-40 Franz von Werra Stab II./JG3 2000m 17.10 3km W Rochester
28-Aug-40 Franz von Werra Stab II./JG3      
28-Aug-40 Franz von Werra Stab II./JG3      
28-Aug-40 Franz von Werra Stab II./JG3      

Luftwaffe pilot List of aerial victories Franz von Werra

No Date Time A/c Type Unit Location / Comments
1 20.5.1940 16:29 Stab II./JG3 15km E Arras
2 22.5.1940 12:36 Stab II./JG3 Breguet 690 Saudemont
3 22.5.1940 12:52 Stab II./JG3 Breguet 690 Cambrai
4 22.5.1940 14:26 Stab II./JG3 Potez 63 SW Cambrai
5 25.8.1940 17:10 Stab II./JG3 3km W Rochester
6 25.8.1940 - Stab II./JG3 -
7 25.8.1940 - Stab II./JG3 -
8 25.8.1940 - Stab II./JG3 -
9 6.7.1941 - I./JG53 SB-2 -
10 8.7.1941 17:10 I./JG53 DB-3 -
11 11.7.1941 - I./JG53 E/a -
12 11.7.1941 - I./JG53 E/a -
13 12.7.1941 10:32 I./JG53 SB-3 -
14 17.7.1941 17:50 I./JG53 I-15 -
15 18.7.1941 12:05 I./JG53 SB-3 -
16 23.7.1941 - I./JG53 E/a -
17 23.7.1941 - I./JG53 E/a -
18 26.7.1941 10:53 I./JG53 SB-3 -
19 29.7.1941 17:05 I./JG53 SB-3 -
20 31.7.1941 15:05 I./JG53 Pe-2 -
21 31.7.1941 15:08 I./JG53 Il-2 -

Victories : 21
Awards : Ritterkreuz (14 December 1940)
Units : JG3, JG53

Pilots Stab II./JG 3 Uffz. Franz von Werra

Authors' Introduction
If there was one pilot of the Second World War as well known to the Allies as in his homeland, it was certainly Hauptmann Franz von Werra. Referred to by one side as 'The Red Baron' and the other as 'The King of Escapers', his memory has been perpetuated in many post-war accounts. We were recently able to contact Hptm. von Werra's nephew, Dr. Franz von Werra, who kindly placed at our disposal files relating to Franz von Werra's life. Thanks to these files, testimonies from former comrades, and the discovery of other documents in the US National Archives in Washington, the life of this pilot can be described in detail.

Luftwaffe pilot A Humble Beginning... Franz von Werra

Born on 13 July 1914 in Leuck, Switzerland, Franz von Werra was the seventh and last child of a famous, but poor, family. At the beginning of the century, the aristocratic family name did not protect Baron Leo von Werra, Franz's father, from financial ruin. Indeed, the family's destitution was so severe that not all mouths could be fed and the Baron was forced to entrust three of his children to distant German relatives. The two youngest children, Emma-Charlotte and Franz-Xaver were given to the childless von Haber family who, without their knowledge, bestowed their family name upon them and, on 26 August 1917, the children became German nationals.

At first, their new lives seemed like a fairytale; they lived in a castle where the family held grand functions; they mixed with the nobility, the rich and the powerful and Franz-Xaver received a superior education, attending good schools in Sigmaringen and Cologne. But in the early 1930s, inflation gradually eroded the family wealth. Indeed, in 1932, Franz-Xaver noted in his diary that an egg cost nine million Marks, and the von Habers had to adjust to a new way of life. It was at this time, too, that the 18 year-old Franz learned that he had been legally deprived of the von Werra surname. This discovery and the economic situation in Germany prompted Franz-Xaver to run away from home and, in September, he stowed away on a freighter sailing from Hamburg to the USA. However, he was soon discovered and, in order to pay for his passage, was put to work in the ship's boiler room. Eventually returned to Germany in December, he was relieved to find that his family was so happy to see him again that he was not reprimanded.

In 1934, after training for a few weeks as a garage mechanic and reverting to his own family name, Franz von Werra entered the Army for military service but later explained,'As I only want to serve with the most modern equipment, I volunteered for the Luftwaffe. First I was in Werder and had to wait several months before I was accepted into the Air Force. To fly became my new dream. I could glide in the hills of Borken. It is there that I passed my first tests and had my first crash. To the great surprise of my comrades, I escaped from the remains of the sailplane uninjured'.

Still destitute, Franz von Werra had to borrow money from his sister in order to purchase his first officer-candidate's uniform. His training was completed in November 1938 and, newly promoted to Leutnant, vonWerra was posted to JG131.ln March 1939 von Werra was seriously injured in a flying accident and subsequently grounded pending a medical examination to determine his fitness for further flying duties. His convalescence was spent with his fiancée, Elfi Traut, in Innsbruck. Then, in mid-August, he received a telegram ordering him to urgently rejoin his unit which had since moved to East Prussia. Conveniently forgetting his medical ban, von Werra insisted on flying a Messerschmitt 109 to demonstrate that he was perfectly fit and on 31 August the ban was lifted, just in time for him to participate in the invasion of Poland which began the following day. Soon afterwards, he wrote: 'On 1 September, my Staffel carried out four missions over Poland. .. When we could not find any enemy aircraft, we concentrated on ground targets near Graudenz and Mlava. Finally, we were sent to harass retreating enemy troops, thus preventing them from undertaking defensive actions...With our own infantry no more than 40 kilometres from Warsaw, my squadron learned today (8/9/39) that it is to be withdrawn from the front and given a new task: the defence of the North German coast against English bombers'.

