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Old 16th June 2015, 21:26
mfymike mfymike is offline
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Question: Me-262 fighter ops on March 31, 1945

Hello. I am new to this list, and I am hoping the folks on this forum might be able to answer a complex of questions I have, that I have been unable to get much insight on posting to several other forums. So thanks in advance for anything anyone can offer, I am told this is the place to come for this sort of expertise.

I am trying to sort out what happened on March 31, 1945 in terms of Me-262 fighter sorties. It was a confusing day, with multiple missions flown. Most of the Me-262s up that day were from JG-7, but apparently KG(J)-54 also flew a number of sorties. The day began with a daylight raid by 460 Lancaster and Halifax bombers against Hamburg, intercepted by seven Me-262s of III Gruppe/JG-7 and “about 20” from I/JG-7. Colin Heaton’s “The Me 262 Stormbird” gives claims of eight Lancasters and three Halifaxes shot down by the Me 262s during that mission, without loss. Many other online sources list seven bombers shot down by jets from the Hamburg attack (and some specify four Lancs and three Halifaxes, so at least some agreement on the latter?), while the Wikipedia article on JG-7, citing Manfred Boehme, “JG 7: The World’s First Jet Fighter Unit” claims a total of 13 bombers in this incident.

Later in the day, Fritz Stehle of JG-7 is credited with bringing down one additional Lancaster near Osnabruck.

A third mission by JG-7 confronted a major American raid, claiming three B-17s, two B-24s, and two P-51s. Again, the Wikipedia article, citing Boehme, says those claims matched up with actual US losses in the raid. Four JG-7 jet fighters were lost on the day, most presumably in this action.

Then there is also the question of KG(J)-54, which also flew missions that day, with both I and II Gruppe flying, and which lost two more Me-262s, with one pilot killed. That comes from Heaton again, who also claims a total of 17 British four-engined bombers lost on the day (which would leave five that would have fallen to KG(J)-54, if that number is correct). So I would love any information about what units of KG(J)-54 did on March 31, 1945, since I have nothing else but the above inference regarding their actions. Heaton gives details about the losses for both JG-7 and KG(J)-54, in terms of the fates of the pilots, including the name of the pilot killed from KG(J)-54, Oberleutnant Dr. Oberweg.

Finally, one source I saw (an article by Alfred Price, “The Sturmvogel Goes to War,” in the June 2003 issue of Aeroplane), gives March 31 as the date of the most jet fighter sorties in one day, stating that JG-7 and KG(J)-54 combined to put up 58 Me-262 sorties on the day. This contradicts a figure of 38 sorties for the day found in many other sources, although this might be for JG-7 alone (it does still seem low to me if they put up 27 or more planes in one of their three missions for the day). It also doesn’t square with the fact that I’ve read elsewhere that 59 sorties by JG-7 and JV-44 combined on April 7, 1944, was the highest number of jet fighter sorties on one day.

Just to complicate this story even further, one knowledgeable person on another forum pointed out, using Forman and Harvey's "Me262 Combat Diary," that some Me-262 nightfighters from NJG-11 were also up that day against the British bombers. I have read that two of Kurt Welter's claims in the Me-262 were daylight actions, so perhaps some of those came here?

So if anyone can untangle these threads and shed some light, particularly about actions of Me-262 fighter units other than JG-7 on March 31, I would be particularly grateful.


Mike Yaklich
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