05 June 2013

Four of the Best Pilots From Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51) "Mölders"

Image size: 1600 x 1117 pixel. 352 KB
Date: Friday, 22 May 1942
Place: Soviet Union
Photographer: Unknown

Four of the best pilots from Jagdgeschwader 51 (JG 51) "Mölders" posed together for the camera. From left to right: Oberfeldwebel Heinrich "Dicke" Höfemeier (Flugzeugführer in 1.Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 51; Ritterkreuz 5 April 1942; final score 96 air victories from 490 combat missions); Leutnant Erwin Fleig (Staffelkapitän 2.Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 51; Ritterkreuz 12 August 1941; final score 66 air victories from 506 combat missions), Hauptmann Oskar-Heinrich "Heinz" Bär (Gruppenkommandeur I.Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 77; Ritterkreuz 2 July 1941, Eichenlaub 14 August 1941; Schwerter 16 February 1942; final score 220 air victories from over than 1,000 combat missions); and Oberleutnant der Reserve Heinrich "Gaudi" Krafft (Staffelkapitän 3.Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 51; Ritterkreuz 18 March 1942; final score 78 air victories). Bär was former Staffelkapitän of 1.Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 51 before being promoted as Gruppenkommandeur of I.Gruppe/Jagdgeschwader 77 in 11 May 1942. The accumulation of the air victories from these four pilot is 460 kills! After the Winter offensive in the Eastern Front there followed a lull in operational intensity, with April–June 1942 seeing little fighting in the air. However, JG 51 lost three of its experten in less than ten days; Lt. Hans Strelow,(68 victories) was lost on 22 May; 2. JG 51's Oblt. Erwin Fleig (66 victories), ex-wingman to Werner Mölders, bailed out and captured on 29 May; and two days later Hptm. Josef Fozo (27 victories), Kommandeur I./JG 51, was severely injured in a landing accident and would never return to first-line service!


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