Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Martuba Sep 1942

Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille WNr 8693 Martuba Feb 1942 01

Photo 01: Lt. Hans-Joachim Marseille posing with his Bf 109F-4/Z Trop, W. Nr. 8693, at Martuba. The red primer finish rudder carries 48 yellow bars, the last two representing two P-40s claimed on 15 February 1942 south-west of Gambut. The Z in the aircrafts designation indicates that GMI boost equipment was fitted.

Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille WNr 8693 Martuba Feb 1942 02

Photo 01: On 21 February 1942, Lt. Marseille shot down his 49th and 50th victories, both Curtiss P-40s over Fort Acroma, for which he qualified for the Ritterkreuz. Here, these two victories are being added to the rudder of Marseilles aircraft.

Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille WNr 8693 Martuba Feb 1942 03

Photo 01: The next day Marseille was awarded the Ritterkreuz and about this time was promoted to Oberieutnant. At noon on 27 February, Marseille claimed two more P-40s destroyed and thus had a total of 52 victories when these photographs were taken.

Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille WNr 8693 Martuba Feb 1942 04

Pilots 3./JG27 Hans-Joachim Marseille 01

Pilot 3./JG27 Hans-Joachim Marseille and Fritz Dettmann
From: Richie
Subject: I'd like to give you a picture

I think it's the nicest picture of Hans-Joachim Marseille I've ever seen. Could you use it in here somewhere?
Thanks Richie so much I’ll add it to the website. Your right it’s a great picture.
Matthew

 
 IL-2 Sturmovik 'Cliff's of Dover' - COD game skins
CN Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Feb 1942
canonuk@hotmail.co.ukhttp://www.canons-skins.com
GF Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Feb 1942
GF Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille May 1942
GF Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Jun 1942
GF Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Sep 1942
GRAF http://mission4today.com/
HM Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Feb 1942
HM Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Feb 1942 NM
HM Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille May 1942
HM Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille May 1942 NM
HM Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Sep 1942
HM Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Sep 1942 NM
HM Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille V00
Harpia Mafra55mauriciomarcosmafra@ig.com.br
HS Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Feb 1942
HS Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille May 1942
HS Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Jun 1942
HS Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Sep 1942
HS http://www.helgsskins.com/
VP Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Feb 1942
VP Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Feb 1942 NM
Vpmedia http://www.vpmedia.hu/il2
ZS Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille 1942
ZS Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille 1942 NM
ZS Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Feb 1942
ZS Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Feb 1942 NM
ZS Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Sep 1942
ZS Bf 109F-4/Z Trop 3./JG27 (Yellow 14+) Hans-Joachim Marseille Sep 1942 NM
Zargos http://zargos-skins.checksix-fr.com/
ASISBIZ I think these are some of the best skins to come out in a while. Also they are all great skinners and its hard to beat these guys.

Knights Cross

Hans-Joachim Marseille

Units: 1(J)/LG-2 (9/40), JG-52, 3./JG-27, Stafkpt 3./JG-27

Awards: RK(2/22/42)-Br(9/2/42), Ital.Gold Medal for Valor, DK-G(12/1/41), EP(11/3/41), EK 1 & 2, Ftr Oper.Clasp w/'300'

Known Aircraft: Bf 109E-4/B WNr 2032 (25% dam 10/29/40; crashed at Wissant airfield after combat, pilot OK), Bf 109E-7 WNr 5797 (75% dam Emer Land Wissant, pilot OK 9/11/40), Bf 109E-7 WNr 5094 (shot down into Channel 9/23/40; rescued), Bf 109F/Trop WNr 8693 'Yellow 14', Bf 109F WNr 8673 'Yellow 14' as Stafkpt., Bf 109F-4/Trop WNr's 10059 & 10137 (6/17/42), both 'Yellow 14''s, Bf 109G-2/Trop WNr 14256 (no markings, lost 9/30/42)

Remarks: The Star of Afrika Killed in a flying accident 30 Sept. 1942 at Sidi-Abid-el-Rahman. Returning from a mission, the new 109 G-2 #14256 he was flying had a fractured oil line and the AC caught fire. When he bailed out, he struck the vertical stabilizer and failed to open his chute. He was buried 2 October, 1942 at Derna, N. Africa. He flew 383 combat missions. His first victory, a Spitfire over southeast England on 8 September, 1940. 151 victories in the Desert. His 100th, a Hurricane shot down over Gambut airfield, the AC crashing in flames into an AA gun emplacement. EL(6/6/42), S(6/18/42). He shot down an unprecedented 17 AC in one day, 1 September, 1942! Gunther Rall referred to Marseille as the best shot in the Luftwaffe, a brilliant marksman, using an average of only 15 bullets per kill. Flew 109 Werk # 5237 also. Most of the F models were F-4's. His three trusty wingmen were: Rainer Pöttgen, Karl Mentnich and Josef Schlang. Benito Mussolini conferred the Italian Gold Medal for Valor to Marseille for his 1941 Mediterranean service. Hoehler Personality Photo/Profile.

Asisbiz Database of 158 aerial victories for Hans-Joachim Marseille

Date Pilot Name Unit EA Type Height Time Location
24-Aug-40 Hans-Joachim Marseille 1.(J)LG2   - Kent
02-Sep-40 Hans-Joachim Marseille 1.(J)LG2 4000m - Detling
08-Sep-40 Hans-Joachim Marseille 1.(J)/LG2   09.40 Battle of Britain
11-Sep-40 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3.(J)LG2   17.05 Sudostengland
18-Sep-40 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3.(J)LG2 5000m - Sudostengland
27-Sep-40 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3.(J)LG2 4500m - London
28-Sep-40 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3.(J)LG2 3500-3000m - Sudostengland
23-Apr-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   12.50 uber Tobruk
28-Apr-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   09.25 North of Tobruk
01-May-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Hurricane I   09.25 5km SE Tobruk
01-May-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Hurricane I   09.15 18km S Tobruk
17-Jun-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   18.45 15-20km SE Sidi Omar
17-Jun-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   17.15 NE Gambut
28-Aug-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Hurricane I   18.00 3km NW Sidi Barrani
09-Sep-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Hurricane I   17.18 SE Bardia
09-Sep-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Hurricane I   17.12 SE Bardia
13-Sep-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Hurricane I   17.25 South of Bardia
14-Sep-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Hurricane I   17.46 South of El Sofafi
24-Sep-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Martin 167   13.30 Gambut
24-Sep-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Hurricane I   17.00 Buq Buq
24-Sep-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Hurricane I   16.51 Buq Buq
24-Sep-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Hurricane I   16.45 Buq Buq
24-Sep-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Hurricane I   16.47 Buq Buq
12-Oct-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   08.15 Bir Sheferzan
12-Oct-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   08.12 Bir Sheferzan
05-Dec-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   15.25 North Africa
06-Dec-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   12.25 S El Adem
06-Dec-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   12.10 SSE El Adem
07-Dec-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   09.30 20km W Sidi Omar
08-Dec-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   08.15 20-25km SE El Adem
10-Dec-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   08.50 SE El Adem
11-Dec-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   09.30 SE Tmimi
13-Dec-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   16.00 NE Martuba
13-Dec-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   16.10 5km NE Tmimi
17-Dec-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   11.10 WNW Martuba
17-Dec-41 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   11.28 South of Bucht von Gazala
08-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   08.25 20km N Martuba
08-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   14.30 NE Bomba-Bucht
08-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   08.22 ENE Martuba
08-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   14.20 NW Bomba-Bucht
12-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   13.36 35km WNW Tobruk
12-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   13.33 23km NW Tobruk
12-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   13.32 20km NW Tobruk
12-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   13.30 10km NW Tobruk
13-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   09.25 23km ESE Tobruk
13-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   09.20 20km SE Tobruk
15-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   13.03 5km SW Gambut
15-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   13.00 3km WSW Gambut
21-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   12.10 10km W Fort Acroma
21-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   12.18 20km NE Fort Acroma
27-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   12.12 10km ENE Fort Acroma
27-Feb-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   12.00 10km ENE Ain-el-Gazala
25-Apr-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   10.08 10km N Ain-el-Gazala
25-Apr-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   10.06 2km N Ain-el-Gazala
10-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   09.15 25km SE Martuba
10-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   09.13 25km SE Martuba
13-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   10.15 14km ESE Gazala--Bucht
13-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   10.10 16km SE Ain-el-Gazala
16-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   18.15 3km E Fort Acroma
16-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   18.05 20 k E Ain-el-Gazala
19-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Kittyhawk   07.20 8km SW Fort Acroma
19-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Kittyhawk   07.30 5km S Fort Acroma
23-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 A-20 Boston III   11.06 4km SE Hafen Tobruk
23-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 A-20 Boston III   11.05 3km SE Hafen Tobruk
30-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Kittyhawk   06.05 1km NW El Adem
31-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   07.34 10km SW Fort Acroma
31-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   07.28 8km W Bir-el-Harmat
31-May-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   07.26 5km W Bir-el-Harmat
01-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   19.15 20km ENE El-Cheimar
03-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   12.22 3km West of Bir Hacheim
03-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   12.33 7km West of Bir Hacheim
03-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   12.29 10km West of Bir Hacheim
03-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   12.28 7km West of Bir Hacheim
03-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   12.25 5km West of Bir Hacheim
03-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   12.27 5km West of Bir Hacheim
07-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   16.13 10km NE El Adem
07-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   16.10 SW El Adem
10-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   07.50 6km ENE Mteifel Chebir
10-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   07.35 5km NW Mteifel Chebir
10-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   07.41 6km NE Mteifel Chebir
10-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   07.45 6km E Mteifel Chebir
11-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   16.25 18km NW El Adem
11-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   16.25 SW El Adem
13-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   18.14 2km NNE El Adem
13-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   18.15 3km ENE El Adem
13-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   18.10 5km W El Adem
13-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   18.11 3km NE El Adem
15-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   18.01 6km NW El Adem
15-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   18.02 4km NNW El Adem
15-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   18.04 8km NE El Adem
15-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   18.06 3km NNE El Adem
16-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   18.02 17km SW El Adem
16-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   18.10 5km E El Adem
16-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   18.11 5km NNE El Adem
16-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   18.13 10km N El Adem
17-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   12.08 6km SW Gambut
17-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   12.09 2km S Gambut
17-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   12.05 4km SW Gambut
17-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   12.03 3km W Gambut
17-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   12.02 5km W Gambut
17-Jun-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   12.12 SE Sidi Omar
31-Aug-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   18.25 15km ostw Alam el Halfa
31-Aug-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   10.03 25km ssE El-Alamein
31-Aug-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   10.04 26km ssE El-Alamein
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   11.02 12km E Alam-el-Halfa
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   17.53 7km SSW El-Imayid
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   17.50 9km ssE El-Imayid
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   17.49 6km SE El-Imayid
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   17.48 8km S El-Imayid
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   17.47 7km S El-Imayid
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   11.05 23km E Alam-el-Halfa
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   11.03 20km E Alam-el-Halfa
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   11.01 7km ESE Alam-el-Halfa
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   10.59 15km SE Alam-el-Halfa
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   10.58 10km SE Alam-el-Halfa
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   10.56 15km SE Alam-el-Halfa
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   10.55 20km S Alam-el-Halfa
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   08.39 18km SSE El-Imayid
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   08.35 18km SSE El-Imayid
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   08.26 18km SSE El-Imayid
01-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   08.28 20km SSE El-Imayid
02-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   09.16 25km SE El-Imayid
02-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   15.21 18km SE El-Alamein
02-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   09.18 30km ssE El-Imayid
02-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   15.18 20km SE El-Alamein
02-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   09.24 10km S El-Imayid
03-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   07.20 25km SW El-Hammam
03-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   07.23 27km SW El-Hammam
03-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   07.28 30km SW El-Hammam
03-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   15.08 uber El-Imayid
03-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   15.10 2km SW El-Imayid
03-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   15.42 40km SSE El-Alamain
05-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   10.48 13km SE El-Alamein
05-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   11.00 SSE El-Imayid
05-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   10.49 SE El-Alamein
05-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   10.51 SSE El-Imayid
06-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   17.03 SE El-Alamein
06-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   17.14 SSW El-Alamein
06-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   17.16 SSW El-Alamein
06-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   17.20 SSW El-Alamein
07-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   17.43 SE El-Alamein
07-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   17.45 10km SW El-Hammam
11-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   07.42 5km WSW El-Imayid
11-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   07.40 15km SE El-Alamein
15-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   17.01 18km SW El-Alamein
15-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   17.02 19km SW El-Alamein
15-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   16.59 20km SW El-Alamein
15-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   16.57 26km SW El-Alamein
15-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 Curtiss P-46   16.54 27km SW El-Alamein
15-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   16.53 28km SW El-Alamein
15-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   16.51 25km SW El-Alamein
26-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   09.15 14km SW El-Alamein
26-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   09.16 15km SW El-Alamein
26-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   16.56 SW El-Imayid
26-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   16.59 10km ssE El-Imayid
26-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   09.13 14km SW El-Alamein
26-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27   17.10 10km S El-Hammam
26-Sep-42 Hans-Joachim Marseille 3./JG27 P-40 Warhawk   09.10 12km SW El-Alamein

