Junkers Ju 88 vol. III


There were also significant combat losses, especially in 4./NJG 2 commanded by Oblt. Paul Bohn, which lost three crews in a single night of June 13. Two crews were lost to British Beaufighters, while the third one crashed in the North Sea flying low over a dinghy carrying German airmen. Less than a week later 4./NJG 2’s commander met his match. On June 26 at 00.15. Oblt. Bohn successfully engaded a Whitley bomber, but the final burst of fire from the bomber’s gunner hit the Junkers’ cockpit, instantly killing the pilot. Uffz. Walter Lindner, who was somewhat familiar with flying, took over the controls but couldn’t land at Gilze-Rijen due to fog. After engaging the autopilot and having thrown overboard Oblt. Bohn’s body strapped to a parachute, the two remaining crewmembers bailed out. Their ghost Ju 88 flew on and, having spent all fuel, crashed near... Milan!

NJG 2 personnel in front of the Stab Ju 88G-6. Fall of 1944.[Kagero's Archive]


The unit’s tally was fast approaching one hundred. In the evening of June 27 the I./NJG 2 crews again launched for England. At 23.45 Fw. Lüddecke shot down a Wellington – the unit’s 99th victory. Ten minutes later another Wellington was sent to the ground – Ofw. Sommer was the one to claim the jubilee kill.
In July I./NJG 2 claimed 20 British bombers destroyed. Four of these fell victim to Ofw. Beier in the morning of July 6. Three days later Lt. Hans Hahn became the first member of the unit to be awarded the Knight’s Cross. He had 10 kills to his credit and was the first night fighter pilot to receive the coveted award. The 22 year old Hans Hahn had seemed to never run out of luck. He initially flew as a bomber pilot and in 1940 sank a sizeable French freighter near Dunkirk. After his transfer to 3./NJG 2 Hahn’s excellent marksmanship began to show. He tried to engage his victims at a very close range, not the soundest of tactics for a night fighter. On August 17 at 00.44 he shot down a Wellington whose debris damaged his own Junkers. The German returned to base on one engine. The same thing happened on three other occasions. Another time Hahn returned to base with a souvenir – a piece of a barrage balloon canopy. His luck finally ran out over Grantham on October 11, 1941 when at 22.20 he engaged an Oxford trainer of 12 FTS. He tried, as usual, to attack at an extremely close range. Both aircraft collided in mid-air and crashed. That was Hahn’s twelfth and final victory.
The loss of Hahn and his crew coincided with the unexpected end of Fernnachtjagd over England. The decision was made by Hitler himself, who considered I./NJG 2 efforts ineffective in the face of intensifying allied night bombing operations. In reality, I./NJG 2’s AOR in central England was home to the majority of Bomber Command’s night flying schools. The unit’s operations significantly hampered and delayed the training process. With the end of I./NJG 2’s operations, the British could freely continue to develop their bomber force and press new types into service. Soon Halifaxes, Sterlings and Lancasters became the basic types in Bomber Command.
During the 16 months of Fernnachtjagd operations the II./NJG 1 and I./NJG 2 crews claimed almost 200 British aircraft, including 141 shot down in air-to-air combat and over 50 destroyed on the ground. The units lost 40 aircraft and 89 airmen. The most effective pilot turned out to be Wilhelm Beier with 14 kills under his belt. His specialty was jumping the homebound bombers over the North Sea. He scored all his victories, which included Hurricane and Defiant fighters, close to the British shores. He was awarded the Knight’s Cross on October 10, 1941.

...then the Mediterranean
November 1941 saw the beginning of the British offensive against Afrika Korps in North Africa. German troops were harassed by night RAF bomber attacks against the seaports which processed much needed supplies from Italy. One of the main bases used by the bombers to attack German shipping and ports was the island of Malta.
On November 15 I./NJG 2 commanded by Hptm. Emil Jung arrived at the Sicilian airfield Catania. Initially six Ju 88C-6s of 2. Staffel were on detachment to Benghazi, but they returned to Catania on November 28.
First engagements over North Africa took place after the British commenced Operation Crusader. The black-painted Junkers of I./NJG 2 attacked ground targets and engaged RAF fighters on several occasions. On November 23 Hptm. Heinz Harmstorf’s aircraft was seriously damaged by a Hurricane, while Lt. Voigt’s crew returned with a wounded gunner (Uffz. Bodden) and 50 bullet holes in their aircraft.
The first attack against Malta was launched on the night of December 5. Soon the I./NJG 2 crews were tasked with escort missions for Ju 52 transports moving supplies from Italy to North Africa. It was during one of those missions that the unit scored their fist victory in the new theater of operations. On December 12 the unit’s pilots encountered and engaged RAF aircraft during a Ju 52 escort mission. Lt. Herbert Haas of 1./NJG 2 claimed a Beaufighter. It might have been the aircraft flown by P/O Hammond of 272 Sqn., who belly-landed his damaged machine back at home base. It is also possible that Haas shot down one of the two 56 Sqn. Beaufighters lost that day. The following day Ofw. Hermann Sommer of 2./NJG 2 shot down a 227 Sqn. Beaufighter flown by F/O Morris in an engagement south of Crete.