Friday, September 25, 2015

German Aircraft of Hungarian Air Force in the Eastern Front in Winter

This photograph of V + 12, a Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 of the Hungarian 5/2. Jagdstaffel, was most likely taken at the end January-beginning of February 1943 while the aircraft was being prepared for a mission. Note the emblem beneath the windscreen. The mainwheel fairings have been removed to prevent snow from building up between the wheel and the fairing. The aircraft’s wingtips are painted yellow, while the tail surfaces are in the Hungarian national colors of white, red and green. The red spinner was a common feature on aircraft of Jagdstaffel 5/1 or 5/2. Surprising is the absence of any winter camouflage, like that worn by the Junkers Ju 88 that may be seen in the sky under the Messerschmitt’s nose. In October 1942 the Luftwaffe command agreed to equip Hungarian fighter units with the Messerschmitt Bf 109. The first eight pilots of the Hungarian 1/1 Fighter Squadron under Oberleutnant Banlaky were given conversion training by I.Gruppe / Jagdgeschwader 52 (JG 52) at the Stary Oskol airfield in mid-October. The Hungarian flew their first combat sorties after just a few days of training, using six second-hand Bf 109 F-4s that had been transferred to the Hungarian Air Force. Beginning on 25 October, the squadron regularly flew combat operations as part of I./JG 52. The Hungarians were constantly in action, despite snow in early November. Operating from Urasovo, they mainly flew fighter-bomber missions against Russian units that had broken through the Italian held-sector of the front. Railway lines were also popular targets. In mid-November snow and strong winds temporarily brought operations to a halt. The weather improved at the end of November, and the Hungarian squadron, which the Germans had by then designated as 1. Ungarische Jabostaffel (1st Hungarian Fighter-Bomber Squadron) resumed its ground attack missions. On 20 December 1942 the squadron had eight Bf 109 F-4 fighters on strength. At the end of December, after 140 mainly close-support missions, the squadron was withdrawn from the front and replaced by Staffel 5/1 and 5/2. The pilots of these two units had to be retrained too. Staffel 5/2, commanded by Hauptmann Heppe, used three Bf 109 F-4s bearing the aircraft codes V- + 08, V0 + 10 and V- + 12. The photograph presented here were taken during Staffel 5/2’s conversion training. Staffel 5/1 continued training through all of January 1943, several times having to hastily abandoned airfields after Russian forces broke throught the lines. On 20 January the Staffel was at the Uman airfield. At the beginning of April Staffel 5/1 was combined with Gruppenstab 5/1 at Kharkov-South. In April the Staffel finally went into action, flying fighter-bomber missions with I./JG 52 commanded by Hauptmann Horst-Günther von Fassong. Photo by Fähnrich Gynes

Source :
"Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003

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