Sunday, January 10, 2016

Stuka Ace Hans-Joachim Jäschke

One of II.Gruppe / Schlachtgeschwader 1's most experienced pilots was 22-year-old Oberleutnant Hans-Joachim Jäschke. He joined the Gruppe at the beginning of 1942 and by the end of March 1944 was Staffelkapitän of 4./SG 1. On 26 March 1944, immediately after the Gruppe's arrival at Rovaniemi (Finland), Jäschke was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross). By then he had flown 553 combat missions and destroying 78 tanks, 27 guns, more than 100 trucks and 11 bridges! The two photographs show Jäschke at Rovaniemi at the beginning of April 1944. One of his comrades adjusts his Ritterkreuz for the photo opportunity. Note the cloth version of the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold (German Cross in Gold), awarded on 2 August 1943, with metal wreath. Jäschke also wears Frontflugspange in Gold (Operational Flying Clasp in Gold) with 500 pendant and the cloth version of Flugzeugführerabzeichen (Pilot's Badge). Like all the pilots of II./SG 1, in the summer of 1944 Hans-Joachim Jäschke was forced to give up his faithful Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" and retrain on the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 F-8. The change did not bring him luck. On 21 July 1944, during a low level attack on an enemy column near Klezcsele in Hungary, Jäschke was shot down in flames by Russian anti-aircraft fire. He failed to get out and was killed in the ensuing crash and explosion. This photo itself was taken by an unidentified Hauptmann of the Gruppenstab who was taken prisoner in southern Germany in May 1945. There American soldiers took from him several rolls of exposed, but undeveloped, film. The film was later developed by Kodak in the USA, and decades after that a collector discovered the collection by chance. The photographs were subsequently returned to Germany, albeit in poor condition.

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

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