Jagdgeschwader 50 - JG(r)50
Messerschmitt Bf 109G-5/R6 Stab./JG50 Green 3 Gottfried Weiroster WNr 15912 Holland 1944
Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 I./JG50 Red 1 Hermann Graf Holland 1944
Profile 00: Bf 109G6 1./JG50 Red 1 Hermann Graff, Gruppenkomandeurs JG(r)50 WNr 15913 Holland September 1944
Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6/R3/R6 1./JG50 White 10 Alfred Grislawski Wiesbaden Erbenheim Sep 1943
Source Profile: Messerschmitt Bf 109 G Over Germany: Pt. 1 (Topcolors 15002) (Author) Marek J Murawski, Arkadiusz Wrobel ISBN 978-83-60445-98-3
Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6/R3/R6 1./JG50 White 10 Alfred Grislawski Wiesbaden Erbenheim Sep 1943
Bf 109G I./JG50 W(+10) Grislawski Russia 1943 01
9./JG52 Alfred Grislawski Crimea Russia 1st July 1942
9./JG52 Hermann Graf and Alfred Grislawski Crimea Russia July 1 1942
9./JG52 Alfred Grislawski 01-04
Hermann Graf was born on 24 October 1912 at Engen in Baden. As the son of a blacksmith, his modest family origins and poor academic achievements barred access to a military career. He completed an apprenticeship as a locksmith but dropped the trade and took a clerical post at the local municipal offices. He remained in the job until the outbreak of the war. Graf had taken up gliding in 1932, and by 1936 had also qualified as a pilot of powered aircraft. He was also an enthusiastic soccer player.
In 1935, Graf applied for flight training with the Luftwaffe. On 2 June 1936, he joined the Fliegerfuhrerschule at Karlsruhe to begin his basic flying training, graduating on 25 September 1936. Graf completed advanced flying training on 31 May 1938. Despite being selected to undergo multi-engine flying training, Graf succeeded in being posted to 2./JG51, a fighter unit equipped with the Bf 109 E-1, with the rank of Unteroffizier on 31 May 1939. On the outbreak of World War 2, Graf was promoted to the rank of Feldwebel. He flew 21 frontier patrols over the Franco-German border without firing his guns in anger.
On 20 January 1940, Graf was transferred as an instructor to Erganzungs-Jagdgruppe Merseburg. He was promoted to the rank of Leutnant on 1 May. Graf was transferred to JG52 on 6 October 1940 based at Berlin-Schonwalde. Leutnant Graf was assigned to 9./JG52. On 14 October, Graf relocated to Rumania with the unit and instructed Rumanian pilots under the auspicies of the German military mission. During this period 9./JG52 was redesignated 3./JG28 but was reinstated as 9./JG52 in late December. In late May 1941, a detachment of III./JG52 was transferred to Greece to support the invasion of Crete. Graf flew many ground-attck missions over the island. By early June, the detachment had relocated back to Rumania. On 1 August 1941, Graf accompanied 9./JG52 to the Ukrainian airfield of Biyala Tserkov.
On 4 August, he recorded his first victory when he shot down a Russian I-16 fighter during an escort mission for German Ju 87 Stuka dive-bombers against Kiev. On 27 September, his Bf 109 was damaged by return fire from the Russian DB-3 twin-engine bomber he was attacking. Graf managed to bring his damaged aircraft back across the front line and a safe landing. In October, Graf claimed 12 victories, including two Russian fighters shot down on 3 October to record his ninth and 10th victories. In December he again claimed 12 victories, including three enemy aircraft shot down on 6 December (32-34), a further three shot down on 8 December (35-37) and four on 27 December (38-41). Graf was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 24 January after reaching 45 victories.
On 23 March 1942, following his 50th victory, Graf was appointed Staffelkapitan of 9./JG52. His leadership fostered emerging fighter pilots such as Alfred Grislawski (133 victories, RK-EL), Ernst Suss (68 victories, RK, killed in action 20 December 1943), Leopold Steinbatz (99 victories, RK-S, killed in action 15 June 1942) and Heinrich Fullgrabe (67 victories, RK, killed in action 30 January 1945). Graf, began an incredible run of success when, in three weeks, commencing the last week of April, he shot down 48 Russian aircraft. On 30 April, he claimed six victories (64-69), seven on 2 May (70-76), seven on 8 May (79-86), six on 13 May (91-96) and eight on 14 May (97-104).
