Nachtjagdgeschwader 2

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Nachtjagdgeschwader 2
Nachtjagd badge.svg
Active 1 September 1940 – 5 May 1945
Country  Nazi Germany
Branch Balkenkreuz.svg Luftwaffe
Type Night Fighter
Role Air superiority
Size Air Force Wing
Engagements World War II
Insignia
Identification
symbol
Geschwaderkennung
of 4R
Aircraft flown
Fighter Junkers Ju 88
Junkers Ju 388

Nachtjagdgeschwader 2 (NJG 2) was a German Luftwaffe night fighter-wing of World War II. NJG 2 was formed on 1 September 1940 in Gilze en Rijen from II./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (NJG 1). Stab I./NJG 2 was formed from Stab II./NJG 1,while 1./NJG 2 was formed from 4./NJG1 equipped with the Junkers Ju 88C-1. 2./NJG 2 was raised from 5./NJG 1 with Do 17Z-7/10, and 3./NJG 2 from 6./NJG 1 with the Junkers Ju 88C-2. 4./NJG 2 was formed in November 1940 in Gilze Rijen from elements of 1./Zerstörergeschwader 2 (ZG 2).

III./NJG 2 was formed in March 1942, and in October redesignated II./NJG 2. In July 1943 a new III Gruppe was formed from V./Nachtjagdgeschwader 6 (NJG 6). In October 1944 III Gruppe became IV./Nachtjagdgeschwader 3 (NJG 3), and the IV./NJG 3 became the new III./NJG 2.

Intruders 1940-41[edit]

I./NJG 2's initial role was unlike the other units of the Luftwaffe night fighter arm; as a Fernnachtjagd Gruppe they were tasked with long-range intruder missions over the UK, disrupting night flying training and harassing the returning Royal Air Force (RAF) bombers over their own airfields.

Luftflotte 3's radio intercepts of Bomber Command's transmissions helped pinpoint the operational airfields in Eastern England. I./NJG 2 aircraft could then scramble to be over the airfields at the predicted times of the bomber's return.

The technique employed was to mix with the returning bombers, orbit the bases, and either shoot down targets that presented themselves or drop 50 kilograms (110 lb) bombs across the runways.[1]

Based at Gilze-Rijen in the Netherlands, operations commenced using just 7 JU 88 C-1 night fighters. Although most missions were carried out using the Junkers Ju 88C-1 and C-2, a few Dornier Do 215B-5 fighter conversions were trialled in the spring of 1941.

The offensive over the UK yielded promising results- some 143 victory claims were made, and over 90 RAF aircraft were indeed lost between October 1940 and the start of 1942. There was also the additional disruption to RAF operations and the psychological effects on the RAF crews.[1]

By October 1941 however night intruder sorties were curtailed, due to the inadequate number of aircraft available (I Gruppe never had more than 20 JU 88s operational) and the High Command's perceived lack of results; it was thought shooting down RAF bombers over the German homeland had a far greater morale effect than over the UK.[1]

Among the most successful of the unit's pilots was Ufz. Heinz Strüning, who flew 66 intruder missions over England. He recorded his first night victory on 23/24 November - a RAF Vickers Wellington bomber and by the end of 1941 he had 9 victories. Leutnant Alfons Koster had, by October 1941, some 11 intruder victories. Lt. Hans Hahn was credited with 12 victories, all over England.[2] He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross In July 1941, but was killed in action in October 1941, colliding with an RAF Airspeed Oxford trainer he was trying to shoot down.

II./NJG 2 flew more conventional operations at this time, based at Leeuwarden on the Dutch coast.

Mediterranean Theatre 1941-42[edit]

In November 1941 4./NJG 2 moved to Catania, and would remain there until February 1942, when it transferred back to Leeuwarden and joined the rest of II./NJG 2.

In November 1941 2./NJG 2 moved to Benghazi as part of Fliegerführer Afrika, and returned to Catania later in the month. The first 'kill' was claimed on 13 December, Obfw Sommer downing a Bristol Beaufighter over Crete. On 19 November 1941 the unit escorted Ju 88 bombers raiding shipping off Malta, Lt. Laufs shooting down a Hurricane of No. 126 Squadron.