With two recent British counter-offensives having been repulsed, the stand-off on the ground continued. But now I./JG27 began to probe even deeper into Egyptian airspace, often staging through Gambut, a complex of airfields closer to the frontier, in order to increase their combat radius. Towards the close of a relatively uneventful August the newly promoted Leutnant Hans-Joachim Marseille, who had not scored for over two months, claimed a South African Air Force (SAAF) Hurricane just off the coast of Egypt near Sidi Barrani.It was Marseille's 14th victory. On 9 September he downed two more Hurricanes over Bardia, an important Axis base, and port, 12 miles (19 km) inside the Libyan frontier. On both 13 and 14 September Marseille was credited with single Hurricanes.

And then something extraordinary happened.
Hans-Joachim Marseille himself later described 24 September 1941 as 'the day everything suddenly fell into place'. It was on this date that his innate skills – long suspected by such as Hauptmann Neumann, but never before properly displayed – all fused as one to enable him to shoot down a quartet of Hurricanes and a twin-engined Martin Maryland bomber.

These victories boosted Marseille's score to 23. It would take several more weeks of combat to hone his 'almost uncanny' talents to perfection, but soon the young Berliner's lethal abilities became the stuff of legends: his remarkable eyesight, which meant he could detect the smallest of specks in the far distance vital seconds before anybody else; his complete mastery of aerobatics, which invariably allowed him to place himself in a position of tactical advantage; the ferocity of the assault upon his chosen target; the computer-like instinct which told him the exact moment to open fire in any given situation, however great the angle; the precision marksmanship to hit the vital spot.

In fact, it was later calculated that Marseille required an average of only 15 rounds to despatch an opponent – far fewer than any other Luftwaffe fighter pilot. He often returned from sorties which had netted him multiple kills – sometimes as many as six – with more than half his ammunition still in its magazines! Many rated him the best shot in the Luftwaffe.
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Africa - The 'Finest Hour'
…an extract from Osprey's Aviation Elite Units No.12 Jagdgeschwader 27 'Afrika' by John Weal
 
Osprey Publishing has kindly supplied the following Chapter-length extract from Aviation Elite Units 12: Jagdgeschwader 27 'Afrika'.
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Africa - The 'Finest Hour'

The presence of the Wehrmacht in North Africa, like its intervention in Greece, was due in no small measure to the military incompetence of Hitler's Axis ally, Mussolini. Just as the Italian invasion of Greece had not merely foundered on the rock of Greek resistance, but had been pushed back into Albania whence it came, so the Italian advance into Egypt in September 1940 was not simply stopped cold by British and Commonwealth troops, it was driven back halfway across Libya to the port of Benghazi and beyond.

It was to prevent the total loss of Italy's African colony that Hitler was persuaded early in 1941 to send a token 'containing' force, built around the 5th Light and 15th Panzer Divisions, to his southern partner's aid. The Führer's plans were purely defensive. He warned the force commander, one Generalleutnant Erwin Rommel, that 'no large-scale operations were to be carried out in North Africa until the autumn'. But Rommel had ideas of his own as to how the desert war should be fought. Realising that the British forces opposing him were both overstretched and understrength, he quickly began to prepare for a 'reconnaissance in force'.

By the time the first elements of I./JG27 touched down on the cleared stretch of desert that was Ain-el-Gazala airfield on 18 April 1941, Rommel's 'reconnaissance' had exploded into a full-blown offensive. He had already retaken all of Libya – with the exception of Tobruk – and his troops had reached the Egyptian frontier at Sollum.

As Hauptmann Eduard Neumann's Bf-109s were the first single-engined Luftwaffe fighters to be sent to Africa, they were thrown into the thick of the fighting almost immediately upon arrival. And with the situation along the Libyan/Egyptian border at a temporary stalemate, this fighting was concentrated around the perimeter of Tobruk, whose garrison – although surrounded – was a thorn in Rommel's side, and a potential threat to his line of supply.

On 19 April I./JG27 claimed its first four victories – all Hurricanes – along the 37-mile (60-km) stretch of coast separating Gazala from Tobruk. One of the pair shot down by Oberleutnant Karl-Wolfgang Redlich, Kapitän of 1. Staffel, provided I./JG27 with its 100th victory of the war. Another was the first kill for Leutnant Werner Schroer, who would end the war as the Geschwaderkommodore of JG3 'Udet', wearing the Swords, and with the distinction of being one of the few Luftwaffe pilots credited with more than 100 RAF and USAAF aircraft destroyed.

The fourth of that day's Hurricanes had gone to Unteroffizier Hans Sippel. Twenty-four hours later he would claim a Wellington, also over Gazala, only to become JG27's first African casualty the day after that when he himself was shot down and killed over Tobruk on 21 April.

It was on 23 April that Oberfähnrich Hans-Joachim Marseille claimed his first success as a member of JG27 – another Hurricane over Tobruk. This prompted 'Edu' Neumann to remark that 'we'll make a proper fighter pilot out of you yet'. The Gruppenkommandeur never spoke a truer word. But with just eight kills under his belt, Marseille was still a long way behind I./JG27's leading trio of scorers.

These three, Oberleutnants Ludwig Franzisket, Karl-Wolfgang Redlich and Gerhard Homuth, all had totals climbing into the high teens. This meant they were nearing the 'magic 20', which was still the official yardstick for the award of the Knight's Cross – the astronomical scores of the eastern front had yet to make themselves felt! And, indeed, all three would receive the prestigious decoration in the coming weeks.

On the morning of 1 May 3./JG27 clashed with a squadron of Hurricanes south of Tobruk. Staffelkapitän Gerhard Homuth and Hans-Joachim Marseille – the latter now flying as a Schwarmführer (leader of a four-aircraft section) – downed a pair of enemy fighters each. By now the few remaining Hurricanes based within the Tobruk perimeter had been withdrawn to Egypt. Their departure coincided with the easing of Rommel's latest, unsuccessful, attempt to overrun the garrison. As both sides paused to draw breath and regroup, the following fortnight saw just three victories for the Gruppe, all claimed by Gerhard Homuth.

Freed from the restraints of their Stuka-escort and patrol duties over a now fighterless Tobruk (henceforward the 'fortress' would have to rely almost entirely on its own anti-aircraft defences for protection against air attack), I./JG27 began to venture further eastwards towards the Egyptian border. And its was here that action flared up again on 21 May when 3. Staffel intercepted a raid by Blenheim bombers. They shot down five of the No 14 Sqn machines, two of which took Gerhard Homuth's score to 22 and won him the Knight's Cross.

But such successes against bombers would be very much the exception, rather than the rule, in the months ahead. JG27's desert war was to remain one of predominantly fighter combat throughout. And four weeks after intercepting the Blenheims – having added a further dozen Hurricanes to its growing scoresheet in the interim – I./JG27 met for the first time the one Allied fighter which, above all others, was to be its principal opponent, and which alone would account for almost exactly half the 600 kills the Gruppe would claim during its time in North Africa.

When 1. Staffel bounced a formation of unfamiliar enemy fighters just beyond the Egyptian border in the early morning of 18 June, they logged their three successes simply as 'Brewsters'. In fact, they were Curtiss Tomahawks of the reformed No 250 Sqn RAF. One of the trio was victory number 21 for Staffelkapitän Wolfgang Redlich, and resulted in the Gruppe's second African Knight's Cross. It would be another month before the third was awarded. This followed the destruction of a Hurricane (wrongly identified as a Tomahawk!) over the Gulf of Sollum by Gruppen-Adjutant Ludwig Franzisket on 19 July.

With two recent British counter-offensives having been repulsed, the stand-off on the ground continued. But now I./JG27 began to probe even deeper into Egyptian airspace, often staging through Gambut, a complex of airfields closer to the frontier, in order to increase their combat radius. Towards the close of a relatively uneventful August the newly promoted Leutnant Hans-Joachim Marseille, who had not scored for over two months, claimed a South African Air Force (SAAF) Hurricane just off the coast of Egypt near Sidi Barrani.It was Marseille's 14th victory. On 9 September he downed two more Hurricanes over Bardia, an important Axis base, and port, 12 miles (19 km) inside the Libyan frontier. On both 13 and 14 September Marseille was credited with single Hurricanes.

And then something extraordinary happened.

Hans-Joachim Marseille himself later described 24 September 1941 as 'the day everything suddenly fell into place'. It was on this date that his innate skills – long suspected by such as Hauptmann Neumann, but never before properly displayed – all fused as one to enable him to shoot down a quartet of Hurricanes and a twin-engined Martin Maryland bomber.

These victories boosted Marseille's score to 23. It would take several more weeks of combat to hone his 'almost uncanny' talents to perfection, but soon the young Berliner's lethal abilities became the stuff of legends: his remarkable eyesight, which meant he could detect the smallest of specks in the far distance vital seconds before anybody else; his complete mastery of aerobatics, which invariably allowed him to place himself in a position of tactical advantage; the ferocity of the assault upon his chosen target; the computer-like instinct which told him the exact moment to open fire in any given situation, however great the angle; the precision marksmanship to hit the vital spot.

In fact, it was later calculated that Marseille required an average of only 15 rounds to despatch an opponent – far fewer than any other Luftwaffe fighter pilot. He often returned from sorties which had netted him multiple kills – sometimes as many as six – with more than half his ammunition still in its magazines! Many rated him the best shot in the Luftwaffe.

The 'Star of Africa' was at long last in the ascendant. And I./JG27's imminent re-equipment with the Bf 109F-4/Z Trop would transform the rise into one of meteoric proportions.

It was the arrival of Hauptmann Wolfgang Lippert's II. Gruppe at Ain-el-Gazala towards the end of September which permitted I./JG27 to rotate back to Germany, one Staffel at a time, to exchange its war-weary Emils for brand new Friedrichs. The whole process would take well over a month.

Assuming the mantle of I. Gruppe, II./JG27 soon got into its African stride. On 3 October the unit claimed a trio of Hurricanes just across the Egyptian border. Forty-eight hours later another pair went down, and on 6 October it was three more Hurricanes and a brace of Tomahawks. Just like I./JG27, II. Gruppe also had its established Experten, and those who were still on the way up. Of these first ten kills in North Africa, three each had been credited to Oberleutnant Gustav Rödel, the Knight's Cross-wearing Kapitän of 4./JG27, and to one of the more promising NCO pilots of his Staffel, Oberfeldwebel Otto Schulz. This took their scores to 24 and 12 respectively.