On 17 May 1942, Graf was awarded the Eichenlaub for reaching 104 victories. He was seventh Luftwaffe fighter pilot to achieve 100 victories. The Schwerten (Nr 11) followed two days later, on 19 May 1942, for reaching 106 victories. Graf continued his amazing success during the battles over and around Stalingrad. He claimed 32 victories in August, including four enemy aircraft shot down on 13 August (112-115), five Russian fighters shot down on 14 August (116-120) and a further four Russian fighters shot down on 23 August (130-133). Graf claimed an incredible 62 victories in September, including four on 2 September (141-145), another four on 3 September (146-149), four on 21 September (182-185) and 10 on 23 September (188-197). On 26 September he shot down three enemy aircraft to become the first fighter pilot credited with 200 victories. On 16 September 1942, Oberleutnant Graf was awarded the Brillanten: only the fifth recipient. After achieving his 200th victory he was ordered not to fly operationally. During this period, Graf had had his fair share of close shaves.
On 15 September 1942, he had received a cannon hit in the cockpit, on 16 September, he had received 30 hits to his aircraft and on 19 September, his aircraft received hits from ground fire in the wings and, later that day, had half of his rudder shot away. Graf was much feted by the Nazi media. His "star status" was enhanced by his appearances in goal for "die Roten Jager" or Red Hunters, a Luftwaffe soccer team, which was effectively the German national soccer squad. In the first half of 1943, Graf commanded Erganzungs-Jagdgruppe Ost, an advanced fighter pilots' training school, based at Bordeaux in France. On 21 July 1943, Jagdgruppe Sud der ObdL was formed as a high altitude fighter unit to combat RAF Mosquito twin-engine reconnaisance aircraft. On 15 August 1943, the unit was redesignated JG50. Major Graf was tasked with leading JG50, a role he performed until the unit was disbanded in October 1943 and absorbed into I./JG301. Graf was to claim three victories while serving with this unit, including two USAAF B-17 four-engine bombers shot down on 6 September (204-205). Oberst Graf was appointed Kommodore of JG11 on 11 November 1943. Over the next four months he would be credited with six victories on Reichsverteidigung operations despite being forbidden to take part in combat missions.
On 29 March 1944, Graf downed one USAAF P-51 Mustang and rammed another. Wounded, he was forced to bale out of his stricken Bf109G-6 (W.Nr 26020) "<+". On 1 October 1944, Oberst Graf was appointed Kommodore of JG52 based on the Eastern front. He led the unit in a constant retreat through East Prussia, Silesia and Bohmen. He surrendered to American forces at Pisek on 8 May 1945. The Americans, however, promptly handed Graf to Russians. Graf was incarcerated by the Soviets, finally being released on 25 December 1949. Graf was to be heavily criticised by his peers for collaborating with his captors during his five years of imprisonment. Graf became a salesman for an electronics manufacturer and rose to become a Branch Manager in Baden and later Head of Sales. He took up flying becoming a member of the Swiss Aeroclub. From 1965, Graf was afflicted with Parkinson's disease and he died on 4 November 1988 in his hometown of Engen.
Herman Graf is credited with 212 victories in over 830 missions. He recorded 202 victories over the Eastern Front. Of his 10 victories recorded over the Western front, six were four-engine bombers.
Victories : 212
Asisbiz database list of 100 aerial victories out of 212 for Hermann Graf
'It was all a gamble...'
ALFRED GRISLAWSKI, JG52
There was no, better officer than Major Hubertus von Bonin. He was a fantastic pilot and a great commander, but he was a poor shot and although he therefore had great difficulty in bringing down enemy aircraft, I have nothing but praise for him. I had already won the Ritterkreuz, awarded on 1 July 1942, when von Bonin was recommended for his. I lent him my decoration and he wore it until his RK arrived at the end of 1942. He promoted me to Oberfeldwebel after I had shot down four Douglas Boston bombers.