Early in 1942 both 2. and 3./NJG 2 was based at Benghazi until March 1942. Various demands for night cover meant from April onwards I./NJG 2 was scattered over the Mediterranean, with detachments based at Benina, Berca, Derna, Benghazi, El Quasaba and Crete.

On 1 October, 7./NJG 2 was redesignated as 4./NJG 2. The unit's Leutnant Heinz Strüning was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 29 October for 24 victories.

1944–45[edit]

One of this unit's Ju 88G-1 night fighters, from the 7th Staffel, with Geschwaderkennung style aircraft code 4R+UR, was landed at RAF Woodbridge by mistake on July 13, 1944, giving the Allies their first chance to examine a working example of the VHF-band Lichtenstein SN-2 airborne intercept radar, and Flensburg radar detector gear. This event resulted in a longer-wavelength deployment of Window to jam the SN-2 gear, and general removal of the Monica tail warning radar from all RAF Bomber Command heavy bombers.[3]

By the end of the year NJG 2 were covering the night defence of the industrial Ruhr area, flying from Düsseldorf, Kassel, Gütersloh, and Köln. In the final weeks of the conflict, the unit began receiving the night fighter variant of the Junkers Ju 388 - thus making NJG 2 the first and only Luftwaffe detachment to use the nachtjager variant operationally. It is likely these machines were 388J-0 pre-production prototypes, as the 388 programme was cancelled before manufacture of the J-1 production series had begun. Given the haphazard and incomplete conditions of training in those final days of war, and the almost total depletion of aviation fuel stocks throughout what remained of the Reich, it is doubtful whether more than a handful of combat missions were flown by this new type. NJG 2 claimed approximately 800 air victories during its period of operations.

Commanding officers[edit]

Kommodore[edit]

  • Oberstleutnant Karl Hülshoff, 1 November 1941 – 31 December 1943
  • Major Heinrich Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein, 1 January 1944 – 21 January 1944
  • Oberst Günther Radusch, 4 February 1944 – 11 November 1944
  • Major Paul Semrau, 12 November 1944 – 8 February 1945
  • Oberstleutnant Wolfgang Thimmig, 8 February 1945 – 5 May 1945

Gruppenkommandeure[edit]

I. Gruppe[edit]

  • Hauptmann Karl-Heinrich Heyse, 1 September 1940
  • Major Karl Hülshoff, 24 November 1940
  • Major Rudolf Jung, 1 November 1941
  • Hauptmann Franz Buschmann, December 1943
  • Hauptmann Albert Schulz, January 1944
  • Hauptmann Wolfgang von Niebelschütz, 31 January 1944
  • Hauptmann Ernst Zechlin, 20 February 1944
  • Hauptmann Gerhard Rath, 12 May 1944

II. Gruppe[edit]

III. Gruppe[edit]

  • Hauptmann Herbert Bönsch, 3 April 1942
  • Major Paul Semrau, August 1943
  • Major Berthold Ney, 1 January 1944
  • Hauptmann Heinz Ferger, November 1944
  • Hauptmann Hans-Hermann Merker, 11 April 1945

IV. Gruppe[edit]

  • Hauptmann Bengsch, October 1944

References[edit]

Citations
  1. ^ a b c History of the German Night fighter Force, G. Abers, 1978
  2. ^ "HAHN Hans, ciel de gloire - histoire des as de l\'aviation de 1914 à nos jours". Retrieved 2013-01-28. 
  3. ^ Price, Alfred (1967). Aircraft in Profile No.148 — The Junkers Ju 88 Night Fighters. Leatherhead, Surrey UK: Profile Publications, Ltd. pp. 12 & 13. Retrieved April 5, 2014. 
Bibliography
  • Hinchliffe, Peter (1998). Luftkrieg bei Nacht 1939–1945 [Air War at Night 1939–1945] (in German). Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-613-01861-7.