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The German Luftwaffe
HQ 3rd Jagdivision
Teerose & Diogenes
Interesting Events Overhead
Air Attack at the Bridge
A Mystery B-17
German Aces during the Battle
The German soldier on the Western Front was extremely skeptical of its own Luftwaffe in the later months of 1944. The German armies in Normandy and during the retreat through France had received a beating by the Allied Air armada with little or no support by the own air force. Time and time again, ‘Jabos' would dive down and strafe German columns, trains and even individual motorcyclists leaving an unforgettable experience on the German soldier. Just the sound of a plane coming in for the dive would send the less experienced soldier into the nearest ditch regardless if it was even their own side. To quote one German soldier "If you see a white plane, it's American, if you see a black plane it's RAF. If you see no planes at all it's the Luftwaffe!”
Fw 190A-8, ‘Blue 6', II./JG26, Western Front, Sept 1944
Even though the Allies had air supremacy, they did not underestimate the potential of havoc the Luftwaffe could still cause in the West in the later months of 1944. Most missions over German occupied territories still came with a powerful fighter escort for this specific reason. Some of the allied fighters were “long range” and could now provide protection for greater periods of time. For the planning of Operation ‘Market Garden', it was to be no different. All allied transports into the Arnhem area were to have fighter escorts were possible.
The German Luftwaffe still possessed some advantages over the allies in September 1944. From within the ‘Fortress' cities that they still controlled on the Coast of France as well as the occupied areas of Northwest Holland, the Germans could inform the Luftwaffe headquarters of impending allied formations flying East towards Germany. Based on this information, the Luftwaffe were able to scramble fighters to intercept the RAF and USAAF planes before reaching their objectives. This was exactly what occurred on the initial landings on the 17th September 1944. However, due to the effective allied fighter escort on the first day, the transport planes carrying the British Paratroops into Arnhem were not harassed by the Luftwaffe.
However the Germans were fortunate early in the battle to recover the Operational Plans for ‘Market Garden' off a dead officer whose Glider had crashed. Within the plans stated the locations of further drops, flight plans as well as the planned timings for these drops. Whilst it is widely believed that the German ground forces saw these plans as a trick, the Luftwaffe took them rather seriously and a chance to hit the Allied Air force hard. Effectively the Luftwaffe over the course of the battle would employ up to 10 different Jagdgeschwaders to intercept the reinforcements and supplies coming into the Arnhem Area as per the ‘Market Garden' plans.
During the Battle of Arnhem/Oosterbeek the Germans were able to effectively request air support through the Luftwaffe Liaison officers located within the IInd SS Pz Kps HQs during the whole operational period. The Liaison officers requested air support not only for engaging allied transports over the drop zones but also for air cover for German troop movements as well as strafing runs on known British Strong points. Of course the Luftwaffe did not always hit the right target on the ground and the Germans did suffer casualties from their own planes during the operation.
During the period 17th – 26th September 1944, the Luftwaffe employed up to 10 different Jagdgeschwaders that flew from airfields such as Dortmund, Werl, Paderborn, Guetersloh, Stoermede, Achmer, Lippspringe and Plantluenne. They were to score a total of 122 victories over this period with more than half of them coming from JG 11 and JG 26 combined. It was these two units during September 1944 that housed the famous Luftwaffe Aces or ‘Experten' such as Priller, Grislawski, Mietusch and Krupinski.