KG 54

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Kampfgeschwader 54 (Totenkopf Geschwader) - B3+

Image:Totenkopf.jpgImage:KG54_Emblem.jpg


Establishment

Aircraft operated during the existance of the unit included – Fokker G.1, Go 145, He 111, He 177, Ju 87, Ju 88, SM-82 and W.34.

Formation

Stab

1 May 1939 - formed at Fritzlar with a stabstaffel by the simple expedient of redesignating Stab/KG254. [1]

1 Sep 1939 - Stab moved from Fritzlar to Guettersloh prior to mobilisation.

I./KG 54

1 May 1939 - formed at Fritzlar by redesignating I./KG254. [1]

II./KG 54

15 Dec 1939 - formed at about this date at Hoya (SSE of Bremen) by redesignating II./KG 28. [1]

III./KG 54

1 Feb 1940 - Formed Wiener Neustadt (Austria) from elements of I. and II./ KG 54 plus some personnel drawn from the training schools.

19 Jul 1940 - at approximately this date the gruppe was disbanded at Munster-Handorf with some personnel going to I. and II./ KG 54 while others were posted to Nightfighter units.[1]

1 Sep 1942 - formed at Catania (Sicily) by redesignating K.Gr.806 - operational with Ju 88A-4.[1]

IV(Erg.)./KG 54

11 Jul 1940 - formed originally as an Ergänzungstaffel at Lager Lechfeld (nr Augsberg) using personnel from the dissolved Stabstaffel/KG 54 and others from III.KG 54. Equipment was Ju88s and He 111.

Operational Duties

1939

Polish Invasion, one staffel each of I and II Gruppe.

Image:He_111_in_the_workshop.jpg

1940

19 Apr 1940 - I and II./KG 54 used to reinforce Fliegerkorps X. Other units included KG 30, 1./KG 40, II and III./LG 1. [2][3]

21 Apr 1940 - 17 He 111Ps of II./KG 54 attacked shipping in Namsfjord. During this operation a number of KG 54 aircraft strayed into Swedish airspace.[3]

5./ KG 54 He111P of Uffz Gunter Golz was fired pon by the Swedish Destroyer Nordenskjold and was also attacked by a Swedish Airforce fighter. The He 111 eventually forcelanded and the crew were interned.[3]

Two aircraft of 4 Staffel became lost in the bad weather - B3+CM (Lt Alfred Kiefer) landed on a beach on Gotland Island, whie B3+JM (Lt Hans Shute) landed on Gotland - both crews were interned. [3]

23 Apr 1940 - 52 He 111s of KG 4, LG 1 and II./KG 54, plus 25 Ju 88s of LG 1 and KG 30 attacked supply lines in the area Dombas- Ota - Hjelle and also, once again, attacked shipping in Moldefjord and Romsdalfjord.[3]

26 Apr 1940 - 46 He 111s of KG 4, KG 26, KG 54 and LG 1 attacked road and railway targets in the Vinstra-Dovra-Dombas-Aadalsnes areas of Norway.[3]

3 He 111 from 4./KG 54 in conjunction with three from 5./KG 4 were sent on an armed recce over the Otta-Loma Grotli area.[3]

27 Apr 1940 - KG 54 together with KG 26 and G 1 furnished a total of 61 He 111s for attacks on Aandalsnes town and harbour, shipping in Moldefjord and Romsdalsfjord and other targets - KG 30 also sent 34 Ju 88s to take part in these attacks.[3]

30 Apr 1940 - KG 54 together with KG 4, KGr. 100 and LG 1 sent 65 He 111s to attack shipping found between Aalesund and Aandalsnes following up on an early morning recce flight by an aircraft of KuFlGr. 506.[3]

1 May 1940 - Control of KG 54 passed from Luftflotte 5 to Luftflotte 2.[3]

May 10, 1940 - Took part in German air attacks against airfields in France, Belguim and Holland, together with railway junctions, tank and troop concentrations and their surounding areas.

Summer 1940 – Operational under Luftflotte 3. Stab and I./KG 54 located at Evreax with II./KG 54 at St. Andre D'Leure.[4]

Image:KG_54_He_111_Crash.jpg

I./KG 54 took off for the first sorties at 02.45[5]

Day and nights operations during the “Battle of Britian” and the subsequent night blitz.

Image:KG_54_He_111_Crash_a.jpg

4/5 Jul 1940 - III/KG 54 operating from Le Bourget sent out a single He 111, this aircraft took-off at 10.00 hrs on weather reporting sortie that was to incluse an attack on Bristol's Filton aircraft factory. The aircraft was lost crashing at Gillingham in Dorset.[6]

8/9 Jul 1940 - III/KG 54 again operating from Le Bourget sent out 3 He 111 on a night attack on Grain Silo & Electricity Works nr. Bristol with 8 SC 250.[6]

13 Jul 1940 - took part in early morning raids against Portsmouth.[7]

13 Aug 1940 - KG 54 attacked Portland and lost three aircraft during this sortie. Hptm. Strauch of Stab II./KG 54 coming down near Arundel.

