Messerschmitt Bf 110 vol. II


Before the commander could utter a word, the roar of more Ju 52s coming in to land drowned out every other sound. The airfield AA defences did not react.
Somewhat breathless from his ordeal, Lent reported to his commander, grinning happily.
“Lent, man!” Hannsen said, finally. “Quite a stunt we have pulled here, haven’t we?”
The troopers scattered about, taking positions around the perimeter. The airfield at Oslo-Fornebu was in German hands. 
The baptism of fire over Poland
The Messerschmitt Bf 110 had its first taste
of combat over Poland, in September 1939. Three Zerstörer Gruppen were deployed at the front for what became known as the “September Campaign”:
I./ZG 1, stationed at Mühlen airfield, was equipped with 34 Bf 110 B/Cs, under Maj. Joachim Friedrich Huth. Its three component Staffeln were commanded by: Maj. Karl Hammes (1.), Hptm. Horst Lehrmann (2.) and Hptm. Wendelin von Müllenheim-Rehberg (3.),
I./ZG 76, based at Ohlau airfield, fielded 33 Bf 110 B/Cs, under the command of Hptm. Günther Reinecke. His subordinate Staffel commanders were: Hptm. Horst Pape (1.), Oblt. Wolfgang Falck (2.) and Oblt. Josef Gutmann (3.). I.(Z)/LG 1 set up shop at Jesau, with 36 Bf 110 B/Cs on strength. Maj. Walter Grabmann was its commander, and his three Staffelkapitäne were: Oblt. Helmut Müller (1.), Hptm. Fritz Schleif (2.) and Oblt. Walter Clausen (3.).
The aircraft of I./ZG 76 were the first to take to the air at dawn on 1st September 1939, as recalled by Wolfgang Falck, the commander of 2./ZG 76:
We had been briefed to take off at 06.00 and escort He 111s of KG 4 to Krakow . In our enthusiasm someone suggested that maybe we should take off early in order to steal an hour of combat on the other Zerstörer. Unfortunately, we did not find our bombers until we got over Krakow; happily there was nothing to protect them from, not even flak – just a few little white clouds. After the bombers unloaded we escorted them back to the frontier. As I neared the frontier I could see villages burning and I finally felt that a war had begun. Since our fuel was getting low we turned toward our airfield leaving the bombers behind. As we banked away from the Heinkels (Dorniers – author’s note) I looked down and there was a Heinkel 46 army reconnaissance aircraft looking lonely down there with no protection. I dived down to escort him saying aloud to myself, ‘look, we are here, you can do your job under our wings!’ All of a sudden he saw me and started to twist and turn like crazy and the gunner blazed away at me. Pulling away I realized I had just gotten my baptism of fire from one of our own aircraft. A few minutes later I saw another aircraft flying. ‘Ha! A PZL 23, I can start my score.’ As I tried to gain some height he curved into the sun and as he did I caught a glimpse of red on his wing – I was sure he was Polish then. We had been briefed that the normal red and white box insignia had the white overpainted with camouflage leaving only the red visible. As I turned into him I opened fire: but fortunately, my marksmanship was no better than the reconaissance gunner’s had been, because as he banked away I saw it was a Stuka. I then realized that what I had thought was a red Polish insignia was actually a red E. I reported this immediately after landing and before long the coloured letters on the wings of our aircraft were overpainted in black.
A couple of minutes before 09.00 hrs, some Messerschmitt Bf 110s of I.(Z)/LG 1– which were flying cover for Heinkel He 111s of II.(K)/LG 1 as they approached Warsaw – tangled with Polish fighters of the Pursuit Brigade in the area of Zegrz (unlike other fighter units of the PAF, subordinated to particular armies, the Pursuit Brigade, which could field five fighter squadrons grouped in two Wings, was a semi-autonomous unit – translator’s note). It was precisely nine o’clock when Oblt. Helmut Müller scored the first-ever aerial victory of a Bf 110, shooting down the PZL P-11c flown by Airman Boleslaw Olewinski of 114. Fighter Squadron. Three minutes later, Fw. Herbert Schob knocked down another assailant, but not before the Polish fighter had managed to injure Maj. Walter Grabmann, CO of I.(Z)/LG 1, and inflict 25% damage on his machine.
At around 1700 hrs the Bf 110s of I.(Z)/LG 1 again ventured over Warsaw, this time providing protective cover for He 111s of KG 27. Hptm. Fritz Schleif, who led the heavy-fighter formation on that mission, recalled:
When our Schwarm reached Warsaw, I saw two or three flights of Polish PZL 24 fighters  climbing below us. I ordered an attack. I picked out a target for myself and opened fire from a distance of 80 metres. My salvo hit home and the enemy aircraft immediately began to disintegrate. Its pilot managed to bail out. I saw him floating gently down. A firing pass on another opponent was equally successful. I closed in up to 20 metres and set the aicraft ablaze with one burst. Meanwhile, one of my Unteroffiziers shot another PZL off my tail as it manoeuvred into a firing position from the rear. Then I forced my third adversary to dive towards the ground, whereupon I hammered away at him from point-blank range. His machine spouted flame and suddenly exploded, showering debris over the wings of my machine. In this way we scored six victories in less than ten minutes.
Hptm. Fritz Schleif claimed three victories, whilst Uffz. Alfred Sturm, Uffz. Peter Laufs and Oblt. Walter Fenske scored one apiece, for no loss of their own.
On 2nd September, at 10:00 hrs, an aerial battle took place near the city of Lodz. The combatants were ten Bf 110Cs of 2./ZG 76 – which were flying escort to some Dornier Do 17s of KG 77 – and PZL P-7s of 162. Fighter Squadron. The Germans filed three victory claims (Lt. Heinz Ihrcke, his rear gunner Ogefr. Walter Held, and Lt. Helmut Woltersdorf each claimed one). The latter gave this account of the mission: