Heinkel He 219 Uhu vol. II

A fuselage of the Ta 154 A-4 during assembly at Focke-Wulf’s Erfurt plant [Visualisation 3D Marek Ryś]


On the night of 22nd/23rd October 1943, at 21:20 hrs over Bühne-Haarbrück, Hptm. Meurer shot down another Lancaster. He was also the last pilot to score a victory in 1943 with a He 219: on the night of 3rd/4th November, while contesting another RAF foray against Düsseldorf, he shot down a Halifax, some 14 km northeast of Tilburg at 20:15 hrs.
During high altitude flights it was found that the cockpit heating provided for the He 219 A-0 was insufficient. Condensation persistently gathered on the inside of the cockpit transparencies, and at height it instantly turned into a solid layer of frost, blinding the crew to the outside world. Besides this, there were still incidents involving canopy cracking, which impaired the pilot’s vision on landing. The problems were severe enough to warrant all seven He 219s hitherto operated by NJG 1 to be despatched to Rechlin. The decision was made on 5th November 1943.
On 8th December 1943 the Heinkel company prepared the delivery of seven He-219s: the A-013, W.Nr. 190 063; A-015, W.Nr. 190 065; A-016, W.Nr. 190 066; A-017, W.Nr. 190 067; A-020, W.Nr. 190 070; A-022, W.Nr. 190 072; and A-025, W.Nr. 190 075. On the night of 21st/22nd January 1944, Hptm. Manfred Meurer, the Kommandeur of I./NJG 1, took off in He 219 A-0, W.Nr. 190 070, coded G9+BB. His target was a stream of bombers heading for Magdeburg. At 23:10 hrs he shot down a Halifax over the city. Then, at 23:50 hrs, some 20 km southwest of the city, he engaged a Lancaster. He scored decisive hits on the bomber (for his 64th and last victory) but moments later he crashed into his quarry. Both Hptm. Manfred Meurer and his radio operator, Ofw. Gerhard Scheibe - as well as the seven-man crew of the Lancaster - were killed on the spot.
The fallen Meurer was succeeded as Gruppenkommandeur of I./NJG 1 by Hptm. Paul Förster, who at the age of 42 was one of the oldest Luftwaffe pilots to remain in active service. Förster had enlisted with the Cadet Corps when he was barely 14, and after the Great War he had fought with the Freikorps. Later, he served with the Reichswehr, which he left as a reserve officer. In 1936 he joined the re-born German armed forces and underwent pilot training. His first operational posting was to ZG 1, which at that time operated Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engined heavy fighters. In spring 1940, during the campaign in the West, he scored two victories. However, he was himself shot down and injured. After recuperating he served as a flight instructor, then a staff officer. In 1943 he was retrained as a night fighter pilot and, from 1st June 1943, he served with I./NJG 1. Due to his great experience in flying combat aircraft he was selected for testing the He 219. At the time he was promoted to become the new Kommandeur of I./NJG 1, he had six night victories to his credit.  

FuG 10P (E10aK) receiver [Visualisation 3d Marek Ryś]


In February 1944 a new night fighter outfit was commissioned, designated Nachtjagdgruppe 10. It was tasked with the operational testing of new tactics and equipment. Hence, NJGr 10 was slated to fly the latest designs, the He 219 Uhu and the Ta 154 Moskito.
More successes followed. On the night of 24th/25th March 1944, at 00:30 hrs, Oblt. Josef Nabrich of 2./NJG 1, flying a He 219, shot down a Lancaster over Eindhoven for his eighth victory. At dawn on 31st March 1944, in the Abbeville area, Hptm. Ernst-Wilhelm Modrow of 2./NJG 1 bagged two Halifaxes, at 04:13 hrs and at 04:30 hrs. He 219s were again in action on the night of 11th/12th April 1944. At 23:02 hrs, Fw. Rauer of 3./NJG 1 shot down a Lancaster, which crashed 42 km east of Antwerp; then, at 23:37 hrs, Oblt. Werner Baake of 2./NJG 1 got a Lancaster, which came to grief some 100 km east of Ouddorp. On the same night, Uffz. Herter and Gefr. Perbix of 2./NJG 1 fired off their ejector seats and both safely landed on their parachutes - the first complete crew to do so under combat conditions. A delighted Prof. Ernst Heinkel awarded each of the two airmen 1,000 RM.