On 26 September, Franz von Werra's Gruppe intercepted a British bomber formation, but in spite of a long, wheeling combat, the Messerschmitts were unable to maneuver into a favorable position to shoot down any bombers before they escaped into neutral Holland. However, the unit did not have to wait long for its first success and on 11 October von Werra wrote, 'We are responsible for the capture of the British airmen which was announced in the press. The pilot baled out of his burning aircraft and this Oberleutnant (Flying Officer) is the only member of the crew who is not seriously burned. We smoke English cigarettes with him and try to comfort him in spite of the death of one of his comrades, another officer. Afterwards, he was taken for questioning'.

As may be seen from the following letter which Lt. Von Werra wrote to his sister on 24 January, 1940, he was clearly impressed with the success of the Wehrmacht and influenced by German propaganda: 'As with the infantry and the navy, we have the best equipment and are commanded by the most capable and most courageous officers. To be able to contribute to the inevitable victory as a front-line officer and pilot fills me with unlimited pride'.

In the West

About fifteen days after writing this letter, Lt. Franz von Werra was posted to the staff of II./JG3, a new unit then in the process of being formed. The II.Gruppe was created at Zerbst on 1 February 1940, under the command of Hptm. Erich von Selle, and Franz von Werra was assigned the position of Gruppen Adjutant. Here he became a firm friend of Lt. Heinrich Sannemann, the Technical Officer, who was also attached to the Gruppenstab and the two became so inseparable that colleagues referred to them as 'Max and Moritz', two contemporary cartoon characters.

At Zerbst, the pilots of II.Gruppe grew impatient, for whereas the majority of the fighter units had been in action since the fIrst hours of Westfeldzug (the Western Campaign) on 10 May, II./JG3 remained in the Berlin area to defend the capital. Finally, on 19 May, the unit was at last sent to the front, taking off from Zerbst at 12.32 hrs.With an intermediate stop at Lippstadt the Gruppe finally landed at 17.32 hrs on the small runway of Philippeville, south-east of Charleroi, in Belgium. The Gruppe was in action as early as the following day when, shortly before 16.30 hrs it intercepted five Hurricanes and claimed to have destroyed them all. Hptm. Erich von Selle claimed two, the first at 16.27 hrs being confirmed by Lt. Max-Bruno Fischer and the second, not witnessed, at 16.29 hrs. Oblt. Wilfried Schmidt, the future Ritterkreuztrager, claimed one at 16.27, Lt. Franz von Werra one at 16.29 and Lt. Rudolf Heymann another at 16.30 hrs. (It seems that despite confirmation, none of the victories claimed by von Selle, the Gruppenkommandeur, were officially recorded by the RLM).

In a letter to his sister, von Werra said of his first Luftsieg: 'The English are very sporting. Yesterday, for example, I shot down a lone fighter which attacked the head of our armored columns. I could only hit him after one infernal hedgehopping chase. It crashed into a block of houses in Arras and burst into flames. We spend eight hours per day in our machines'. However, it is interesting to note that von Werra chose not to mention in his letter the fact that he had been saved from a dangerous situation by Lt. Heymann who shot down a Hurricane which had latched onto von Werra's tail.

Although the Gruppe now had its first victories, it also experienced its first 10ss. A few seconds before the Kommandeur scored his first victory, Lt. Peter Wisser of 5./JG3 had been shot down near Arras and killed.

Based on the aerodromes at Cambrai on 22 May, and Mount Ecouvez on the 24th II./JG3 was constantly in action, the Gruppe flying many sorties and the pilots claiming a great number of victories. In correspondence with his family, von Werra gave an account of a British fighter shot down on the 23rd and of two French bombers on the 24th. However, it has proved impossible to locate any documentary proof of these statements and they should, therefore, be treated with caution, although one source mentions two Breguet 690s shot down at 12.36 and 12.52 hrs on 22 May. Similarly, there is no trace in offIcial files of another claim von Werra mentioned in a letter in which he wrote, 'On 25 May I shot down the leader of a formation of 24 fighters. Then I had to make a difficult escape and the rest of the formation became so angry at the loss of the leader that I was unable to observe if my victim had been able to bale out.. . My mechanic is proud of our machine, the rudder of which carries the most victory bars of the Gruppe'. In fact, it would appear that the only confirmed victory for II./JG3 on this date was awarded to Uffz. Anton Gremm of 4./JG3 who shot down a Potez-63 which crashed in Wehrmacht-occupied territory near St Quentin at 20.40 hrs. On 3 June, von Werra claimed a Morane fighter and was awarded the EKI, later writing that he is the first pilot of his Gruppe to be so decorated.