On that occasion there were six bombers, escorted by about 20 to 25 fighters, which were attempting to bomb the bridge at, Mostok. My wingman, Edmund Rossmann, said he would keep the fighters busy while I went after the bombers. I dived after them, always keeping an eye open for Russian fighters behind me, but all was clear. I opened fire from a range of about 100 metres, aiming at the left engine of each of the four bombers. Each engine immediately burst into flames and the Russian crews baled out. When I reported the kills to von Bonin, he stated that I would receive a promotion if the kills could be confirmed. That evening the Flak commander at the bridge, who was a close friend of von Bonin, confirmed over the telephone that four bombers had indeed been shot down. Unfortunately, Major von Bonin was later killed in Russia.
During the battle of Stalingrad, Hermann Graf took half of the squadron there while I stayed on the Caucasus front. With about 20 aircraft we defended the area of Grosny on the Black Sea. We seldom had contact with other units as it was too dangerous to place too many aircraft on one airfield JG52 had the most kills because we were always assigned as a 'fire brigade' to all the 'hot spots' on the front-the Uman cauldron, Kharkov, Tuapse, Feodosia, the Crimea; in fact, wherever the Russians appeared in strength. Thus, we had plenty of opportunities to destroy Russian, aircraft and became obsessed, shooting them down and becoming very aggressive without fear of losses. Our first Ritterkreuz winner was Gerhard Koppen who was only an Obergefreiter but, when he demanded the respect that such a decoration deserved, was rapidly promoted to Leutnant. Upon returning from a mission in May 1942, he reported seeing a Russian fighter airfield and we held a briefing to attack it. The mission was carried out by between 30 and 40 aircraft, and the only one missing when we returned was flown by Koppen who made a belly landing in the Sea of Azov. The last flight searching for him saw a Russian rescue craft 5km away which was strafed and sunk, but other than that there was only a patch of oil on the water and no sign of Koppen.
Within 9./JG52, we pilots formed close friendships. This was necessary, for when one pilot was threatened by attack from three or four of the enemy, his comrades would immediately come to his assistance. Our slogan was to be aggressive.
On the ground; to avoid a direct bomb hit killing most of the unit, we did not concentrate all the pilots in one area but spread out and lived in two-man tents. I shared a tent with Leopold Stdllpatz, who was an excellent shot but often returned from a mission without his wingman. He received the Swords as a Feldwebel and was commissioned as an officer after his death in June 1942 in a ridiculous situation. The Russians had advanced and were, protected by, quadruple Flak, guns. When we flew over their forward lines at a height of several hundred metres they opened fire and it was very dangerous. Therefore, most of us took evasive action to avoid their fire, and although Steinbatz said they would never hit him, they did shoot him down. Rossmann flew to the area to look for him. The German infantry reported that a '109 had gone down at a particular time and place and, thus confirmed his demise.
In the air I felt like a bird, a crow. The aircraft was powerful and I always felt safe in the cockpit, just like crossing the street. I never crashed an aircraft unless it had sustained sever damage due to gunfire. If I received hits around the landing gear, I had to consider whether to extend the gear and risk overturning or whether to land on the belly and damage the propeller and oil cooler. However, it was all a gamble and although I twice landed an aircraft on its belly, it turned out that the landing gear was in working order, though I could not have known this at the time. It was a game of roulette.
'They had very good aircraft...'
ALFRED GRISLAWSKI, III./JG52
I was born on 2 November 1919 and from an early age I wanted either to join the Kriegsmarine or become a fighter pilot. When the time came, there were too many candidates for the Kriegsmarine and, with the hope that I could combine both childhood dreams, I was accepted by the Marine-Flieger. However, I was soon transferred to a bomber-unit and this was not at all to my liking as I wanted to be a fighter pilot and not a 'bus-driver'.After nearly two years in different schools and non-operational units, I finally transferred to III./JG52 near Calais. This unit had suffered heavy losses in the fighting against Britain and had to be withdrawn, first to Berlin-Doberitz and then on to Rumania.
