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View Full Version : JG52 vs. 4th FG, and Hartmann vs. Hofer



MrMojok
08-10-2006, 08:16 PM
In the latest P51-boinking thread, the issue of Hartmann's seven Mustang kills came up. It reminded me of a thread I had intended to create ever since reading James Goodson's book 'Tumult in the Clouds'.

In this book, he described a big fight on July 2, 1944 between members of the 4th FG and JG52. It made for some amazing reading, and I'd never heard of a scrap with so many aces on each side. Some of this seems to be Goodson's supposition; I'd like to hear what the other members here know about this event. This took place after one of the famous shuttle missions. I would like to start by quoting a bit of Goodson's book:

---------------------------------------------
"The flight from Russia to Lucrera near Foggia in Italy was uneventful, but it was then arranged that the Fourth would join the Fifteenth Air Force on a bombing mission to Budapest. That was a different story. Lack of dust filters, and different-sized nozzles on the drop tanks, led to many abortions, and the group arrived over Budapest with only twenty planes. 334 Squadron had only eight. The Fourth was flying top cover at 30,000 feet while the Fifteenth Air Force was flying some 10,000 feet lower.
Suddenly fifty to sixty 109s were screaming in to attack the bombers. Blakeslee called for the Fifteenth Air Force to come up and help, but in the event, the Fourth's twenty pilots were on their own. What they didn't know was that they were up against the unique squadron of aces, Jagdgeschwader 52, just transferred from Russia to Czechoslovakia. It included most of the top aces of all time: Bubi Hartmann, with 352 victories; Barkhorn, 301 victories; Rall, 275; Batz, 237; Graf, the Kommandant, 212; Lipfert, 203; Krupinski ("Graf Punski"), 197; and many others. Fifty or sixty of them now faced twenty of the Fourth, or, perhaps eight of 334 Squadron, since they were mainly involved. The best of the Luftwaffe against the best of the US Air Force.
In what was probably the last great dogfight of the war the Fourth shot down seven, of which Blakeslee got one, and "Deacon" Hively got three, but they lost Hofer, and George Standford, who ended up a POW. Hively and Siems were wounded, but managed to get back to Foggia.
It would be unfair to give the Fourth a score of 7 to 2. The Luftwaffe's priority was obviously to shoot down the bombers, and, in doing so, they took the risk of exposing themselves to fighter attack."
---------------------------------------------
This next part is from another chapter, the one about Ralph "Kid" Hofer (and I know some of it seems to contradict the above part):
---------------------------------------------

"This was the famous mission to Budapest in which the Fourth tangled with JG52. The Kid was probably in on the main battle, in which the Fourth scored seven for a loss of one, and may well have scored himself; but, true to form, he must have followed the scattered German planes as they turned back northwards.
His course was converging with that of another "Kid", but when his friends called him Kid, they used the German Bubi."
<snip>
"For this was Erich "Bubi" Hartmann, the greatest of the fighter pilots.
So, if the Kid had to be shot down, I'm glad it was by the best, and I know the Kid would agree. They were about the same age, but Hartmann's enormous experience and cool technical proficiency had to tell."
--------------------------------------------

Now, what I'm interested in is any other tidbits anyone might have to offer. For example, in the other thread lrrp22 told me that as far as he knew Hartmann wasn't even involved in this. I thought I read somewhere, maybe on these boards, that someone had read a book about Hartmann that claimed he was shot down on this day. Is that right? Was it this fight? Who were the twenty pilots mentioned above? How many of the forementioned Experten were there? Goodson, judging by the way he describes this, doesn't seem to have been there, and isn't sure. Lrrp22 also said that he thought Hofer had been shot down strafing an airfield a couple hundred miles away. If you google "Hartmann Hofer" you'll find a lot of sites that claim Hartmann did shoot Hofer down... but as lrrp said there sure is a lot of conflicting and misleading information out there.

It's an interesting topic, I think. If anyone has anything to add, feel free-- but please let's not make this into a red/blue allies/axis type of thing.


