German aces killed in action over Normandy


If we go through the cases of a number of Luftwaffe "super aces" (to borrow David Clark's term) who were killed in action in Normandy, the effect of an almost ever-present Allied numerical superiority becomes clear:

Major Herbert Huppertz, a veteran who was in first-line service from 1939, attaining 70 victories, and served as III./JG 2's Gruppenkommandeur: On 6 June 1944, Huppertz testified to the value of the German "super veterans" over Normandy - particularly in exceptional cases when Allied airmen due to a combination of bad luck and poor planning were caught without the numerical superiority which they usually enjoyed. At noon on 6 June 1944, Obstlt. Kurt Bühlingen (who scored his 100th victory on 7 June 1944) and Huppertz participated when 29 Fw 190 attacked at least 24 Thunderbolts (of US 365 FG) and Typhoons (of RAF 183 Sqn). The Germans claimed to have shot down six Allied fighters - including two Typhoons in less than two minutes by Huppertz - against a single own loss. Actual Allied losses in this engagement were five (two P-47s, three Typhoons). (Clark, "Angels Eight", p. 42.) That same evening, Huppertz caught eight Typhoons of 164 Sqn and shot one down, with F/O Roberts KIA. (David Clark, CD "Daily Data tables of the Normandy Air War Diary", 6 June 1944.) During another mission late on 6 June, Huppertz engaged the numerically superior formations of Allied aircraft which by that time swarmed the whole sky in the area (on 6 June 1944, the USAAF and RAF conducted 14,674 sorties over the Normandy area - against only 319 Luftwaffe sorties). During this single mission, Huppertz was entangled in combat with several Allied fighter units, involving both Mustangs and Thunderbolts, but in spite of all odds he claimed a Mustang and a Thunderbolt. David Clark has identified the former as one of US 352 FG's losses, while the Thunderbolt was one of a total of 2,302 Thunderbolts despatched by US 8th and 9th AF (Freeman, "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", p. 259; Rust, "The 9th Air Force", p. 84.) Thus, Huppertz had scored five victories in a single day.

At around 0945 on 8 June 1944, a formation of Fw 190s of III./JG 2 were engaged by both Mustangs and Thunderbolts: Mustangs from 361 FG's Mustang (whereby Hptm. Wurmheller claimed one Mustang, while 361 FG failed to shoot down any of III./JG 2's Fw 190s), and Thunderbolts from possibly both 56 FG and 353 FG. Four Fw 190s were claimed by 353 FG during the morning mission, and 56 FG simultaneously claimed one or more Fw 190s. 56 FG made its claims when it attacked a group of German fighters which were taking off from an airfield. Only two Fw 190s were lost by the Germans in that very uneven combat, and one of them was flown by Huppertz - who was killed. (David Clark, CD "Daily Data tables of the Normandy Air War Diary", 8 June 1944.)

Hptm. Karl-Heinz Weber, a veteran with over 500 combat missions from the autumn of 1940, and 136 victories, Gruppenkommandeur of III./JG 1: At around 1000 hrs on 7 June 1944, about 10 Bf 109s of III./JG 1, commanded by Hptm. Weber, were en route to the frontlines. (Clark, "Angels Eight", p. 56.) But already northeast of Paris they were attacked from above by 30 Allied fighters (Prien, "JG 1/11", pp. 1008 - 1009), and Weber crashed to his death at Pontoise, north of Paris. Apart from Weber, one more III./JG 1 Bf 109 was shot down in that combat. It is possible that Weber was killed in combat with 24 Mustangs from 306 and 315 squadrons of 133 (Polish) Wing, which claimed to have shot down four Bf 109s in the Dreux area. (David Clark, CD "Daily Data tables of the Normandy Air War Diary", 7 June 1944.) Due to a Polish aviation enthusiast, Weber was shot down in a combat with only four Polish Mustangs, but I have in vain asked to see the source to that claim.

