Heinz Arnold was credited with a total of 49 victories, including 7 on the Me 262. Yellow 7 was his assigned aircraft while flying with 11./JG 7 from Parchim in March and April of 1945. Arnold went missing on 17APR45 while flying another aircraft. Me 262 W.Nr.500491 “Yellow 7” survived the war and was taken to America for evaluation. It was restored and is on display with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.
Heinz “Pritzl” Bär was one of the “old hares” of the Luftwaffe, flying from the beginning of the war until the end. He fought in all the major battles of the Luftwaffe – France, the Battle of Britain, the invasion of the Soviet Union, North Africa, and the Defense of the Reich. He was credited with 220 victories (with several others going unrecognized). These included 124 victories against the Western Allies, and was the second-highest scoring jet Experten with 16. He flew more than 1,000 missions. He was himself shot down eighteen times and wounded three, but always made it back to German lines. He did have an insubordinate streak which sometimes put him in disfavor with his superiors, including Hermann Göring.
He favored the “unlucky” number 13 for his aircraft, “Red 13” was his mount while with III./EJG 2 at Lechfeld in March 1945.
This is the Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a of Major Theodor Weissenberger Stab JG 7, Parchim, Germany, March 1945. Weissenburger achieved the majority of his victories while flying against the Soviets in the northern extremes of the Eastern Front, first with JG 77 flying the Bf 110 and later with JG 5 flying the Bf 109. He was transferred along with I./JG 5 to the West on Defense of the Reich duties shortly before the Normandy invasion. He was one of the seemingly rare Experten who successfully made the transition from East to West and continued to score against the USAAF and RAF. He survived the war with a total of 208 victories, including 8 with the Me 262. He was killed in an automobile racing accident in 1950.
In November 1941 Adolf Galland was appointed to lead the Luftwaffe’s fighter force as General der Jagdflieger. As the war progressed Germany’s situation worsened, which put Galland at odds with Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring who used the pilots as scapegoats. This came to a head in January 1945 when a number of ranking Luftwaffe pilots confronted Göring in what became known as the “Fighter Pilots’ Revolt”. Göring blamed Galland, and relieved him of his command. But now what to do with Galland, who was a hero in Germany? Galland was directed to lead a small unit with the Messerschmitt Me 262, Jagdverband 44 (JV 44). He used his connections to recruit several of the highest-scoring pilots in the Luftwaffe, and JV 44 quickly became known as the “squadron of experts”.
This Me 262 bears the double chevron of a Geschwaderkommodore. It is believed Galland was flying this aircraft when he achieved his final victories, a pair of Martin B-26 Marauders on 26APR45. Galland was wounded during the engagement but survived the war with 104 victories.
Leutnant Franz Schall began his career as a fighter pilot with JG 52 on the Eastern Front in February 1943. His best day was on 31AUG44 when he was credited with shooting down a remarkable thirteen Soviet aircraft, including eleven Il-2s. He was posted to Kommando Nowotny to work up the new Me 262 jet fighter where he and Leutnant Helmut Lennartz scored the unit’s first victories on 07OCT44 by downing two American B-24 Liberators. Schall was killed landing an Me 262 with JV 7 just a month before the end of the war in April. He was credited with 133 victories, including 16 on the Me 262.
The Messerschmitt Me 262 A-1a/U4 was a standard Me 262 modified to carry a Mk 214 50 mm cannon in the nose. The intention was to provide a weapon capable of destroying an American heavy bomber while remaining outside the range of the bomber formation’s defensive armament. Two prototypes were built. The aircraft was assigned to JV 44 and was flown operationally twice against American bomber streams on 16APR45; the cannon jammed on both flights.
Major Wilhelm “Willi” Herget began the war as a Bf 110 Zerstörer pilot and fought in the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain. He then transitioned to nightfighters. He scored a total of 57 night victories, his best night was on 20DEC44 when he was credited with downing eight RAF bombers. He trained to fly the Messerschmitt Me 262 and was assigned to JV 44. He finished the war with the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and was credited with a total of 73 victories and over 700 operational sorties. He died in Stuttgart in 1974.
Hauptmann Ludwig-Wilhelm “Lutz” Burkhardt flew this Messerschmitt while in command of 7. / JG 1, at Paderborn Germany, April 1944. Burkhardt opened his account on 09MAY42 against the Soviets, downing an I-153 fighter. He managed to score a total of 53 victories against the Soviets with II./JG 77, but was forced down himself on several occasions, each time making it back to his own lines without serious injury. He was transferred to the West where he continued to score, downing 16 American and British aircraft, all fighters. He suffered from recurring bouts of malaria which sidelined him for much of the last year of the war. He survived with a total of 69 victories.
Messerschmitt Me 262A-1a of Hans Waldmann, 3. / JG 7, Kaltenkirchen, Germany, March 1945. Revell of Germany kit.
Hans Peter Waldmann scored the majority of his 134 victories flying the Bf 109 with JG 52 on the Eastern Front. In early July 1944 Waldmann and the rest of 4./JG 52 had been transferred to the West in Defence of the Reich, flying with II./JG 3 over the Invasion front. He flew Jabo missions along with fighter sweeps, adding seven American and RAF aircraft to his score. In November II./JG 3 was retrained to fly the Me 262 and became I./JG 7. Waldmann claimed two Mustangs on the Me 262. On 18MAR45 JG 7 was ordered to intercept American bombers raiding Germany despite heavy cloud cover. Waldmann collided with one of his wingmen in the clouds and was killed.
Walter Nowotny scored his first two victories on 19JUL41 against Soviet Polikarpov I-153s but was shot down by a third. He subsequently spent three days in a raft in the Gulf of Riga until he washed ashore in Latvia. Most of his subsequent victories came while flying the Fw 190 with JG 54. He became the first Luftwaffe pilot to be credited with 250 victories, and was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds. Nowotny was given command of a unit tasked with developing tactics for the new Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter. The type had been rushed into service and suffered from several “bugs”. On 08NOV44 Nowotny claimed an American P-51 and B-24, but crashed in his Me 262, possibly due to an engine fire. He was 23 at the time.
Nowotny had a superstition and insisted on wearing his lucky “victory pants” whenever he flew, the same pants he had worn after his first victories and three days afloat in the raft in the Gulf of Riga. The only time he failed to wear them was on his last sortie when he was killed.
Johannes “Macky” Steinhoff was one of the legends of the Luftwaffe, having flown throughout the entire war on every major front. He flew a total of 993 sorties and was credited with 176 victories. He was shot down himself on twelve occasions but only bailed out once, preferring to crash land his aircraft due to a mis-trust of parachutes. He scored six of his victories while flying the Me 262 with JV 44, but two weeks before the end of the war his jet crashed during take-off, leaving Steinhoff with severe burns. After the war he became a General in the West German Air Force. He died in February 1994 at the age of 80.