But II./JG27 would inevitably suffer its share of casualties too. And the first combat fatality was 5. Staffel's Leutnant Gustav-Adolf Langanke, shot down by return fire from a formation of SAAF Marylands he was attacking near Sidi Omar on 7 October.

It was Otto Schulz who brought down a Bristol Bombay near Ain-el-Gazala on the morning of 27 November, taking off, claiming his victim, and landing again all in the space of just three minutes! Only a handful of these elderly twin-engined transports would appear on JG27's African scoresheets – twice with some significance. On this occasion the No 216 Sqn machine was one of five carrying troops of the embryonic Special Air Service (SAS) on their first ever large-scale raid behind enemy lines. Their objective was to destroy the aircraft dispersed on the five Luftwaffe airfields in the Gazala-Tmimi area as the prelude to a major British offensive scheduled to be launched the following day.

In the event, the SAS operation was 'not merely a failure, it was a debacle'. But the offensive opened on 18 November as planned. Intended to relieve Tobruk and drive Rommel's forces out of Cyrenaica (the eastern half of Libya), Operation Crusader would achieve both its aims.

Even nature lent a hand. Heavy rainstorms during the night of 17/18 November had turned the Gazala airfields into quagmires of mud, making it extremely difficult for the Bf-109s to operate. But an improvement in conditions soon led to fierce clashes between the opposing fighter forces. On 22 November II./JG27 claimed at least ten Tomahawks, plus three Blenheims, in a series of engagements to the south of Tobruk. It lost four of its own machines, with two pilots being wounded. One, Leutnant Karl Scheppa of the Stabsschwarm, would be killed the following day when a bomb hit the Italian field hospital to which he had been taken.

Two of 22 November's Tomahawks had been downed by Gruppenkommandeur Hauptmann Wolfgang Lippert. Twenty-four hours later he added a Hurricane, but then his own machine was severely damaged. In baling out behind the British lines, he struck the tailplane and broke both his legs. At first the fractures appeared uncomplicated. After admittance to a Cairo hospital, however, it was discovered that gangrene had set in. Lippert refused the double amputation which offered the only chance of saving his life. In the end he relented, although by then it was too late. The operation was carried out on 3 December, but he died of a massive embolism only minutes after completion of the surgery. Wolfgang Lippert was buried by the British with full military honours.

Meanwhile, 1./JG27 had returned to the fray in its new Friedrichs. The Staffel's first victory, a Tomahawk claimed on 12 November, had been a shared kill which, uncommon in the Jagdwaffe, had been credited to the unit as a whole. 1./JG27 too had been involved in the heavy fighting of 22 and 23 November, the unit's total for the two days being 14 enemy aircraft destroyed, exactly half of them falling to Staffelkapitän Wolfgang Redlich. The Staffel lost two of its own NCOs shot down and captured.

By the end of the first week of December 3./JG27 was also back in action – an event which Leutnant Hans-Joachim Marseille had duly marked by claiming four Hurricanes in three days. This raised his total to 29, and brought him level with his Staffelkapitän, Oberleutnant Gerhard Homuth. In a spirit of friendly rivalry, the race between the two was now on. Of the Gruppe's two other top scorers, Wolfgang Redlich was still in the lead with 36. But on 5 December, the day his latest victim had gone down south of Bir-el-Gobi, he received a posting to the office of the General Staff. His replacement at the head of 1. Staffel, Oberleutnant Ludwig Franzisket, was currently standing at 24.

Such individual successes in the air were not enough to halt the dangers developing on the desert floor below. After a shaky start, Operation Crusader was by now gathering momentum. The Luftwaffe's forward airfields around Gambut had already been captured. And on 7 December 1941 – the day the world learned of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour – the long siege of Tobruk was finally lifted. This posed a direct threat to the Gazala complex, the next objective in the path of the advancing British armour. I. and II./JG27 were forced to vacate their base on that same 7 December. The nearly eight months which I. Gruppe had spent at Ain-el-Gazala would be the longest deployment at any one field throughout JG27's entire time in North Africa.

The Gruppen's first step on the long withdrawal back across Cyrenaica was but a short hop from Gazala. Tmimi, where it would remain for only five days, had witnessed III./JG27's arrival from Germany just 24 hours earlier on 6 December. And when all three Gruppen were joined there by Oberstleutnant Bernhard Woldenga's Stab on 10 December, it meant that, for the first time since the Battle of Britain, the complete Geschwader was once again operating as a single entity – albeit in the midst of a general retreat!

For JG27's Friedrichs, it was very much a fighting retreat. On the day of the Geschwaderstab's arrival in North Africa, the desert-wise I. Gruppe was up in force. Hans-Joachim Marseille added another Tomahawk to his lengthening list, while Hauptmann Erich Gerlitz's 2. Staffel downed all but one of a group of six unescorted SAAF Bostons. But I./JG27 was about to lose its two most successful NCO pilots under circumstances that were more than just unfortunate.

On 13 December Oberfeldwebel Albert Espenlaub of 1. Staffel, who had scored 11 of his 14 victories in the last month alone, was bested in combat near El Adem. He managed to belly-land his 'White 11' and was taken prisoner, only to be shot later in the day while attempting to escape from his captors. Less easy to explain and condone is the loss of 2. Staffel's Oberfeldwebel Hermann Förster the following day. Förster's 13th, and last, kill had been one of the South African Bostons. Now, in a dogfight with Australian Tomahawks over recently abandoned Tmimi, his machine was hit and he was forced to bale out. He was fired upon and killed in his parachute.

By this time III./JG27 had opened its desert account too. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it was the Geschwader's most successful pilot, and sole Oak Leaves wearer, who had been responsible for its first two Allied fighters brought down near Tmimi on 12 December. These took Oberleutnant Erbo Graf von Kageneck's overall total to 67. But experience gained in Russia did not guarantee immunity in North Africa, and on 24 December it was von Kageneck who was at the receiving end of a burst from a No 94 Sqn Hurricane over Agedabia.

Although seriously wounded in the stomach, he reportedly managed to nurse his crippled fighter back the 46 miles (75 km) to the Gruppe's then base at Magrun and pull off an emergency landing. He was immediately evacuated, first to a hospital in Athens, and then to another in Naples where, despite intensive care, he died from his injuries on12 January 1942.

By the final week of 1941 JG27 had completed its withdrawal across Cyrenaica. The whole Geschwader was now gathered on landing grounds around the Arco Philaenorum. This was a grandiose arch, spanning the coast road, which had been erected by Mussolini to mark the dividing line between the two provinces of his Libyan empire: Cyrenaica to the east, Tripolitania to the west.

Having had to abandon and blow up a number of their machines on almost every one of the half-dozen or so airfields they had occupied, however briefly, during the recent retreat, the Gruppen were in something of a sorry state. But although bloody, they were unbowed. On the morning of 25 December Major Neumann, Kommandeur of I./JG27, summoned the Kapitän of his 1. Staffel, Oberleutnant Ludwig Franzisket.

'We've got just four serviceable '109s left, 'Ziskus'. Fly up and down the coast road at medium height so that the ground troops can get to see a few German aircraft for Christmas at least.'

Oberleutnant Franzisket did as he was bid, but the effect was the very opposite to that intended. The traffic along Rommel's one major supply route had been subjected to Allied fighter-bomber attacks too many times in the past. As soon as the four aircraft were spotted approaching, every vehicle screeched to a halt as its occupants dived for cover at the side of the road. The end came as the Bf-109s circled above an Italian encampment near El Agheila. A well-placed 20 mm anti-aircraft round shattered Franzisket's canopy, sending a shower of splinters into his face and eyes. The wounds required specialist medical treatment, and 1. Staffel would not see their Kapitän again until March 1942.

Franzisket did not miss very much. By mid-January 1942 Operation Crusader had all but run its course. True, General Auchinleck's latest offensive had retaken nearly all the ground captured – and then lost – during General Wavell's pursuit of the Italian army across Cyrenaica a year earlier, but it had not engaged and destroyed the core of Rommel's forces. And it was the latter who now staged a surprise counter-attack.

On 29 January Rommel recaptured Benghazi (the fourth time the capital of Cyrenaica had changed hands in less than a year!), and by mid-February he was once again in possession of the airfields around Derna. Here the wily 'Desert Fox' would pause for the next three months.

Aerial activity during this period has since been described as 'limited'. But such a term is relative, and the high scorers of JG27 were still taking their toll of enemy machines. In February the entire Geschwader moved back up to fields around Martuba, to the south-east of the Derna complex. Here, they would operate in conjunction with other Luftwaffe units stationed in the area, including the Stukas of I./StG 3, as the NahkampfGruppe Martuba (Martuba Close-support Group). Commanded by the Kommodore of
JG27, this ad hoc force was later rechristened the Gefechtsverband (Combat unit) Woldenga.

On 9 February 3./JG27's Gerhard Homuth and Hans-Joachim Marseille had been level at 40 kills each. By month's end, however, the mercurial young Berliner was beginning to draw steadily ahead of his Staffelkapitän. Likewise, across at II. Gruppe, Otto Schulz – heaving downed five Tomahawks in ten minutes on 15 February – was also forging ahead of Gustav Rödel, Kapitän of 4. Staffel.

Leutnant Hans-Joachim Marseille and Oberfeldwebel Otto Schulz were each finally awarded the Knight's Cross on 22 February (for 50 and 44 victories respectively, the original '20-kill' benchmark having long gone by the board). For Marseille, it was the first significant official recognition (since the German Cross) of a burgeoning combat career that would see him wearing the Diamonds little more than six months later. For Schulz, it heralded the approaching end. Promoted to Oberleutnant and appointed II./JG27's Gruppen-TO, he would be shot down and killed claiming his 51st victim, a Hurricane of No 274 Sqn, during a freie Jagd mission near Sidi Rezegh on 17 June.

On 23 March III./JG27 had sent a small detachment to Crete. Based at Kastelli, the Jagdkommando Kreta would be slowly strengthened during the remaining months of the year as the eastern Mediterranean island grew in strategic significance. Commanded since near the close of their eastern front service by Hauptmann Erhard 'Jack' Braune (Max Dobislav having been appointed chief instructor at JFS 1 Werneuchen), III. Gruppe was already beginning to see itself as the Geschwader's 'jack-of-all-trades' unit. This view was reinforced on 5 May when a fourth Staffel was added to its numbers. As its designation indicates, 10.(Jabo)/JG27 was intended specifically for the fighter-bomber role.

On 18 April 'Edu' Neumann had organised the desert equivalent of a village fete to celebrate the anniversary of his Gruppe's first year in Africa. The bare expanse of Martuba was transformed by a colourful and motley collection of home-made stalls, sideshows and roundabouts. Guests from all the neighbouring German and Italian units were invited to the day-long festivities. But for I. and II. Gruppen's Experten it was soon back to business as usual. On 20 May Oberleutnant Gustav Rödel was appointed Kommandeur of II./JG27. He replaced Hauptmann Erich Gerlitz, who was to take over III./JG53, currently flying in to Martuba from Sicily to bolster the Luftwaffe's fighter presence in North Africa.

Two of the twelve Tomahawks and Kittyhawks claimed by II. Gruppe on 23 May were credited to the new Kommandeur, taking Rödel's total to 41. I. Gruppe's Oberleutnant Marseille was also regularly scoring daily doubles during this period. The two bombers he downed south-east of Tobruk on 23 May – victories number 63 and 64, claimed as Douglas DB-7s – were, in reality, a pair of No 223 Sqn Martin Baltimores flying that unit's first operational mission with the new type.

Three days later, on 26 May, Generaloberst Erwin Rommel launched the offensive which would take his Afrika Korps all the way to El Alamein. But first he had to smash a breach in the Allied lines, which now stretched from Gazala, on the coast, some 40 miles (65 km) inland down into the desert to the fortress of Bir Hacheim.

