Jagdgeschwader 77

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Jagdgeschwader 77
JG 77 Emblem.svg
Unit insignia
Active1939–45
Country Nazi Germany
BranchBalkenkreuz (Iron Cross) Luftwaffe
TypeFighter Aircraft
RoleAir superiority
SizeAir Force Wing
Nickname(s)Herz As
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Gordon Gollob
Johannes Steinhoff

Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77) Herz As ("Ace of Hearts") was a Luftwaffe fighter wing during World War II. It served in all the German theaters of war, from Western Europe to the Eastern Front, and from the high north in Norway to the Mediterranean.

All three gruppen (groups) within the unit operated variants of the Messerschmitt Bf 109. II. Gruppe was the only German unit entirely equipped, albeit only during November–December 1943, with the Macchi C.205, a highly regarded Italian fighter.

Formation[edit]

JG 77 was formed in May 1939 with I. Gruppe and II. Gruppe. III./JG 77 was formed on 5 July 1940 in Trondheim from the II(J)./JG 186. I./JG 77 was reorganized on 21 November 1940 into IV./JG 51 and a new I./JG 77 was established. In January 1942 I./JG 77 was transferred to I./JG 5 and a new I./JG 77 was created. In April 1942 I. Staffel was transferred to Romania and designated the defence unit for the Ploieşti oil fields at Mizil. (This staffel was redesignated I./JG 4 in August 1942.)

World War II[edit]

I./JG 77 took part in the invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, while attached to Luftflotte 3. In April 1940 JG 77 took part in Operation Weserübung, the invasion of Norway. After the invasion of France, I. Gruppe supported 10th Air Corps (under Luftflotte 5) in operations against the United Kingdom from bases in Norway. While stationed in Norway and Denmark in 1940 II./JG 77 claimed some 79 victories, for 6 pilots killed, before leaving in November 1940 for defence duties in Brest, France. In May 1941 II. and III./JG 77 were used in support of the invasion of Greece and the paratroop assault on Crete.

Following the operations in Crete, JG 77 was withdrawn to Romania; III. Gruppe was converted to the new Bf 109F. As Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, started on 22 June 1941, II. and III. Gruppe plus Stab supported the advance East as part of Army Group South, while I. Gruppe served on the Finnish front. The Jagdgeschwader scored quickly. On 25 June, Walter Hoeckner of 6./JG 77 shot down 8 of 10 Tupolev SB claimed by III./JG 77, while on 26 June, Oblt. Kurt Ubben shot down 4 SB and Ofw. Reinhold Schmetzer shot down 5 SB.[citation needed] In the period 22 June - 5 December 1941 the unit, and its attachment I.(J)/LG 2, destroyed 1,166 Soviet aircraft, in return for 52 losses in aerial combat and two aircraft on the ground.[1]

German Luftwaffe ace Oskar-Heinrich ("Heinz) Bär (right) the Stab I./JG 77. The photo was probably taken at Comiso, Italy, in July 1942.

I. Gruppe, which was still based in Norway, was reorganized into I. Gruppe/JG 5 in January 1942, and the entire JG 77 (with a newly created I. Gruppe) was then transferred south to the Mediterranean area from June - December 1942. JG 77 saw extensive action against the Desert Air Force fighter-bombers. Total Allied air superiority led to the various JG 77 bases in Tunisia coming under constant air attack, and a large number of Bf 109's were written off on the ground. Oberstleutnant Johannes Steinhoff was appointed commander of the unit.

While I. and II./JG 77 returned to Germany to re-equip, III./JG 77 remained in Italy, based at Foggia, north-east of Naples and flying sorties into Sardinia and Sicily. In mid-June, I./JG 77 flew into Sciacca on Sicily.

The Geschwader, as part of 2nd Air Corps, was then stationed in Italy and Sicily. During the rest of 1943 and 1944 JG 77 was stationed on the Southern Front, mainly in the Balkans, Sardinia and Italy, but also in Romania. Luftwaffe II.Gruppe of JG 77 operated with requisitioned Macchi C.205Vs, for two months, from October until the end of 1943,[2] in December, when the German unit was re-equipped with new Bf 109s. Thus there are photos of C.205s with black crosses painted over the mid-fuselage Italian white strip markings.

Bf 109G-2/trop "Black 6", formerly of JG 77, 1996, prior to its crash

In 1945 JG 77 was relocated to Germany itself to help with the Reichsverteidigung (Defense of the Reich). In the last months of the war part of JG 77 was employed against the Soviet Air Force in Silesia. In this area on 7 March 1945 Kommodore Major Erich Leie, a 118-kill ace, was killed in combat with Yak-9 fighters.

