In August 1943 Oberfeldwebel Helmut Benkendorff, a pilot in 5.Staffel / II.Gruppe / Sturzkampfgeschwader 1 (StG 1), reached a significant milestone, completing his 500th combat mission. In this photo, Benkendorff can be seen in front of the aircraft in which he flew the milestone mission. The machine is a Junkers Ju 87 "Stuka" D-5, which can be identified by the wing-mounted MG 151/20 cannon and the absence of a siren on the mainwheel fairing. The aircraft code is A5+MN. The aircraft letter is repeated on the left mainwheel fairing in the Staffel color red. Apparently the aircraft was prepared for another sortie immediately after landing. Behind Benkendorff members of the ground crew can be seen loading a bomb onto the aircraft with the help of an hydraulic bomb trolley. At that time II./StG 1 was active over the central sector of the Eastern Front. 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. Another pictures from the same event: 1, 2, 3.
"Luftwaffe im Focus", Spezial No.1 - 2003