At about this time the AIB schools were established, so I completed my training with one of these and received fighter training first at Stolp and then at the Erganszungsgruppe at Merseberg. The Erganszungsgruppe trained pilots on the type of aircraft we would fly in combat. Eventually, I was posted to III/JG52, so that after almost two years at different schools and non-operational units, I was finally on my way to joint a front-line fighter unit. I had travelled as far as Dusseldorf, however, when I received a telegram informing me to report instead to Berlin-Doberitz. The III./JG52 had suffered heavy losses during the fighting against Britain and was at Berlin-Doberitz recovering.
Once the Gruppe had been brought back to its established strength, it was transferred to Bucharest, in Rumania, where it was to protect the Ploesti oilfields. At the same time, we also trained Rumanian fighter pilots in the tactics employed in the Luftwaffe and, in recognition of this, I was presented on behalf of the King with the Rumanian pilots' badge.
When the Russian campaign began, things were quiet and we soon transferred to the southern part of the Eastern Front where III./JG52 was to become very successful. In the beginning, the Russians were easy opponents as their biplanes were obsolete and their pilots often appeared frightened when they saw a German fighter approaching. But soon, MiG, Yak and LaGG fighters flown by well-motivated pilots began to appear and things gradually became more and more dangerous for us. They had very good aircraft, lighter than ours and easier to handle.
At this time the Staffel was split into two parts so that as soon as one part landed the other took off and continued operations. After a mission, the fuel tanks were replenished, the guns rearmed and the aircraft made ready to take-off again as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the pilots were able to grab a quick bite to eat and were supposed to have a short rest. In fact, our tents were not suitable places in which to really relax, probably unlike our opponents who were based on real airfields. Nevertheless, at least until the winter came, the food was quite good.
I claimed my first victory, an I-16, on 1 September 1941. My second Abschuss, another I-16, was also the 50th for 9./JG52 and the 242nd for III./JG52. Here is the official report:
Victory over an I-16, 5 km N. of Charkow, 3 October, 1941, 17.02 Hours, Altitude: 1,500 m
On 3 October 1941, I flew as Rottenflieger to Lt. Graf on a low-level mission against an airfield north of Charkow, during which Lt. Graf was able to destroy two enemy aircraft on the ground. After the attack, we dived to 1,500 metres. North-west of Charkow, we spotted at an altitude of 2,000 metres a formation of about 20 Russian fighters of different types. I attacked the last, an I- 16, from the rear and after a burst of gunfire it emitted heavy black smoke and fell almost vertically to the ground where it crashed. I was not able to observe the precise point of impact as I was myself attacked by several Russian aircraft, but it was witnessed by Lt. Graf
Alfred Grislawski was born 2 November 1919 at Wanne-Eickel in Ruhrgebiet. On leaving school in July 1934, Grislawski was employed as a farm-worker in the Stolp region of Pomerania. After two years he applied to join the Navy to become a sailor but was rejected being offered service in Naval Aviation instead. Grislawski began his compulsory military training at Fliegerersatzabteilung 16 at Schleswig. By summer 1938, Gefreiter Grislawski was serving as a recruit trainer. Via flight training schools at Delmhorst, Salzwedel and Prenzlau, Grislawski underwent his fighter pilot training at Stolp. In early June 1940, Grislawski was posted to the Ergänzungsgruppe Merseburg. In July 1940, Grislawski was posted to III./JG52, based at Zerbst having recently been withdrawn from operations over the English Channel for rest and re-equipment. Gefreiter Grislawski was assigned to 7./JG52. Grislawski was transferred to 9./JG52 in early October 1940. He received promotion to the rank of Unteroffizier the same day. On 14 October, III./JG52 was ordered to Romania. III./JG52 was redesignated I./JG28 until 27 December. The unit was tasked with providing training for Romanian Air Force personnel. The German invasion of Russia saw Grislawski based at Pipera in Rumania.
