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Emblem of JG 7
|Size||Air Force Wing|
|Fighter Aircraft||Me 262|
|Engagements||Defense of the Reich|
|Johannes Steinhoff (1.12.44 – 26.12.44)|
Theodor Weissenberger (1.1.45 – 8.5.45)
Jagdgeschwader 7 (JG 7) Nowotny was a Luftwaffe fighter wing during World War II and the first operational jet fighter unit in the world. It was created late in 1944 and served until the end of the war in May 1945, and it operated the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter exclusively.
JG 7 was formed under the command of Oberst Johannes Steinhoff, with Kommando Nowotny (the initial Me 262 test wing ) renumbered III./JG 7. Under the command of Major Erich Hohagen III./JG 7 was the only element of JG 7 ready to operate against the Allies. Throughout its existence JG 7 suffered from an irregular supply of new aircraft, fuel and spares. With such a radically new aircraft, training accidents were also common, with 10 Me 262s being lost in six weeks.
The technical troubles and material shortages meant initial tentative sorties were only in flight strength, usually no more than 4 or 6 aircraft. Flying from Brandenburg-Briest, Oranienburg and Parchim, the Geschwader flew intermittently against the USAAF bomber formations. On 3 February JG 7 intercepted USAAF bomber formations and 5 bombers were claimed shot down.
By the end of February 1945 JG 7 had claimed around 45 four-engined bombers and 15 fighters, but at this stage of war this success rate had no effect whatsoever on the Allied air offensive.
During March JG 7 began to deliver larger scale attacks against the Allied bombers. 3 March saw 29 sorties for 8 kills claimed (one jet was lost). On 18 March III./JG 7 conducted their biggest attack numerically thus far, some 37 Me 262s engaging a force of 1,200 American bombers and 600 fighters. This action also marked the first use of the new, unguided R4M rockets. 12 bombers and 1 fighter were claimed for the loss of 3 Me 262s.
The total numbers of aircraft shot down by JG 7 is difficult to quantify due to the loss of Luftwaffe records; between 136 and 420 Allied aircraft may have been claimed shot down.
- Sunday, 18 March 1945: Some 37 Me 262s engaged some 1,330 U.S. heavy bombers and over 700 fighters of the USAAF 8th Air Force destined for Berlin, known as "Mission 894" by the Americans, with some bombing undertaken using H2X radar due to inclement weather over the target area. The Me 262s were equipped for the first time with 24 of the new R4M air-to-air rockets. JG 7 claimed 12 bombers and one fighter though U.S. records indicate only eight heavy bombers lost. III./JG 7 lost three jet fighters in return. I./JG 7 was forced to takeoff in bad weather and lost Hans Waldmann in a mid-air collision with Hans-Dieter Weihs, and Günter Schrey following combat with U.S. fighters.
- 21 March 1945: JG 7 claimed 13 B-17s shot down (6 8th Air Force heavy bombers were lost to all causes).4 Me 262s were lost.
- 22 March 1945: 27 Me 262's of II./JG 7, led by Major Theodor Weissenberger, attacked B-17s over Leipzig. Weissenberger and Obfw Heinz Arnold each claimed a B-17 downed of the 12 bombers claimed shot down by the unit.(10 were lost by the 15th Air Force formation)
- 23 March 1945: Heavy bombers of the USAAF 15th Air Force attacked refineries at Ruhland, where fuel production ceased completely after the attack. The Luftwaffe countered this attack with 14 jet fighters claiming two confirmed and one probable victories during the course of 11 aerial combat over Chemnitz. Major Heinrich Ehrler was credited with two B-24s destroyed and Oberfeldwebel Reinhold a B-17 probably destroyed. American sources confirm these claims to attacking Me 262s in the area of operations.
- 24 March 1945: JG 7 intercepted a bomber formation of the 15th Air force and claimed 10 four-engined bombers.(US archives record only one of the 15th AF bombers was lost). JG 7 lost 4 Me 262s in return, to the escort fighters( who in turn claimed 8 Me 262s) 
- 25 March 1945: JG 7 accurately claimed five B-24s shot down, although 5 Me 262s were lost from 25 sorties despatched.
