Focke Wulf FW 190, vol. II

The last major battle of 1941 took place on November 8, when the English deployed two squadrons of Hurri-bombers to the St. Pol distillery with a cover of five Spitfire squadrons. The attack had another stage – Circus 110, i.e. twelve Blenheims escorted by eleven fighter squadrons, deployed to bomb the Lille rolling stock repair workshops. The entire strength of JG 26 and JG 2 were scrambled to fight off the raid, engaging the RAF fighters in wild swirling dogfights. II./JG 26 gave their opponents a foretaste of future battles by scoring seven times, Hptm. Müncheberg claiming two of these kills. Among the other scorers were such aces as Fw. “Addi” Glunz and the Staka of 4 Staffel, Oblt. Ebersberger. Polish pilots of the Northolt Wing, who were flying top cover, were the only contributors to the FW 190s’ losses in this combat – Uffz. Kern died near Dunkirk, while the adjutant of II./JG 26, Oblt. Lindemann, crash-landed his burning FW 190, suffering serious injuries in the process. Not long afterwards the first FW 190A-2 fighters were delivered to II./JG 26.
1941 ended dramatically for 6 Staffel. The German warships stationed at Brest were frequent targets of Bomber Command, and to defend against these raids, elements of JG 2 were posted to Brittany. The relinquished field at Abbeville-Drucat was now taken over by II./JG 26 in order to fill the gap in the Channel defenses. The move from Wevelghem took place on December 22. The FW 190s were airborne in appalling weather conditions, powering southwest at low altitude behind the Staka 6./JG 26, Oblt. Walter Schneider in an FW 190A-2 (W. Nr. 217, “brown 1 + -”). When the aircraft arrived in the Artois sector, they flew into dense fog banks and “Jap” Schneider lost his bearings. The pilots pressed on with the formation soon spread out in the ever-worsening conditions. Unfortunately, four pilots crashed into hills around Boulogne sur Mer and died. A fifth pilot also crashed in poor visibility. Among the dead was Walter Schneider, very popular with his comrades. He had accounted for twenty British aircraft shot down, and his machine was the first FW 190A-2 to be lost by JG 26. His replacement as Staka of 6./JG 26 was Oblt. Otto Behrens.
The winter period was spent re-arming Stab and I./JG 26 with FW 190s. Now a sufficient number of the new and improved fighters were stationed at the Channel to pose a real threat to British pilots.


Reprint of technical documentation of FW 190 (selection) [Kagero's Archiwum]

The first major combat test for the FW 190 was provided by Operation “Cerberus-Donnerkeil”. The Brest-stationed German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau as well as the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen were to be re-deployed to ports on the Baltic. A high level decision was taken to send them via the English Channel right under the noses of the RAF and the Royal Navy, with the Jagdwaffe providing a continuous fighter ‘umbrella’ to screen the convoy. With the vessels slipping their moorings before dawn, the first British reaction did not take place until 13h30, when out of the gloom, six biplane torpedo Swordfish of No. 825 Sqn were sighted escorted by ten Spitfires of No. 72 Sqn. 9 Staffel engaged the escorts. Ofw. Koslowski and Uffz. Stavenhagen were shot down and Ofw. Starke of 9./JG 26 failed to return, having probably clipped the wave tops. Losses were thus quite considerable but this allowed the FW 190 pilots of III./JG 26 and Bf 109 pilots of II./JG 2 to attack the biplanes, which pressed on towards their targets under withering fire. All of the latter were shot down within two minutes. The Germans had to resort to an unusual combat tactic against the slow biplanes: dropping their gear and flaps, they juddered on the edge of the stall in order to remain on the tails of the torpedo-bombers flying at 170 km/h. Nine Swordfish were claimed in the mess. III./JG 26 pilots claimed three (two Oblt. Naumann and one Lt. Paul Galland), whereas JG 2 reported six victories.
Having repulsed the first attack, the German pilots grew more watchful. Patrols over the vessels changed in regular intervals, driving away groups of British fighters. The Bf 109F-equipped I./JG 26 shot down one Spitfire but lost one pilot, too. A funny incident happened in which a late Fw. Glunz of 4 Staffel caught up and joined a Spitfire formation, mistaking them for his own Gruppe. Only by some miracle did he escape from this predicament and return to base.
Before 16.00 British bombers arrived on the scene protected by groups of Spitfires; however, the FW 190s of 7./JG 26 quickly launched into attack, shooting down three of them, and two Wellingtons (The OKL did not credit these victories). Subsequently Hudson and Beaufort torpedo aircraft put in an appearance, their escorts clashing with FW 190s from III./JG 26. One of the Spitfires fell to Oblt. Ragotzi. Fw. Glunz’s unlucky streak was gone with another Spitfire, which plummeted into the water.


FW 190A-8 flown by Maj. Kurt Bühligen, commander of JG 2, Summer of 1944. This was one of the aircraft used by Bühligen at the time. RLM 74/75/02/76.  [Drawings Arkadiusz Wróbel]

The German warships headed for German harbors. Neither the Royal Navy nor the RAF were able to inflict any damage or loss. The only damage resulted from mines. JG 26 claimed seven confirmed victories (including five by FW 190s) and two unconfirmed for the loss of four pilots (three of these in FW 190s). The RAF lost a total of 43 aircraft.



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