Earlier in the day KG 54 also lost an aircraft in an attack on the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farborough. Oblt. Ostermann being killed.[8]

Date Unit Aircraft Type Code Wkr.No. Notes
13 Aug 1940 Stab I/KG54 Ju88A-1 B3+ DB Shot down by Hurricanes of 43 and 601 Sqdns. Exploded on impact in Phillis Wood, Treyford at 06.30.

Oblt. J. Oestermann is recorded as being MIA while Uffz. F. Rösler, Ogefr. K. Brieger and Uffz. K. Seltz all baled out to become POWs.[6]

13 Aug 1940 6./KG 54 Ju 88A B3+TP Attacked by Hurricanes of 43 and 601 Sqdns over the Isle of Wight while on a bombing sortie to RAE Farnborough. The Ju 88 was relatively undamaged. Following the attacks the engines started to fail and Gefr. G. Niessl baled out to become a POW. The remainder of the crew – Lt. Siescher, Gefr. Handelmeier and Ogfr. Hosport were all uninjured.[9]
13 Aug 1940 Stab II./KG 54 Ju88A-1 Shot down by Hurricanes of 43 and 601 Sqdns while on a bombing sortie to RAE Farnborough. Crashed and exploded at Swanbourne lake, Arundel at approx. 06.30.

Oblt H. Rose and Uffz. H. Scholz both baled out to become POWs. Fw. W. Bickel baled out but was killed. Hptm. A-W Strouch baled out and was found hanging in a tree. However, he died of his wounds two days later.[10]

Image:Ju88_KG54_crashed.jpg

21 Aug 1940 - On this day KG 54 lost three aircraft. One aircraft attacked Brize Norton and was intercepted, the crew abandoned the Ju 88 north of Selsey Bill (Hptm. Maiwald)[11]

Date Unit Aircraft Type Code Wkr.No. Notes
21 Aug 1940 1./KG 54 Ju 88A-1 Shot down by aircraft of 234 Sqdn. Crashed and burned at King's Sambourne at 14.15.

Oblt. M-D Birkenstock, Ogfr. G. Freude, Uffz. R. Schlze and Gefr F. Becker all MIA.[12]

21 Aug 1940 4./KG 54 Ju 88A-1 B3+BM The aircraft's engines were hit by AA Fire during an attack on Brize Norton airfield. The Ju 88 was also subject to attacks by Hurricanes of 17 Sqdn and finally crashed at Marsh farm, Earnley at 16.15.

Hptm. L.Maiwald, Ogfr. H. Apollony, Uffz. K. Miethner and Uffz H. Hempel at POWs.[13]

4/5 Oct 1940 – 2 Ju 88s of II./KG 54 were over London depositing 2 SC 1000 bombs. The aircraft were unable to observe the results of the bombing.[14]

5/6 Oct 1940 – I./KG 54 took part in the attack on London - by two Ju88s between 3:30 hrs and 3:52 hrs with two SC1000, one Flam 250, four SC50 and seventy two B1 (incendaries). Bombing was performed by dead reckoning and the results were not able to be observed.[15]

A third Ju 88 had icing issues and deposited its load of one SC 1000 and four SC 50s 20 Km south of London.[16]

6 Oct 1940 – 11 Ju 88s of I./KG 54 set out between 13.45 hrs and 14.36 hrs for London arriving over the target between 14.56 hr and 15.50 hrs. Total bomb load amounted to 5 SC 1000; 2 SC 500; 2 Flam 250 and 30 SC 50. Results were not viewed due to the extensive cloud cover.[17]

A planned attack by two Ju 88s of I./KG 54 on the Wolseley Motor Works north-east of Birmingham did not take place. One Ju 88 abandoned the sortie over the Channel dumping its bomb load due to heavy icing. While the second also aborted the mission, it diverted to the secondary target of London with its load of one SC1000 and four SC 50s.[18]

7 Oct 1940 – 16 Ju 88s from II./KG 54 took off between 12.45 hrs and 14.43 hrs to take part in the daylight attack on London – between 14.25 and 15.58 hrs twelve aircraft dropped the following ordnance on the target: 5 SC 1000; 8 SC 500; 10 SC 250; 2 Flam 250 and 2 AB 36 containers. A single Ju 88 deposited its load in Hertford and three other aircraft aborted the sortie.[19]

7/8 Oct 1940 – I./KG 54 committed 5 Ju 88s to the attack on London this night.[20]

10/11 Oct 1940 – 8 Ju 88s from I./KG 54 and 9 Ju 88s from II,/KG 54 took part in the raid on London that night.[21]

2/3 Dec 1940 – I./KG 54 (operating from Evreux) and II./ KG 54 (operating from St. André) each provided 4 aircraft for the 132 aircraft raid on the Bristol Docks and Harbour area.[6]


1941

Continued night operations against England until the end of May.

