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Before the start of the description of the use of suicide bombers in the German military, allow, as appropriate, introduce you to Herrmann, Hans-Joachim (call sign "Hajo") - the pilot of the bomber and fighter units of the Luftwaffe. One of the most senior and influential officers of the Air Force of the Third Reich.
One of the most famous, spectacular and efficient operations with its participation began operation Assault Squadron (KG 4) under his command in February 1941. Based in Italy, KG 4 led support infantry units of the Wehrmacht in the Maltese and Greek operations. In one of the raids on the Greek port of Piraeus, Hermann managed to drop a bomb on a ship carrying ammunition. As a result of the detonation of content holds the ship there was an explosion of enormous power, sank more eleven British ships and bringeth out of action for several months the port.
At the end of the 44th year of the Luftwaffe Hermann headed the project, called «Rammjäger», later called «Sonderkommando Elbe» (Sonderkommando "Elba"). On it will be discussed.
In November 1944, the commander of the Luftwaffe fighter aircraft, Lieutenant-General Adolf Galand As proposed to conduct the operation under the name «Grosse Schlag» («big blow"). The point of the operation was that a massive blow two thousand fighters would allow to bring down in one day 400-500 four-engine bomber Allies (numbers are real for the end of the war, the Allies applied massive bombing groups of heavy bombers number 200-300 boards ). Luftwaffe losses would have been quite acceptable 500 fighters. However, due to a conflict with Goering Galland, this plan never was implemented. And find Me 262 in such amounts that the more fuel for them - it was highly unlikely that a period of war.
Against this background, Herrmann suggested another plan to have, in his opinion, cause damage comparable to heavy Allied air, but requires less cost. He proposed the formation of a special fighter units, for which the main and only task was to ram the enemy four-engine bomber.
To equip these parts he planned lungs fighter Messerschmitt Bf-109G-10 and K-1. Since they had to be removed all the "excess" weapons, but one 13mm caliber machine gun MG131. The plane became easier by approximately 200 kilograms, due to what has been faster on the 39 km / h. Such Messerschmitt had to climb 12,000 meters and, swooping out, attack the bombers. This speed advantage would allow them to break away from the fighter cover. Shoot down the bombers they were battering ram, aiming at the joint with the fuselage tail. Chances of survival for pilots at Herrmann estimates were 50 to 50.
In accordance with the concept of a single massive use Herrmann 800 such aircraft, which would be piloted by volunteers who could afford to destroy the c 400 heavy bombers that would have forced the Allied Command for several weeks to stop daylight raids on Germany.
At the end of December 1944 by Herrmann Major General Peltz conveyed their proposals to Goering. He generally supported the plan but expressed doubt that there is hardly required number of volunteers. Hitler, who was also acquainted with the proposal Herrmann, gave permission to carry out such operations, have received the general name "Werewolf» («Wehrwolf»), only on the condition that will be enough volunteers. Herrmann was sure that the volunteers are there in large numbers, and Goering assigned him to develop the text of a special appeal to the pilots. Carefully choosing his words, Herrmann wrote this appeal. It was said openly about the dangers of upcoming operations, but hid her details. The first draft treatment Goering rejected, because it was the point that he would personally meet with the pilots before their departure, to support them and wish them success. And only after that provision has been removed, Goering signed the text. Later, Herrmann said that he had thought that Goering simply not able to appear before its pilots because of the guilt for the situation in which it appeared the Luftwaffe.
After reviewing the plan of operations and the treatment of Hering, commander of the Air Force "Reich" General Oberst Hans-Jurgen Stumpf (Hans-Jurgen Stumpff) Herrmann said: "Given the importance of this task, you can expect from me polpodderzhku around." In his comments, sent along with the appeal to commanders subordinate squadrons, Stumpf wrote: "Please tell me the names of all volunteers, so we can use them as top examples of heroism».
15.25 In March 8, 1945 text of the appeal Goering was transferred to all parts of the air fleet "Reich." He was classified as "secret" and "destroy after reading." The commanders of squadrons, groups and squadrons before reading treatment of subordinates warned about his privacy. Retaining only one copy of the appeal, which is not inadvertently destroyed the headquarters NJG3. It said:
"The fatal battle for the Third Reich, our people and our country has entered a critical stage. Almost the whole world is against us.
The enemy sworn to destroy us in battle and in their blind rage ready to wipe us off the face of the earth. Recent efforts we stand it attracted waves.
Like never before in the history of our country, we stand before the final destruction, after which it will be impossible no revival. This danger can be avoided if we are to fight in accordance with the highest traditions of the German.
I appeal to you at this crucial time. I ask that you saved by willpower alone your nation from final destruction. I urge you to do the job, to return from which there is only a small possibility. Those of you who cause immediately begin flight training.