- 31 March 1945: 19 four-engined bombers and two fighters and the probable destruction of another bomber recorded a level of success which was never to be exceeded.
About 20 Me 262s of I. Gruppe and 7 of III. Gruppe took off during the early morning to intercept 460 RAF and RCAF Lancasters and Halifaxes bombing Hamburg, (including the RCAF units of No. 419 Squadron (Moose), No. 434 Squadron (Bluenose), No. 408 Squadron (Goose), No. 415 Squadron (Swordfish) and No. 425 Squadron (Alouette)).
Oberleutnant Sturm, Oberleutnant Hans Grünberg (2), Leutnant Todt (2), Leutnant Schenk (2), Oberleutnant Franz Schall (2), Fähnrich Ehrig (2), Leutnant Hans-Dieter Weihs (1 probable) and Flieger Gerhard Reiher had achieved 13 aerial victories without loss.
The days victory total was raised by at least six during the afternoon when Oberleutnant Stehle led a formation against one of the numerous Lancaster formations. The Staffelkapitän of 2./JG 7 Fritz Stehle shot down a Lancaster near Osnabrück. 11. Staffel and the Stabsschwarm engaged the 8th Air Force in the Zeitz, Brandenburg and Braunschweig areas. American records show the loss of 3 B-17s, 2 B-24s and 4 P-51s mostly to Me 262s. It is believed that Major Weissenberger, Oberfähnrich Windisch and Oberfeldwebel Pritzl each destroyed a B-17. Major Ehrler and Leutnant Rudolf Rademacher probably accounted for a Mustang each.
On 7 April JG 7 flew 59 sorties, the largest number in one day, though most failed to engage the Allies. The jets claimed five Allied aircraft destroyed for the loss of two of their own.
On 7 April 1945 elements of III./JG 7 and I.(J)/KG 54 (totaling some 60 Me 262s) were sent to intercept the fighter escorts accompanying 1,261 bombers over Northern Germany, while the 180-strong fighter formation of Sonderkommando Elbe attacked the bomber forces. The jets claimed some 18 victories but over 60 of the Bf 109 force was destroyed along with 27 Me 262s almost half of those committed. Some 19 pilots were killed or missing, while five were wounded. U.S. losses from all causes were 19 bombers and 8 escort fighters.
At 16:00 on 8 May 1945 fighters of the JG 7 fought the last aerial battle of World War II in Europe. At about 15:20 Oberleutnant Fritz Stehle and his wingman took off on Me 262 to intercept Soviet Yak-9 fighters and came upon the surprised enemy over Freiberg. Stehle claimed a Yak-9 but the plane shot down was probably an Airacobra. Actually Soviet records show that two P-39 - piloted by M.Lt Sergey Stepanov of 129 GIAP and Aleksey Ivanyuk of 152 GIAP - had been lost. Stehle's victory was anyway the last aerial victory by a German fighter pilot in World War II.
- "Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces — March 1945". usaaf.net. usaaf.net. Archived from the original on June 2, 2013. Retrieved October 14, 2013.
- 'Jagdgeschwader 7', Forsyth
- Boehme 1992, p. 129.
- 'Air War Europa', Hammel; p. 464
- Boehme 1992, p. 137.
- Boehme 1992, p. 138.
- Boehme 1992, p. 139.
- Bergstrom 2008, p. 124.
- Boehme 1992, p. 176.
- Bergstrom, Christer (2008). Bagration to Berlin: The Final Air Battles in the East: 1944–1945. Ian Allan. ISBN 978-1-903223-91-8.
- Boehme, Manfred (1992). JG 7 The World's First Jet Fighter Unit 1944/1945. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 0-88740-395-6.
- Forsyth, Robert (2008). Jagdgeschwader 7 'Nowotny. Oxford, UK: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84603-320-9.