**I have edited this to include quotation marks for ease of readability**

MrMojok
08-10-2006, 08:16 PM
In the latest P51-boinking thread, the issue of Hartmann's seven Mustang kills came up. It reminded me of a thread I had intended to create ever since reading James Goodson's book 'Tumult in the Clouds'.

In this book, he described a big fight on July 2, 1944 between members of the 4th FG and JG52. It made for some amazing reading, and I'd never heard of a scrap with so many aces on each side. Some of this seems to be Goodson's supposition; I'd like to hear what the other members here know about this event. This took place after one of the famous shuttle missions. I would like to start by quoting a bit of Goodson's book:

---------------------------------------------
"The flight from Russia to Lucrera near Foggia in Italy was uneventful, but it was then arranged that the Fourth would join the Fifteenth Air Force on a bombing mission to Budapest. That was a different story. Lack of dust filters, and different-sized nozzles on the drop tanks, led to many abortions, and the group arrived over Budapest with only twenty planes. 334 Squadron had only eight. The Fourth was flying top cover at 30,000 feet while the Fifteenth Air Force was flying some 10,000 feet lower.
Suddenly fifty to sixty 109s were screaming in to attack the bombers. Blakeslee called for the Fifteenth Air Force to come up and help, but in the event, the Fourth's twenty pilots were on their own. What they didn't know was that they were up against the unique squadron of aces, Jagdgeschwader 52, just transferred from Russia to Czechoslovakia. It included most of the top aces of all time: Bubi Hartmann, with 352 victories; Barkhorn, 301 victories; Rall, 275; Batz, 237; Graf, the Kommandant, 212; Lipfert, 203; Krupinski ("Graf Punski"), 197; and many others. Fifty or sixty of them now faced twenty of the Fourth, or, perhaps eight of 334 Squadron, since they were mainly involved. The best of the Luftwaffe against the best of the US Air Force.
In what was probably the last great dogfight of the war the Fourth shot down seven, of which Blakeslee got one, and "Deacon" Hively got three, but they lost Hofer, and George Standford, who ended up a POW. Hively and Siems were wounded, but managed to get back to Foggia.
It would be unfair to give the Fourth a score of 7 to 2. The Luftwaffe's priority was obviously to shoot down the bombers, and, in doing so, they took the risk of exposing themselves to fighter attack."
---------------------------------------------
This next part is from another chapter, the one about Ralph "Kid" Hofer (and I know some of it seems to contradict the above part):
---------------------------------------------

"This was the famous mission to Budapest in which the Fourth tangled with JG52. The Kid was probably in on the main battle, in which the Fourth scored seven for a loss of one, and may well have scored himself; but, true to form, he must have followed the scattered German planes as they turned back northwards.
His course was converging with that of another "Kid", but when his friends called him Kid, they used the German Bubi."
&lt;snip&gt;
"For this was Erich "Bubi" Hartmann, the greatest of the fighter pilots.
So, if the Kid had to be shot down, I'm glad it was by the best, and I know the Kid would agree. They were about the same age, but Hartmann's enormous experience and cool technical proficiency had to tell."
--------------------------------------------

Now, what I'm interested in is any other tidbits anyone might have to offer. For example, in the other thread lrrp22 told me that as far as he knew Hartmann wasn't even involved in this. I thought I read somewhere, maybe on these boards, that someone had read a book about Hartmann that claimed he was shot down on this day. Is that right? Was it this fight? Who were the twenty pilots mentioned above? How many of the forementioned Experten were there? Goodson, judging by the way he describes this, doesn't seem to have been there, and isn't sure. Lrrp22 also said that he thought Hofer had been shot down strafing an airfield a couple hundred miles away. If you google "Hartmann Hofer" you'll find a lot of sites that claim Hartmann did shoot Hofer down... but as lrrp said there sure is a lot of conflicting and misleading information out there.

It's an interesting topic, I think. If anyone has anything to add, feel free-- but please let's not make this into a red/blue allies/axis type of thing.


**I have edited this to include quotation marks for ease of readability**

darkhorizon11
08-10-2006, 11:01 PM
I've heard of this too, but be careful it kinda gets bound into fiction a bit, one version of this story portrays Hartmann as ze eeevilll Germinnnnn with a pointy mustache making slash signals with his hands across his neck before attempting to shoot him down...