In August, III./JG52 was ordered into front line service based at Biyala Tserkov in the Ukraine. Grislawski gained his first victory over the Eastern front on 1 September 1941, when, on a freie Jagd over Kremenchug, he shot down a Russian I-16 fighter. On 23 October, III./JG52 was ordered to relocate to Perekop in the Crimea. On the transfer flight Grislawski's Bf-109F-4 (W.Nr. 7038) 'Yellow 8' suffered engine failure necessitating a belly-landing. He emerged unscathed from the incident. By the end of 1941, Grislawski had increased his victory total 11, gained operating over the Crimea. At the end of December, III./JG52 were ordered to relocate to the Kharkov area. In mid-January 1942, Grislawski was sent home on leave. He returned to front-line duties in late February. On 29 April, 9./JG52 were ordered back to the Crimea in support of the German offensive to retake the Kerch Peninsula. Grislawski recorded his 20th victory on 30 April, when he shot down a Russian I-15bis biplane fighter-bomber near Karpech. Feldwebel Grislawski was particularly successful in May 1942 recording 22 victories, including four victories on 1 May (21-24). On 1 July, Grislawski was awarded the Ritterkreuz for 43 victories. He was sent on an extended leave on 24 July. In late August 1942, newly promoted Oberfeldwebel Grislawski returned to the Eastern front and was assigned to 7./JG52, based in the Caucasus.
In September, he claimed 16 victories over the Terek bridgehead, including four Russian Boston twin-engine bombers shot down on 8 September (47-50). On 5 November, he shot down four Russian Il-2 Sturmovik ground-attack (63-68) but was himself shot down in Bf 109G-2 (W.Nr. 13909) carrying out a belly-landing from which he walked away with only a few bruises. Grislawski claimed a further four victories on 12 December (79-82). On 18 January 1943, Grislawski led a Rotte providing escort to a formation of Ju-87 Stuka dive-bombers against Russian tank forces in the Stavropolskaya area. The formation was intercepted by Russian I-16 fighters and in the subsequent combat, Grislawski's Bf-109 was hit, setting it on fire. He nursed his damaged aircraft back over German lines before baling out, sustaining burns to his face. On 26 January, Grislawski received promotion to the rank of Leutnant. He recorded his 92nd victory on 3 February 1943. On 11 February, Grislawski suffered engine failure in Bf 109G-2 'White 13' on a test flight from Slavyanskaya, necessitating a forced landing. He was then sent on leave. Grislawski returned to 7./JG52, based in the northwestern Caucasus, in early April 1943. On 27 April 1943, he recorded his 100th victory. Grislawski claimed his 108th and 109th victories on 3 June 1943. However, the next day he was wounded in an explosion of a German land mine on a beach near Taman.
Oberleutnant Alfred Grislawski with his Bf 109G-6 in September 1943. On 6 September 1943 he shot down a B-17 as his 112th victory. On his recovery, Grislawski was transferred to JGr Süd. On 15 August 1943, JGr Süd was redesignated JG50, under the command of Major Hermann Graf (212 victories, RK-Br), for the express purpose of intercepting high-flying British Mosquito photo-reconnaisance aircraft. During his time with the unit, Grislawski commanded 1./JG50, based at Wiesbaden-Erbenheim, and shot down his first two USAAF four-engine bombers on 17 August. In early October, Grislawski was promoted to the rank of Hauptmann and given tempoary command of JG50, when Graf was appointed acting Kommodore of JG1. On 6 November 1943, Grislawski was appointed Staffelkapitän of 1./JG1, based at Deelen in Holland, operating Fw 190 fighters. He was shot down in aerial combat with USAAF bombers over Baske on 24 January 1944. Wounded, he baled out of his stricken Fw190A-7 (W.Nr. 430167) 'White 1'. Grislawski was appointed Staffelkapitän of 8./JG1, based at Paderborn, following his recovery from the wounds received in January, on 13 March 1944. The unit was tasked with combatting the USAAF fighter escorts operating the new Bf 109G-6/AS especially equipped for high-altitude operations. Hauptmann Grislawski was awarded the Eichenlaub on 11 April for 122 victories. Granted leave, Grislawski was married on 20 May. On return from his leave, Grislawski led 8./JG1 to Beauvais- Tillé in France, to combat the Allied landings in Normandy. After less than a week the unit was relocated to Germany having suffered horrendous losses over and around the beachhead. In early July, Grislawski led the unit back to France.