Commanding officers[edit]

Geschwaderkommodore[edit]

 • Oberstleutnant Eitel Roediger von Manteuffel 1 October 1939 22 December 1940[3]
 • Major Bernhard Woldenga 2 January 1941 June 1941[3]
 • Major Gotthard Handrick June 1941 May 1942[3]
 • Major Gordon M. Gollob 16 May 1942 30 September 1942[3]
 • Major Joachim Müncheberg 1 October 1942 23 March 1943[3]
 • Oberstleutnant Johannes Steinhoff 1 April 1943 November 1944[3]
 • Major Johannes Wiese 1 December 1944 25 December 1944[3]
 • Major Siegfried Freytag (acting) 26 December 1944 15 January 1945[3]
 • Major Erich Leie 29 December 1944 7 March 1945[3]
 • Major Siegfried Freytag (acting) 7 March 1945 1 April 1945[3]
 • Major Fritz Losigkeit 1 April 1945 8 May 1945[3]

Gruppenkommandeure[edit]

I. Gruppe of JG 77[edit]

First formation, IV.(l)/JG 132 was renamed to I./JG 331 on 3 November 1938 which then became the I./JG 77 on 1 May 1939.[3]

 • Oberstleutnant Theo Osterkamp 1 July 1938 July 1938[3]
 • Hauptmann Johannes Janke July 1938 18 February 1942[3]

On 3 November 1940, I. Gruppe leaves JG 77 and becomes IV. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 51. A new I. Gruppe was formed from I.(Jagd) Gruppe of Lehrgeschwader 2 on 6 January 1942.[4]

 • Major Hanns Trübenbach 1 October 1937 18 August 1940[4]
 • Hauptmann Bernhard Mielke 21 August 1940 30 August 1940 [4]
 • Hauptmann Herbert Ihlefeld 30 August 1940 11 May 1942[4]
 • Major Heinz Bär 11 May 1942 6 August 1943[4]
 • Oberleutnant Armin Köhler (acting) 31 July 1943 19 August 1943[4]
 • Hauptmann Lutz-Wilhelm Burkhardt 19 August 1943 30 November 1943[4]
 • Hauptmann Theo Lindemann 30 November 1943 28 August 1944[4]
 • Hauptmann Armin Köhler (acting) May 1944 13 June 1944[4]
 • Hauptmann Lothar Baumann 1 August 1944 24 December 1944[4]
unknown squadron leader 25 December 1944 10 January 1945[4]
 • Hauptmann Joachim Deicke 10 Januar 1945 17 April 1945[4]
 • Hauptmann Heinz Grosser 17 April 1945 8 May 1945[4]

II. Gruppe of JG 77[edit]

Formed from I./136 which was renamed to II./JG 333 on 1 November 1938 and then became the II./JG 77 on 1 May 1939.[5]

 • Major Hermann Edert 1 September 1936 29 September 1937[5]
 • Oberstleutnant Carl-August Schumacher 29 September 1937 30 November 1939[5]
 • Major Hilmer von Bülow-Bothkamp 30 November 1939 31 March 1940[5]
 • Hauptmann Karl Hentschel 31 March 1940 9 September 1940[5]
 • Hauptmann Franz-Heinz Lange 9 September 1940 23 April 1941 [5]
 • Hauptmann Helmut Henz 23 April 1941 25 May 1941 [5]
 • Major Anton Mader 26 May 1941 7 March 1943[5]
 • Oberleutnant Heinz Dudeck (acting) 7 March 1943 13 March 1943[5]
 • Major Siegfried Freytag 13 March 1943 3 April 1945[5]
 • Hauptmann Emil Omert (acting) 29 January 1944 31 March 1944[5]
 • Major Armin Köhler 4 April 1945 8 May 1945[5]

III. Gruppe of JG 77[edit]

Formed from II.(T)/186 and was renamed to III./JG 77 on 5 July 1939.[6]

 • Major Walter Hagen 1939 15 September 1939[6]
 • Major Heinrich Seeliger 15 September 1939 14 October 1940[6]
 • Major Alexander von Winterfeldt October 1940 2 August 1941[6]
 • unknown (acting) 3 August 1941 4 September 1941[6]
 • Major Kurt Ubben 5 September 1941 10 March 1944[6]
 • Hauptmann Karl Bresoschek (acting) 10 March 1944 3 April 1944[6]
 • Hauptmann Emil Omert 3 April 1944 24 April 1944 [6]
 • Hauptmann Karl Bresoschek 24 April 1944 31 July 1944[6]
 • Oberleutnant Erhard Niese (acting) 6 June 1944 July 1944[6]
 • Major Armin Köhler August 1944 April 1945[6]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Bergström 2007, p. 116.
  2. ^ Neulen 2000, p. 78.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Prien 1995, p. 2370.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Prien 1995, p. 2371.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Prien 1995, p. 2373.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Prien 1995, p. 2375.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bergström, Christer (2007). Barbarossa - The Air Battle: July–December 1941. Hinkley: Midland Puplishing. ISBN 978-1-85780-270-2.
  • Neulen, Hans Werner. In the Skies of Europe. Ramsbury, Marlborough, UK: The Crowood Press, 2000. ISBN 1-86126-799-1.
  • Prien, Jochen (1995). Geschichte des Jagdgeschwaders 77—Teil 4—1944–1945 [History of Jagdgeschwader 77—Volume 4—1944–1945] (in German). Eutin, Germany: Struve-Druck. ISBN 978-3-923457-29-8.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)