Zerstörergeschwader 1

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Zerstörergeschwader 1
Geschwaderwappen Schnellkampfgeschwader 210.svg
Active 1939–1944
Country Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Branch Luftwaffe
Type Heavy fighter
Role Air superiority
Size Air Force Wing
Nickname Wespe (Wasp)
Fighter Aircraft Messerschmitt Bf 110
Engagements Defense of the Reich
Insignia
Identification
symbol
Geschwaderkennung of 2N
Aircraft flown
Fighter Bf 109, Bf 110, Me 210

Zerstörergeschwader 1 or ZG 1 (lit. destroyer wing) was a Luftwaffe heavy/destroyer Fighter Aircraft-wing of World War II.

History[edit]

Bf 109E of Zerstörergeschwader 1, still bearing SKG 210's Geschwaderkennung alphanumeric markings

Zerstörergeschwader 1 was formed in May 1939 as a Geschwader without a Geschwaderstab. The I. Gruppe (1st group) was formed from I./ZG 141 and stationed in Damm, II. Gruppe (2nd group) in Fürstenwalde. The II. Gruppe was being equipped with Messerschmitt Bf 109 single engine fighters during the mobilization in World War II and renamed to Jagdgruppe 101 (101st fighter group), II gruppe re-equipping with the Messerschmitt Bf 110 in March 1940.

On the outbreak of war the unit was based with 1. Flieger Division in Central Germany. During the invasion of Poland ZG 1 was part of Luftflotte 3.

Norway 1940[edit]

By April 1940 the unit was part of X. Fliegerkorps operating over Northern Germany and Scandinavia. The Bf 110s of ZG 1 and Zerstörergeschwader 76 (ZG 76) saw considerable action during Operation Weserübung (the invasion of Denmark and Norway). The Bf 110 strafed and destroyed over two dozen Danish military aircraft on the Værløse airbase on 9 April. One Danish Fokker D.XXI did manage to get airborne but was immediately shot down. Oblt Victor Mölders, brother of Werner Mölders) took the official surrender of Aalborg after landing at the local airfield.

In Norway the Bf 110s helped secure the Oslo-Fornebu airport, escorting Junkers Ju 52s loaded with paratroops. Engaged by Gloster Gladiators and machine guns on the ground, in the ensuing battle both sides lost two aircraft. The remaining Bf 110s strafed enemy positions and enabled the ground troops take the airfield; air support provided by ZG 1 was pivotal to this phase of the ground offensive.

At this time the 'wasp' emblem associated with ZG 1 first appeared on aircraft of II gruppe.

France 1940[edit]

A German Lufwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 110C (code 2J+A?) of Zerstörergeschwader 1 (ZG 1) (1st Destroyer Wing) in flight.

During the phoney war a number of French aircraft were shot down by ZG 1 Bf 110s. ZG 1 Gruppenkommandeur Hpt. Hannes Gentzen became the Luftwaffe's highest scoring fighter pilot on 2 April, when he shot down a Curtiss 'Hawk' over the Argonne. On 10 May ZG 1 claimed 26 Dutch aircraft destroyed on the ground on Haamstede airbase. After participation in the Battle of France, I. Gruppe was renamed to I./Nachtjagdgeschwader 1 (1st night fighter wing) on 22 June 1940, and II./ZG 1 became III./ ZG 76. Thus there was no ZG 1 geschwader active from June 1940 to early 1942.

1942[edit]

The Geschwader was re-formed again on 4 January 1942 from Geschwaderstab of Schnellkampfgeschwader 210, with a third Gruppe raised, equipped with the Bf 109E-4/B.The Bf 110 gave tactical support to the advancing German Army by carrying out strike missions often in the face of heavy anti-aircraft defences. A huge number of ground kills were achieved by ZG 1 Bf 110 pilots in the east.

In August 1942 III./ZG 1 was transferred to North Africa, now equipped with the troublesome Me 210. Gradual re-equipment with the much improved Me-410 took place through 1943.

In early 1943 5./ZG 1 received several aircraft equipped with the Bordkanone BK 3.7, autoloading 37mm heavy cannon for evaluation as an anti-tank aircraft. These modified Bf 110s were formed into Pz.Jg.St./ZG 1, under the command of I./ZG 1, and flew during the Battle of Kursk. The poor results obtained meant that in autumn 43, this Staffel were transferred to 4./ZG 76. Oberst. Joachim Blechschmidt, the Kommodore of ZG 1, was shot down in a Bf 110 G-2 in combat with Soviet fighters East of Orel on 13 July 1943, becoming missing in action to this day.