Missions Against England

On 6 June, II./JG3 arrived at Valheureux and flew many bomber escort sorties as well as flying several freie Jagd missions in the Beauvais area. Between 13-22 June, the unit was based at Doudeville, Escarpain and Le Havre, and on the 23rd, von Werra wrote:

'This morning, we arrived at Calais in order to undertake, as of tomorrow, missions against England. I am delighted already by the opposition that these excellent British pilots will offer... But, we also have considerable experience'.

However, von Werra had to wait before being engaged with British fighters as, immediately following the armistice in France, the pilots of II./JG3 were rested. The inseparable 'Max and Moritz' took advantage of this opportunity to go touring and von Werra bought (or requisitioned) for the purpose a superb red American car. Thus van Werra and his friend traveled the Benelux countries and a large part of France from Paris to Grenoble, the trip made easier by the baron's excellent French.

I was flying as the Kommandeur's wingman as part of the Stabsschwarm when we attacked a formation of about 20 Hawker Hurricanes. Their formation and then ours dispersed and we fought individually I was involved in a dogfight with a Spitfire belonging to a second unit which attacked us just after the start of the combat. The Englishman hit my aircraft, destroying my radio. We lost a great deal of altitude while maneuvering into a firing position and had descended to 2000 meters before I finally managed to take aim. My adversary was hit and immediately dived. I plunged behind him while firing, more bursts, but he did not pull out and crashed three kilometers west of Rochester.

Flying again in the direction of the mouth of the Thames at very low altitude, I noticed six single-engined aircraft on my left. They had their landing gear down and were in a curve, preparing to land. I looked hard and saw ahead and below them a runway half hidden by a cloud of dust. Another formation was landing. At this time, I was only 300-500 meters behind the first group I had seen, so I also put my landing gear down and, with my engine throttled back, positioned myself behind the last aircraft which I identified as a Hurricane. As I circled over the runway like the seventh machine in the landing pattern, I could leisurely observe the airfield's dispersal area with aircraft parked under small trees to the west of the runway I did not see any anti-aircraft defences. 'My formation began to land. As the first three machines lined up towards the runway and lost altitude, I retracted my wheels, opened up my engine and fired a burst at the aircraft immediately ahead of me. Instantaneously, it fell on fire. Maneuvering, I placed myself behind the second Englishman and easily shot him down in flames.

I continued to fly in the direction of the runway and then made a climbing turn to gain altitude, finally firing into the dispersal where I could just see the rudder tips of some Hurricanes protruding above the tops of their blast pens. I fired at the first aircraft, but my height did not enable me to aim at the rest. A little further away I saw a bowser with two Hurricanes parked on its right and another on its left. I fired at the bowser which exploded, setting flre to all three aircraft. Keeping at low altitude I made a half-turn away from the installations before carrying out a further attack. This time I tried to destroy the aircraft parked in the blast pens but was unable to observe any hits. The anti-aircraft defences were practically non-existent, with only a few machine-guns opening fire, but I dived towards them and forced the troops to run for shelter. I made two more attacks from different directions and set another aircraft on fire in its pen. That made five Hurricanes on fire on the airfield. A tent (undoubtedly reserved for aircraft maintenance) was also burning. Constant bursts now came up towards me from guns on the edges of the aerodrome, and I carried out my last attack against some of them. I then turned 90° towards the north joined the mouth of the Thames and re-crossed the English Channel.

Positivelv destroved: - One Spitfire shot down in combat, crash observed, - Two Hawker Hurricanes shot down in flames near the runway as they were landing, - Two Hawker Hurricanes destroyed by fire on the aerodrome, - Three Hawker Hurricanes destroyed by fire following the explosion of a tanker; as well as a large tent (of which I could not observe the contents) with three stakes. .

(Signed) v. Werra ,(Countersigned) Oblt. Sannemann)

The unit was recalled at the beginning of August and on the 7th it moved to Wierre-au-Bois from where it flew several missions a day across the English Channel, mainly escorting bombers. Almost all missions resulted in the clashes with British fighters that Oblt. von Werra - he was promoted on 1 August – had awaited so impatiently.

At 16.30 hrs on 28 August, the group took off from Wierre-au-Bois to carry out a free hunt in the area of Dover and the mouth of the Thames. The unit met strong opposition in the form of Spitfires, Hurricanes and Defiants and claimed at least eight victories, the most successful pilots Being Uffz, Konrad Nelleskamp. Ofw. Josef Heinzeller, Uffz. Kurt Graf and Franz Von Werra. For the latter, however, the mission was far from finished, as shown by the following report which von Werra wrote the following day:

Nearly one month after this event, and almost certainly as a result of a higher authority seeking verification of von Werra's account, Hptm. von Selle was asked to comment. However, he could only write: 'Considering the conditions of combat over England, in the majority of the cases there is no witness who can confirm or refute the declarations. Nothing, however, makes it possible to contradict the report.' No doubt von Selle was referring here to his personal experience when several of his own victories - including a Spitfire shot down two days before von Werra's claims were not officially confirmed due to lack of witnesses.

