Jagdgeschwader 2

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Jagdgeschwader 2
JG 2.svg
JG 2 Richthofen
Active 1939–45
Country  Nazi Germany
Branch Balkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
Type Fighter Aircraft
Role Air superiority
Size Air Force Wing
Nickname(s) Richthofengeschwader
Patron Manfred von Richthofen
Decorations References in the Wehrmachtbericht (5)
Helmut Wick

Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2) "Richthofen" was a fighter wing in the Luftwaffe during World War II.


The unit was formed from parts of Jagdgeschwader 131 on 1 May 1939 in Döberitz and its first commander was Colonel Robert Ritter von Greim. At the outbreak of the war JG 2 based in the Berlin area under Luftgaukommando III. Stab and II. Gruppe were equipped with the Bf 109E and were located at Döberitz with 10.(N) staffel flying the Bf 109D in Straussberg. 10.(N) Staffel was one of the first night fighter units formed in the Luftwaffe. Later this staffel was expanded into IV.(N) Gruppe.

The unit saw little combat until the invasion of France and the Low Countries from 10 May 1940 onwards. Helmut Wick in the Battle of Britain claimed his and the Geschwader's first victory on 22 November 1939, a French Curtiss Hawk Model 75 of GCII/4 near Strasbourg. The second victory for the JG 2 was scored by Erwin Kley (3. Staffel) at nearly the same time.[1]

European Service[edit]

Inspection of the JG 2's Bf 109s, Hans-Jürgen Stumpff, Erhard Milch and Joseph Vuillemin.

In preparation for Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, most fighter units were transferred to locations close to Germany's eastern borders by May 1941.

Two fighter wings were left in North Western Europe, JG 2 and JG 26. For the next two years these two formations were the main adversaries to the RAF's daytime operations over Europe. The two wings maintained around 120 serviceable Bf 109E and F’s to face the increasing number of RAF Fighter Command sweeps conducted to both wear down the Luftwaffe in a war of attrition and relieve pressure on the Eastern Front.

The 21 June 1941 proved one of the most intensive days combat on the channel front in 1941, with two RAF Circuses flown. II./JG 2 and JG 26 claimed ten and eight Spitfires downed respectively. (Actual Spitfire losses were three). Several of the JG 2 aces added to their scores; Ofw. Kurt Bühligen of 4./JG 2 claimed three Spitfires and Lt. Siegfried Schnell (also 4./JG 2) claimed two Spitfires.[2]

However, on occasion, the unit would still suffer high losses, such as on 23 June, when 9 staffel of JG 2 was almost wiped out against Fighter Command Spitfires.

On 23 July 1941 JG 2 claimed some 29 Spitfires downed, with a further 10 Spitfire claims awarded to JG 26 that same day. (Actual RAF fighter losses were just 15). Oblt. 'Rudi' Pflanz claimed six RAF fighters on this one day. 23 July 1941 also saw JG 2 awarded their first three 'B-17 Fortresses' shot down; the aircraft attacked were in fact Short Stirlings of No. 15 Squadron, attacking the Scharnhorst in dock at La Pallice (one Stirling was lost.) [2]

JG 2 claimed its 800th success in August. Six members of JG 2 received the Ritterkreuz in 1941, but no award was made to JG 2 pilots in 1942, although Oblt. Josef "Sepp" Wurmheller was awarded the Eichenlaub (Oakleaves) award to the Ritterkreuz in late 1942, for achieving 60 Western front claims. Awards in 1941 included Lt. Egon Mayer, who had raised his score from 3 to 18 in two months, Oblt. Rudolf Pflanz for 19 victories, Oblt. Erich Leie for 21 victories, Ofw. Josef Wurmheller for 32 victories, (12 achieved since joining Stab II./JG 2 in July) and Ofw. Kurt Bühligen. "Assi" Hahn was awarded the Oakleaves to his Knight's Cross in August, following his 42nd victory.

On 12 August 1941, Circuses No. 69 and 70 targeted Saint-Omer and Gosnay. JG 2 intercepted the formations, and Kommodore Major Walter Oesau was credited with five Spitfires in ninety minutes, while Oblt. Leie claimed three Spitfires, and "Assi" Hahn three more. Six RAF Spitfires were actually lost during the day.[2]

The RAF flew three Circuses on 20 September 1941. JG 2, in concert with its subordinated training Staffel 4./JFS 5, claimed some 25 fighters downed, with three falling to Hahn. (Some seven Spitfires were actually reported lost).

On 11 February 1942 the two light battleships, Gneisenau and Scharnhorst, made a successful Channel Dash in daylight towards the Northern German ports. Codenamed Operation Cerberus, JG 2 flew their share of continuous air cover over the ships and claimed some 20 RAF aircraft downed (without loss) during the RAF's attempts to sink the vessels.

Armin Faber's Focke-Wulf Fw 190A-3 of 11/JG 2 after landing in the UK by mistake in June 1942.

In March 1942 I./JG 2 converted to Focke-Wulf Fw 190As and the other gruppen followed month by month. The year saw most of JG 2 convert to the Focke-Wulf 190 A, and apart from 11. Staffel by July 1942 JG 2 was an exclusive Fw 190 unit. The 11. Staffel was a "high altitude" squadron, which experimented with pressurized cabins and other technical refinements. JG 2 continued to defend the West of occupied France from Brest to the Somme, while JG 26 covered Northern France and Belgium. By March II./JG2 was operational in Théville and Morlaix and at the end of April I./JG 2 was operational in Maupertus, Morlaix and St. Brieuc flying the Fw 190 A-2.

