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Zirkus Rosarius (also known as the Wanderzirkus Rosarius) was an Erprobungskommando-style special test unit of the Luftwaffe, specifically of the Luftwaffe High Command, tasked with testing captured British and American aircraft, all of which were repainted in German markings.
The purpose of testing allied aircraft was to discover any strengths or vulnerabilities in their design or performance. This information was highly useful in enabling German service personnel to develop tactics designed to counter strengths and exploit any vulnerabilities.
The unit was formed by Theodor Rosarius in 1943 and was part of the 2./Versuchsverband Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe. The Zirkus also toured operational airfields showing Luftwaffe pilots the captured aircraft and training them in techniques to counter these aircraft. The Zirkus Rosarius seemed to have merited the use of its own Geschwaderkennung ("Geschwader code") of "T9", with a few of the unit's aircraft coming from KG 200, which already used the "A3" identification code of that wing.
Known captured aircraft
|Type||Model||Serial number||Luftwaffe call sign*||Notes|
|Lockheed P-38||L (F-5E)||44-23725||T9+MK||ex 354th Air Service Sq-Delivered intact by USAAF deserter Martin James Monti 13/10/1944|
|Lockheed P-38||G||43-2278||T9+XB (duplicated)||15th Air Force—accidentally landed at Capoterra Italy 12/061943.|
|Supermarine Spitfire||LF.IX||MK698||T9+EK||ex-No. 412 Squadron RCAF|
|Supermarine Spitfire||PR.XI||possibly MB945||T9+BB||ex 14th Photo Squadron/7th PRG USAAF|
|North American NA-64||Armée de l'Air No. 44||DR+XD|
|North American P-51 Mustang||B or C||T9+CK|
|North American P-51 Mustang||B||43-24825||T9+HK||"Jerry" Ex 334th Fighter Squadron. captured 6 June 1944|
|Hawker Typhoon||Ia||EJ956||T9+GK||Ex "SA-I" No. 486(NZ) Sqn.|
|Hawker Typhoon||JP548||T9+GK||Ex No. 174 Sqn.|
|Republic P-47 Thunderbolt||D||42-22490||T9+FK||"Agnes"/"Beetle" ex 358th Fighter Sq/355th FG-captured 7/11/1943|
|Republic P-47||D-16-RE||42-75971||8+6 then T9+LK||"Ruthless Ruthie" ex 301st Fighter Sq/332nd FG-captured 29/5/1944|
|de Havilland Mosquito||B Mk IV||DZ466||T9+XB (duplicated)|
|Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress||F||41-24585||A3+AE||"Wulf Hound" from KG 200; ex 360 Bomb Sq/303rd BG captured 12/12/1942 →References|
|Boeing B-17||F||42-30713||"Phllis Marie" ex 568th Bomb Sq/390th Bomb Gp. Captured 8/3/1944|
|Boeing B-17||F||42-30048||A3+CE||"Flak Dancer" ex. 554th Bomb Sq/384th Bomb Gp. Captured 26/6/1943|
|Boeing B-17||F||42-5714||DR+PB||"Old Faithful" ex 332nd Bomb Squadron. Captured 14/10/1943|
|Boeing B-17||G||42-39974||"Punchboard" ex 731st Bomb Sq/452nd Bomb Gp. Captured 9/4/1944|
|Bell P-39 Airacobra||GE+DV|
|Curtiss Kittyhawk Mark III||10+KH|
|Consolidated B-24 Liberator||D||41-23659||I-RAIN||"Blond Bomber II" ex 343rd BS, 98th BG, USAAF 20/2/1943|
|Consolidated B-24 Liberator||G||42-78106||NF+FL||"Sky Pirate" ex 758th Bombardment Squadron USAF captured 9/6/1944|
|Consolidated B-24 Liberator||G||42-78247||CL+XZ||ex 765th BS, 461st BG, USAAF 4/10/1944|
|Consolidated B-24 Liberator||H||41-28641||A3+KB||ex 735th BS, 453rd BG, USAAF 4/2/1944|
|Consolidated B-24 Liberator||H||42-52106||"Sunshine" ex 719th BS, 449th BG, 47th BW, 15th AF, USAAF 29/2/1944|
|Short Stirling||Mk.1||N3705||6+8||ex No. 7 Squadron RAF|
- Note: all-alphabetic codes were Stammkennzeichen form, individual to the aircraft; any codes containing one number somewhere to the left of the Balkenkreuz were combat wing-specific Geschwaderkennung codes.
- Air Fighting Development Unit, the RAF unit that tested captured German aircraft.
- No. 1426 (Enemy Aircraft) Flight, the RAF unit that flew captured German aircraft.
- Allied Technical Air Intelligence Unit, the combined Allied unit that evaluated Japanese aircraft.
- Kampfgeschwader 200 German special operations unit that operationally flew captured Allied aircraft.
- Stapfer, Hans-Heiri. Strangers in a Strange Land. Squadron/Signal Publ. 1988. ISBN 0-89747-198-9
- Lerche, Hans Werner. Luftwaffe Test Pilot: Flying captured Allied aircraft of World War 2. London: Jane's 1980. ISBN 0-531-03711-8
- Smith, J. Richard, Creek, Eddie J. and Petrick, Peter. On Special Missions, The Luftwaffe's Research and Experimental Squadrons 1923-1945. 2003. ISBN 1-903223-33-4