Comrades, pride of place in the glorious history of the Luftwaffe will be yours. In this hour you will give serious danger to the German people hope for victory and will remain an example for all times ».
Herrmann, who never doubted that the volunteers there, was struck by the results of the set - already in the first days of the air fleet "Reich" more than 2 thousand people have volunteered to participate in the operation. Most of them were still young people who recently finished shkoly.Iz Flight 2000 for further training of volunteers have been selected for 1500. However, if the pilots had no more problems, the fighters for their situation was different. Almost all the new aircraft immediately sent to combat units, and their daily production barely covers the needs of air forces, it was even worse with stocks of aviation fuel. Therefore, the chief of the General Staff of the Luftwaffe General Ward Carl Koller (Karl Koller) in 1500 refused to give fighters and offered first to hold the operation a much smaller number of aircraft in order to prove the correctness of the proposed tactics.
Herrmann met with callers to try to persuade him to change his mind. Herrmann argued that at a time when the threat of massive raids bombers allies will be charged, the German aviation industry will be able to significantly increase the production of new aircraft. However, Koller, remember the words of Hitler's actions on the Eastern Front remains a top priority for the Luftwaffe, he stood his ground. Not even the intervention helped Goering said they needed at least a thousand fighters. In the end, the talks ended that Koller had promised at the disposal of Herrmann only 350 fighters.
As a center for the training of volunteers was selected airfield Stendal (Stendahl) 100 km to the west of Berlin. To save the planned operation in secret, and given that the airport was close to the Elbe and the many volunteers that have not yet completed their training as pilots, the center was named «Schulungslehrgang Elba» («Courses" Elba "). Led "Schulungslehrgang Elba" was put Kёhnke Major Otto (Otto Kohnke), previously served as Berlin with Herrmann and his former friend.
March 24, 1945 in Stendal arrived selected volunteers. The next day, they met with Herrmann, who told them about the nature of the upcoming in the next two weeks of operation. In conclusion, he said that now each of those present have time to rethink his decision and an opportunity to opt out of. As a result, only one person left Stendal. None of the rest did not express doubts about the plan of the operation, and no one considered it a suicidal mission.
By the beginning of April, it was ready to have 250 people from "Schulungslehrgang Elba", but at the same time at their disposal, there were only 150 specially developed "Messerschmitt". Planes were dispersed at several airfields, as the Luftwaffe commanders believe that if put together, the Allied aircraft to quickly detect and destroy them. His first combat sorties "Schulungslehrgang Elba" made April 7, 1945 On the morning of the day the command of the 8th Air Force had planned another major US attack on targets in northern Germany. Rise bomber was scheduled for 0730, but due to thick fog over the south-eastern England, where they were located airfields, he was delayed by three hours.
First, the Dutch coast north of Amsterdam under the guise of 338 F-51 crossed the 529-17 from the 3rd Air Division. Behind them further north near Harlingen (Harlingen) crossed the coastline of 340 B-24s from the 2nd Air Division, which was accompanied by 229 P-51 and P-47 55. The third group consisted of 442 B-17s of the 1st Air Division and 222 P-51, crossed the Dutch coast south of The Hague. Once the bombers appeared over Holland, Oberst Herrmann gave the order to alert all fighters "Schulungslehrgang Elba". It soon became clear the Americans sent into the area between Hanover and Bremen, and less than an hour will be included in district action fighter "Schulungslehrgang Elba".
11.15s in the command post of the 9th Air Division was ordered to take off. Although the operation was prepared in advance, from the beginning of the event began to develop not quite according to plan. So, in Stendal was only 16 Bf-109 - the rest promised planes had not yet arrived, and 40 pilots from "Schulungslehrgang Elba" were forced to stay on the ground. From the airport Delic (Delitsch), located 20 km north of Leipzig, it was able to take off only part of the "Messerschmitt", as it turned out, that there are no external fuel tanks. At the airport Mortitts (Mortitz) north-east of Leipzig because of a lack of spare parts and fuel ready to go there were only 24 fighters. From Gardelegen (Gardelegen), located 30 km southwest of Stendal, rose only 20 Bf-109, and another 20 pilots remained on the ground because their planes were not yet completed repairs. And only from the airport Zaha (Sachau), also located southwest of Stendal, took off all 30 fighters. Total from five airfields rose 120 "Messerschmitt" from "Schulungslehrgang Elba", which covered the fighters from I. / JG301. In addition, airfields Klecany (Klecan) and Rutsin (Rucin) near Prague were raised by another 60 Bf-109 of "Schulungslehrgang Elba".