Hptm. Josef Wurmheller, a veteran with over 300 combat missions from 1939 and 102 victories, commanded 9./JG 2 at Normandy: On 22 June 1944, Wurmheller was killed when he collided with his own wingman near Alencon. (Obermaier, "Die Ritterkreuzträger der Luftwaffe", Vol. 1, ed. 2, p. 38.)

Hptm. Siegfried Simsch, a veteran with around 400 combat missions from the autumn of 1940, and 54 victories: Simsch was killed in action early on 8 June 1944, when I./JG 11 despatched around 20 Fw 190s in a fighter-bomber mission against the Allied landing fleet. Having endured the hellish fire from hundreds of AAA guns from the landing fleet, the dispersed remnants of I./JG 11 were attacked by numerically superior Allied fighters. (Prien, "JG 1/11", pp. 1019 - 1020.) The Allies conducted 1096 fighter sorties for beach patrol (David Clark, CD "Daily Data tables of the Normandy Air War Diary", 8 June 1944), and it is possible that many of these fighters engaged Simsch - but according to David Clark's "Angels Eight", he was killed in combat with Mustangs of 339 FG, which formed part of 869 Mustangs and Thunderbolts of US 8th Air Force which simultaneously were out on search-and-destroy missions against lines of communications. (Freeman, "The Mighty Eighth War Diary", p. 262.) David Clark writes: "Simsch spotted a small formation of P-51s from 339th FG of the US 8thAF and immediately attacked not realizing that the whole FG was in the vicinity - the others hidden by clouds. Attacking from above, the 503rd FS and 505th FS swept down." (Clark, "Angels Eight", p. 62)

Oblt. Eugen-Ludwig Zweigart, a veteran in first-line service since the fall of 1940, with 69 victories, with III./JG 54: All I know is that on 8 June 1944 his Fw 190 A-8 (WNr 170736, "Black 3") was shot down in aerial combat near Le Cambaux. Zweigart baled out but was gunned to death has he hung in his parachute. Based on US 8th AF's reports, Roger A. Freeman wrote: "On the 8th [of June 1944], 130 enemy aircraft were sighted during the day, mostly Me 109s and Fw 190s in twos and threes." ("The Mighty Eighth", p. 166.) US 8th AF alone performed 2077 sorties over Normandy on 8 June 1944, and these 2077 pilots sighted a total of 130 German aircraft - mostly flying in twos and threes. On 8 June 1944, the Allied fighter pilots claimed to have shot down 60 German fighters (David Clark, CD "Daily Data tables of the Normandy Air War Diary", 8 June 1944), and Luftflotte 3 claimed 21 victories. (Prien, "JG 1/11", p. 1021.) Actual Luftwaffe losses were either 30 aircraft (Clark, "Angels Eight", p. 63) or 36 aircraft (Prien, "JG 1/11", p. 1051) while the Allies lost 42 aircraft. (Freeman, "Mighty Eighth War Diary", p. 261 - 262, 2nd TAC Losses, and )

Hptm. Emil Lang (403 combat missions, 173 victories): On 3 September 1944, three (or maybe six) Fw 190s led by Lang were bounced by 338 Sqn/55 FG (8th AF) and RAF ADGB 41 Squadron - altogether maybe something like 25 Allied fighters, resulting in two German and one Allied fighter getting shot down.

The Mustangs of 338 Sqn/55 FG (8th AF) - i.e. probably 15 to 18 Mustangs - attacked the formation of three Fw 190s led by Lang, and after Lang's undercarriage and fallen down he was shot down and killed. This matches with the claims made by 338 Sqn/55 FG. But then one of Lang's wingmen shot down a Spitfire, whose pilot was buried at the same place. Researching that particular combat, that led Don Caldwell to find another Allied unit participating in the attack against Lang's formation: RAF ADGB 41 Squadron, which reported eight Spitfire XIIs attacking three Fw 190s in the same area. Caldwell speculates that there may have been an additional Kette of three Fw 190s, which is not mentioned in the German report. (Caldwell, "JG 26 War Diary", Vol. II, p. 343.)

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