Released from their Gefechtsverband Woldenga duties, JG27's fighters, reinforced by Gerlitz's III./JG53, played a decisive part in the first six weeks of chaotic fighting that was the Battle of Gazala. On 3 June Hans-Joachim Marseille had his most successful day yet, destroying six Tomahawks in little more than ten minutes to the west of Bir Hacheim. Remarkably, he achieved this feat using just his two machine-guns, as his cannon having jammed after firing only ten rounds! These six Tomahawks of No 5 Sqn SAAF raised Marseille's total to 75, for which he was awarded the Oak Leaves on 6 June.

At the other end of the scale Oberstleutnant Bernhard Woldenga had not added to the four victories he had achieved in Russia. In fact, ill-health had prevented him from leading the Geschwader on operations over the desert. And on 10 June he was promoted to the first of the staff postings which would elevate him to the position of Jafü Balkan. He did, however, leave one tangible memento of his time as CO of the Geschwader – a Stab emblem based on the shield he had earlier designed for I./JG1. The main difference was that the three small Bf-109 silhouettes were now pointing upwards. Critics of the original badge had expressed the view that the nose-down attitude of its three fighters suggested they were fleeing!

Woldenga's departure set in train a whole string of new appointments. Major Eduard Neumann replaced him as Geschwaderkommodore, Hauptmann Gerhard Homuth became Kommandeur of I./JG27 and Oberleutnant Hans-Joachim Marseille took over as Kapitän of 3. Staffel.

Exactly one week later, on 17 June, a brace each of Tomahawks and Hurricanes, claimed near Gambut, took Marseille's score to 99. He was exhausted and ready to call it a day but, encouraged by the other three members of his Schwarm – 'Come on, Jochen, now for the hundredth!' – he felt honour-bound to oblige.

A lone Hurricane shot down in flames into an anti-aircraft emplacement south of Gambut airfield made Hans-Joachim Marseille only the 11th Luftwaffe fighter pilot to reach a century – but the first to achieve this total against the western Allies alone!

He even found time to go into a steep climb three minutes after despatching the low-level Hurricane in order to add number 101 (a high-flying photo-reconnaissance Spitfire which, if identified correctly, was the first for the Geschwader since the Battle of Britain), before returning to the familiar surroundings of Ain-el-Gazala, which I./JG27 had re-occupied just 24 hours earlier.

The following day, 18 June, Marseille departed in a Ju 52/3m for Berlin, where he was to be presented with the Swords to his Oak Leaves. He was delighted with the ceremonial of the occasion, but revelled even more in the rapturous welcome his hometown accorded him during his subsequent weeks' leave. It was the celebrities and stars whose attention he had once courted who were now falling over themselves to be seen in the company of the Reich's newest national hero.

Meanwhile, back in the desert things were happening fast. On 21 June the 'fortress' of Tobruk, which had withstood an eight-month siege the year before, had been taken within a matter of days. Seventy-two hours later the Afrika Korps crossed the Egyptian border in force. Rommel's Panzers did not stop until they bumped into the main Allied line of defence, the northern flank of which was anchored at a small halt on the coastal railway called El Alamein.

During this period 'Jack' Braune's somewhat overshadowed III. Gruppe were also achieving a number of successes. On 15 June Oberleutnant Hans-Joachim Heinecke – Kapitän of 9./JG27, and recently posted in from JG53 with 18 kills already to his credit – had claimed the Geschwader's first four-engined heavy bomber . . . a portent of things to come! The B-24 Liberator had been part of a small Anglo-American force searching for Italian naval units off the Egyptian coast.

Another of Braune's newly-appointed Staffelkapitäne, Leutnant Werner Schroer of 8./JG27 (ex-Adjutant of I. Gruppe), also began to make his presence felt. Taking over on 23 June with his score standing at 11, he would more than double this figure within a fortnight.

Between 24 and 26 June Major Neumann's Stab and all three Gruppen staged forward from their fields around Gazala and Tmimi, via Gambut, to gather briefly at Sidi Barrani. It was the first time their wheels had touched down on Egyptian soil – or should that be sand? In the next couple of weeks JG27's fighters would move up closer still to the Alamein front, as both sides prepared for the decisive battle which neither could afford to lose. From early July until late October I. and II. Gruppen would operate primarily out of Quotaifiya, little more than 30 miles (50 km) from the frontline.

Throughout July Homuth and Rödel's pilots whittled away at the opposition. Their victims included nearly every operational type to be found in the Allied Air Forces' armoury – and possibly one that wasn't, for the 'Gladiator' claimed by 2. Staffel's Leutnant Hans-Arnold Stahlschmidt near El Daba on 7 July appears more likely, in retrospect, to have been an Italian CR.42! Unabashed, 'Fifi' Stahlschmidt brought down a trio of Hurricanes the next day, taking his score to 30, before adding a further 17 kills by mid-August to earn himself a Knight's Cross.

It was another imminent Knight's Cross winner, Feldwebel Günther Steinhausen of 1. Staffel, who was credited with JG27's second B-24. One of six USAAF machines sent to attack an Axis convoy on 9 July, B-24D Eager Beaver went down into the sea in flames. The bomber was victory number 34 for Steinhausen. His total was standing at 40 when he
himself crashed to his death during a dogfight south-east of El Alamein on 6 September. Promotion to Leutnant and award of the Knight's Cross were both posthumous.

Twenty-four hours after Steinhausen was posted missing, Leutnant Stahlschmidt, by then Kapitän of 2. Staffel, would be lost in similar circumstances, and in the same area. He, too, would be honoured posthumously, being awarded the Oak Leaves for his final total of 59 desert victories.

Coincidentally, one Knight's Cross had been awarded on 6 September. It went to 2./JG27's Leutnant Friedrich Körner, a 36-victory Experte who had also been shot down in combat near El Alamein two months earlier on 4 July, but who had survived to become a PoW.

July had also seen Geschwader-Adjutant Hauptmann Ernst Düllberg continue a tradition which had been started back in the days of the Battle of Britain and the Balkans by claiming the Geschwaderstab's one and only kill of the entire North African campaign – a Hurricane south-west of Alamein in the early evening of the 13th.

It was on 7 August that a Schwarm from 5./JG27, led by Oberfeldwebel Emil Clade, chanced upon another of the occasional Bombay transports of No 216 Sqn. But this machine was not carrying SAS troops (who had long since taken to using jeeps for their forays behind Axis lines). It was instead on the daily flight from Heliopolis to pick up wounded from the front for transport back to hospital in Cairo.

At one forward landing ground, however, the Bombay's 18-year-old pilot, Sgt H E James, was ordered to wait for a special passenger. This turned out to be Lt Gen W H E Gott, who, only hours previously, had been appointed Commander of the 8th Army, and who now needed to get back to Cairo for an urgent meeting.

Rather than fly at the stipulated 50 ft (15 m) to escape the attentions of Axis fighters, the pilot elected to climb to 500 ft (150 m) on account of an overheating engine. It was his undoing. Clade's first pass forced the lumbering Bombay to crash-land in the desert to the south-east of Alexandria. Some of the crew and passengers attempted to escape from the still moving machine. All but one of those remaining inside, including Gott, were killed when Unteroffizier Bernd Schneider carried out a strafing run to finish off the stricken machine. Lt Gen Gott was the highest ranked British soldier to be killed by enemy fire in World War 2. His death led to the hurried appointment of a replacement commander for the 8th Army – a relative unknown named Bernard Law Montgomery.

The Bombay was 5. Staffel's only claim for the fortnight between 4 and 19 August. Over the same period all that 6./JG27 managed to bring down was a pair of Kittyhawks. But the remaining 4. Staffel of II. Gruppe – or, to be more precise, just one Schwarm of that Staffel – submitted claims during that time for no fewer than 59 Allied fighters destroyed! This huge discrepancy in numbers, and the lack of any witnesses other than the Schwarm members themselves, gave rise to grave suspicions. But rather than take the matter to higher authority, and possibly throw doubt and disrepute on the rest of the Gruppe, it was decided simply to break up the offending Schwarm. It should be noted that a full two months were to pass before the erstwhile Schwarmführer claimed his next victory, and that one of his NCO pilots disappeared over the Mediterranean on 19 August 'for reasons unknown' (some suggested he chose deliberately to dive into the sea rather than face accusations of making false claims and possible court-martial). The other two, however, went on to attain legitimate and respectable scores.

While tension may have been high at Quotaifiya, life for III./JG27 at Quasaba during August was more hum-drum. Only three Kittyhawks were added to the Gruppe's scoreboard, and much of the month was spent on coastal convoy patrol duties. 10.(Jabo) Staffel, which had carried out fighter-bomber raids on targets as far afield as Alexandria early in July, was now being employed against vehicle parks and gun emplacements closer to the front. And at the end of August the Staffel was withdrawn from III. Gruppe's control altogether to become part of the autonomous JaboGruppe Afrika. Finally, 31 August also saw the loss of Oberleutnant Hermann Tangerding, Kapitän of 7. Staffel, who took a direct anti-aircraft hit during a Stuka escort mission south of El Alamein. III. Gruppe's woes were not echoed back at I./JG27's Quotaifiya dispersals. And for good reason. Wearing his Swords, the Kapitän of 3. Staffel was back in Africa, and back in business. On that same 31 August Oberleutnant Marseille had claimed a couple of Hurricanes in the morning, likewise while escorting Stukas south-east of El Alamein, plus a single Spitfire in the early evening.

But it was the events of the following day which are still a source of no little controversy. Many, including RAF pilots who fought in the desert war, question the validity of Marseille's claims for the 17 Allied fighters he is reported to have shot down on 1 September (a total exceeded only by the world-record 18 achieved by Emil Lang on the eastern front – see Osprey Aviation Elite 6 - Jagdgeschwader 54 'Grünherz'). Post-war research has failed to identify all 17 of Marseille's alleged victims. It has proved,
however, that whereas he claimed all but one (a Spitfire) as Kittyhawks, at least half were in fact Hurricanes.

Although possibly two, and maybe even as many as four, of Marseille's opponents were not actually destroyed, the victories he did amass during his three sorties east of El Alamein on that 1 September make it without doubt the most successful day of his career.

Twenty-four hours later another five claims took Oberleutnant Marseille's score to 126, which won him the Diamonds. On this occasion there was to be no immediate summons to Berlin. And by the time the award was announced on 4 September his total had already risen to 132. A further dozen kills were added in the week that followed. Then, on 15 September, the sixth of seven enemy fighters credited to Marseille (all identified as 'P-46s', JG27's erroneous designation for the Kittyhawk) gave him his 150th. He was only the third Luftwaffe pilot to reach this figure.

Although Marseille's 150 brought no further decorations (at the time there was nothing higher than the Diamonds), it did result in his immediate promotion to Hauptmann. Still three months short of his 23rd birthday, Hans-Joachim Marseille had become the youngest Hauptmann in the Luftwaffe. He was also by far the highest scorer against the western Allies. But seven more victories were still to be added. They were claimed on 26 September, the 158th, and last of all – a Spitfire – going down near El Hamman, another halt on the coastal railway two stops to the east of El Alamein.

But Nemesis was already at hand. The two missions of 26 September had both been flown in new Bf-109G-2/trops. The first six of these machines, which were to replace the Gruppe's trusty Friedrichs, had just been delivered, and all had been allocated to Hauptmann Marseille's 3. Staffel. One of them, Gustav Wk-Nr. 14256, was to bring about the unthinkable, and something which 158 aerial opponents had signally failed to accomplish – the death of Hans-Joachim Marseille.

On 30 September Marseille was leading his Schwarm on yet another freie Jagd behind the Alamein front when his engine began to burn. Within seconds the cockpit was full of smoke. Choking on the fumes and unable to see, Marseille sought desperately to get back to the German lines guided by instructions over the R/T from his wingman, Oberleutnant Jost Schlang. Nine minutes after the fire had first broken out, the Gustav – on its first operational flight – suddenly flipped onto its back and plunged earthwards in a steep dive. Marseille managed to extricate himself, but his body slammed heavily against the tailplane. Parachute unopened, his lifeless form crashed to the desert floor near the tiny white mosque of Sidi Abd el Rahman, just to the rear of Rommel's forward minefield defences.