Prisoner and Escaper

On Thursday, 5 September 1940, the aircraft of II./JG3 took off from Wierre-au-Bois to fly a fighter-escort mission for bombers attacking Croydon. Once the bombers had released their bombs and were heading back to their French bases, the aircraft of II./JG3 carried out some strafing of ground targets. Unfortunately, however, the pilots encountered a formation of Spitfires and von Werra's aircraft was so seriously damaged that he had to make a forced landing at Love's Farm,Winchet Hill, Marden, where he was captured unhurt. He was first taken to the local police station, but was then handed over to the army. The following morning, guarded by an officer and two soldiers, von Werra was taken by lorry to the PoW interrogation centre at 8 Kensington Palace Gardens, London. For the next two weeks von Werra was interrogated. As he was the first Luftwaffe ace to be captured by the British, he was questioned with great care, but all attempts to obtain significant information were in vain, the interrogation report stating, 'Refused to give any details whatsoever. Morale: very high.'

On 29 September, von Werra wrote to his sister and in this, his second letter written in captivity, he said, obviously already thinking of escape, 'I think I will be close to you even sooner than this stupid letter. Here, all is well, more or less. No reason to worry. See you very soon.'

At the beginning of October, von Werra was transferred to the officers' internment camp at Grizedale Hall in the Lake District. After observing the camp routine, he evolved an escape plan which he submitted to the camp's Senior German Officer, Major Willibald Fanelsa, formerly of KG1, and Hptm. Helmut Pohle, formerly of KG30 and head of the camp's escape committee. Von Werra's plan was approved and he received a promise that he would receive the necessary assistance. The stage of the plan required Major Fanelsa to request the daily exercise walk, usually carried out at 10.30 hrs, to be delayed until 14.00 hrs, ostensibly because it inteRGered with the camp's educational courses. The real reason for the request, however, was that it shortened the time a prisoner escaping during the walk would have to wait until nightfall. The camp commander agreed the request and on 7 October, a group of 24 prisoners under the command of Hptm. Pohle, escorted by a British officer, three warrant officers and seven soldiers, left the camp at the later time. During a rest break along the route von Werra managed to slip over a wall into an adjacent field to begin his escape. Despite many searches of the area during the following days, von Werra remained at large, but at 23.00 hrs on 10 October, two members of the Home Guard were searching a barn in which von Werra was hiding and he was recaptured. By the time von Werra was escorted to the nearest road, however, he had already untied the knot of the cord used to bind his hands and disappeared into the night. Recaptured again during a large, joint search by police and army on 12 October, he was sentenced to 21 days close confinement.

Released on day 19, he was transferred to a PoW camp at Swanwick, approximately 10 miles north of Derby. Far from being disappointed by his failure, von Werra encouraged his new fellow-prisoners to escape with him and on 17 November work began on a tunnel. After one month the three meter deep tunnel was 15 meters long. Then, at 20.25 hrs on 20 December, von Werra and four comrades took advantage of an air raid warning and disappeared into the tunnel. Although his companions were soon recaptured, von Werra had benefited from his earlier escape attempts and had made careful preparations which, he hoped, would enable him to fly back across the Channel. Wearing an imitation British flying jacket and appropriate badges, all made within the camp, his story was that he was Captain Van Lott, a Dutch pilot - hence his imperfect English - who had crashed after a special mission. Persuading everyone he encountered that it was imperative he return to his base immediately, he succeeded in gaining entry to Hucknall aerodrome. He was already seated in a Hurricane when Squadron Leader Boniface, an RAF officer more suspicious than his colleagues, forced him from the cockpit at gunpoint. Recaptured once again but undaunted, he assuredSqn. Ldr. Boniface that his next attempt would be the one that would see him home.

Home Run

After spending another 14 days in solitary confinement, von Werra was sent to Canada and, as one of 1,100 German Pow's (250 officers and 850 other ranks), von Werra was placed aboard theDutchess of Yorkwhich set sail for Halifax on 2 January 1941. Eleven days later, the prisoners were put aboard a west-bound train and on the 24th in accordance with von Werra's instructions, his companions diverted the attention of the guards while he escaped by jumping from one of the train's windows. He was then close to Smith Falls, Ontario, about 30 miles from the border with the still neutral United States, and his intention was to cross into the USA where he would be free. Eventually, von Werra reached the US-Canadian border at Prescott. Here, the St. Lawrence River which separates the two countries was iced over and with frozen ears and feet, von Werra walked out onto the ice. After struggling to the middle of the river, he found the ice too thin to bear his weight and, reasoning that there must be a channel of water ahead which was not yet frozen, he returned to the shore. At a deserted holiday camp, von Werra found an old boat and, gathering all his strength he succeeded in pulling it across the ice to the channel. Using a plate as an oar, he maneuvered the boat to the American bank and freedom.

