Kampfgeschwader 3

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Kampfgeschwader 3
Active 1939-1945
Country Germany
Allegiance Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Branch Luftwaffe
Type Bomber unit
Role Tactical and Direct Ground Support.
Size Air Force Wing
Nickname Blitz
Engagements Polish Campaign
German invasion of Denmark (1940)
Norwegian Campaign
Battle of the Netherlands
Battle of Belgium
Battle of France
German invasion of Yugoslavia
Battle of Greece
Battle of Crete
Insignia
Identification
symbol
Geschwaderkennung
of 5K

Kampfgeschwader 3 "Blitz" (KG 3) was a Luftwaffe bomber wing during World War II . Its units participated on all of the fronts in the European Theatre until it was disbanded in September–October 1944. It operated two of the major German bomber types; the Dornier Do 17 and the Junkers Ju 88.

History[edit]

Kampfgeschwader 3 was formed on 1 May 1939 at Fürstenwalde in eastern Germany with Stab./KG 3, II Gruppe and III Gruppe. I Gruppe was not formed until September 1939 near Magdeburg, made up of personnel from II., and III.Gruppe.[1] While training in the summer of 1939 the Geschwader "worked up" on the Dornier Do 17Z. III./KG 3 did not become operational until April 1940 and consequently missed the Polish Campaign.

War Time Service[edit]

Poland[edit]

During the Polish campaign II. and III. Gruppes operated from Heiligenbeil in East Prussia. The unit participated in the Battle of Bzura, and carried out raids in the areas of Tczew, Narew, Praha and Warsaw. The Geschwader ceased attacks on 21 September and were ordered to western Germany to face a possible Allied attack. KG 3 had committed 9 Dorniers of its Stab unit,[2] 38 from II./KG 3,[3] and 39 from III./KG 3.[4]

Denmark and Norway[edit]

The unit did not participate in Operation Weserübung but instead spent the spring training and resting in preparation for the decisive western offensive in 1940.

France and the Low Countries[edit]

KG 3 began the campaign in the west with a strength of 112 Do 17s and Ju 88s, with 92 Serviceable.[5] KG supported the offensive through the Ardennes and Belgium, later bombed the Allied ports Ostend and Dunkirk, during the Allied evacuation. II./KG 3 supported the crucial breakthrough at Sedan. Other elements supported the drive to the Swiss border, encircling the French forces on the Maginot Line. For operations over Britain KG 3 was moved to airfields at St Trond and Le Culot in Belgium.

Battle of Britain[edit]

At the beginning of the battle KG 3 had a total of 108 bombers, of which 88 were combat ready. KG 3 operated during all phases of the battle. In March 1941 II. Gruppe left for bases in Poland. During their relocation the unit stopped at Oldenburg for conversion onto the Ju 88 which was completed on 16 March. The rest of the Geschwader had converted to the Ju 88 by early June 1941.

Channel Front[edit]

During 1941-44 KG 3 flew raids against Britain and anti-shipping missions in support of the U-Boats during the Battle of the Atlantic campaign. In February 1942 IV.(Erg)./KG 3 assisted the German warships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in their famous "Channel Dash".[6]

From July 1944 to January 1945 the Luftwaffe air-launched approximately 1,176 V-1 flying bombs from modified Heinkel He 111 H-22s of III./KG 3 and KG 53 (based in the Netherlands) flying over the North Sea. Research after the war estimated a 40% failure rate of air-launched V-1s, and the He-111s were extremely vulnerable to night fighter attack, as the launch lit up the area around the aircraft for several seconds.

Yugoslavia and Greece[edit]

III./KG 3 retained some of its Do 17s and had 28 on strength during it operations in the Balkans. Under the command of Luftflotte 4 it participated in the bombing of Belgrade. After the surrender of the Yugoslavs it supported the defeat of the Greek and British in mainland Greece and then during the Battle of Crete.