Geschwaderkommodore Major Eduard Neumann, who had once prophesied that he would make a fighter pilot out of the precocious young Berliner, issued an Order of the Day. It ended with these sentences;

'His successes against our toughest aerial opponents, the English, are unique. We can be happy and proud to have counted him as one of us. There are no words eloquent enough to convey what his loss means to us. He leaves behind an obligation for us to follow his lead, both as a human being and as a soldier. His spirit will remain an example to the Geschwader for ever.'

The pilots of 3. Staffel had their own way of mourning the loss of their 'Jochen'. They shared a fig cake and listened to his favourite tune, 'Rumba Azul', on the wind-up gramophone.

Forty-eight hours later, whether at the instigation of a particularly understanding member of the Higher Command, or simply as a result of operational expediency, I./JG27 was offered a complete change of scenery. Staging via the heel of Italy, where it converted fully on to the Bf-109G-2/trop, the Gruppe transferred to Sicily to take part in the renewed air offensive against Malta. During its near three-week stay at Pacino, the unit had accounted for seven RAF Spitfires. But two pilots had been lost, one to unknown causes and the other crashing into the sea due to yet another engine failure.

By this time III./JG27 had moved forward from Quasaba to Turbiya, closer to the Alamein front. But the Gruppe's morale was at a low ebb.

Successes were still hard to come by, and its pilots were fed up of being treated as the Geschwader's 'poor relations'. This had only been heightened when they were handed II./JG27's war-weary Friedrichs, which they would continue to fly while the other two Gruppen converted to the Bf-109G – although given the latter model's early accident rate, this may have been a blessing in disguise!

Knowing of his imminent promotion to the staff of XI. Fliegerkorps, and also fully aware of his Gruppe's problems, it is reported that 'Jack' Braune had even suggested that Hans-Joachim Marseille should be appointed his successor in an attempt to inject some spirit into the unit. Whether this proposal was given serious consideration is not known. But the 'Star of Africa' was no more. And when Hauptmann Erhard Braune departed on 11 October, his replacement was ex-Geschwader-Adjutant Hauptmann Ernst Düllberg.

One bright spot in III./JG27's sea of woes was provided by Leutnant Werner Schroer. Although not in the same league as Marseille, the Kapitän of 8. Staffel had continued to score steadily. On 20 October his 49th kill earned him the Knight's Cross. Less than 72 hours later, on the morning of 23 October, a pair of 'P-46s' east of El Alamein took his tally to 51.

But III. Gruppe's troubles, imagined or otherwise, were to be overwhelmed by a far greater disaster which was to affect not just JG27, but the whole of the Axis forces in North Africa. For later that same evening 882 artillery pieces opened fire as one. Night turned into day. Gen Montgomery had begun the Battle of El Alamein.

I./JG27 was rushed back from Sicily, but not even this most experienced of desert Jagdgruppen could do anything to influence events on the ground now. By 3 November it had claimed its final 13 victories over Egypt, two of which had been credited to Kommandeur Hauptmann Gerhard Homuth, raising his total to 61.

The top scorers of all three Gruppen were remarkably level at this stage. A trio of P-40s downed over the battlefield on the opening morning of Montgomery's offensive had been numbers 63-65 for Hauptmann Gustav Rödel, Kommandeur of II./JG27. Further to the west, one of a pair of B-24s claimed by III. Gruppe on 4 November provided the now Oberleutnant Werner Schroer with his 60th.

4 November was the day British and Commonwealth forces broke through the Axis front at El Alamein. Rommel's great retreat had begun. By 12 November the last German and Italian troops had been chased out of Egypt. For the British the 'Third Benghazi Stakes' were off and running. And this time it was to be a one-way race. This latest advance across Cyrenaica would not be driven back. It would continue through the Arco Philaenorum (inevitably, 'Marble Arch' to the passing British), across Tripolitania and only end with the total surrender of all Axis forces in Tunisia.

'Edu' Neumann's JG27 was spared this final ignominy. After retiring to fields in western Cyrenaica, and having been forced to abandon many of their machines on the way, Stab I. and III. Gruppen handed over most of their remaining Bf-109s to JG77. They were then evacuated from North Africa on 12 November.

II./JG27 was to remain nearly a month longer before it too passed its aircraft over to JG77 and finally departed. During that time, based latterly at Merduma, just across the provincial border in Tripolitania, it lost three pilots killed but claimed six Allied fighters destroyed. The last one of all, fittingly a Kittyhawk, went to a tyro of 6. Staffel (Leutnant Hans Lewes – it was his first victory) during the Gruppe's final sortie on the morning of 6 December.

Jagdgeschwader 27's 20-month African odyssey was over.

Reference: http://www.clubhyper.com/reference/jg27bookextractjw 1.htm

Biography
Hans-Joachim Marseille was born to Charlotte and Siegfried Marseille, a family with French-Huguenot ancestry in Charlottenburg-Berlin. It is thought his father Siegfried was a fighter pilot in World War I, however this is unconfirmed. What is known about Siegfried Marseille (according to the book German Fighter Ace Hans-Joachim Marseille -'The Star Of Africa') is that he was promoted to general in the Army in 1935. Other sources claim he was killed in action against Soviet Forces in the Stalingrad area in early 1943, once again this is not certain.

His mother and father divorced when Marseille was still a young child, his mother married again and took the name Reuter, which affected Marseille, although he retook the name Marseille in adulthood. His lack of discipline afforded him the reputation of a rebel, often getting himself into mischief, something that would plague him early on in his Luftwaffe career. During the Battle of Britain in 1940 Marseille served in Jagdgeschwader 52[1], where he claimed 7 kills, flying alongside the likes of Johannes Steinhoff and Gerhard Barkhorn. One Bf-109E which he had crash-landed (he had written off 4 aircraft in action) has been recovered, rebuilt, and repainted in the colours of 'White 14' in which he had flown the aircraft.

As punishment for insubordination (rumoured to be derived from his penchant for American jazz music, womanising and his overly 'playboy' lifestyle) and inability to fly as a wingman, he was transferred by Steinhoff [2] out to Jagdgeschwader 27 which was soon relocated to North Africa. He scored two more kills before being shot down by Sous. Lt Denis, a Free French pilot with 73 Squadron in a Hurricane. However, his Geschwaderkommodore Eduard Neumann soon saw potential in Marseille and encouraged him to self-train to improve his abilities. By this time, he had crashed or damaged another four Bf-109E aircraft, including a tropicalized aircraft that he was ferrying.

His Staffel was rotated to Germany in late 1941/early 1942, to convert onto the Bf 109F-4/Trop, in which Marseille became a star. Marseille created a unique self-training program for himself, both physical and tactical, which resulted not just in outstanding situational awareness, marksmanship, and confident control of the aircraft, but also in a unique attack tactic that preferred a high angle deflection shooting attack and shooting at the target's front from the side, instead of the common method of chasing an aircraft and shooting at it directly from behind.

His innovative and unique attack method, which was perfected by him to a method for attacking aircraft formations, resulted in his fantastic lethality ratio, and in rapid multiple victories per attack, and it is this talent that made him one of the greatest and most innovative fighter aces in history.

On June 6, 1942, Marseille attacked alone a formation of 16 P-40 fighters and shot down 6 aircraft of No. 5 Squadron South African Air Force, five of them in six minutes, including the aces Captain Pare (6 claims), Lieutenant Goulding (6.5 claims), and Captain Botha (5 claims). On September 1 he was even more successful, claiming 17 enemy aircraft shot down on one day, 8 of them in 10 minutes.

Marseille flew 4 different Bf 109F-4/Trop aircraft:

Werk Nummer 8693, in which his score rose to 50 on February 23, 1942,
W.Nr. 10056, with 58 victory bars on the rudder,
the well-known W.Nr. 10137, with the number '70' within an open-topped wreath and 31 victory bars on the rudder, and
his final F-4/Trop, W.Nr. 8673 with the early-F Variant rear-fuselage horizontal support bars welded along the lower rear fuselage seam joining the fin/rudder and the stabilizer/elevators to the next forward fuselage section, a black-outlined yellow 14, and, on the rudder, '100' enclosed within a wreath, atop 51 victory bars.
 

The 1995 French-American WWII drama Diamond Swords is very loosely based on Marseille's life; its main character (played by Jason Flemyng) is named Hans-Joachim Avignon.

Death
On the 30 September 1942 Hauptmann Marseille was leading his staffel on a Stuka escort mission, during which no contact with enemy fighters was made. While returning to base, his new Bf-109 G-2/trop's cockpit began to fill with smoke; blinded and half asphyxiated by the smoke, he was guided by his wingmen Jost Schlang and Pottgen back to the German lines. By the time they reached their own lines, 'Yellow 14' had lost power and was drifting lower and lower. Pottgen called out after about ten minutes that they had reached the White Mosque of Sidi Abd el Rahman, and thus had reached friendly lines. At this point Marseille deemed his aircraft no longer flyable and decided to bail out, his last words to his friends being 'I've got to get out now, I can't stand it any longer'.

His Staffel who had been flying a tight formation around him peeled away to give him the necessary room to manoeuvre, and Marseille rolled his aircraft onto its back in standard procedure for bale-out, but due to the smoke and slight disorientation he failed to notice that the aircraft had entered a shallow dive and was now travelling at a considerably faster speed (approximately 400mph). He worked his way out of the cockpit and into the rushing air only to be carried backwards by the slipstream, the left side of his chest striking the vertical stabilizer of his stricken fighter, either killing him instantly or rendering him unconscious to the point that he could not deploy his parachute. He fell almost vertically, hitting the desert floor 7 km south of Sidi Abd el Rahman. As it transpired, a gaping 30 cm hole had been made in his parachute and the canopy had spilled out, but after recovering the body, the parachute release handle was still on 'safe', revealing Marseille had not even attempted to open it.

Hans-Joachim Marseille lay in state in the Staffel sick bay. His comrades coming to pay their respects throughout the day. As a tribute to their comrade they put on the record the 'Rhumba Azul' that he enjoyed listening to so much, it played over and over again until for the rest of the day. Marseille's funeral took place on 1 October 1942 at the heroes cemetery in Derna where Generalfeldmarschall Albrecht Kesselring and Eduard Neuman delivered an emotional eulogy.

His grave bears a one-word epitaph, Undefeated.

A war-time pyramid was constructed by Italian engineers at the site of his fall but over time it decayed. In 1989 Eduard Neuman and other JG27 survivors in co-operation with the Egyptian government erected a new pyramid that stands there to this day. It is understood that after the war, Hans-Joachim Marseille's remains were brought from Derna and reinterred in the memorial gardens at Tobruk - it was there that his mother visited his grave in 1954.

Achievements
8 victories in 10 minutes, 17 victories in one day, 54 victories in one month.
Average lethality ratio of just 15 rounds per victory.
Awarded Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, Germany's highest military honor. (one of only 27 awarded during the course of the war, ten of them to ace pilots).
Awarded Italian Gold Medal for Bravery (awarded only twice to Germans during the course of the war).
Youngest Captain in the Luftwaffe.
His 151 claims in North Africa included:
101 P-40/Tomahawk/Kittyhawks
30 Hurricanes
16 Spitfires
2 Baltimore medium bombers
1 Blenheim bomber
1 Martin Maryland bomber
Recent research has suggested that of his 151 North Africa claims, 81 can be directly attributed to Marseille via cross reference to Allied loss records, 24 can be safely rejected as no aircraft were lost or matched his combat reports, and 46 'possibles' which match to definite Allied losses shot down by German fighters, but could not definitely be attributed to Marseille or any other Luftwaffe pilot.