Staffelkapitän of 1./ZG 1, Oberleutnant Egon Albrecht, was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 25 May 1943 for 15 aerial victories, 11 ground victories, and some 162 motor vehicles, 254 covered vehicles, 3 locomotives, 8 Flak positions, 12 anti-tank gun positions and 8 infantry positions destroyed.

After heavy losses in Russia, I and II gruppen re-united with III gruppe in the Mediterranean theatre in mid 1943. In March–April 1943 II/ZG 1 converted to the Bf 110 G-1 and G-2 at Monte Corvino. This was the Gruppe's base until August when it was withdrawn from Italy. In July 1943, 1./ZG 1 was redesignated 1./ZG 26.

In October 1943 I./ZG 1 took charge of the Ju 88C heavy fighter and with II gruppe transferred to Western France for long-range fighter operations over the Bay of Biscay with V./Kampfgeschwader 40 (KG 40).

On 8 October, Bf110's of I./ZG 1 attacked American bomber formations and their escorts. I./ZG 1 lost 5 victory 'ace' and 1. Staffelkapitän Oblt. Rüdiger Ossmann whilst claiming 6 B-17s and 1 fighter. II./ZG 1 later intercepted RAF bomber formations and lost 9 Bf 110s with 17 aircrew killed, while claiming a P-47, Spitfire, and B-25 Mitchell shot down. The Staffelkapitän of 6./ZG 1, Hptm. Karl-Heinrich Matern, (12 victories) was among those shot down and killed. Spitfires were of Nos. 453 Sqn (5 claimed destroyed), 610 Sqn (2 claimed destroyed) and 66 Sqn (3 claimed destroyed).On 9 October 1943, Hauptmann Albrecht succeeded Matern as Gruppenkommandeur, II./ZG 1.

On 1 February 1944, 1./SAGr. 128 was redesignated 10./ZG 1, and attached to III./ZG 1, which was equipped with the Ju 88 C-6 at the time. In early 1944 II./ZG 1 flew 'Defense of the Reich' missions over the southern portion of the Reich, often in conjunction with elements of JG 27.Both units were based around Wels in Austria and flew against the US 15th Air Force heavy bombers and fighter escorts.

The Geschwader was disbanded in July 1944 with the aircrew posted to Gruppen in JG 4 and JG 76.

Commanding officers[edit]

Kommodore[edit]

Gruppenkommandeure[edit]

I./ZG 1[edit]

  • Major Joachim-Friedrich Huth, 1 May 1939 – 13 December 1939
  • Hauptmann Wolfgang Falck, 14 December 1939 – 22 June 1940
  • Major Ulrich Diesing, 1 January 1942 – 2 March 1942
  • Hauptmann Walther von Poka (acting), 2 March 1942 – 7 March 1942
  • Hauptmann Wolfgang Schenck, 7 March 1942 – 20 August 1942
  • Major Joachim Blechschmidt, 20 August 1942 – 12 April 1943
  • Hauptmann Wilfried Hermann, April 43 – 14 July 1943
  • Hauptmann Max Franzisket,[Notes 1] 14 July 1943 – 19 July 1943
  • Hauptmann August-Wilhelm Bier, October 1943 – April 1944
  • Major Horst Grahl, April 1944 – 12 July 1944

II./ZG 1[edit]

  • Major Hellmuth Reichardt, 15 May 1939 – 5 February 1940
  • Hauptmann Friedrich-Karl Dickoré, May 1940 – 26 June 1940
  • Hauptmann Rolf Kaldrack 4 January 1942 – 3 February 1942
  • Major Günther Tonne, 4 February 1942 – 1 February 1943
  • Hauptmann Gerhard Weyert, February 1943 – May 1943
  • Major Heinz Nacke, 26 May 1943 – 2 August 1943
  • Hauptmann Karl-Heinrich Matern, 3 August 1943 – 8 October 1943
  • Hauptmann Egon Albrecht, 9 October 1943 – July 1944

III./ZG 1[edit]

  • Major Roland Bohrt, January 1942 – 9 September 1942
  • Hauptmann Fritz Hobein, September 1942 – February 1943
  • Hauptmann Reinhard Hubel, 16 February 1943 – March 1943
  • Hauptmann Heinz Roeber, March 1943 – March 1943
  • Hauptmann Drescher, March 1943 –
  • Major Wilhelm Berlin, – 10 October 1943
  • Hauptmann Hans Moor, 7 March 1944 – July 1944

See also[edit]

Organization of the Luftwaffe during World War II

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Max Franzisket was the brother of Ludwig Franzisket. Max was killed in action on 19 July 1943 on the Eastern Front.

References[edit]