In New York, because von Werra had entered the US illegally, the German embassy agreed to pay a bond of 1000. Although he was in fact the third German prisoner to escape from Canada and take refuge in the United States, the American press seized upon the event as if it was unique and was eager to interview 'The Red Baron'. In Germany, too, the news of his adventures was greeted with great enthusiasm and on 14 December, von Werra was awarded theRitterkreuzin recognition of his achievement.

For the next six weeks, von Werra enjoyed, as he wrote to his sister,'a princely life'.He even sent a postcard toSqn. Ldr. Boniface, with whom he had bet a magnum of champagne against ten cigarettes that his third escape attempt would succeed. To the American authorities, however, von Werra was an unwanted and unwelcome visitor and they planned to extradite him back to Canada, but the German embassy was aware of the danger and made arrangements for von Werra to escape to Mexico City, Peru and finally Brazil. From Brazil, von Werra sailed from Rio de Janeiro for Spain, arriving in Barcelona on 16 April. The following day, after a short stop in Rome, he arrived in Berlin where he was personally received by Hitler and Goring as the first - and last - German soldier to escape from British captivity after July 1940.

Promoted by Goring toHauptmann,von Werra then spent a few days at the RLM where he was extensively debriefed in order to extract the maximum benefit from his experiences, particularly concerning the interrogation techniques employed by the British. Although offered a position working in Berlin, von Werra was anxious to return to flying duties and was soon pressing for a transfer so that he could rejoin a front-line fighter unit.

Flying Again

On 22 June 1941, Germany invaded the USSR. Many fighter units took part in this action, and I./JG53, engaged on the central front withLuftflotte Mitte,suffered heavy losses. On 24 June, theKommandeur, Oblt. WilfriedBalfanz was shot down and reported missing after combat with an SB-3 near Pruszana. He was temporarily replaced byHptm.Ignaz Prestele until the arrival of the newKommandeur, Hptm.Franz von Werra. On account of his experiences he was at first received by his pilots with some curiosity but, wishing as soon as possible to exchange his reputation as 'King of the Escapers' for that of a good officer, he made it a point of honor to always fly at the front of his unit. On 6 July, von Werra shot down an SB-2, his first victory on the Eastern Front. Two days later he claimed a DB-3 and this was followed by two more victories on the 11th and another on the 12th. Further victories were claimed on the 17 and 18th two on the 23rd, one on the 26th another on the 29th and two on the 31st.

In mid-August, I./JG53 was recalled to Mannheim in Germany where it was to be equipped with the new Bf 109F-4. Taking advantage of the situation, Franz von Werra took some leave and on 22nd August married Elfi Traut at Beuron in Southern Germany.

A few weeks later, on 20 September, I./JG53 was transferred to the Netherlands where, withStab 1. and 3.Staffelnbased at Katwijk and 2./JG53 in Haamstede, theGruppewas to help defend the north-western borders of theReich. Althoughbased in the Netherlands for only a short time, it was here that theGruppelost itsKommandeur. Hptm.Franz von Werra, then credited with a total of 21 victories, was carrying out a routine flight off Katwijk on 25 October when he lost control of his Bf 109F-4 W.Nr 7285, and crashed into the sea. As no warning signs had been observed and no distress call heard, it was assumed that von Werra's aircraft had suffered a sudden and catastrophic engine failure. Later,Ritterkreuztruger Hptm.Herbert Kaminski arrived to take command of theGruppewhich, in December, was transferred to the Mediterranean area and subsequently became heavily involved in the air battles on the Malta front.

A short time before his death von Werra had made friends withOblt.Wilfried von Muller Rienzburg, who later recalled:­

'I became acquainted with Hptm. von Werra in Holland. I remember a long and interesting evening during which he told me of his escape in great detail. That evening must have been pleasant for him also, because one week later he invited me to join him again in Katwijk and take part in hare hunting. I took off from Schiphol to fly to Katwijk. While approaching,Iwas concerned to see signs of a commotion on the airfield. Someone explained that hardly 30 minutes before, the Kommandeur had crashed into the sea within two kilometres of the airfield. As von Werra was obeying a strict order prohibiting him (for obvious reasons of safety following his escape) from flying towards Great Britain, he had not flown more than10km from the coast. He had been flying on this occasion with his Stabsschwarm and was at 20-30 metres, preparing to land, when for no apparent reason his aircraft suddenly went into a dive towards the sea and disappeared in a few seconds. His comrades orbited the crash site for a long time but could detect nothing. A high-speed motorboat dispatched to search the area also returned empty-handed... a fine tragedy for a hero and a comrade.'

Thus ended the short but eventful career of Franz von Werra. The myths concerning him which began during the war were later perpetuated post-war in many articles and books as well as in the British-made filmThe One that Got Awayin which the actor Hardy Kruger played the role of von Werra.



