Jagdgeschwader 2

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Jagdgeschwader 2
JG 2.svg
Unit insignia
Active1939–45
Country Nazi Germany
BranchLuftwaffe
TypeFighter Aircraft
RoleAir superiority
SizeAir force wing
PatronManfred von Richthofen
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Helmut Wick

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

Operational history[edit]

The unit was formed from parts of the 131st Fighter Wing on 1 May 1939 in Döberitz and its first commander was Colonel Robert Ritter von Greim. At the outbreak of the war, the unit was based in the Berlin area under Luftgaukommando III. Its sub-units were equipped with the Messerschmitt Bf 109s variants.

Inspection of JG 2's aircraft, 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 Germany's eastern borders by May 1941 but JG 2 and JG 26 were left in north-west Europe where their aims was interdiction of Royal Air Force (RAF) daytime operations over Europe. The two wings maintained around 120 serviceable aircraft against the increasing number of RAF Fighter Command sweeps conducted to wear down the Luftwaffe in a war of attrition. One of the busiest days of combat on the Channel coast in 1941 took place on 21 June, with two RAF Circus offensives flown. II./JG 2 and JG 26 claimed ten and eight Spitfires shot down respectively although actual Spitfire losses were three.[1]

On 23 July 1941, JG 2 claimed some 29 Spitfires, with a further 10 claims awarded to JG 26, against a real loss of 14. On 23 July 1941, JG 2 claimed their first three B-17 Fortresses shot down; the aircraft attacked were in fact Short Stirlings of 15 Squadron RAF Bomber Command, attacking the Scharnhorst in dock at La Pallice; one of the Stirlings being lost.[1] JG 2 claimed its 800th success in August; six members of JG 2 received the Iron Cross in 1941. On 12 August, Circuses No. 69 and 70 attacked Saint-Omer and Gosnay. JG 2 intercepted the formations and the commander, Major Walter Oesau, was credited with five Spitfires in ninety minutes; two other pilots claimed six additional aircraft, although only six Spitfires were lost that day.[1] The RAF flew three Circuses on 20 September and JG 2, in concert with its subordinated training squadron, claimed 25 fighters shot down, against an actual loss of seven Spitfires.

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

1942 saw most of JG 2 convert to the Focke-Wulf 190 A, the exception being the 11th Squadron which was a "high altitude" squadron. It experimented with pressurized cabins and other technical refinements. JG 2 continued to operate in occupied France from Brest to the Somme, while JG 26 covered Northern France and Belgium.

In November 1941, Jafü 2 and Jafü 3 were ordered to allocate one squadron from each of their subordinate fighter Geschwader as Jabo (fighter-bomber) squadrons. JG 2 became part of IV./Schnellkampfgeschwader 10 (SKG 10). On 19 August 1942, JG 2 took part in repelling the Allied Dieppe raid.

Messerschmitt Bf 109 of JG 2, September 1943

In spring 1943, I./JG 2 led by Walter Oesau, moved to Triqueville airfield. Wing Commander Alan Deere planned an attack on the unit 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 3,000 ft (910 m) 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 and JG 2 aircraft reacted immediately by dispersing at low-level immediately after take off. Deere fired on the hangar buildings before pursuing the JG 2 aircraft. Elements from Évreux joined in and a dogfight 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.[2]

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 commander Egon Mayer was shot down and killed in March 1944. One month later his successor Major Kurt Ubben was also killed by US fighters. JG 2 was the main Luftwaffe unit attempting to counteract the Allied Air Forces during the D-day landings on 6 June 1944.

Unternehmen Bodenplatte was a mass fighter attack against the Allied airfields in the Low Countries and France on New Years Day 1945. It was hoped it would help 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 poorly conceived operation, suffering 37 pilots killed and nearly 40% losses. It took several weeks for JG 2 to regain operational status. During winter and spring, JG 2 was based out of Germany. It was formally disbanded on 7 May 1945.

Commanding officers[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "In the Skies of France: The History of JG 2 Richthofen" (Vol. II: 1941). Mombeek and Roba
  2. ^ Holmes & Dibbs 2000, pp. 78-79.

Further reading[edit]

  • Arthy, Andrew; Jessen, Morten (2004). The Focke-Wulf 190 in North Africa. Classic. ISBN 978-1-903223-45-1.
  • Franks, Norman (1979). The Greatest Air Battle: Dieppe, 19 August 1942. London: William Kimber Books. ISBN 978-0-7183-0396-9.
  • Holmes, Tony; Dibbs, John (2000). Spitfire: Flying Legend. Oxford: Osprey. p. 192. ISBN 978-1-84603-190-8.
  • Murray, Williamson (1996). Luftwaffe- Strategy for Defeat 1933–45. London: Brassey's. ISBN 978-1-57488-125-7.