3/4 Jan 1941 – Aircraft from I./KG 54 (8 Ju 88) and II./KG 54 (6 Ju 88) operating under the control of Luftflotte 2 took part in the combined Luftflotte 2 and 3 attack against Bristol City centre. The I./KG 54 aircraft carried a mix of explosive and incendiary bombs while those from II./KG 54 carried high explosive and fire bombs (Flam).[6]

4/5 Jan 1941 - Aircraft from I./KG 54 (4 Ju 88) and II./KG 54 (5 Ju 88) operating under the control of Luftflotte 2 took part in the combined Luftflotte 2 and 3 attack against the Avonmouth docks. Of a total of 165 aircraft despatched 103 reported attacking their target.[6]

9/10 Jan 1941 – II./KG 54 sent out a single Ju 88 from St. André with orders to attack its primary target of Manchester with Bristol as an alternative. This was one of a number of single aircraft with tagets in the Bristol area as alternatives.[6]

16/17 Jan 1941 – I and II./KG 54 took part in the major attack on Avonmouth committing 14 and 9 aircraft (Ju88) respectively.[6]


June 1941 – Moved to Polish bases in preparation for the assault on Russia. From 22 June employed in attacks on tank columns, bridges, airfields, troop concentrations, railway junctions etc.

1942

Jan 1942 – Stab, I and III Gruppe (formerly KGr 806) transferred to Catania (Sicily) at the beginning of the month. Commenced operations against Malta, flights to North Africa and anti-shipping strikes over the Med.

II Gruppe remained operational in Russia.

Image:KG54_Ju88.jpg

2 Feb 1942 – 6./KG 54 lost a Ju 88 shot down while attacking Soviet troops. The aircraft was struck by ground fire in the port engine and belly landed in the snow. Lt. Johannes Griessler (F), Gefr. Siegfried Wittmer and the rest of the crew spent the next four days walking back to the German front line. [22]


13 Feb 1942 – Ju 88s from II./KG 54 attacked a Russian transport column. They succeeded in knocking out one tank and set three trucks on fire.[23]


14 Feb 1942 – II./KG 54 flew sorties against Soviet tropps attempting to relieve a surrounded russian pocket SW of Rzhev. During these actions the Gruppe lost Ju 88s of Hptm. Heinz Gehrke (Gr. Kd.) and one other crew.[24]


Image:Ju88_KG_54_4051.jpg

4 Mar 1942 – II./KG 54 attacked a soviet supply column in the Rzhev area. The Ju88s were in turn attacked by Russian fighters and lost three crews including that of the acting Gruppen Kommanduer – Oblt. Gunther Seubert.[25]


1943

Operations from Catania against Harbours and shipping along the Tunisian/North African Coast.

Due to the final loss of Tunisia KG54 moved to the Italian mainland in preparation for operations against the expected invasion of Sicily and subsequently Italy.

Image:JU88_KG_54_B3-IM.jpg

II Gruppe moved from Russia to Vienna-Aspern airfield for recuperation.

1944

The complete geschwader was transferred to the western front and commenced operations from German home airfields.

Mid-Jan 1944 - I./KG 54 were based at Wittmundhafen, while II./ KG 54 were at Marx.[26]

21-22 Jan 1944 - I. and II./KG 54 took part in the first of the "Steinbock" raids. This was an attack on London - specifically the area South East of Waterloo station, codenamed Muenchen - the bombers made landfall north of Southend.[26]

29-30 Jan 1944 - Luftwaffe operations over the UK extended from Suffolk to Hampshire with a large concentration over the Thames Estuary. KG 54 took part in these sorties.[26]

Date Unit Aircraft Type Code Wkr.No. Notes
29-30 Jan 1944 KG 54 Ju 88A-4 B3+AL 300228 Crashed at Barham (NE of Ipswich) after being attacked by a Beaufighter of 68 Sqdn.

1-2 Mar 1944 – A total of seventy aircraft set out across the English Coast to attack London but only ten reached their target. Units with aircraft committed to this raid are believed to have also included KG6, KG66 and KG100.

14-15 Mar 1944 -I./KG 54, based at Wittmundhafen, and II./ KG 54, based at Marx, took part in the raid on London. Other units included - I, II and III./KG 2; I and II./KG 3; I, II and III./KG6; II and III./KG 30; and KG 51. Diversionary sorties were to be operated by SKG 10s FW 190s.