On 18 July, he was appointed acting Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG1, when Hauptmann Erich Woitke (28 victories, killed in action 24 December 1944) was shot down and wounded. On 27 July, Grislawski led a freie Jagd over the Caen area. In combat with USAAF P-51 fighters, Grislawski was shot down by RAF Spitfire fighters, baling out but surviving with only a few bruises. At the end of July 1944, Grislawski was transferred as Staffelkapitän of II./JG53. He recorded two USAAF B-17 four-engine bombers shot down on 12 September (131-132). On 14 September, Grislawski led II./JG53 to Leeuwarden in Holland. On 26 September 1944, he participated in a mission from Paderborn to provide air cover for German troops near Eindhoven and Nijmegen. USAAF fighters intercepted the formation southwest of Münster. In the subsequent combat, Grislawski was credited with a USAAF P-38 twin-engine fighter shot down as his 133rd, and last, victory, although Grislawski refutes the claim! However, his Bf 109G-14 (W.Nr. 462649) 'Black 6' was then hit in the engine by a P-51 and caught fire. He baled out but did not deploy his parachute until he was at very low level. As a consequence he endured a very hard landing that cracked the second and third lower vertebrae in his back. He saw out the remainder of the war in a military hospital. The end of the war found Grislawski at Badgastein in the central Austrian Alps. He was imprisoned by US troops at Salzburg but was soon released and returned to his wife and family at Leuna. Grislawski was fortunate not to be imprisoned by the Russians as Leuna ended up in the Soviet zone of occupation. He was able to cross the zone border and return to his hometown of Wanne-Eickel. However, it would be 1946 before his wife and family joined him. Grislawski supported his family through various unskilled professions, mainly as a driver. He declined to join the Bundesluftwaffe because of his wartime injuries. Grislawski passed away on 19 September 2003.
Alfred Grislawski was credited with 133 victories in over 800 missions. He recorded 24 victories over the Western front, including 18 four–engine bombers. Of his 109 victories recorded over the Eastern front, 16 were Il-2 Sturmoviks.
Asisbiz Database of 70 aerial victories out of 133 for Alfred Grislawski
Victories : 133
Alfred Grislawski, Graf and Karaya Staffel.
Written by Christer Bergström.
In September 1942, Hermann Graf ruled the skies above Stalingrad. In a month's time, he shot down sixty-two Soviet aircraft, and became the first fighter pilot to reach the 200-victory mark. By that time, he had achieved his first victory only thirteen months previously.
Alfred Grislawski, Graf's wingman and friend, was one of the most successful German fighter pilot during the air war over the Caucasus and during the Air Battle over Kuban in 1943. Grislawski achieved a total of 132 victories (not 133, as stated in most publications), and was awarded with the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves.
It was during his stay in the Caucasus in the fall of 1942 that Grislawski taught the forthcoming top scorer Erich Hartmann the secrets of air combat. Grislawski was a hard teacher, and he invented Hartmann's nickname 'Bubi' ('Little Boy').
Alfred Grislawski, the tough son of a miner, never dreamt of becoming a pilot. He only escaped hard work on the countryside by joining the Armed Forces, and there he was posted to the Luftwaffe.
'In 1941 - 1943, the Karayastaffel was probably the most non-militaristic unit in the entire Wehrmacht.'
The Karaya-mens' pranks alone could fill a volume. Once they drove a staff General completely out of his mind when he arrived to inspect their first-line makeshift airfield. On one occasion, one of the men in the quarter hi-jacked Generaloberst von Richthofen's Storch to fly an injured comrade to a field hospital.
A Reichsverteidigung Geschwaderkommodore threatened to have Grislawski court-martialled. When a large formation of U.S. bombers shortly afterward approached, a fighter leader decided to nullify the court-martial: 'Grislawski must lead our fighters! Who else can lead?'
Alfred Grislawski developed into one of the most daring 'Four-Engine Killers' of the Reichsverteidigung. In fact, he shot down at least one bomber on every single encounter with U.S. 8th Air Force's heavy bombers.
Only two of the 'Karaya Quartet' survived. Ernst Süss was shot dead by U.S. Mustangs (the unit in question is known) while he hung in his parachute straps. Heinrich Füllgrabe was killed in action on the Eastern Front during the last days of the war.