Not to say its all fiction, truly an amazing story of the heavily weights, the Top Dawgs of the USAAF against the experienced LW uber-aces. One of the few late-war examples where its proven that the bf-109 could hang and fight with the P-51 with an experienced pilot at the controls. Bad@ss Stuff!

darkhorizon11
08-10-2006, 11:26 PM
Also I've heard similar about Hartmann vs. Hofer, that it didn't happen. On my reading list is the book "The Blonde Knight of Germany" which is the bio of Hartmann, I would reference, there since its probably the most accurate account of this life and career. AFAIK for sure the only time Hartmann actually faced the USAAF was over Ploesti and Romania by accident, at the time his squadron was poised to defend it from the Soviets however the 15th AF was tasked to destroy it. Its that story in which Hartman took down four Mustangs in one day.

Note: I totally respect Erich Hartmann but I think that tale has also grown larger and larger over time. I can remember reading once form a source a long time it was four Mustangs, then five, six, seven, eight? and I then it was back to down to four again but he supposedly did it all in one pass...

Either way im curious to get to the bottom it myself! http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Jaws2002
08-10-2006, 11:43 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by darkhorizon11:
I've heard of this too, but be careful it kinda gets bound into fiction a bit, one version of this story portrays Hartmann as ze eeevilll Germinnnnn with a pointy mustache making slash signals with his hands across his neck before attempting to shoot him down...

! </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

That one was so Off. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/88.gif
It said the fight was during january 1945 over Ploiesti. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/34.gif

At that time in the war Ploiesti was in Russian held teritory for half a year. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

BTW, i don't think hartman was in Chechoslovakia in July 1944. He may have been based in Romania during that time. I think he shot his Mustangs over Romania.

horseback
08-11-2006, 01:17 AM
Except for the usual bull on the internet, every responsible source dating back to the war indicates that Hofer was shot down by ground fire while strafing an airfield on that mission.

AFAIK, no 8th AF aces with over 13 air to air kills were shot down in air to air combat; all were lost to misadventure (collisions, hit by 'friendly' fire, engine problems, or just running into ground objects while strafing) or flak. Except for Walker Mahurin, who ran afoul of a German bomber gunner who nailed his engine over France (but he still got that bomber).

cheers

horseback

Kurfurst__
08-11-2006, 03:52 AM
Curious, Tobak Tibor, a 1st Lt with the Hungarian 101st Pumas wrote in his book that he witnessed Hartmann once shooting down a strafing Mustang right over the airfield. Tobak's unit, the 101 Vad√°szezred was located on the same airframe as the JG 52 at that time.

But, it could be just that he repeats a topos he heard after the war.

KIMURA
08-11-2006, 06:06 AM
It seems some lineup is necesarry.

The Ponies which are claimed by Hartmann were shot down as follow:
2 Mustang near Bukarest on 21st May 44
4 Mustang near Ploésti on 1st June 44

In "blond knight of Germany" is clearly described that Hartmann hated to dogfight and he rated himselfs abilitly to dogfight as fair. It's clearly described that he claimed all Ponies while he was unseen by its opponent, so the performance of the flown a/c is 2nd ranked. You can do that also with a Gladiator. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/10.gif

csThor
08-11-2006, 07:12 AM
Hartmann was briefly in Czechoslovakia, but that was sometime around April 1945, when JG 52 (with Stab, I. and III. Gruppe) had to evade the soviet push through Silesia. They went to Deutsch Brod where most of their aircraft ended up in flames ...

ruxtmp
08-11-2006, 08:20 AM
Hartmann and 1/JG53 were based in Hungary and regulary flew with the Royal Hungarian Air Force. Not sure about the date or the airfield but if I remember correctly it was early 1945 at or near Veszprem.

csThor
08-11-2006, 09:35 AM
Well ... in late 1944 Hartmann was assigned to 7./JG 52 in Hungary and went to take over I./JG 53 as acting Kommandeur until Helmut Lipfert arrived. In mid-February 1945 he was promoted to Gruppenkommandeur of I./JG 52 - which happened to be based in Silesia at that time.