Nachtjagdgeschwader 4

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Nachtjagdgeschwader 4
Nachtjagd badge.svg
Active 1941 – 1945
Country Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Branch Air Force
Type Night Fighter
Role Air superiority
Size Air Force Wing
Engagements World War II
Insignia
Identification
symbol
3C

Nachtjagdgeschwader 4 (NJG 4) was a Luftwaffe night fighter-wing of World War II.

Formation[edit]

NJG 2 was formed on 18 April 1941 in Metz.

I gruppe was formed in September 1942 in Florennes from parts of Stab I./NJG 3 and Stab III./NJG 4 flying a mix of the Bf 110, Do 217, and Ju 88. In April 1943 2./NJG 4 became 12./NJG 5, and a new 2./NJG 4 was formed from I./NJG 4.

II./NJG 4 was formed in April 1942 in Laupheim from elememnts of 5./ZG 26 On 1 January 1943 6./NJG 4 became 11./NJG 4, and a new 6./NJG4 was formed from II./NJG4. On 30 March 1945, Stab II., 5. and 6./NJG 4 was disbanded.

III. gruppe was formed In May 1942 at Mainz-Finthen from elements of NJG 1. In January 1943 8./NJG 4 became 10./NJG 4, and a new 8./NJG 4 was formed from III./NJG 4. On 30 March 1945, Stab III., 8. and 9./NJG 4 was disbanded.

IV. gruppewas formed in January 1942 at Mainz-Finthen from elements of NJG 4.On 1 August 1943 IV./NJG 4 was redesignated I./NJG 6.

Operations[edit]

A Messerschmitt Bf 110 of NJG 4 (1943)

From its inception to the final days of the war, NJG 4's wartime operations were almost excluseively targeted towards countering the increasing threat posed by RAF Bomber Command's strategic night-bombing offensive.

In May 1942, Lt. Ludwig Meister was transferred to III./NJG 4 based at Mainz/Finthen from NJG 1. He would become one of the highest scoring aces of NJG4, claiming 36 (of 39) victories while with NJG 4. On the night of 28/29 August 1942, Lt. Meister claimed three victories: a Wellington over Eich, a Stirling four-engined bomber over Airlenbach and another Wellington bomber over Simmern. Lt. Meister transferred to I./NJG 4 based at Laon/Athies in October 1942 to become Gruppe Adjutant to Hauptman Wilhelm Herget the newly appointed Gruppenkommandeur.

On 2 January 1944, ObLt. Meister shot down four RAF Lancaster bombers.

Experte Hpt. Helmut Bergmann was transferred to 6./NJG 4 in May 1944 and on 9 June 1944 received the Ritterkreuz for achieving 30 victories.Bergmann and his crew, were shot down and killed in their Bf 110G-4 on the night of 6/ 7 August 1944 either by Flt/ Lt Surman, piloting a Mosquito with No. 604 Squadron RAF, or possibly in an act of 'friendly fire' by a Grenadier from the Waffen SS 1 Leibstandarte Adolfo Hitler Panzer division. Both shot down twin engined fighters at about the same time and place. Surman correctly claimed a Bf 110, but at least two Bf 110 aircraft were downed in the same area at that time, As with the SS Grenadier, Surman would not have known exactly who was crewing his target.

Helmut Bergmann had joined the 'experts', becoming a NJG4 Ace on the night of 10/ 11 April 1944 when he, and his regular crew, radio operator Guntter Hauthal and gunner Willi Schopp, shot down 7 RAF Lancasters in 46 minutes using the (by then out-of-date) "from behind and under" technique. Helmut Bergmann's original flight report shows that his aircraft was not yet fitted with top secret Schräge Musik (jazz music), the code name for the new and highly successful upward firing twin cannon. They were based at Juvincourt airfield to the north of Reims.[1]

Heinz Schnaufer was appointed Geschwaderkommodore of NJG 4 on 4 November 1944; the youngest Geschwaderkommodore in the Luftwaffe, at age 22.

On 21 February 1945 NJG 4 were to score heavily. Operating from Gutersloh in the space of 20 minutes Major Heinz Schnaufer and his crew, using their upward firing cannons, shot down seven Lancasters. On the night four night fighter crews accounted for 28 of the 62 bombers lost out of the 800 despatched.

Units of NJG 4 ( along with those of NJG 2) participated in Operation Gisela -a mass night-fighter intruder operation over England. Approximately 200 night fighters followed the RAF bomber forces to the UK. The Germans shot down 20 bombers while 3 of the German fighters crashed. NJG 4 were earmarked to continue these intruder operations over the UK as a part of Operation Adelheid through early 1945. However, before any more such intruder operations could be carried out, NJG 4 was ordered to halt intruder operations on 12 March 1945.

Commanding officers[edit]

Kommodore[edit]

  • Major Rudolf Stoltenhoff, 18 April 1941 – 20 October 1943
  • Oberstleutnant Wolfgang Thimmig, 20 October 1943 – 14 November 1944
  • Major Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, 20 November 1944 – 8 May 1945

Gruppenkommandeure[edit]

I./NJG 4[edit]

  • Major Wilhelm Herget, 1 September 1942 – December 1944
  • Hauptmann Hans Krause, December 1944 – 8 May 1945

II./NJG 4[edit]

  • Hauptmann Theodor Rossiwall, 1 October 1942 – 13 January 1943
  • Hauptmann Heinrich Griese, 13 January 1943 – February 1944
  • Hauptmann Hans Autenrieth, February 1944 – 20 May 1944
  • Hauptmann Gerhard Rath, 20 May 1944 – 22 June 1944
  • Hauptmann Hubert Rauch, 22 June 1944 – 8 May 1945

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Perilous Moon: Occupied France, 1944 - The End Game. Author Stuart Nimmo, Casemate Publishers Oxford and Philadelphia November 2011
  • Hinchliffe, Peter (1998), Luftkrieg bei Nacht 1939-1945, Motorbuch Verlag, ISBN 3-613-01861-6 .