In November 1941, Jafü 2 and Jafü 3 were ordered to allocate one staffel from each of their subordinate fighter Geschwader as Jabo, or fighter-bomber Staffel. This was to renew fighter bomber activity against Britain and coastal traffic in the Channel. The Jabo units were equipped with the Bf 109F-4B fitted with a fuselage rack for four SC-50 bombs or, more usually, a single SC250 bomb. Formed in March 1942, by June JG 2's Bf 109 F-4B equipped fighter-bomber Jabostaffel 10 Staffel, led by Oblt. Leisendahl, had claimed some 20 Allied merchant ships sunk, totalling 630,000 tons. In April 1943 10. JG 2 became part of IV./Schnellkampfgeschwader 10 (SKG 10).

On 19 August 1942 Allied forces made their first large Commando–style raid (the Dieppe raid) into continental Europe. JG 2 flew 430 sorties, losing 14 aircraft (8 pilots killed) and claiming 59 Allied aircraft shot down.

By late 1942 JG 2 was in the forefront of the battle against the increasing United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Eighth Air Force daylight bombing offensive into occupied Europe. Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 2, Major Egon Mayer, was central in devising 'head-on' attacks against the B-17 Flying Fortress that became standard tactical practice throughout the Jagdwaffe.

Western Europe[edit]

Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 "Black 12" with R6 gun package of Jagdgeschwader 2 (JG 2), September 1943

In spring 1943, I./JG 2 led by Walter Oesau, had moved to Triqueville airfield.

At this time Wing Commander Alan Deere planned an attack on the gruppe to provoke a confrontation. The plan involved a low level approach by Deere and No. 403 Squadron to catch the FW 190s as they were taxiing for take off. No. 611 Squadron was to attack the site and the No. 341 Free French Squadron were to patrol at 3000 ft. South of the airfield to guard against a counter from other elements of I./JG 2 at Évreux. No. 403 Squadron were spotted before the attack was launched. The JG 2 aircraft reacted immediately by dispersing at low level immediately after take off. Deere did fire on the hangar buildings before pursuing the JG 2 aircraft. Elements from Évreux joined up and a heavy engagement took place between evenly matched formations. The RAF squadrons left due to low fuel, 611 claiming two JG 2 shot down. I./JG 2 from Évreux claimed two Spitfires of 341 Squadron.[3]

Successful USAAF operations over Germany led to many novice and replacement pilots being killed through the first half of 1944; more importantly, the experienced pilots were also being lost. JG 2's Kommodore and 102-kill ace Egon Mayer was shot down and killed in March 1944 and just over one month later his successor Major Kurt Ubben was also killed versus US fighters.

JG 2 was the main Luftwaffe unit to see action against Allied Air Forces during the D-day landings on 6 June 1944. Stationed at Cormeilles-en-Vexin 60 kilometres from the coast, I./JG 2 was one of the nearest fighter units to the Allied beachheads. JG 2 Geschwaderkommodore Major Bühlingen shot down a P-47 Thunderbolt over the Orne before the Gruppe became embroiled in a dogfight with RAF Typhoons near Caen. Six were claimed, and JG 2 claimed 18 kills for the day without loss (Total Luftwaffe claims were 24 shot down). The overwhelming superiority of the Allied forces soon took effect, however, as Gruppenkommandeur Hptm. Hubert Huppertz (68 victories) was shot down and killed two days later by a P-47. His successor was another irreplaceable veteran, Hptm. Josef Wurmheller (102 kills, 93 with JG 2 against the Western Allies). He would die after colliding with his wingman during a dogfight, just two weeks later.

Towards the year’s end JG 2 received the first examples of the Fw 190D-9 'Dora'. Stab and III. Gruppe were first to convert and before the end of 1944 JG 2 was operating from near Frankfurt.

Operation Bodenplatte ('Base Plate') was a mass fighter attack against the Allied airfields in the Low Countries and France on New Years Day 1945. It was hoped to regain temporary aerial superiority for the new German offensive through the Ardennes, but instead it delivered crippling losses to the Luftwaffe. Numerically, of all the fighter units JG 2 suffered most in this ill-fated operation, suffering 37 pilots killed and nearly 40% losses. It took several weeks for JG 2 to regain operational status.

As the end of war drew near, all gruppen of JG 2 were equipped with Fw 190D-9 'Dora'. During winter and spring JG 2 moved from the Rhine area into Bavaria.

Following the German surrender Jagdgeschwader 2 'Richthofen' was formally de-activated near Munich on 7 May 1945 by Geschwaderkommodore (and JG 2 top scorer with 112 kills) Kurt Bühligen.

Commanding officers[edit]

II./JG 2


  1. ^ John Weal: Jagdgeschwader 2 'Richthofen' P. 26 Online
  2. ^ a b c "In the Skies of France: The History of JG 2 Richthofen" (Vol. II: 1941). Mombeek and Roba
  3. ^ Holmes and Dibbs, (2000) pp. 78-79

Further reading[edit]

See also[edit]

Organization of the Luftwaffe during World War II