After the war, Grislawski became one of the first German POWs to become released, because his interrogation officer found out that Grislawski had never joined the Hitler Jugend, nor the NSDAP. (For this reason, Grislawski also had never been awarded with Göring's Goblet of Honor.)
The biography on Hermann Graf and Alfred Grislawski is due to be published in 2002. It has been written in close cooperation with Alfred Grislawski. It will contain about 250 photos, most of which have never previously been published, plus many color profiles of the aircraft flown by Graf and Grislawski.
The following is an excerpt from the manuscript of the 'double biography' on the two JG52 aces and friends Hermann Graf and Alfred Grislawski.
'When Alfred Grislawski returned to his unit in early April 1943, it again was based in northwestern Caucasus - where German Army Group A had dug in to hold its positions in the so - called 'Kuban bridgehead.' The 7. Staffel had received a new Staffelkapitän, Oberleutnant Walter Krupinski, an absolutely reckless fighter pilot who nevertheless took great care in his subordinates.
Grislawski immediately was briefed of the situation. III./JG52 had recently been shifted to Taman Airdrome from Nikolayev in the Ukraine, where it had been re-equipped after its heavy losses in equipment during the retreat from the Terek sector down south in the Caucasus. II./JG52, based at Anapa, had held the positions in the air over the Kuban bridgehead since February 1943; its pilots had shot down a large number of Soviet aircraft, but it also had cost the Gruppe severe losses.
One of the II. Gruppe's pilots, Leutnant Helmut Lipfert, later recalled: 'Things did not go well for II Gruppe at Anapa. There were few contacts with the enemy but many losses. And it was not just the beginners and young pilots who failed to return, but some of the old hands as well.' It was obvious that the Soviets were gaining in on the German fighter pilots' initial advantage in air combat.
Grislawski knew that the first period at the frontline after a home leave was hazardous-that he had become slightly 'rusty' - and he decided not to take any risks. He was very cautious during his first combat sorties after his return from his home leave. Most missions were free hunting or Stuka escort against the Soviet bridgehead at Myshako, behind the German main line west of Novorossiysk on the Kuban Bridgehead's southern coast. Although the Germans had concentrated a powerful air corps in the Kuban Bridgehead, achieving a numerical superiority, they were unable to assume control of the air as during the previous years.
The first encounters with Soviet pilots after his return from home leave convinced Grislawski that what he had been told by Krupinski was right, that the air fighting on the Eastern Front had grown more dangerous than ever.
On April 17, 1943 the Germans made a powerful attempt to neutralize the Soviet bridgehead at Myshako, Operation Neptun. The attack was preceded by a massive operations by 450 Stukas, bombers and ground-attack planes against the Soviet landing grounds. Throughout the day, German Fliegerkorps I carried out 1,560 sorties over the Kuban Bridgehead, mainly against Myshako. The Soviets, who by this time were inferior in numbers, could only mount 538 sorties that day. Nevertheless, the concentration of antiaircraft batteries that the Soviets had shipped in to Myshako since February 1943 met the assaulting German aircraft with a wall of steel and fire. Seven Stukas were shot down or returned to base with severe damage.
Two days later, Grislawski brought down his first Soviet aircraft - number ninety-five in total - since his return from home leave. On April 20, the men of JG52 found some reason to celebrate, as 8./JG52's famous Staffelkapitän, Oberleutnant Günther Rall, brought home his personal 116th and the Jagdgeschwader's five thousandth victory.
But although the most experienced fighter pilots continued to achieve impressing victory scores-II./JG52's Leutnant Heinrich Sturm was credited with five kills on April 20-the air fighting grew more and more difficult each day. The Soviets were bringing in a steady flow of new aviation units, and they started to achieve a numerical superiority in the air. It also was evident that the Red Air Force had concentrated some of its most skillful airmen to this sector.
In the evening of April 20, Grislawski was hanging around in the Staffel's command post. He had just written down the combat report of his ninety-sixth victory, which had been achieved against a LaGG-3 after a prolonged and most difficult air combat near Myshako. The telehone rang. An Unteroffizier replied, and then turned to Grislawski:
But his rash attitude only increased Grislawski's preoccupation. 'These damned greenhorns,' Grislawski thought. 'And now Kabisch too!'
