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|Signatures on this item|
General Walter Krupinski (deceased)
|Walter Krupinski first saw combat against the RAF on the Western Front. Transferring to the east, he became a Squadron Commander in the legendary JG52. In 1943 his victories reached 150 but, in March 1944 with 177 victories to his name, he was transferred to Germany to command JG11. Flying high altitude Me109s, he chalked up another 12 victories before being wounded. In September 1944 he was promoted Kommandeur of III./JG26 and led them on Operation Bodenplatte before joining Galland's famous JV44. He completed the war with 197 victories in over 1100 missions. |
Walter Krupinski, known as Graf Punski or Count Punski in the Jagdwaffe, was a swashbuckling fly-boy with a phenomenal record of 197 aerial victories. Krupinski not only never lost a wingman, but also had the ability to help beginners develop to their full potential. He joined the Luftwaffe in 1939 as a student in the 11th Flying Training Regiment. He first served with the Jagderganzungsgruppe JG52, a combat replacement unit, flying the Me109, in October 1940. By the end of 191, he had earned the Iron Cross 1st class after his seventh victory and was awarded the German Cross in Gold and the Knights Cross one year later after scoring over 52 aerial victories. Krupinski taught the aerial art of closing with the enemy aircraft until it filled the windscreen before firing. It was during this time that the young Erich Hartmann was assigned as Krupinskis wingman. The young and overly enthusiastic Hartmann was seriously struggling in his first attempts at aerial combat, resulting in severe reprimands by the group commander. However, under Krupinskis expert tutelage, Hartmann mastered the art of aerial combat and went on to become the top scoring fighter ace in the world with 352 victories. While still a first lieutenant, Krupinski was selected as Dquadron Commander of 7.JG52 in the spring of 1943. On 5th of July of the same year, he scored victories 80 to 90 - 11 in one day! He later transferred to the Reich Defence in the west with 1./JG5 in the spring of 1944. His units mission was to help halt the Allied strategic bombardment campaign against Germany. Krupinski continued to rack up aerial victories and was awarded Oak Leaves to the Knights Cross after his 177th victory. He was promoted to Captain and became Group Commander of II./JG 11. Later, Krupinski became Group Commander of II./JG 26 Schlageter Group. In March 1945 he joined General Adolf Gallands famed Jagdverband 44 and flew Messerschmitt Me262 jet fighters until the end of the war. After logging a total of 1,100 combat missions, Krupinski was officialy credited with 197 aerial victories. Krupinski was also wounded seven times in aerial combat and received the Verwundetenabzeichen in Gold - the German equivalent of the American Purple Heart. A civilian after the war, Krupinski later joined the new Luftwaffe in 1952 and was promoted to major in 1955. He received jet fighting training from the Royal Air Force and became the first commander of the Jagdbomber Geschwader, Fighter-Bomber Wing - 33. Krupinski flew various jet fighters in the German Air Force, but held dear the last aircraft he flew until his retirement, his beloved F-104G Starfighter. General Krupinski retired as Commander of the German Air Force Tactical Air Command in 1976.
He received the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves. He died 7th October 2000.
Hannes Trautloft (deceased)
|Hannes Trautloft is one of the Luftwaffe's great fighter leaders, scoring his first air victory in the Spanish Civil War in August 1936. Returning to Germany in 1937 he joined the national aerobatics team flying the Me109. Soon after the outbreak of World War II, Hannes took command of I./JG20 taking part in the Battle of Britain, before moving to the Balkans as Kommodore of JG54. Now leading the group on the Russian Front, JG54 took part in the heavy fighting, first in the Me109, then the Fw190. In the summer of 1943 Hannes Trautloft joined General Galland's staff. As a 'mutineer' he was sacked by Goering, thus ending an illustrious combat career comprising 550 combat missions and 57 aerial victories. he died 11th January 1995.|
Hauptmann Georg Csurusky
|After completing his pilot training, Georg was posted in January, 1943, to 1.KG51 on the eastern front, flying the JU-88 all-weather medium bomber. In August, 1943, he converted to fly the ME-410 Hornet. On October 3rd 1943 Hauptmann Georg Csurusky was awarded the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (The German Cross in Gold). In 1944, 1 Gruppe KG51 converted to train on the ME-262 jet fighter-bomber for the Western Front. Georg flew the 262 on the attack on the Ludendorff Bridge. At the war's end he had flown 209 combat missions on both fronts, 68 of which were in the ME-262.|
Oberfeldwebel Hermann Wieczorek
|Hermann Wieczorek joined the Luftwaffe in 1935 and served as a flight mechanic before training as a pilot. Upon qualifying, he served initially as a flying instructor before joining Oberfehlshaber Sud, under General Kesselring, flying photoreconnaissance missions in the ME-110 and JU-88 over Italy and North Africa. In June, 1944, he was transferred to 1./KG51, flying the ME-262 on the Western Front. Hermann flew the 262 in the action against the Bridge at Remagen and afterword until the end of the war.|
Oberfeldwebel Rony Lauer
|Rony Lauer joined the Luftwaffe in 1937 but was still in pilot training at the start of the war. In 1942 he was posted to join KG30, flying the JU-88 on operations over England and later in the Mediteranean theater. In June, 1944, he transferred to 1./KG51 for training on the ME-262 and flew in in combat a few months later. Rony flew one of the lead aircraft in the attack on the Bridge at Remagen, and flew the 262 until the end of the war. Rony Lauer was witness to the first recorded Allied destruction of a Me262, belonging to the unit known as Kommando Schenk, on 28th August 1944, claimed as destroyed by 78th FG pilots Major Joseph Myers and Second Lieutenant Manford O. Croy flying P-47 Thunderbolts. Oberfeldwebel Hieronymus Ronny Lauer of I KG(J) 51, on a landing pattern crash landed his 262 to get away from the Allied fighters, which then destroyed the Me262 in strafing attacks.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Me262||The Messerschmitt Me-262 Swallow, a masterpiece of engineering, was the first operational mass-produced jet to see service. Prototype testing of the airframe commenced in 1941 utilizing a piston engine. General Adolf Galland, who was in charge of the German Fighter Forces at that time, pressured both Goring and Hitler to accelerate the Me-262, and stress its use as a fighter to defend Germany from Allied bombers. Hitler, however, envisioned the 262 as the aircraft which might allow him to inflict punishment on Britain. About 1400 Swallows were produced, but fortunately for the Allies, only about 300 saw combat duty. While the original plans for the 262 presumed the use of BMW jet engines, production Swallows were ultimately equipped with Jumo 004B turbojet engines. The wing design of the 262 necessitated the unique triangular hull section of the fuselage, giving the aircraft a shark-like appearance. With an 18 degree swept wing, the 262 was capable of Mach .86. The 262 was totally ineffective in a turning duel with Allied fighters, and was also vulnerable to attack during take off and landings. The landing gear was also suspect, and many 262s were destroyed or damaged due to landing gear failure. Despite its sleek jet-age appearance, the 262 was roughly manufactured, because Germany had lost access to its normal aircraft assembly plants. In spite of these drawbacks the 262 was effective. For example, on April 7, 1945 a force of sixty 262s took on a large force of Allied bombers with escort fighters. Armed with their four nose-mounted cannons, and underwing rockets the Swallows succeeded in downing or damaging 25 Allied B-17s on that single mission. While it is unlikely that the outcome of the War could have been altered by an earlier introduction or greater production totals for this aircraft, it is clear to many historians that the duration of the War might have been drastically lengthened if the Me-262 had not been too little too late.|
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