Bf-109 E4 No Cross
The Messerschmitt Bf 109 is a German Second World War fighter aircraft that was along with the Focke-Wulf FW 190, the backbone of the Luftwaffe’s fighter force. The Bf 109 first saw operational service in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War and was still in service at the dawn of the jet age at the end of WW2 in 1945.
It was one of the most advanced fighters when it first appeared, with an all metal monocoque construction, a closed canopy and retractable landing gear.
It was called the Me 109 by allied aircrew and some German aces , even though this was not the official German designation.
It was designed by Willy Messerschmitt and Robert Lusser, who worked at Bayerische Flugzeugwerke during the early to mid – 1930’s. It was originally conceived as an interceptor. It was supplied and served with several countries for many years after the war. The Bf 109 is the most produced fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 airframes produced from 1936 to April 1945.
The Bf 109 was flown by the three top scoring fighter aces of all time, who claimed 928 victories among them while fling with Jagdgeschwader 52, mainly on the eastern Front.
The highest scoring Erich Hartmann was credited with 352 victories.
The aircraft was also flown by Hans Joachim Marseille, the highest scoring ace in the North African campaign, whi shot down 158 enemy aircraft.
THE RED BAND OF JAGDGESCHWADER 53
Jagdgeschwader 53 (JG 53) was a Luftwaffe fighter wing of the Second World War. It operated in Western Europe and in the Mediterranean. It was better known as the “PIK As” (Ace of Spades) Geschwader, and was one of the oldest German fighter units of WW2, with its origins going back to 1937.
At the start of the war a high proportion of its personnel were experienced ex-Condor Legion pilots, including Werner Molders.
On 14th May 1940, JG 53 claimed some 43 victories in one day. The Battle of France thus saw the Geschwader score heavily during May and June 1940, with some 275 claims against Armee de l’Air, and the Royal Air Force.
For a short period during 1940, all three Gruppen of JG53, and only JG53, displayed two distinct anomalies in their markings, the purposes of which have yet to be fully resolved.
The first anomoly concerns the replacement of the 'Pik As' (Ace of Spades) emblem.
According to RAF Air Ministry Weekly Intelligence Summary NO.50, Hermann Goring ordered the emblem be removed and replaced with a red band and the Geschwader renamed the 'Red Ring Geschwader', or in some accounts as “The Red Band of Shame”.
The first recorded incident of a Bf 109 E being brought down over England where the red band had replaced the' Pik As' emblem occurred on 16 August. On that date the aircraft of Fw. Christian Hansen of 2./JG53 force landed at Godshill on the Isle of Wight and when examined was reported in Crashed Enemy Aircraft Report NO.11 as having a "...red band around nose 6 in wide".
While there is some evidence to suggest that it may have stemmed from some personal antipathy on the part of Goring, or possibly from some ideological difference with the leadership of the Geschwader, (H-J von Cramon-Taubadel is understood to have had a Jewish wife), the actual reason for the order has yet to be determined.
In the past, several valid theories for this change have been examined in depth, but most have been subsequently disproven although one, containing some merit, submits that it may have been nothing more than a temporary identification feature.
However, there was one event which transpired at this time and another which may have been of some significance. During early August, at around the time of the appearance of these red bands, Goring replaced the majority of the Jagdwaffe Kommodore with younger men, although two units serving with Luftflotte 3, JG27 and JG53, retained their existing Kommodore until October.
Then, at the beginning of that month, after Obit. Gunther von Maltzahn took command of the Geschwader from Obit. Hans-Jurgen von Cramon-Taubadel, the 'Pik As' emblem began to reappear on JG53's aircraft in a somewhat newer and larger format than previously seen.
The second anomoly, and one frequently recorded as a political gesture on the part of the Geschwader, occurred almost concurrently with the reintroduction of the' Pik As' emblem. Many aircraft from II. and III Gruppen had the Hakenkreuz on their fins overpainted, with several pilots using these areas to display their individual Abschuss tallies rather than in the more usual location on the rudder (e.g. Lt. Schmidt, Adjutant of III./JG53). How long this lasted is not known for certain but some aircraft of III.Gruppe were recorded as still without their Hakenkreuz in late November
Friedrich-Karl “Tutti” Muller (Dec 25th 1916 – May 29th 1944) was a German fighter ace, and is credited with 140 aerial victories, claimed in more than 600 combat missions.
Initially volunteering for military service in the army in 1938, he completed flight training in 1939, and was posted to JG 53. Flying with this wing Muller claimed his first aerial victory on 27th May 1940 during the Battle of France. He was to claim his 100th aerial victory on the eastern front in 1942, and was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, on 23rd September 1942.
Muller was killed in a landing accident on 29th May 1944, and was posthumously promoted to Oberstleutnant.