This discrepancy of claims to actual losses proves to be fairly typical of all WW2 combat claims for both Axis and Allied fighter aces.

The I./JG27 fighter Gruppe claimed 588 aircraft shot down April 1941 - November 1942. Marseille accounted for 151 of these; 26% of the unit's total.

Hans Joachim Marseille
The most amazing fighter pilot of World War 2
Hans Joachim Marseille, a young German fighter pilot, was the most amazing, unique, and lethal ace of World War 2. A non-conformist and brilliant innovator, he developed his own personal training program and combat tactics, and achieved amazing results, including 17 victories in one day, and an average lethality ratio of just 15 gun rounds per victory. Marseille was described by Adolf Galland, the most senior German ace, with these words : 'He was the unrivaled virtuoso among the fighter pilots of World War 2. His achievements were previously considered impossible.'

Marseille, who later became one of the ten most highly decorated German pilots of World War 2 and was nicknamed 'The Star of Africa' by the German propaganda, ('Jochen' by his friends), had a very unpromising and problematic start. At age 20 he graduated the Luftwaffe's fighter pilot school just in time to participate in the Battle Of Britain in the summer of 1940. He initially served in fighter wing 52 under Johannes Steinhoff (176 victories). In his third combat sortie he shot down a Spitfire and by the end of the Battle Of Britain he had seven victories, but he was also shot down four times, and his behavior on the ground got him into trouble. A charming person, he had such busy night life that sometimes he was too tired to be allowed to fly the next morning. He also loved American Jazz music, which was very politically incorrect in the Nazi military. As a result, he was transferred to another unit as a punishment for 'Insubordination'. His new unit, fighter wing 27, was relocated in April 1941 to the hot desert of North Africa, where he quickly achieved two more victories but was also shot down again and still had disciplinary problems.

Luckily for him, his new Wing Commander, Eduard Neumann, recognized that there might be a hidden potential in the unusual young pilot and helped him get on the right track. With his problems on the ground finally over, Marseille began to deeply analyze his combat activity, and started to improve his abilities as a fighter pilot with an intense self-training program, both physical and professional, that he developed for himself.

Marseille's self-training program
Vision - Marseille decided to adapt his eyes to the powerful desert sun and the dry desert atmosphere and to adapt his body to the desert's conditions. He stopped wearing sun glasses, deliberately exposed his eyes to the desert sun, and shifted from alcohol to milk. He also noticed that in the intensely lit dry desert atmosphere, aircraft can be detected from greater distances than over Europe and deduced that hiding and surprise are less practical over the desert than in the cloudy sky over Europe.
G-Force - Marseille worked endlessly to strengthen his abdominal and leg muscles in order to enhance his ability to sustain higher G-Force and for longer durations during dogfights better than the average fighter pilot. G-Force is the enormous centrifugal force experienced when a fighter aircraft makes sharp turns during dogfight. The modern G-suit that helps pilots sustain it was not yet invented in World War 2.
Aerobatics - Marseille used every opportunity to perform breathtaking aerobatics. In addition to free entertainment to his friends on the ground, this also gave him an outstanding control and confidence in extremely maneuvering his Messerschmitt 109 aircraft.

Marksmanship - Marseille spent his unused ammunition practicing firing at ground objects and trained a lot not just in plain strafing but also in high deflection shooting while in a sharp turn, which is much harder.

Intelligence - he began to read every possible intelligence information he could find in order to maximize his knowledge and understanding of the enemy.

Tactics - That's where Marseille marked himself as a great innovator of air warfare, and he kept improving. He claimed that in the perfect visual conditions over the desert, large formations are in a visual disadvantage against highly maneuvering single aircraft. He preferred to fight alone, with a single wingman providing warnings from a safe distance. He claimed that when fighting alone in a short range dogfight, he could quickly fire at anything he saw, while the attacked formation's pilots were confused, hesitated, and switched to a defensive position that further increased the lone attacker's chances. He also claimed that fighting alone eliminates the high risk of firing at or colliding with a wingman in such extreme maneuvering. Marseille said that in such conditions, there's a lower chance and too little time for the usual chase attack method, and preferred to use high angle deflection firing from short range while making a sharp turn. In doing so, he never used his gun sight and instead fired a very short burst at the passing target in the split second when its leading edge, its propeller, disappeared from his eyes behind his aircraft's nose. He calculated that when firing a short burst at this position, his gun rounds will hit the target's engine and cockpit, and he trained in this unorthodox aiming method on his friends (without firing) many times and perfected his ability to use it. He deduced that over the desert, a fighter pilot can become 'invisible' only by extreme maneuvers at close range, and that the intensity of the maneuvering was more important than the speed of flying.

The Hans Joachim Marseille that emerged from this self-training program was a fighter pilot with superior abilities. He saw enemy aircraft before others did and from greater distances, he could sustain higher G-Force and for longer durations, he made unbelievably sharp turns and generally achieved better performance with the Me-109 than others. He greatly outmaneuvered his enemies, nullifying the significant numerical advantage they had, often becoming 'invisible' to the enemy pilots by maneuvering so fast, and using his high-deflection short range firing method he achieved an amazing record of lethality, shooting down enemy aircraft with just 15 gun rounds on average.

The Star of Africa
He first demonstrated his new abilities on Sept. 24, 1941. During a fighter sweep, he suddenly broke formation and hurried to a direction where no one saw anything. When the formation caught up with him, he already shot down a bomber. Later the same day, his formation of six Me-109s met a formation of 16 Hurricanes. Marseille and his wingman were ordered to provide cover to the other four Me-109s which attacked the Hurricanes, but after three Hurricanes were shot down, Marseille told his wingman to cover him and attacked a formation of four Hurricanes. He dived at them, leveled at their altitude, and shot down two Hurricanes in a single burst while in a sharp turn. He then dived below the Hurricanes to gather some speed again, and then climbed back to them and shot down a third Hurricane. At that stage, the two formations disengaged each other, but Marseille climbed alone to a higher altitude and later dived at the retreating Hurricanes and shot down a 4th Hurricane, his 5th victory that day, and only then flew alone back to base. 'I believe now I got it' he said to a friend.

This was the beginning of his amazing series of dogfight victories, which lasted a year until his death in an accident. His most 'classic' combat, by some analysts, was on June 6, 1942 at noon. While in a bomber escort mission, he saw a formation of 16 P-40 Tomahawk fighter and ground attack aircraft, but initially remained with his formation, escorting the German bombers. After ten minutes, he left his formation with the escorted bombers and flew alone to attack the 16 Tomahawks, but his faithful wingman followed him. Marseille climbed above a tight formation of four, then dived at them. From a range of just 200ft he selected his first victim and turned at him. From a very short range of just 150ft he fired and shot it down. He then pulled up, turned, and dived at his 2nd victim, shooting it down from a range of 150ft. The others began to dive, but Marseille dived at them, turned at his 3rd victim and shot it down at altitude of about 3500ft (1km). He passed thru the smoke from his 3rd victim and leveled at low altitude, and then climbed again. He then dived again, at his 4th victim. He fired from just 100ft, but his guns didn't fire, so he fired his machine guns from very short range and passed thru the debris from his 4th victim. At the moment he hit his 4th victim, his 3rd victim hit the ground after falling 3500ft, approximately 15 seconds between victories, an indication of Marseille's speed. The remaining Tomahawks were now all at very low altitude. He leveled at them and quickly closed distance. He found himself beside one of the Tomahawks, he turned at him and fired, hitting his 5th victim in the engine and the cockpit. He climbed again, watched the remaining Tomahawks, selected a target, dived, levelled, and fired, and passed just above his 6th victim. He then climbed to his wingman which observed the battle from 7500ft above, and then, short of fuel and ammunition, flew back to base.

In 11 minutes of combat, fighting practically alone against a large enemy formation, he shot down six victims, five of them in the first six minutes. He was the only attacker in the battle, and not a single round was fired at him. The surviving Tomahawk pilots said in their debriefing that they were attacked 'by a numerically superior German formation which made one formation attack at them, shot down six of their friends, and disengaged'. In a post-war analysis of this dogfight these pilots testified the same.

The fatal accident
The 22 years old Hans Joachim Marseille became a star, and he kept improving with experience. On Sept. 1, 1942, a month before his death, he shot down 17 enemies in one day, including 8 victories in 10 minutes, in his 2nd sortie that day. During this month he shot down 54 enemy aircraft. Already the youngest Captain in the German Air Force, he was promoted to Major. He taught his methods to his friends, but none of them were able to match his level of achievements in using these methods.

On Sept. 26, he shot down his last victims, making a total of 158 confirmed air victories. He received a new Me-109 aircraft but refused to replace his faithful aircraft. His status was such that only an order by Fieldmarshal Kesselring, the supreme commander of the German forces in the southern front, convinced him three days later to use the new aircraft.

The next morning, Sept. 30, 1942, he flew his 382nd combat mission, a fighter sweep over British territory. They met no enemies, and turned back towards the German lines. Marseille then had a technical problem. His new aircraft's engine cooling system failed, the engine caught fire, and his cockpit was full of smoke. Encouraged by his fellows, Marseille flew his burning new Me-109 three more minutes until he was again over German held territory. He then turned his aircraft upside down, jettisoned the canopy, and then released himself and fell outside of the burning fighter. Bailing out is not always safe, and Marseille was hit in the chest by the rudder of his Me-109 and lost consciousness, so he did not open his parachute, and fell down to the ground and died.

Already highly decorated, he was posthumously awarded the highest German medal, the Knights Cross with Oak leaves, Swords, and Diamonds. Only 9 other German aces were awarded this medal. On his grave, his comrades wrote his name and rank, and added just one word: undefeated.

Hans-Joachim Marseille
By Major Robert Tate, USAF
With the Messerschmitt's left wingtip pointed vertically toward the bluish-green bay below, the hapless Hurricane fighter stands virtually motionless in front of the young Berliner's windscreen. Through the heavy metal framed canopy of the Messerschmitt Bf 109F-4, the British Hurricane with its yellow, blue, white, and red centered cockade remains clearly recognizable against the crystal blue, cloudless North African sky. Pulling back on the stick, the G forces increase and the gut-wrenching turn tightens. The German pilot's body feels as though several hundred extra pounds have been saddled around him as the high G turn presses his body firmly into his seat. From underneath his black leather and mesh flight helmet, beads of sweat roll down the German's face, burning his eyes as they remain open and fixed on the revi-optical gun sight. 3G, 3.5G, 4G. The strain increases and the young man's arm starts to weaken and grow fatigued. Tired, numb, and aching from a mission already full of air combat, there are no distractions allowed; he mustn't let his quarry get away.

A quick, cursory look inside and a firm but positive input with right rudder, Jochen, as he is known by his friends, corrects the aircraft's slight skid. Throttle full aft and maximum power, more pull on the stick and the Messerschmitt starts to gain rapidly on the brown and tan camouflaged British fighter.

 The Bf-109 begins to shudder under the ever increasing strain of the battle as the airspeed rapidly bleeds off from 300 knots indicated airspeed down to 140 knots. The tan colored Messerschmitt with the sky blue underside responds like the thoroughbred she is. Physics demands the Messerschmitt's nose to drop as the airspeed and corresponding lift falls away. Defying this law of nature, Jochen aggressively applies full top rudder with his heavy, fleece lined leather flying boot and the 109 now hangs precariously between stall and slow flight. A slight indication of stall warning and between 140 and 130 knots indicated airspeed, there is a large metallic clang that momentarily distracts the German pilot as the leading edge slats automatically slam into the extended position. This aeronautical feature increases wing camber and simultaneously decreases stall speed and decreases the British pilot's chances of survival.

