JG5 Unit History

JG77/JG5 were involved in combat with both British and Soviet forces throughout WWII. The information below is a long excerpt from the excellent SIG Luftwaffe website . Many thanks to them for letting me use their info here. There is now a new site covering Nordic aviation during WW2. Both of these links will open in new windows.

Background II/JG 77

II/JG 77 has its' ancestry back in 1936 and was first started as an "Kustenjagdgruppe" and called I/136. Its main duty was to guard the German Bight from its bases at Jever. The unit was part of the Kriegsmarine at consist of 4 Staffel with He 51 planes. Some pilots went to J/88 (Legion Condor) during this period. These returned to the unit after the battle in Spain. The unit converted to the Bf 109 B in 1938 and was renamed to II/JG 333 during the reorganisation of the Luftwaffe. One Staffel was given to II/186. The unit was once again renamed in 1/5/39 to II/JG 77. The unit was now fully equipped with Bf 109 E-1 and E-3 planes. During the battles of Polen it was still stationed at Jever and was a part of the Famous Battle of the German Bight. The unit moved to Husum 8/4/40 and 9/4/40 to Denmark during the invasion. 11/4/40 - landed the first fighters from II/JG 77 at Kjevik from its bases in Alborg and Esbjerg. The whole Gruppe gathered at Kjevik Norway during the day. 4/JG 77 went the same day back to Esbjerg to cover the cruiser Lutzow who where damaged on its way to Norway. The unit was shortly after back in Norway. The mission of II/JG 77 was to support and defend the German occupied territory in Norway. The unit moved around in Southern Norway during the summer and autumn, depending on need.

A Bf109E of 4/II/JG 77, 1939

Jagdgeschwader 5 "Eismeerjäger" - 1942

Jagdgeschwader 5 was in many ways a very special Geschwader. Not only did it reflect Germany's war in miniature; it fought on two fronts throughout its entire existence, and its component Gruppen were transferred long distances in 1943 and 1944. But it also had an autonomous Zerstörerstaffel permanently attached for almost three years, which also briefly included a nightfighter component. Lastly, it had to cope with the freezing cold of the Eismeer (Ice Sea or the Barents Sea). In fact, it was the only Geschwader that fought through 24 continuous hours a day in broad daylight! This enabled pilots to fly missions at any time during the day! This is the story of the first year of JG 5. Shown above is A Bf109E of 4/II/JG 77, 1939.

FIGHTER UNITS IN NORWAY 1941

Only rarely is a Geschwader or a Gruppe in the Luftwaffe formed from scratch, mostly they are formed from other units already in existence. This applied to JG 5 too. The order to form a new Jagdgeschwader in Norway was issued by the Generalstab der Luftwaffe on 3rd January 1942. The Geschwader was to be based on units already in Norway and the re-organisation was to be completed by 10th January 1942 at the latest. In 1941 there were already several Staffel and Gruppe-sized fighter units stationed on Norwegian bases. These units were: I/JG 77 which consisted of the following Staffels: 1/JG 77 at Stavanger-Sola with Bf 109Es being led by Oblt.Horst Carganico. 2/JG 77 at Lista with Bf 109Es being led by Hptm.Gerd von Wehren. 3/JG 77 at Herdla with Bf 109Es being led by Lt. Franz Menzel. Jagdgruppe zur besonderen Verwendung which had two Staffels: 13/JG 77 and 14/JG 77 in the North Russian front with Bf 109Es. There was also a single Zerstörer unit in Norway at the time. It was subordinated to JG 77. Having arrived in Norway as 7/ZG 76, it was redesignated as 1(Z)/JG 77 in May 1941. Commander was Oblt. Felix-Maria Brandis. By the end of 1941 it operated against the Russians on the Eismeer front. Finally, an autonomous unit, the Jagdgruppe Drontheim, was operating (not surprisingly) from airfields around Trondheim having arrived there in the middle of June 1941. This unit, consisting of several Staffels, one of which was operating from Grove, Denmark, was also to play some part in JG 5's history, but not until July 1942. Also known as the "Einsatzstaffel Jagdgruppe Drontheim", it was commanded by Hptm. Joachim Seegert. This unit began life as an "Alarm-Rotte" at Grove with only two Bf 109Es, but later it was expanded and was equipped with Bf 109Ts as well.

JAGDGESCHWADER 5

During the re-organisation, the units changed names as indicated below. It will be noted that although the order to form JG 5 was issued on 3rd January 1942, the Geschwader was not officially formed until 25th January 1942 (some sources say 24th January). I/JG 77 became I/JG 5 and the Staffel changed names as follows:

1/JG 77 became, 1/JG 5 2/JG 77 became 2/JG 5, and 3/JG 77 became 3/JG 5. There were also changes in the north. Jagdgruppe z.b.V.'s two Staffels formed the II/JG 5 as follows: 13/JG 77 became 4/JG 5, and 14/JG 77 became 5/JG 5. The Zerstörerstaffel, 1(Z)/JG 77 became known as 6(Z)/JG 5 on 25th January 1942, the date JG 5 was officially born. The last Staffel to be formed in January 1942 was 7/JG 5. This was destined to become one of the most well known Staffels of JG 5.