 St. Omer Arques France Map


Spanish Civil War

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  • Beaman, John R. Jr. Messerschmitt Bf 109 in action, Part 2. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1983. ISBN 0-89747-138-5.
  • Boyne, Walter J. Clash of Wings. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. ISBN 0-684-83915-6.
  • Bergström, Christer. Barbarossa – The Air Battle: July–December 1941. London: Chevron/Ian Allan, 2007. ISBN 978-1-85780-270-2.
  • Bergström, Christer and Martin Pegg. Jagdwaffe:The War in Russia, January–October 1942. Luftwaffe Colours, Volume 3 Section 4. London: Classic Colours Publications, 2003. ISBN 1-903223-23-7.
  • Burke, Stephen. Without Wings: The Story of Hitler's Aircraft Carrier. Oxford, UK: Trafford Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1-4251-2216-7.
  • Caidin, Martin. Me 109 – Willy Messerschmitt's Peerless Fighter (Ballantine's illustrated history of World War II. Weapons book no. 4). New York: Ballantine Books, USA, 1968. ISBN 0-345-01691-2.
  • Caldwell, Donald L. JG 26: Top Guns of the Luftwaffe. New York: Ballantine Books, 1991. ISBN 0-8041-1050-6.
  • Craig, James F. The Messerschmitt Bf.109. New York: Arco Publishing Company, 1968.
  • Cross, Roy and Gerald Scarborough. Messerschmitt Bf 109, Versions B-E. London: Patrick Stevens, 1976. ISBN 0-85059-106-6.
  • Dimensione Cielo: Caccia Assalto 3, Aerei Italiani nella 2a Guerra Mondiale (in Italian). Roma: Edizioni Bizzarri, 1972.
  • Ebert, Hans A., Johann B. Kaiser and Klaus Peters. Willy Messerschmitt: Pioneer of Aviation (The History of German Aviation Design). Atglen, PA: Schiffer Books, 2000. ISBN 0-7643-0727-4.
  • Feist, Uwe. The Fighting Me 109. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1993, ISBN 1-85409-209-X.
  • Fernández-Sommerau, Marco. Messerschmitt Bf 109 Recognition Manual. Hersham, Surrey, UK: Classic Publications, 2004. ISBN 1-903223-27-X.
  • Glancey, Jonathan. Spitfire: The Illustrated Biography. London: Atlantic Books, 2006. ISBN 978-1-84354-528-6.
  • Green, William. Messerschmitt Bf 109: The Augsburg Eagle; A Documentary History. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishing Group Ltd., 1980. ISBN 0-7106-0005-4.
  • Griehl, Manfred. Das geheime Typenbuch der deutschen Luftwaffe: Geheime Kommandosache 8531/44 gKdos. Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas Verlag, 2004. ISBN 978-3-7909-0775-9.
  • Griehl, Manfred.Flugzeug Profile. No. 5 – Messerschmitt Bf 109G/K.Rheinfelden, Germany: BPV Medien Vertrieb GmbH & Co KG, 1987.
  • Hitchcock, Thomas H. Messerschmitt 'O-Nine' Gallery. Chicago: Monogram Aviation Publications, 1973. ISBN 978-0-914144-00-7.
  • Hitchcock, Thomas H. Monogram Close-Up Number 9:Bf 109F.Sturbridge, Mass: Monogram Aviation Publications, 1990. ISBN 0-914144-20-0
  • Hooton, Edward R. Blitzkrieg in the West, 1939 -1940 (Luftwaffe at War: 2). Hersham, Surrey, UK: Midland Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-1-85780-272-6.
  • Kobel, Franz and Jakob Maria Mathmann. Bf 109. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 1997. ISBN 0-88740-919-9.
  • Mankau, Heinz and Peter Petrick. Messerschmitt Bf 110, Me 210, Me 410. Raumfahrt, Germany: Aviatic Verlag, 2001. ISBN 3-925505-62-8.
  • Marshall, Francis L. Messerschmitt Bf 109T "Die Jäger der Graf Zeppelin". Gilching, Germany: Marshall-Verlag, 2002. ISBN 3-00-008220-4.
  • Marshall, Francis L. Sea Eagles – The Messerschmitt Bf 109T. Walton on Thames, Surrey, UK: Air Research Publications, 1994. ISBN 1-871187-23-0.
  • Mason, Francis K. Messerschmitt Bf 109B, C, D, E in Luftwaffe & Foreign service. London, UK: Osprey Publishing Limited, 1973. ISBN 0-85045-152-3.
  • Massimello, Giovanni and Giorgio Apostolo. Italian Aces of World War Two. Oxford/New York, Osprey Publishing, 2000. ISBN 978-1-84176-078-0.
  • Mermet, Jean-Claude. Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-1 through K-4. Engines and Fittings. Marnaz, France: Jean Claude Mermet SA, 1999.
  • Messerschmitt AG. Messerschmitt Bf 109G; technisch Kompendium, Handbücher, Ersatztelliste, Bewaffnung Bedienungsvorschrift/Fl, Bordfunkanlage, Lehrbildreihe; 1942/1944. [Elektronische Resource] (Reprint) Ludwigsburg, Germany: Luftfahrt-Archiv, 2006. ISBN 3-939847-13-5.