Like an artist working and molding clay to create the perfect masterpiece, the 22 year old German pilot works his aircraft as an extension of his own body. Sweat pours down his back underneath his black leather flight jacket. There is a definite cold chill in the cockpit at his altitude made even more noticeable by the cool winter sun hanging high and listless in the Libyan sky. The webbed shoulder harnesses bite into his neck and stings as the sweat creeps into the raw and irritated skin. He is suddenly aware of the additional weight of the flight helmet on his head as the crushing forces of high G maneuvering continue to take hold of his thin and nearly frail body. These minor distractions however, no longer affect the German ace. He has been here before and the only thing that now matters is another victory.

Looking over his left shoulder, the RAF pilot sees the tan Messerschmitt with white wing tips perched ominously off his left hind quarter. The white propeller spinner housing the deadly 20 mm cannon and the twin 7.9 mm machine guns on the nose slowly pulling lead and setting up for the proper firing position. Fear completely grips the British pilot for he now realizes it is no rookie pilot on his tail. Every evasive maneuver attempted has been flawlessly matched and countered by the German pilot who at the same time has been able to close the distance between the two adversaries with every turn. This is definitely an expert he is fighting today! With his fate evidently sealed, the ruddy faced Englishman, paralyzed with fear, takes a final look over his left shoulder to see the Messerschmitt approaching firing position. . .

As Jochen's Messerschmitt closes in, the Hurricane begins to disappear beneath the nose of the German warbird. Young Jochen cocks his head slightly to the left and bites down on his lower lip. His large brown eyes see only the space in time where he calculates his deadly ordinance and the enemy plane will meet. It is time. FIRE!!!!

The brown leather gloved index finger closes firmly around the red firing trigger and the control column shakes violently in his right hand. The cockpit immediately fills with the acrid smell of cordite as more than thirty pounds of steel per second of 7.9 mm machine gun and 20 mm cannon shells hurtle toward the Hurricane in beautiful yellow colored tracer arcs. A quick two-second burst and the German rolls his aircraft inverted and dives down and away, certain his aim was true.

One thousand feet above the melee, the young Berliner's wingman watches the action in amazement, awe, and a certain amount of disbelief. As if by magical forces guiding Jochen's ammunition, the shells and the Hurricane meet in deadly unison. With perfect timing and precision accuracy, the bullets and cannon shells first strike the Hurricane's engine with fantastic, dazzling sparks, immediately rendering it a furnace of uncontrollable fire. Angry orange and red tongues of flame lap hungrily from the engine, belching sickening black and gray smoke extending more than 100 feet behind the stricken airplane. The damage, just beginning, gets worse as the shells quickly walk their way back along the fuselage to the cockpit. The destruction there is swift and complete, reducing the once proud British fighter pilot to a bloody, lifeless form inside the burning cockpit of his winged tomb.

'Horrido Jochen!!', exclaims his wingman. 'Victory!!'

'Hast du den aufschlag gesehen?' 'Did you see them crash?'

'Jawohl Jochen!' 'Confirmed!'

Within seconds, the 7500 pound Hurricane, a sheet of flaming metal, thunders vertically into the ocean near the Libyan harbor of Tobruk. As German fighter ace Hans-Joachim Marseille turns for home, a total of four, oily black spills are left fouling the otherwise beautiful ocean surface, marking the graves of four British fighter pilots that will be mourned by family and squadron members alike yet celebrated as four more victory marks on the rudder of German fighter ace Hans-Joachim Marseille, known throughout Germany as 'The Star of Africa,' who is to become the most successful of all German fighter pilots in the North African theater.

The morning of 30 September, 1942 was like most other late summer mornings in the North African desert, with the weather forecasted to be hot, dry and unrelenting. For the men of German fighter Gruppe I./JG-27, the anticipation of another full day of combat weighed heavily on everyone's mind. As well it should have. For the first time, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korp was in a position to be thoroughly routed and thrown out of Africa by Lt. General Bernard Montgomery's British 8th Army who, under new and more aggressive leadership, had gained their second wind and rekindled their fighting spirit. Not only were the men of JG-27 fully aware of Rommel's recent defeat at the Battle of Alam el Halfa in early September, they seemed to be caught in a perpetual battle with the harsh desert climate, a severe lack of supplies, the constant strain of aerial combat, and the ever-present threat of British commando attacks against their airfields. However, as difficult as the situation appeared for the Gruppe, and despite the recent loss of two of the more experienced pilots in the unit, individual morale was extremely high. Problems affecting other fighter units in the area seemed somewhat removed from the men at this lonely desert outpost in northern Egypt.

Captain Hans-Joachim Marseille rolled out of bed on the morning of 30 September, 1942 and was greeted by Mathias, his personal batman from the Transvaal. The strain of one and a half years of almost continual aerial combat showed heavily on his young face of 22 years. Marseille, the youngest captain in the Luftwaffe, appeared to have everything going his way. He was confident, cocky, and by far the most famous and successful fighter pilot in the North African desert. After a slow start as a fighter pilot on the Channel Front during the Battle of Britain, having downed seven aircraft while losing several aircraft himself, Marseille overcame initial weaknesses as a pilot and made his Messerschmitt Bf-109 fighter, with the big yellow 14 painted on the side, the scourge of the desert air war. During the previous 29 days, he had coolly dispatched no less than 54 British, South African, and Australian fighter aircraft, 17 of those in one day. Fourteen days earlier he had been promoted to Captain and had just been notified of being the fourth man awarded Germany's highest military award: The Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds. Without a doubt, young Marseille was well on his way to becoming among the first group of Luftwaffe pilots to shoot down 200 enemy aircraft.

The morning of 30 September brought the prospect of another day's hunt in the skies over Egypt. More victories and more glory bestowed upon the young man from Berlin. But this morning, a freak accident would reduce perhaps the greatest fighter pilot of the war from the hero of the German nation to a lifeless historical footnote on the floor of the North African desert.

1997 will mark the 55th anniversary of the death of Hans-Joachim Marseille, arguably the greatest of all World War II fighter pilots. With the coming of the anniversary, the debate as to just how great the young Berliner was will certainly continue to rage within historical aviation circles.

The basis of the debate stems from Marseille's actual, yet almost mythical, combat record in North Africa. He was credited with destroying 158 Allied aircraft, all but seven of those within an intense eighteen month period in the desert. All but four of his victories were against fighter aircraft, and all were against pilots of the western nations. No other pilot destroyed as many aircraft on the Western Front as did Marseille. During this same period, although shot down several times himself, Marseille escaped death from the angry guns of Allied pilots in over 388 combat missions. Twenty-nine other German pilots would go on to score more victories than Marseille, however, those pilots scored the majority of their victories against Russian opponents on the Eastern Front.

Marseille, a German of French Huguenot ancestry, was in the words of the General of the German Fighter Arm, Adolf Galland, 'The unrivaled virtuoso of fighter pilots.' His ability to sometimes destroy entire squadrons of enemy aircraft in a single sortie is the substance legends are made of, and the kind of material ripe for critics to study and either deny or defend. Marseille is still regarded by most German Luftwaffe pilots to have been the best of the best; excelling as a marksman, an acrobatic pilots, as well as one of the best combat tacticians in the Luftwaffe. Together, the synergy created by the accumulation of these talents forged one of the most lethal fighter pilots of his era.

Marseille's superb ability as a pilot was only outshined by his uncommon, gregarious, and sometimes boyish behavior on the ground. He wore his hair long, had a penchant for practical jokes, and listened to taboo music like American jazz and swing, which was often referred to as 'Jew' and 'Nigger' music. Marseille also had a fairly popular, and sometimes unpopular, reputation as being a 'playboy.' Early in his career, he was transferred from JG-52 by his commander, the famous Johannes 'Macky' Steinhoff who said, 'Marseille was remarkably handsome. He was a gifted pilot and fighter, but he was unreliable. He had girlfriends everywhere, who took up so much of his time that he was often too tired to be allowed to fly. His often irresponsible understanding of duty was the primary reason I sent him packing. But he had an irresistible charm.' He was quickly shipped off to JG-27 and upon his arrival in North Africa, his commanders were in possession of a thick file containing his breeches of military discipline and unorthodox behavior. To say Marseille was not the typical German fighter pilot or stereotypical Aryan Teutonic Knight would be a gross understatement.

'Jochen was a practical joker; he was forever playing pranks. He came to see me and my squadron - No. 8 Staffel - one day in his colorful Volkswagen jeep. He called it Otto. After a talk, a cup of sweet coffee and a glass of Italian Doppio Kümmel, he got into his jeep and drove it straight at my tent flattening everything. Then he drove off with a grin stretching across his face.'
Werner Schrör, 8/JG27, 61 Kills in N. Africa

Much of the debate and refusal to substantiate Marseille's combat record originates from one day of furious air combat on 1 September, 1942 in which he claimed to have destroyed 17 aircraft in three sorties. Not only did Marseille claim 17 aircraft, but he did it in a fashion that was unheard of at the time. His victims were shot out of the sky in such a rapid fashion that many Allied critics still refuse to believe Marseille's claims as fact. But it is precisely the speed and fury involved with these kills that has been the center of the Marseille debate for the past half century. For years, many British historians and militarists refused to admit that they had lost any aircraft that day in North Africa. Careful review of records however do show that the British did lose more than 17 aircraft that day, and in the area that Marseille operated. The British simply refused to believe, as many do today, that any German pilot was capable of such rapid destruction of RAF hardware.

Facts are that Marseille is still acknowledged as among the best marksmen in the Luftwaffe. The Germans were very meticulous in filing combat reports with all relevant data to include time of battle, area of operation, opposition encountered, as well as an in-depth armorers report. At the end of a mission, the armorers would count the number of bullets and cannon shells expended during the fight. Marseille would often average an astonishing 15 bullets required per victory, and this with a combat resulting in his downing of several allied aircraft. No other German pilot was close to Marseille in this area.

'Yeah, everybody knew nobody could cope with him. Nobody could do the same. Some of the pilots tried it like Stahlschmidt, myself, and Rödel. He, he was an artist. Marseille was an artist.' Using his hands to illustrate. 'He was up here and the rest of us were down here somewhere.'
Friedrich Körner, 36 victories, Knight's Cross winner, 2 JG-27

But what made Marseille so effective in a theater of combat where so many other pilots achieved little or no success? Several factors accounted for his success in the desert with one being attributed to his superior eyesight. Legend has it that Marseille would stare at the sun for extended periods of time in order to acclimate his eyes to the desert glare. Marseille, like American fighter legend Chuck Yeager, had the ability to see enemy aircraft long before anyone else in his formation. Since Marseille tended to see the enemy first, he was consistently able to position himself in desirable attacking positions with many of his victims obviously succumbing to the speed and surprise of Marseille's attacks. Another critical factor for his success was his superb flying ability. Through constant practice and a desire to be the best pilot in his unit, Marseille was one of the few pilots who was able to totally master his Messerschmitt fighter through the full flight envelope. He would practice his techniques over and over again, often against men in his own squadron while returning home from sorties. He was so comfortable and confident in his flying abilities that he would often break standard rules of aerial combat by pulling his power to idle and using flaps to help tighten his turns. He would also regularly attack numerically superior enemy formations in lightening fast strikes that used the enemy's formation size as its own disadvantage. But most critical to Marseille's success was the exploitation of his superior Messerschmitt fighter over the majority of enemy fighters deployed and encountered in the desert in concert with exposing weaknesses inherent within the standard allied fighter formations used in the desert.

The DAF (Desert Air Forces: Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, and South African Air Force) sometimes used what was called a Lufbery Circle, named after the American WW I fighter pilot who developed the formation, Raoul Lufbery. When encountered by a real or perceived superior force of enemy fighters, the DAF pilots would often form up in a defensive circle with one aircraft behind the other. This formation was much like the 2-dimensional wagon train circling in a attempt to both dissuade Indian attack and to afford the best defensive firepower. In theory, if a German aircraft attacked a British fighter from behind, another British fighter would be in place to immediately shoot down the enemy aircraft daring to intrude into the defensive circle. Marseille, one not to be discouraged or scared away, developed tactics, unfortunately at the expense of several of his own Messerschmitt fighters early in his North African career, that enabled him to enter and then defeat the otherwise efficient DAF formations.