It started life somewhat inconspicuously as 10/EJG 3, a training unit based at Esbjerg in Denmark, commanded by Hptm. Graf von Sponeck. This unit, equipped with Bf 109E-7s, received an order on 29th December 1941 instructing it to transfer to Bodø. With 15 Bf 109Es they started the long journey via Kjevik and Herdla. At both places they lost planes due to bad landings and they did not reach Bodø until 11th January 1942. There they were finally redesignated as 7/JG 5 as the first Staffel in the III Gruppe of JG 5.

On 23rd March an additional order was issued, instructing an expansion of JG 5. Now the 7 Staffels were joined by other Staffels, thus completing the II and III Gruppen inventory of Staffels. 1/JG 5 was redesignated once again, becoming 6/JG 5 in the process. Simultaneously, 6(Z)/JG 5 was redesignated too, probably to avoid confusion, becoming 10(Z)/JG 5 on 16th March. Meanwhile, a IV Gruppe of JG 1 had been formed in Bretagne in December 1941 from the following units as follows: Stab Erg/JG 53 became Stab IV/JG 1 1. Erg/JG 2 became 10/JG 1 1. Erg/JG 26 became 11/JG 1 1. Erg/JG 51became 12/JG 1 Some sources claim that this IV Gruppe was informally known as Jagdgruppe Losigkeit after the commander, Major Fritz Losigkeit. There is no real evidence to substantiate this. Anyhow, this Gruppe were now used to fill in the "blanks" in JG 5's structure. 10/JG 1 formed a new 1/JG 5, 11/JG 1 became 8/JG 5 and 12/JG 1 became 9/JG 5. Stab IV/JG 1 became the Stab III/JG 5. Also, a new Geschwaderstab of JG 5 was formed from Jagdfliegerführer Norwegen on this date (23rd March 1942).

Still another redisposition of the Jagdgeschwader was started on 1st July 1942. Firstly, 9/JG 5 became the first Staffel of the new IV/JG5; namely 10/JG 5. A completely new 9/JG 5 was formed as a replacement. The remaining two Staffels of IV Gruppe, 11/JG 5 and 12/JG 5, was formed from parts of Jagdgruppe Drontheim. To avoid yet another confusion with the numbering, 10(Z)/JG 5 was redesignated as 13(Z)/JG 5 on 22nd June 1942. The Leader of the Bf 110-equipped Zerstörerstaffel varied considerably during the year 1942. The first was Oblt. Felix-Maria Brandis, but when he was killed in an accident in February 1942, Oblt. Max Franzisket took over. From summer 1942 it was Oblt. Karl-Fritz Schlosstein's turn. He commanded the unit until June 1943.

PLANES USED BY THE NEW JAGDGESCHWADER

The new Staffels mostly took over the planes of their former units with one notable exception. The Bf 109T-2s of I/JG 77 were not handed over to JG 5 as some authors have indicated. On 23rd December 1941 an order was issued instructing that all available land-based, naval aircraft were to be returned to the Kriegsmarine. The Bf 109T-2s should be withdrawn to Germany and converted to T-1 standard. Some 30 Bf 109Ts were by then in service with Luftflotte 5 and they were immediately withdrawn from operations. In January 1942 only two remained in Norway, and by 27th January they too were gone. I/JG 5 were equipped firstly with Bf 109E-7s and from spring 1942, with Bf 109F-2s. 2/JG 5 continued flying both variants. Then, in June 1942, the Gruppe was able to count themselves lucky. They were to be equipped with the excellent new fighter of the Luftwaffe, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190! 1 and 3/JG 5 were the first to re-equip. Temporarily transferring to Vaerloese in Denmark, they received a full complement of Fw 190A-2 and A-3s. 2/JG 5 did not receive Fw 190s until the autumn of 1942. At this time 1 Staffel operated from Lade and Oerlandet, 2. Staffel from Herdla, Oerlandet and Stavanger-Sola and 3 Staffel operated from Herdla and Stavanger-Sola. II, III/JG 5 and IV/JG 5 did not receive Fw 190s at this time. These three Gruppen were fighting on the Eismeer front, being based on various airfields in Mid and Northern-Norway and Finland. It is therefore a possibility that they were not selected for conversion to Fw 190s because it was felt that the Bf 109 was more than adequate in fighting the Russian types then in service. At first these Gruppen flew Bf 109E-7s II/JG 5 converted to the Bf 109F-2 in May 1942 at Pori, Finland. III/JG 5 probably converted in the summer. 7/JG 5 was the last Staffel to convert, still flying Bf 109E-7s in early fall 1942. Because this sub type was somewhat more suitable for ground-attack operations, the Staffel was declared as a "Jabo-Schlächterstaffel" by the Geschwaderkommodore, Oblt. Handrick. 5/JG 5 was another Staffel which continued to use Bf 109Es for some time. Several photographs exist of Bf 109Es from this Staffel, one of them having an SC 250 bomb on the centreline rack, possibly indicating that it too was used as a Jabo-Staffel (or does the photo show an Bf 109E from 7/JG 5?). The Kommodore of III/JG 5, Major Scholz also flew a rather well known Bf 109E for some time in 1942 (more about this below). The Zerstörerstaffel initially flew Bf 110C, D, and Es, some of which were equipped for ground attack duties, having a bomb rack under the fuselage and four under the wings; the former taking up to 1000 kg of bombs, the latter for 50 kg. It is quite possible that some Bf 110Fs found their way into the Staffel in 1942, this variant being distinguished by their deeper radiator baths.

All artwork © JJ Boucher - All rights reserved.