Air combat over Münster, 28 March 1945

This day Oberleutnant Dortenmann took of with a dozen Doras from IV/JG 26 and later bounced Tempests from the RAF No.56 Squadron. Two Tempest was claimed, one by Dortenmann and the another one by Uffz. Hein. In fact one Tempest was shot down, the victim was Staff Sergeant Stanley A Shepherd who crashed his machine near Schoonrewoerd in the Netherlands. Two locals approached the British pilot in order to hide him but the pilot refused as he wanted to return to the plane to get his gun. When he made his way back a group of German soldiers who were stationed at the nearby radar station arrived and Shepherd was arrested and later shot.

The day after Dortenmann was appointed Staffelkapitän of 3./JG 26 of the first Gruppe. He was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 20 April for 35 victories. During this period he also flew 28 ground attack missions claiming a transport glider, two aircraft, one armored car, seven trucks, three armored personell carriers and a AAA position destroyed. Dortenmann flew his last combat mission of the war on 27 April and shot down a Soviet Yak-3 over Berlin. In 150 combat missions, He was credited with 38 victories, claiming 16 victories over the Eastern front and a further 22 over the Western front. In this Fw 190 Dora Nine he recorded 18 victories including six P-51 Mustangs and five Tempests, making him the most successful fighter pilot with this type.


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Focke Wulf Fw 190 D-9

Flown by Oberleutnant Hans Dortenmann, 14./JG 26, Varrlbusch/Germany, March 28, 1945.


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Hawker Tempest Mk V

Flown by Staff Sergeant Stanley A. Shepherd, 56th Squadron, B.80 Volkel/Netherlands, March 28, 1945.


© Claes Sundin 2015



Air combat over Plantlünne, 24 February 1945

On this day, 24th of February one of "old hares" Feldwebel Wolfgang Polster of the 11th Staffel, was strafed by Tempests from No. 274 Squadron after he landed at Plantlünne airfield. The III./JG 26 was in a intense training period and Polster had been preoccupied with instructing his wingman during the landing, and had not seen the approaching enemy fighters. He was to be S/L David "Foob" Fairbanks 11th victim.

Wounded in the attack Wolfgang Polster´s war was over, acknowledged as an accomplished flyer, credited with five kills during his 108 combat sorties. Polster also was recognized by his fellow pilots to be the individual who always did his duty during this difficult period, flying more missions than any other pilot in the third Gruppe

David Fairbanks was born in USA. When finished his education at High School, he ran away from home to Canada and tried to join the RCAF. He finally succeeded to enlist early 1941. After training he was posted as a flight instructor. After a year he managed to be posted to the UK and the RAF, After advanced and operational training. He joined 501 Squadron as flight commander, he opened his account over the Normandy beaches by scoring a V1 flying bomb. After a spell first in 274 Squadron and later in the 3 Sqn flying Tempests he was transefferd back to the 274 Sqn as their new Squadron Leader.

After his comeback to the 274 Sqn, Fairbanks manage to claim six Luftwaffe aircrafts in just two weeks time. The last of his official claims was the Fw 190 D-9 "Yellow 10" flown by Fw. Wolfgang Polster.

Fairbanks "the terror of Rheine" is the highest scoring Tempest ace with 11 confirmed kills in this type, although he was not credited with his last one (another Dora-9 from JG 26) on his final misson of the war.


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Focke Wulf Fw 190 D-9

Flown by Feldwebel Wolfgang Polster, 11./JG 26, Plantlünne/Germany, February 24, 1945.


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Hawker Tempest Mk V

Flown by Squadron Leader David "Foob" Fairbank, 274th Squadron, B.80 Volkel/Netherlands, February 24, 1945.


Please note that there is not any known photos of Fairbanks or Polder's machines, the profiles is therefore based on other machines from those units, blocks and the period of time.


© Claes Sundin 2015



Air combat over Plantlünne II, 28 February 28 1945


This Wednesday, the last day of October, Tempests from No. 274 Squadron and Dora-9:s from III./JG 26 would once again battle out in the area around Plantlünne airbase.

III./JG 26, took off during the early morning, led by the Gruppenkommandeur Hauptmann Walther Krupinski, was on a mission to München-Gladbach, to attack fighter-bombers supporting the US Army's advance on that city. Six Tempest from No. 274 Squadron, led by Sqn. Ldr. David Fairbanks was on a search and destroy mission patrolling the Hamm, Münster and Osnabrück area.

After the Tempest pilots had attacked a locomotive they returned to Fairbanks old "hunting grounds" and once close to the airfield they spotted "40 + Fw 190s and Me 109s". At around 08.00 in typical fashion, Fairbanks led his flight into an attack, and a hard fight began.

It was the JG 26s third Gruppe that was bounced at 5,000 feet by the Fairbanks flight. More than willing to mix up, they engaged the Tempests, the Allied pilots, badly outnumbered by five to one, were soon fighting for their lives.

Faribanks recollect "I closed the range on this aircraft and before I was ready to fire I noticed some traces coming my way. It was close to the ground and thought it was flak tracer. A few traces went by me and I was ready to fire at the enemy aircraft. I fired and hit the Fw 190 who burst into flames, The next instance I was hit hard."

