Wednesday, October 14, 2015

A Messerschmitt Bf 110 of Lehrgeschwader 2 in Bulgaria during Balkan Campaign

L2+SR, a Messerschmitt Bf 110 E-3 of 7.Staffel (Fern) / Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2), photographed at Sofia-Vrazdebna at the beginning of April 1941 as German forces were preparing to invade Greece and Yugoslavia. We can see the entire cockpit area is covered with tarpaulin. The yellow yellow painted rudders are clearly visible. The aircraft letter "S" is in the Staffel color white. Also note the heavy mottling on the fuselage sides. At the beginning of November 1938 the Lehr-Verband / Aufklärungsgruppe Jüterborg (Training Unit / Reconnaissance Group Jüterborg) was reformed as the III.Gruppe (Aufklärungs) / Lehrgeschwader 2 (LG 2). Consisting of three Staffeln (7, 8, and 9. Staffel), the Gruppe was part of LG 2. The Geschwader's other two Gruppen were I.(Jagd)/LG 2 and II.(Schlacht)/LG 2, fighter and close-support unit respectively. 7.(F)/LG 2 saw action in Poland, flying the Dornier Do 17 P and M. Not until operations against England began was it reequipped with the Messerschmitt Bf 110 C-5. It was at this time that the Staffel emblem, a small "Teufelskopf" (Devil's Head), first appeared on the unit's aircraft. The Staffel was based at Grimbergen, Belgium, until 12 February 1941, when it was withdrawn from operations over England to prepare for the attack on Greece and Yugoslavia. On 24 March 1941, 7.(F)/LG 2 moved via Popest, Romania, to Krumovo in Bulgaria, and on 2 April to the Sofia-Vrazdebna airfield. There yellow identification markings were applied to the Staffel's Bf 110s, on the nose, elevators and rudders. The German forces attacked in 6 April 1941. After missions over Southern Yugoslavia and Greece, the Staffel supported the airborne invasion of Crete from Athens-Kalamaki. The Russian campaign saw the Staffel in action in the southern sector where, in the summer of 1941, it flew reconnaissance missions on behalf of Panzergruppe 1 with its few remaining Bf 110 E-3s and C-5s as well as several Bf 109 E-6s. In September 1941 the unit was briefly withdrawn from operations and sent to Breslau for a rest and refit. In December the Staffel returned to operations, flying from Mariupol on the Sea of Azov west of Rostov. In february it transferred to Stalino. In March 1942 the unit was renamed to 7.(H)/LG 2 and in May it was attached to Stab Nahaufklärungsgruppe 12 (NAGr 12). In November the Staffel was briefly combined with 3.(H)/31 to form NAGr Fleischmann (Tactical Reconnaissance Group Fleischmann). The Gruppe flew missions over Stalingrad from Golubinskaya (north of Kalach). On 11 December 1942 the airfield had to be abandoned in a hurry as Russian forces approached. Most of the unit's machines were lost, as only a few Bf 110s could be flown out. At the end of December, 7.(H)/LG 2 and 3.(H)/31 had just five machines between them! By January 1943 this number had been reduced to three. At the end of February 1943, 7.(H)/LG 2 disappeared from the Luftwafffe Order of Battle. Many of its ground personnel had been forced into the Stalingrad pocket when the Russians broke through, and on 3 February 1943 sixty men were reported missing there. There is no record of the disbandment of 7.(H)/LG 2, the unit probably just ceased to exist.

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

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