Russia[edit]

Ju 88A of KG 3 Blitz, over Russia, September–October 1942

During the initial phase of the war in the east KG 3 participated in the Battle of Kiev and was credited with 450 aircraft on the ground, its gunners were credited with 21 aircraft shot down in aerial combat, 30 tanks, 488 vehicles, 349 rail cars, seven armoured trains, 27 artillery positions, and 14 bridges.[2] The unit supported all three German Army Groups on the Eastern Front. When the Luftwaffe lost air superiority in summer of 1943 the Geschwaders losses stood at over 70 aircrews on the central sector of the front.[7] From January - June 1943 KG 3 formed a Train busting Staffel, 9.(Eis)/KG 3, using Ju 88Cs. It operated into June with success, its fate is unknown, it was probably disbanded in late 1943. 15.(Kroat.)/KG 3 was a unit made up of Croatian volunteers flying the Dornier Do 17Z, which saw action on the eastern front until 1944. On 14 October 1943 the unit took part in a short strategic bombing campaign in Russia. USAAF formations had been flying shuttle missions to Soviet territory after bombing German targets. The operation, named Zaunkönig, struck at American airfields in Russia, as well as Soviet targets. KG 53 and KG 55 took part in the attack, destroying some 44 B-17 bombers and damaging 26 others. Another 15 fighters were also destroyed. However, the Soviets began Operation Bagration soon after, and the Kampfgeschwaders switched back to supporting ground forces.[8] Most of the units Gruppes were disbanded by October 1944. It appears the last unit, 14.(Eis)/KG 3 was disbanded on 4 March 1945, its remaining personnel went to KG 76.

Commanding officers[edit]

Geschwaderkommodore[edit]

  • Oberst Wolfgang von Chamier-Glisczinski, 1 May 1939 – 1 September 1941
  • Oberst Heinrich Conrady, 1 September 1941 – 31 October 1942
  • Oberst Erich Rathmann (acting), 1942
  • Major Jobst-Hinrich von Heydebreck, 1 November 1942 – 3 January 1943 (MIA)
  • Oberstlt Walter Lehweß-Litzmann, January 1943 – 7 September 1943 (MIA, Oberst promotion was posthumous)
  • Major Fritz Auffhammer, 24 September 1943 – 18 August 1944 - unit officially dissolved.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Information is sparse on exact dates and deployments because KG 3 had much fewer surviving records than the other bomber units: de Zeng et al. 2007, p. 36.
  2. ^ a b de Zeng et al. 2007, p. 36.
  3. ^ de Zeng et al. 2007, p. 38.
  4. ^ de Zeng et al. 2007, p. 42.
  5. ^ de Zeng et al. 2007, p. 36, 37, 38, 42
  6. ^ de Zeng et al. Vol 1, 2007, p. 45.
  7. ^ de Zeng et al. 2007, p. 40.
  8. ^ Bergstrom 2008, p. 33.
  9. ^ de Zeng et al. Vol 1, 2007, p. 37.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bergstrom, Christer (2007). Barbarossa - The Air Battle: July–December 1941. London: Chervron/Ian Allan. ISBN 978-1-85780-270-2.
  • Bergström, Christer, (2007), Stalingrad - The Air Battle: 1942 through January 1943, Chevron Publishing Limited ISBN 978-1-85780-276-4
  • Bergström, Christer (2007). Kursk - The Air Battle: July 1943. Chervron/Ian Allan. ISBN 978-1-903223-88-8.
  • Bergstrom, Christer. (2008). Bagration to Berlin - The Final Air Battles in the East: 1944 - 1945, Ian Allan. ISBN 978-1-903223-91-8
  • de Zeng, H.L; Stanket, D.G; Creek, E.J. Bomber Units of the Luftwaffe 1933-1945; A Reference Source, Volume 1. Ian Allan Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-1-85780-279-5

External links[edit]

Media related to Kampfgeschwader 3 at Wikimedia Commons