'Look, Helmut!' Grislawski yelled. 'Forget about all that rubbish with easy victories! You have to be damned cautious!'
Then he pulled Kabisch, who looked both disappointed and surprised, aside. When he was sure that no one was listening, he said: 'I have a suggestion, and I hope you will follow it. This is no place for a beginner! But I've got some connections. I can contact Hermann Graf, and he will use his influence to have you transferred to my gang. There I will be able to watch over you! You have to get at least fifty combat sorties before you've got any chance at all!' But Kabisch wasn't intrigued at all by his old friend's suggestion. 'Come on, Alfred,' he said and sighed. 'I don't need any babysitter. And besides of that, I've been with the second Staffel for a couple of weeks, and they all are swell guys.' With a feeling of hopelessness, Grislawski made another try: 'Helmut, those swell guys will all be gone in fourteen days, or you will be gone! You might just as well go pick a suitable coffin right now. I guarantee that only under my wings will you be able to survive fifty sorties!' But Kabisch's pride would not allow him to accept the proposal. Grislawski felt deeply sad when he returned to his biletting.
April 21, 1943 was filled with heavy air fighting over Myshako. It was evident that Operation Neptun was a failure. Shortly before six in the morning, 7./JG52 tangled with a formation of the new Soviet La-5 fighters. Grislawski managed to single out one and sent it plummeting to the ground as his ninety-seventh victory.
Soviet fighter pilot Vadim Fadeyev achieved 21 personal victories before he was shot down and killed by a Bf-109 on May 5, 1943.
On the Soviet side, the Lend-Lease Airacobra fighter planes of 16 GIAP (former 55 IAP, which had been adopted a Guards unit) and 45 IAP were in the forefront during the air combats throughout the day. These unit was two of III./JG52's old enemies, since the battles over the Mius Front in late 1941, the Kerch Peninsula in May 1942, and the war in southern Caucasus during the previous fall. By now, both units had developed into two of the most experienced VVS regiments. The two most famous 45 IAP aces were the two Glinka brothers, Boris and Dmitriy. The latter, a Starshiy Leytenant, had been shot down by 7./JG52's Jupp Zwernemann on April 15, 1943. But Dmitriy Glinka soon was back in action again. He had already been recommended to be appointed a Hero of the Soviet Union, and on April 21, he bagged his twenty-first German aircraft. 16 GIAP, mustering the later so well-known Kapitan Aleksandr Pokryshkin, Grigoriy Rechkalov, and Starshiy Leytenant Vadim Fadeyev in its ranks, chalked up fifty-seven victories in the Kuban skies between April 9 and 20, 1943.
On April 21, 2./JG52's Feldwebel Helmut Kabisch barely survived a hail of bullets from a Soviet fighter during an air combat north of Kabardinka. It is possible that he fell victim of 16 GIAP's Vadim Fadeyev, who claimed a Bf-109 3 - 4 km north of Kabardinka. Grislawski received information that Kabisch had been sent to hospital with severe wounds...
Asisbiz database list of aerial victories 133 for Alfred Grislawski
Units: Stabstf JGr Süd (8/43), Stabstf JGr-50 (9/43), Stab./JG-11 (11/43)
Awards: EK 1 & 2, Fighter Operational Clasp in Bronze
Known Aircraft: Bf 109G-5/R6 WNr 15912 'Red 3' in JGr-50, Bf 109G-5/Y4 WNr 26112 'Black <+0' (lost 11/43)
Remarks: KIA 26 November, 1943 in Wk# 26112 opposing a bomber raid over Jadebusen. JGr 50 was led by Hermann Graf. It was established in Sept. 1943 to combat High Altitude Allied aircraft. Four vicories in JGr 50. 19 missions. One known victory, a B-17 S of Mainz and a 2nd B-17 near St, Goar, both on 17 August, 1943. Magnus, 6 victories.
Asisbiz database list of 2 out of 6 aerial victories for Gottfried Weiroster