Jagdgeschwader 51 'Molders' by John Weal

By John Weal

JG fifty one is without doubt one of the Luftwaffe's best wartime fighter devices whose tale hasn't ever been informed in English. The unit's heritage encapsulates the fortunes of the Luftwaffe's fighter arm as an entire: the heady successes of the early months, the regular attrition and the becoming energy of the competition in the course of the mid-war years, and the ultimate chaos and cave in of the final days. the tale works on different degrees too: the variety of plane forms flown - biplanes, Messerschmitt and Focke-Wulf warring parties, or even twin-engined ground-attack machines - presents for an enticing mixture of hitherto unpublished pictures; and the wide variety of markings and unit badges upload colourful style and are an advantage for the modeling fraternity. however it is, primarily, the standard of the pilots who served with JG fifty one that units it aside. in the course of the warfare it numbered extra Knight's move winners between its ranks than the other unit, and it truly is their tales, their successes, exploits and eventual fates, which brings this heritage to existence.

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I. Gruppes 11 victories on 31 August were achieved without casualties. /]G 77, flying its first operations of the Battle of Britain, was not so fortunate. Despatched on a series of freie ]agd and bomber escort missions over Kent and Essex, the 'Wanderzirkus' claimed four RAF fighters, including a pair of Hurricanes for Oberleutnant Karl-Gottfried Nordmann, recently appointed Kapitan of 3. Staffil. But it cost the Gruppe one pilot killed and five more shot down and captured. Among the latter were]ohannes ] anke's two other Staffilkapitane, Jlirgen Ehrig and Ekkehard Priebe of 1.

On 2 September he personally gave orders for 'the start of the reprisal raids against London'. Major Molders and his three Gruppen formed part of the huge fighter umbrella that escorted a solid phalanx of Luftwaffe bombers to London in the first of these raids five days later. They expected to meet fierce opposition, but a number ofRAF ground controllers, presuming this to be yet another strike against Fighter Command's airfields, were caught off guard. Many bombers attacked their targets unopposed, and in the fierce dogfights that erupted as the bombers wheeled away from London towards the safety ofthe coast, J G 51's fortunes again varied considerably.

The unit's only loss was a Bf 109 written off in a belly landing after being damaged by enemy ground fire. /JG 20 - the 'Wanderzirkus ]anke'was back at Breslau-Schongarten. /JG 77's first victory in Poland - a PZL P-43, downed on 3 September was claimed by Leutnant KarlGottfried Nordmann. /JG 77's Emils had also been transformed by a coat of hellblau paint. Here they provide a backdrop as Hauptmann Johannes Janke (left) discusses matters with three of his pilots 34 for long. On 28 September they were on their travels again, transferring via Oedheim to Frankfurt/Rhein-Main on the western front.

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