  • Messerschmitt AG. Messerschmitt Bf 109K; technisch Kompendium, Handbüch, Ersatztelliste, Rep.-Answeisung, Bewaffnung Bedienungsvorschrift; 1943–1944. [Elektronische Resource] (Reprint). Ludwigsburg, Germany: Luftfahrt-Archiv, 2006. ISBN 3-939847-14-3.
  • Morgan, Eric B and Edward Shacklady. Spitfire: The History. Stamford: Key Books Ltd, 2000. ISBN 0-946219-48-6.
  • Neulen, Hans Werner. In the Skies of Europe. Ramsbury, Marlborough, UK: The Crowood Press, 2000. ISBN 1-86126-799-1.
  • Nowarra, Heinz. Die Deutsche Luftrustung 1933–1945, Band 3: Flugzeugtypen Henschel – Messerschmitt. Koblenz, Germany: Bernard & Graefe, 1993. ISBN 3-7637-5467-9.
  • Osché, Philippe (translated by Patrick Laureau). The Messerschmitt Bf 109 in Swiss Service. Boulogne sur Mer, France: Lela Presse, 1996. ISBN 2-914017-31-6.
  • Poruba, T and A Janda. Messerschmitt Bf 109K. Hradec Králové, Czech Republic: JaPo, 1997.
  • Prien, Jochen and Peter Rodeike. Messerschmitt Bf 109 F, G & K Series – An Illustrated Study. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1995. ISBN 0-88740-424-3.
  • Price, Alfred. Spitfire Mk. I/II Aces (Osprey's Aircraft of the Aces). London: Osprey, 1996. ISBN 84-8372-207-0.
  • Punka, György. "A Messzer": Bf 109s in the Royal Hungarian "Honvéd" Air Force. Budapest, Hungary: OMIKK, 1995. ISBN 963-593-208-1.
  • Radinger, Willy and Walter Schick. Messerschmitt Me 109 (Alle Varianten: vion Bf (Me) 109A bis Me 109E). Oberhaching, Germany: Aviatic Verlag GmbH, 1997. ISBN 3-925505-32-6.
  • Radinger, Willy and Wolfgang Otto. Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-K – Development, testing, production. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 1999. ISBN 0-7643-1023-2.
  • Rimmell, Ray. ME 109: Messerschmitt Bf 109E. Chipping Ongar, Essex, UK: Linewrights Ltd., 1986. ISBN 0-946958-18-1.
  • Ritger, Lynn. Meserschmitt Bf 109 Prototype to 'E' Variants. Bedford, UK: SAM Publications, 2006. ISBN 978-0-9551858-0-9.
  • Savic, D. and B. Ciglic. Croatian Aces of World War II (Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 49). Oxford, UK: Oxford, 2002. ISBN 1-84176-435-3.
  • Scutts, Jerry. Bf 109 Aces of North Africa and the Mediterranean. Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 1994. ISBN 1-85532-448-2, ISBN 978-1-85532-448-0.
  • Shores, C., B. Cull and N. Malizia. Air War for Yugoslavia, Greece & Crete – 1940–41. London: Grub Street, 1987. ISBN 0-948817-07-0.
  • Starr, Chris. "Developing Power: Daimler-Benz and the Messerschmitt Bf 109." Aeroplane magazine, Volume 33, No. 5, Issue No 385, May 2005. London: IPC Media Ltd.
  • Stenman, Kari and Kalevi Keskinen. Finnish Aces of World War 2 (Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 23). London: Osprey Publishing Limited, 1998. ISBN 1-85532-783-X.
  • Taylor, John W.R. "Messerschmitt Bf 109." Combat Aircraft of the World from 1909 to the present. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1969. ISBN 0-425-03633-2.
  • U.S. Army Air Force. German Aircraft and Armament: Informational Intelligence, Summary No. 44-32, October 1944 (Informational Intelligence Summary). New York: Brassey's Inc., 2000 (first edition 1944). ISBN 1-57488-291-0.
  • Valtonen, Hannu. Messerschmitt Bf 109 ja saksan sotatalous (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy). Helsinki, Finland: Keski-Suomen Ilmailumuseo (Central Finnish Aviation Museum), 1999. ISBN 978-951-95688-7-4.
  • Vogt, Harald. Messerschmitt Bf 109 G/K Rüstsatze. Flugzeug Profile 21. Illertissen, Flugzeug Publikations GmbH.
  • Wagner, Ray and Heinz Nowarra. German Combat Planes: A Comprehensive Survey and History of the Development of German Military Aircraft from 1914 to 1945. New York: Doubleday, 1971.
  • Weal, John. Bf 109 Aces of the Russian Front. Oxford: Osprey, 2001. ISBN 978-1-84176-084-1.
  • Weal, John. BF 109D/E Aces 1939–41. Oxford: Osprey, 1996. ISBN 978-1-85532-487-9.
  • Weal, John. Bf 109F/G/K Aces of the Western Front. Oxford: Osprey, 2000. ISBN 978-1-85532-905-8.
  • Winchester, Jim. "Messerschmitt Bf 109." Aircraft of World War II: The Aviation Factfile. Kent, UK: Grange Books plc, 2004. ISBN 1-84013-639-1.