The pilot on the receiving end of this battle was Uffz. Franz Schmidt from 9./JG 26 flying in his "White 17". Hit by Fairbanks, Schmidt was able to belly land his stricken Dora-9 only to die later of his wounds.

The pilot who in turned hit Fairbanks Tempest was Uffz. Karl-George Genth from 12./JG 26. Gent had attacked his target from a difficult position, passing from right to left in a tight bank, and had seen his fire strike the wing region; the Tempest flew right through his cone of fire. This was to be Genths third and last abschuss of the war (more of Gents last combat would follow next week).

In all two Tempest was shot down this day by III./JG 26, the another Tempest was flown by Flg Off Spence, both pilots survived bailing out and was taken prisoner. 


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Focke Wulf Fw 190 D-9

Flown by Uffz. Karl-George Genth, 12./JG 26, Plantlünne/Germany, February 28, 1945

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Focke Wulf Fw 190 D-9

Flown by Uffz. Franz Schmidt, 9./JG 26, Plantlünne/Germany, February 28, 1945.


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Hawker Tempest Mk V

Flown by Squadron Leader David "Foob" Fairbank, 274th Squadron, B.80 Volkel/Netherlands, February 24, 1945


Please note that there is not any known photos of Fairbanks, Schmidt or Genth's machines, the profiles is therefore based on other machines from those units, blocks and the period of time.
© Claes Sundin 2015


Air combat over Enschede, 7 March 1945


This day, 7th of March 1945, The American First Army´s 9th Armored Division captured an intact bridge over the Rhine at Remagen. This created an crises for the Wehrmacht, however the Luftwaffe reaction was slow, unable to alter the planned missions for the day and hampered by bad wether and low fuel supplies.

However at 14.45 the third Gruppe of JG 26 was ordered to take off and flew in the direction of Rhine. Reaching Enschede the JG 26 pilots found the sky filled with enemy aircraft. - Typhoons were attacking motor convoys, and Spitfires were circling above, and below them several flights of Tempests.

Uffz. Karl-George Genth in his "Yellow 15" was flying as the wing man of the formation leader Obfw. Willi Zester, spotted the Tempest below and tried to warn his comrades. To no avail, as he saw that the Tempest used their superb climbing performance to attack the rear of the formation from beneath without any reaction from his fellow pilots.

Then Genth saw six Tempest that was climbing towards him and Zester in their dead angle below. Genth turned on his methanol injection and his speed increased to 600km/h, suddenly an oil line feeding his engine broke, and his "Yellow 15" left a long stream of oil behind as he headed for the nearest cloud layer. He reached a cloud layer safety while the Tempests flew over, below and behind him.

As his engine still ran quietly Genth decided to pull upp to a zoom climb and make a head-on attack at the Tempests. Seen by one of the pursuing Tempest through the thin cloud layer, he was suddenly attacked from below and his D-9 was hit; with a lost elevator control he had no other option than to bail out. As he was leaving his Focke-Wulf standing on its nose, Genth´s arm stuck the elevator so hard that it broke cleanly through.

The pilot who shot him down was P/O Basilios Michael "Vass" Vassilles, an Greek ace pilot flying in No. 3 Squadron. "Vass" known as the "millionaire playboy" had since the D-day landing enjoy a highly successful spell as a fighter pilot in the RAF, shooting down nine enemy aircraft, including two Dora-nines.

Versailles had follow Genth´s action for nearly ten minutes pursuing undetected below, when Genth pulled upp and emerged from the cloud layer, he got on his tail and with one burst hit in the cockpit area, he saw the German pilot bail out, his 10th and last victory of the war

In all four Fw 190 D-9 was lost to the Tempest this day, with two pilots KIA and two WIA including the formation leader Zester. Uffz. Karl-George Genth's injuries was found to be so severe that his flying career was over.

P/O Basilios Michael "Vass" Versailles was not so lucky, he was killed in action just little over two weeks later. On the 25 March 1945 he was leading four Tempests in an attack against a truck convoy situated in the midst of an area well-known for its lethal defending flak, the Bocholt woods.

After one of the Tempest was shot down during their first pass, the another two pilots refused to follow "Vass" orders, so he went in all alone as an self-sacrificing example, his Tempest, coded "JF-A" EJ755, was blown to smithereens just as he was emerging out of the flak barrage. The second highest scoring Greek fighter ace in history was killed instantly in the inferno.

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Focke Wulf Fw 190 D-9

Flown by Uffz. Karl-George Genth, 12./JG 26, Plantlünne/Germany, March 7, 1945.


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 Hawker Tempest Mk V

Flown by P/O Basilios Michael "Vass" Vassilles, 3rd Squadron, B.80 Volkel/Netherlands, March 7, 1945.


Please note that there is not any known photos of Vassilles or Genth's machines, the profiles is therefore based on other machines from those units, blocks and the period of time.

 © Claes Sundin 2015



Luftwaffe Fighter Aces in Profile by Claes Sundin


Text and profiles:
Claes Sundin