Starting at a point several thousand feet above the circle and displaced laterally a mile or so, Marseille would dive down below the formation and attack from underneath. There he would select one unsuspecting victim, line him up in his sights, and hammer one very short and deadly burst of cannon and machine gun fire from his aircraft. His aim was so accurate that he usually placed all of his shells from the engine back into the cockpit, often killing the pilot. After his firing run, Marseille would either slice through the top of the formation or stall the aircraft and spin down to safety. Once the full maneuver was complete, Marseille would set himself up for another run. By repeating this and variations of this deadly sequence, Marseille often shot down four, five, and six, aircraft in a single sortie. His movements were so fast that it was common for the unsuspecting allied pilots to think they were under attack by a large formation of aircraft. On 15 September, 1942, for example, Marseille destroyed 7 Australian fighter aircraft within an eleven minute period and on 17 June, 1942, Marseille destroyed six aircraft within a seven minute period. The table below illustrates the quickness of many of Marseille's multiple kills.

A Sample of Multiple Kill Sorties Achieved by Marseille

Victories Date Times of Victories
88 thru 91 15 Jun 42 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905
92 thru 95 16 Jun 42 1902, 1910, 1911, 1913
96 thru 101 17 Jun 42 1202, 1204, 1205, 1208, 1209, 1212
105 thru 108 01 Sep 42 0828, 0830, 0833, 0839*
109 thru 116 01 Sep 42 1055, 1056, 1058, 1059, 1101, 1102,
1103, 1105*
117 thru 121 01 Sep 42 1846, 1847, 1848, 1849, 1853*
127 thru 132 03 Sep 42 0820, 0823, 0829, 1608, 1610, c.1611
137 thru 140 06 Sep 42 1803, 1813, 1814, 1820
145 thru 151 15 Sep 42 1751, 1753, 1755, 1757, 1759, 1800,
1802
152 thru 158 26 Sep 42 0910, 0913, 0915, unk, 1656, 1659,
1715
* Indicates a total of 17 aircraft shot down on this day.

Marseille's ingenious tactics were made successful because of his unique and masterful flying abilities. Other pilots who tried to emulate Marseille, but failed to master their own aircraft, were not as successful. It is interesting to note that two of the other most successful German pilots in the desert also used Marseille's tactics to achieve many their victories. Still many Allied historians refuse to believe that Marseille was as successful and deadly as the Germans claim. Keep in mind that during the Marianas Turkey Shoot, on June 19, 1944, US Navy pilot David McCambell shot down 7 Japanese aircraft on a single sortie, and another 9 on 24 October, 1944. Major William Shomo was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for downing 7 Japanese aircraft in a single sortie on 11 January, 1945. Many pilots on both sides of the war were credited with multiple kills on single sorties. Marseille just happened to make a deadly habit of it.

'However, there is no doubt that my true schoolmaster was Marseille; I studied his tactics for attacking the British defensive circles for a long time, tried it myself often without success - and finally, learned the lesson. . . During the fights over the convoys to Tobruk, the British introduced the defensive circle. It was very efficient, but then Marseille disenchanted it; he would dive down near the circle, pull out and zoom into it from below. He reached the level of the circle just before stalling, just in time to level off, shoot down a Tommy and start to spin to sea level, where he pulled out at the last second (it was impossible to follow him). He then climbed back to his own formation and repeated the performance until the circle broke up. No other German pilot was able to copy Marseille's tricks, although all made attempts to do so, and sometimes succeeded in breaking up the circle.'
Werner Schrör,

Fighters Over the Desert, p.232

30 September, 1942. At the height of both the desert war in North Africa and the career of young 'Jochen' Marseille, tragedy was to strike the Luftwaffe such that they would never again be a serious threat in North Africa. Scheduled to fly a new Messerschmitt Bf-109G-2 fighter, W.Nr. 14256, Marseille was called upon to once again escort the now painfully obsolete Stuka dive bombers against ground targets in Egypt. At 1047, Hans-Joachim Marseille took off for his final sortie. After the escort mission was complete, Marseille and his squadron were directed to intercept a flight of enemy aircraft sighted south of Imayid, Egypt. No contact with the enemy fighters was made and the flight of Messerschmitts set a course for home.

At 1135, Marseille indicated that he had smoke pouring into his cockpit and it was becoming difficult to either breathe or see. Other members in the flight urged Marseille to remain with his aircraft for another couple minutes since they were still over enemy-held territory. By 1139, smoke in the cockpit was now unbearable and Marseille was forced to leave his airplane. Marseille's last radio transmission was, 'I've got to get out now. I can't stand it any more'. Now over German territory, at approximately 10000 feet, Marseille rolled his aircraft inverted in a standard maneuver to prepare for bailout. Suffering from probable spatial disorientation, possible toxic hypoxia, as well as being blinded by the smoke in the cockpit, Marseille's aircraft entered an inverted dive with an approximate dive angle of 70 to 80 degrees. At a speed of approximately 400 knots, Marseille jumped out of his damaged aircraft. Unfortunately, the left side of Marseille's chest struck the tail of his airplane, either killing him instantly or incapacitating him to the point where he was unable to open his parachute. As the other members of Marseille's squadron watched in horror, Jochen's body landed face down 7 km South of Sidi Abd el Rahman, an unfitting end to the 'African Eagle' and a foreshadowing of things to come for the Luftwaffe.

The men of Marseille's squadron were so devastated by his death that the entire I Gruppe ceased to function as a combat unit and was subsequently withdrawn from combat operations for a period of almost one month. Marseille was buried in the desert with full military honors in the military cemetery in Derna, Egypt. To this day, a pyramid, newly dedicated in 1989 stands as both a testimony and honor to his achievements on the site of some the most severe fighting in North Africa, El Alamein.

Marseille's career is one of the most interesting and stellar of any Second World War aviator. In 388 combat missions, 482 missions total, he destroyed 158 allied aircraft. All of these on Western Front. For the remaining skeptics, please note the following: In the North Africa campaign, some 1300 victories were claimed by German pilots. Of those, 674 victories were claimed by only 15 pilots, and the top 55 scoring pilots accounted for 1042 kills. This points out another very basic difference between German and Allied combat philosophy. While the Allies tended to hunt in packs and compete vigorously for kills, the Germans, at least in North Africa, tended to let the best pilots 'have at it' while the novices would tend to sit back and enjoy the show. This is one reason the loss of an asset like Marseille was so devastating to the Luftwaffe in Africa. That kind of emotional destruction would not likely occur in Allied squadrons.

Through complete and intense research of many of Marseille's claims in the desert, it can be argued that he may have indeed been guilty of some over claiming towards the end of his short and prolific career. Not that it was intentional but rather as matter of circumstances of the circus like environment his character brought to the unit. Everyone expected him to be successful on a daily basis and achieve more and more glory for their unit. Marseille in turn, certainly influenced by their enthusiasm, was so sure of his own abilities that he would sometimes fire at the enemy, break off the attack and seek the next victim without confirming the destruction of the previous target. A large percent of his victims did indeed crash land in the desert or limp back home as opposed to being utterly blown out of the sky. Regardless, even with the possibility of slight over claiming due to youthful bravado and a twinge of wishful thinking, a conservative estimate of over 130 definite, indisputable victories, equivalent to approximately ten percent of all aircraft claimed by Luftwaffe pilots in North Africa, is still a testament to this man's achievements.

Marseille: The Luftwaffe's master of the rapid, multiple kill. So deadly and effective in the aerial arena that more than 50 years after his death, much debate is still centered on his accomplishments. Was he the best? My personal opinion aside, it is difficult to compare combat pilots to one another. It is much like trying to compare boxers like Marciano, Ali, Liston, Lewis, and Tyson. Too many factors play a role in the fortunes of a pilot's combat career. Marseille's record however, does speak for itself. Do I think he would have survived the war had he continued to fly and fight for another two and one-half years? Possibly not. The strain of combat in the desert had already begun to take its toll on Marseille, evident in his constant smoking and sometimes uncontrollable shaking after an intense combat sortie. Marseille tended to be much too impetuous and impatient - not being the sort of man who would pace himself for the duration. Where men like top scoring ace of all time Erich Hartmann would look over a situation and then decide to attack only when he had favorable odds, the young, brazen Marseille and his wingmen would often dive into large groups of enemy aircraft regardless of the advantage the enemy may have enjoyed. It is possible Marseille would have met a fate similar to countless other Luftwaffe 'Experten' in the skies over Germany, combating the scores of Allied bomber and fighter aircraft that roamed over fortress Europe between 1943-1945. Regardless of the speculation about Marseille and his achievements, the study of WW II combat aviation would not be complete without a look at this young Berliner's contribution to this arena and trying to understand the attributes and influences he brought to the airmen in the North African desert.

'When Marseille came to JG-27 he brought a very bad military reputation with him, and he was not at all a sympathetic fellow. He tried to show off, and considered his acquaintance with a lot of movie stars to be of great importance.

In Africa, he became ambitious in a good way, and completely changed his character. After some time there, it became a matter of some importance to movie stars to know him.

He was too fast and too mercurial to be a good leader and teacher, but his pilots adored him. He thanked them by protecting them and bringing them home safely.

He was a mixture of the fresh air of Berlin and French champagne-a gentleman.'
Eduard Neumann, Kommodore JG-27
Horrido, p.116

Marseille Facts

Born: 13 December, 1919 in, Berlin- Charlottenburg, Germany
Died: 30 September, 1942 near Sidi Abd el Rahman, Egypt

Kills: 158 154 Fighter aircraft
4 Bomber aircraft
Awards:
- Iron Cross 2nd Class - September 1940
- Iron Cross 1st Class - Fall 1940
- German Cross in Gold - 24 November, 1941
- Knight's Cross - 22 February, 1942
- Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves - 6 June, 1942
- Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords - 18 June, 1942
- Italian Medaglia d' Oro for bravery - 6 August, 1942
- Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds
3 September, 1942

Promotions:
Leutnant - 1 July, 1941
Oberleutnant - April, 1942
Hauptmann - 3 September, 1942

The views expressed by Major Tate are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Air Force. Major Tate can be contacted on the Internet at: rtate@worldnet.att.net
Picture Credits:
luft0340.jpg Author's HJM Collection
luft0338.jpg Scanned from Ring And Shores Fighters Over The Desert
luft0341.jpg Author's HJM Collection
luft0345.jpg John Crandall's The Star Of Africa
luft0339.jpg German Fighter Aces HJM
luft0343.jpg German Fighter Aces HJM

I wish to thank Major Tate for his fine contribution to the Luftwaffe Resource Page.
Scott Rose

 

 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)

 Some of the most widely used Magazine References:

  • Airfix Magazines (English) - http://www.airfix.com/
  • Avions (French) - http://www.aerostories.org/~aerobiblio/rubrique10.html
  • FlyPast (English) - http://www.flypast.com/
  • Flugzeug Publikations GmbH (German) - http://vdmedien.com/flugzeug-publikations-gmbh-hersteller_verlag-vdm-heinz-nickel-33.html
  • Flugzeug Classic (German) - http://www.flugzeugclassic.de/
  • Klassiker (German) - http://shop.flugrevue.de/abo/klassiker-der-luftfahrt
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) - http://boutique.editions-lariviere.fr/site/abonnement-le-fana-de-l-aviation-626-4-6.html
  • Le Fana de L'Aviation (French) - http://www.pdfmagazines.org/tags/Le+Fana+De+L+Aviation/
  • Osprey (English) - http://www.ospreypublishing.com/
  • Revi Magazines (Czech) - http://www.revi.cz/