    Messerschmitt Bf 109 operational history Bibliography: +

  • Beale, Nick, Ferdinando D'Amico and Gabriele Valentini. Air War Italy: Axis Air Forces from Liberation of Rome to the Surrender. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife, 1996. ISBN 1-85310-252-0.
  • Bergström, Christer. Barbarossa – The Air Battle: July–December 1941. London: Chevron/Ian Allan, 2007. ISBN 978-1-85780-270-2.
  • Bergström, Christer and Martin Pegg. Jagdwaffe:The War in Russia, January–October 1942. Luftwaffe Colours, Volume 3 Section 4. London: Classic Colours Publications, 2003. ISBN 1-903223-23-7.
  • Feist, Uwe. The Fighting Me 109. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1993. ISBN 1-85409-209-X.
  • Green, William. Messerschmitt Bf 109: The Augsburg Eagle; A Documentary History. London: Macdonald and Jane's Publishing Group Ltd., 1980. ISBN 0-7106-0005-4.
  • Hooton, Edward R. Blitzkrieg in the West, 1939 -1940 (Luftwaffe at War: 2). Hersham, Surrey, UK: Midland Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-1-85780-272-6.
  • Jackson, Robert. Aircraft of World War II: Development – Weaponry – Specifications. Enderby, Leicester, UK, Amber Books, 2003. ISBN 1-85605-751-8.
  • Mankau, Heinz and Peter Petrick. Messerschmitt Bf 110, Me 210, Me 410. Raumfahrt, Germany: Aviatic Verlag, 2001. ISBN 3-925505-62-8.
  • Mason, Francis K. Messerschmitt Bf 109B, C, D, E in Luftwaffe & Foreign service. London, UK: Osprey Publishing Limited, 1973. ISBN 0-85045-152-3.
  • Massimello, Giovanni and Giorgio Apostolo. Italian Aces of World War Two. Oxford/New York, Osprey Publishing, 2000. ISBN 978-1-84176-078-0.
  • Morgan, Eric B. and Edward Shacklady. Spitfire: The History. Stamford, UK: Key Books Ltd, 2000. ISBN 0-946219-48-6.
  • Neulen, Hans Werner. In the skies of Europe – Air Forces allied to the Luftwaffe 1939–1945. Ramsbury, Marlborough, THE CROWOOD PRESS, 2000. ISBN 1-86126-799-1
  • Price, Alfred. Spitfire Mark I/II Aces 1939–41 (Aircraft of the Aces 12). London: Osprey Books, 1996, ISBN 1-85532-627-2.
  • Punka, György. "A Messzer": Bf 109s in the Royal Hungarian "Honvéd" Air Force. Budapest, Hungary: OMIKK, 1995. ISBN 963-593-208-1.
  • Savic, D. and B. Ciglic. Croatian Aces of World War II (Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 49). Oxford, UK: Oxford, 2002. ISBN 1-84176-435-3.
  • Stenman, Kari and Kalevi Keskinen. Finnish Aces of World War 2 (Osprey Aircraft of the Aces 23). London: Osprey Publishing Limited, 1998. ISBN 1-85532-783-X.

    Some of the most widely used Book References:

  • Jagdwaffe: Battle of Britain: Phase One: July-August 1940 (Luftwaffe Colours: Volume Two, Section 1) Paperback Eric Mombeek (Author), David Wadman (Author), Eddie J Creek (Author)
  • Jagdwaffe: Battle of Britain: Phase Two: August-September 1940 (Luftwaffe Colours: Volume Two, Section 2) Paperback Eric Mombeek (Author), David Wadman (Author), Martin Pegg (Author)
  • Jagdwaffe: Battle of Britain: Phase Three: September-October 1940 (Luftwaffe Colours: Volume Two, Section 3) Paperback Eric Mombeek (Author), David Wadman (Author), Martin Pegg (Author)
  • Jagdwaffe: Battle of Britain: Phase Four: November 1940-June 1941 (Luftwaffe Colours: Volume Two, Section 4) Paperback Eric Mombeek (Author), David Wadman (Author), Martin Pegg (Author)

    Magazines: +

  • Airfix Magazines (English) -
  • Avions (French) -
  • EDUARD -
  • EDUARD - Are in my opinion are what modelers are looking for loads of pictures and diagrams and have become a leading historical information source. *****
  • FlyPast (English) -
  • Flugzeug Publikations GmbH (German) -
  • Flugzeug Classic (German) -
  • Klassiker (German) -
  • Luftwaffe IM Focus (German) -
  • Embleme der Luftwaffe Band-1 (German) -
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) -
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) -
  • Osprey (English) -
  • model airplane international magazine -
  • Revi Magazines (Czech) -

    Web References: +

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This webpage was updated 26th May 2024