Jagdgeschwader 6

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Jagdgeschwader 6
JG 6 emblem.png
Country Nazi Germany
BranchBalkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
TypeFighter Aircraft
RoleAir superiority
SizeAir Force Wing
Nickname(s)Horst Wessel
PatronHorst Wessel

Jagdgeschwader 6 (JG 6) Horst Wessel was a Luftwaffe fighter-wing of World War II. JG 6 was created in July 1944 from the remnants of the Messerschmitt Bf 110 equipped unit Zerstörergeschwader 26 (ZG 26, 26th Destroyer Wing) which had suffered severe losses as a bomber-destroyer unit in the Defence of the Reich during early 1944 against the Allied bomber offensive. JG 6 inherited the honorific name Horst Wessel from the Zerstörergeschwader it was created from.

Operational Service[edit]

In July 1944 the unit hastily converted at their Königsberg/Oder airfield onto the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, with intended roles of air superiority fighters and ground attack. For the latter role the aircraft were fitted with tubular launchers for the Werfer-Granate 21, 21 cm Nebelwerfer based mortar rockets. The third group was immediately renamed Kommando Nowotny — the first front-line unit to fly the Messerschmitt Me 262A jet fighter in operational combat — and replaced by another squadron with 4 Staffeln, flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109G.

With the minimum of training JG 6 then served on the Western and Eastern Fronts, up until the end of the war in May 1945.

The elements of JG 6 were initially based near Charleville-Mézières from 21 August. In the months after the Normandy invasion the numerically superior Allied fighter forces had destroyed most Luftwaffe fighter units sent against them over the expanding beachhead. JG 6 proved no exception, its inexperienced pilots suffering heavy casualties.

On 25 August 1944 the 367th Fighter Group (367th FG), flying P-38 Lightnings, was sent to bomb three airfields at Péronne, Rosières-en-Santerre and Clastres. The attack force at Clastres encountered over 40 Fw 190's of II./JG 6, flying together as a gruppe for the first time. During the ensuing dogfight the 33 P-38's of the 367th FG lost 7 P-38s (II./JG 6 claimed 11 destroyed) while II./JG 6 lost 16 Fw 190s destroyed and 14 pilots killed. (The 367th FG claimed 20 destroyed). Amongst those killed was Staffelkapitän of 8th Staffel, Leutnant Rudi Dassow, one of the most successful twin-engined Zerstörer-experten (literally "destroyer aces") with 22 kills, from his previous ZG 26 experience.

II./JG 6 could only field five serviceable aircraft next day and were reduced to a single serviceable Fw 190 after just five days of operations.

II./JG 6 lost some 10 pilots killed or missing on 1 January 1945 during Operation Bodenplatte, including the Staffelkapitän of 5./JG 6 Hptm. Norbert Katz and Geschwaderkommodore (the combat wing's C-in-C) Obstlt. Johann Kogler, who became a POW after his Fw 190 A-9 was shot down by AA fire North West of Venlo. To replace Kogler in mid-January 1945 Gerhard Barkhorn was assigned as the replacement Geschwaderkommodore. However Barkhorn did not remain in this position for long, being forced to take a medical absence because of physical and mental strain, joining the elite all-jet unit JV 44 upon his recovery.

Late in January 1945 JG 6 was among several units switched to the Oder Front, flying ground strafing operations against the advancing Soviet forces. The first Focke-Wulf Fw 190D-9s were operational within JG 6 at the end of January 1945.

III./JG 6 was dissolved on 4 April 1945.

JG 6 was based in Czechoslovakia at the war's end. On 8 May 1945 some pilots flew all serviceable D-9s remaining into Fürth airfield in southern Germany, and surrendered to the 10th Reconnaissance Group of the U.S. Army based there.

Commanding officers[edit]