Service intercept allies followed the Luftwaffe radio frequencies immediately spotted off a large number of fighters. This time, however, they realized that there is something unusual. During the launch of the headphones pilots "Schulungslehrgang Elba" sounded bellicose melodies, which was soon replaced by a female voice, reminiscent of those killed during the raid on Dresden, and spoke to pilots that they hope their relatives and friends. Even after ten years, the surviving pilots "Schulungslehrgang Elba" said that they clearly remember the voice of the woman who seemed to be talking to each of them individually. There was another unusual moment, which immediately drew attention to intercept Allied service. Radio programs were one-sided, they were only a ground command posts. Former pilots "Schulungslehrgang Elba" claimed that they then were simply not able to talk to each other or to the ground.
Herrmann gave the order to 84 to 11.40 Bf-109 aircraft coming from Zaha, Delic and Mortittsa, concentrated in the area of Magdeburg, which is expected to be on the southern flank of the approaching bombers. The remaining 36 "Messerschmitts" of Stendal and Gardelegen they were sent to the area Demitsa (Domitz), located 120 km to the north. As the "Messerschmitt" gained altitude, began to appear new problems. Soon eight aircraft because of technical problems turned back. The weather was far from ideal, cloudy reduces visibility, and cold air created additional difficulties. If the temperature at the surface was in the range -8 - 10 "C, at an altitude of 5000 meters eye drops to -20" C, and 10, 000 meters was already -48 "C. It turned out that in such circumstances it is difficult for inexperienced young drivers maintained even in an open system. Some of them completely lost their orientation, for example, some fighters from Zach turned to the northwest in the direction of Hamburg, instead of flying south-east to Magdeburg. Thus, to 12.00 near Magdeburg could gather only 70 Bf-109.
Herrmann became clear that the Bf-109, flying from Prague district, because of the small reserve of fuel is simply not able to catch up with the Americans, and he was forced to order their return at the airport. In his possession was every minute less and less fighters. Before Herrmann was a choice - to stop or continue the operation yet. He knew that he was unlikely to receive back the required amount of fuel, if the flight is over nothing, and therefore decided to continue the operation. All the fighters «Schulungslehrgang Elba», is in the air, were sent to the northwest to find and attack bombers. The fact that it was a wrong decision, subsequent events showed. Some pilots because of the limited experience in navigation and could not find the enemy, and, having developed the entire stock of fuel, they landed on the nearby airfields. 47 Bf-109 was shot down by American fighters before being able to approach the bombers shot down another 6 have already bortstrelkami with bombers in the attack. Only 23 "Messerschmitt" from «Schulungslehrgang Elba» were able to complete its task and to ram the bomber. Pilot one of them was a non-commissioned officer Klaus Hahn (Klaus Hahn). He later said:
"I was between Ferdenom (Verden) and Nienburg (Nienburg). In headphones, I heard cries of our pilots leading somewhere near the fight. From their talks, I concluded that the enemy is located in Hanover. Suddenly I saw four single-engine aircraft, which are rapidly approaching me. I had thought that it was our fighters, but soon realized that it was "Mustangs." They surrounded me on all sides and began to attack.
I do not know what to do, because at my disposal there was only one machine gun with 60 bullets. A moment later, one of the "Mustang" fired me on the left bottom. American pilots are well aimed, I had shattered his left shoulder, broken dashboard hurt face. Instantly I gave the right hand control knob to the full forward, moving the plane into a dive. Coming out of the fire, I began to level off, only to jump with a parachute.
Suddenly, 1,000 meters Low myself, I saw a large group of bombers. Under the influence of a pulse, I immediately changed his mind and sent a fighter in their direction. This was B-17. I chose one of them and started to approach him on the left side. Its silhouette is quickly filled the windshield of my aircraft.
I do not remember the moment of collision. My last thought was, "Immediately jump!" As I was able to do, I do not know, but when I came to, I had a free flying to the ground. I waited some more and at an altitude of about 1000 meters the parachute opened. "
Khan was sent to the hospital, where he had fractured his left arm amputated. B-17 from 487BG, which he rammed, despite severe damage, was able to "hold on" to the aerodrome Saint-Trond in Belgium and land there. & Lt; / p & gt;
According to the Americans, they lost the April 7, 1945 as a result of rams pilots «Schulungslehrgang Elba» seven-17 and a B-24.
Overall, during a raid April 7, 1945 8th Air Force lost 13 US B-17 of the 3rd Air Division, 4-24 from the 2nd Air Division and 5 P-51, another 8 bombers and one fighter were damaged and made forced landings on its territory. At the same time for different purposes in the area of Hamburg - Lüneburg - Salzwedel - Parchim - post - Schwerin - Neumuenster were dropped 3123 tons of high explosive and 238 tons of incendiary bombs.
The first flight «Schulungslehrgang Elba» ended in complete failure. Of the 120 fighters did not return back to 53 or 44%, according to various estimates, have died from 25 to 30 pilots.