This raid was to target "Hamburg"(Government buildings within a 500 metre radius of Westminster Abbey). Take-off commenced at 21.00, joining the main stream of bombers over the North Sea and set course for the turning point at Cambridge. Landfall was mainly made between yarmouth and Southwold, crossing the coast at heights between 14,000 and 24,000ft. KG 54 were timed to arrive over target at approx 23.00 with the last aircraft leaving at 2312 - bombing height was planned to be 4,000m. Aircraft from I./KG 54 were not to return to Wittmundhafen but were to land at Juvincourt.[27][26]

Date Unit Aircraft Type Code Wkr.No. Notes
14-15 Mar 1944 2./KG 54 Ju 88A-14 B3+CK Shot down by nightfighter of 410 Sqdn near Tunbridge Wells. Unt.Heide and crew bailed out and became POWs.[27]

20 Mar 1944 - Luftflotte 3 Order of battle recorded the following for KG 54:-

Stab - 3 Ju 88 of which all were serviceable.

I Gruppe - 17 Ju 88 of which 9 were serviceable.

II Gruppe - 19 Ju 88 of which 14 were serviceable.[27]

21-22 Mar 1944 – The Luftwaffe despatched 144 aircraft for this raid of which their records report 123 having bombed their targets, 7 aircraft bombing emrgency targets, 14 aborting and 11 being lost. However, the UK reporting service recorded that a total of approximately 95 aircraft crossed the English Coast for London. Apart from KG 54 the following units were also involved :- KG6, KG30, KG51 and KG66.

24-25 Mar 1944 - A major effort was made with 143 aircraft taking part in a raid on London. Other units, apart from KG54, taking part were KG2, KG6 KG30 and it was led inevitably the pfadfinders of KG66

27-28 Mar 1944 - Strike on Bristol - Luftwaffe claimed to have attacked this city with 139 aircraft although no bombs struck the town. Aircraft were plotted over the whole of southern England. Units involved were KG2, KG6, KG30, KG54 and KG66.

Subsequent move to Giebelstadt and Kitzingen for conversion from the Ju 88 to the Me 262 and a change of operational status to that of Jagdgeschwader – the unit designation being changed to KG(J)54.

1945

Committed to operations on the Western Front both in the air and surrplus personnel and infantry.

At the end of the war the remains of KG(J)54 were to be found around Prague and in Central Germany.

Losses

Date Unit Aircraft Type Code Wkr.No. Notes

7Sep40 II/KG54 Ju88A-1 B3+AM 6032 Shot down by an early cannon armed Spitfire of 7 OTU. Crew killed or missing.

18Sep40 II/KG54 Ju88A-1 B3+CP 0226 Lost to Hurricanes while operating against South Coast convoys. Crew listed on returns as missing.

19Sep40 II/KG54 Ju88A-1 B3+HM 4148 Believed shot down by British flak – crew missing.

17Sep40 I/KG54 Ju88A-1 B3+OL 2152 Missing from combat sortie over England – crew killed – fate not known.

Contributions

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 larry de Zeng and Douglas Stankey - Bomber units of the Luftwaffe, Midland
  2. Hooten - Pheonix Triumphant p229, Brockhampton Press
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Shores et al - Fledgling Eagles
  4. McKay Ron – Crowood Aviation Ju 88 p27
  5. Hooten - Pheonix Triumphant p239, Brockhampton Press
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 Penny, John - The Luftwaffe over the Bristol area
  7. Smith and Creek - kampflieger Volume 2, Classic
  8. McKay Ron - Crowood Aviation Ju 88 p31.
  9. Ramsay et al – Blitz Then and Now Vol 1 p 190
  10. Ramsay et al – Blitz Then and Now Vol 1 p 190
  11. McKay Ron - Crowood Aviation Ju 88 p31.
  12. Ramsay et al – Blitz Then and Now Vol 1 p 222
  13. Ramsay et al – Blitz Then and Now Vol 1 p 222
  14. T321 R88 Luftflottenkommando 3 p891
  15. T321 R88 Luftflottenkommando 3 p907/8
  16. T321 R88 Luftflottenkommando 3 p907/8
  17. T321 R88 Luftflottenkommando 3 p921
  18. T321 R88 Luftflottenkommando 3 p920
  19. T321 R88 Luftflottenkommando 3 p925
  20. T321 R88 Luftflottenkommando 3 p959
  21. T321 R88 Luftflottenkommando 3 p1001
  22. Bergstrom, Christer – Black Cross/Red Star V2 p48
  23. Bergstrom, Christer – Black Cross/Red Star V2 p50
  24. Bergstrom, Christer – Black Cross/Red Star V2 p50
  25. Bergstrom, Christer – Black Cross/Red Star V2 p107
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 Bowyer, Michael - Air raid, PSL
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 Wakefield, Ken - Pfadfinder, Tempus
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