Thursday, November 27, 2014

Luftwaffe Ace Hauptmann Joachim "Jochen" Müncheberg

 This picture showing Hauptmann Joachim "Jochen" Müncheberg when his fame was at its height. This one was first published in "Die Wehrmacht" magazine of 8 July 1942, which suggests that they could show the return of Jagdgeschwader 26 (JG 26) "Schlageter" pilots from the famous action of 2 June 1942, when they almost exterminated a Canadian fighter squadron. Müncheberg (31 December 1918 – 23 March 1943) was a German Luftwaffe military aviator during World War II, a fighter ace credited with 135 enemy aircraft shot down in over 500 combat missions. The majority of his victories were claimed over the Western Front, with 33 claims over the Eastern Front. Of his 102 aerial victories achieved over the Western Allies, 46 were against Supermarine Spitfire fighters. Born in Friedrichsdorf, Müncheberg, who had strong ambitions as a track and field athlete, volunteered for military service in the Wehrmacht of the Third Reich in 1936. Initially serving in the Heer (Army), he transferred to the Luftwaffe (Air Force) in 1938. Following flight training, he was posted to Jagdgeschwader 234 (JG 234—234th Fighter Wing) in October 1938. He was transferred to Jagdgeschwader 26 "Schlageter" (JG 26—26th Fighter Wing) a year later and was appointed adjutant of the III. Gruppe (3rd Group). He fought in the Battle of France and received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) following his 20th aerial victory and during the Battle of Britain. Serving as a Staffelkapitän (Squadron Leader) he fought in the aerial battles during the siege of Malta and Balkans Campaign. He received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub) and Italian Gold Medal of Military Valor (Italian: Medaglia d'oro al Valore Militare) after 43 aerial victories. Müncheberg then briefly served in North Africa in support of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps before transferring to France. He was given command of JG 26's II. Gruppe (2nd Group) in September 1941 and was then posted to Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51—51st Fighter Wing), operating on the Eastern Front, in July 1942. Serving as a Geschwaderkommodore (Wing Commander) in training under JG 51 wing commander Karl-Gottfried Nordmann, he claimed his 100th aerial victory on 5 September 1942 for which he was awarded the Swords (Schwerter) to his Knight's Cross on 9 September, his score then at 103 aerial victories. On 1 October 1942 Müncheberg was given command of Jagdgeschwader 77 (JG 77—77th Fighter Wing), operating in the Mediterranean Theatre. He died of wounds following a mid-air collision during combat near Meknassy, Tunisia on 23 March 1943.

 Book "Luftwaffe at War: Luftwaffe Aces of the Western Front" by Robert Michulec

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