Thursday, July 5, 2012
Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 Yellow 7 N of II./ JG302
In my post Focke Wulf 190 A-7 / R11 Green 5 N of JG300 I claimed that apparently only aircraft of II. Gruppe JG300 were using the letter "N" to identify their night fighter designation. I was wrong.
Neil Page´s excellent blog, FalkeEins - The Luftwaffe blog, discusses an article by Jean-Yves Lorant about Luftwaffe attempts to combat the De Havilland 98 Mosquito "wooden wonder", Moskito hunting in the Luftwaffe (2) (Bf 109 nightfighters - wilde Sau). It includes a picture of a Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 flown by Fw. Fritz Gniffke marked Yellow 7 with the letter N. According to Gniffke´s own account, he was assigned to 6. Staffel JG302 on September 10, 1943. The photograph caption reads that with Yellow 7 N, Griffke claimed a B-24 shot down on April 12, 1944 during a day sortie. As with the other Wilde Sau units, JG302 was flying increasingly day sorties starting January 1944, as Willi Reschke recalls in his book Jagdgeschwader 301/302 "Wilde Sau", p.39 (German edition, 1998).
There appear however, a few inconsistencies: JG302 was only formed in early November 1943, Willi Reschke, ditto, p. 31. II. Gruppe was formerly I./ JG301 which itself became operational in September 1943. Also, according to Willi Reschke´s account, Fritz Gniffke was assigned to 5. Staffel JG302. He states the date of the successful mission as April 11, 1944, not April 12, 1944. To add to the confusion, in Jagdgeschwader 301/302 "Wilde Sau", the name Gniffke is written in two different ways: Gniffke and Gnifke.
If Lorant deducted Gniffke`s Staffel affiliation from the colour of his aircraft`s personal marking, Yellow being assigned to 6. Staffel, then Reschke account does not support the validity of such conclusion: he lists aircraft with white personal markings as allocated to 6. Staffel , e.g. Fw. Andreas Hartl, White 7, page 53, Uffz. Heinrich Amerkamp, White 4, p. 64. Furthermore, he reports that Fritz Gniffke flew his last mission for 5./ JG302 in a Bf 109 G-6 Red 7 on May 13, 1944 when he crash landed his aircraft with Werknummer 411924.
Assuming that the original photograph supports the claim that the number "7" was yellow - as well as the letter "N" - it requires additional documentation to determine the correct affiliation of Fritz Gniffke within in II. Gruppe JG302.
With the conversion of Wilde Sau Jagdgeschwader from night fighters to day fighter units effective May 25, 1944, pilots of JG301 and JG302 were given the choice to remain night fighters or join day fighters, Lorant & Goyat, Jagdgeschwader 300 Wilde Sau, Vol.1, p. 172. Since Gniffke flew with NJG11 in September 1944, he apparently chose the former.