On the evening of 1 November 1944, III./KG 51 was at Bonn-Hangelar with 37 (35) Focke-Wulf 190s.
At 22.30 hours on the 9th, Gefechtsverband Hallensleben warned its subordinated units to expect the codeword AZIMUTH. Everything was to be got ready and the men allowed to sleep but the time for issuing the codeword would depend on the weather and the military situation.
In fact the word was given only half an hour later, at least as far as III./KG 51 was concerned. Elements going by road and detachments of all formations were to move as soon as possible that night. The Gruppe's flying elements were to arrive at their new airfield at dawn on the 10th if at all possible. At this point, Allied Intelligence had no idea where they were going but a signal on the 12th from an "Advanced Signals Detachment" of III./KG 51 reported a move of W/T and construction personnel with heavy equipment to Germersheim. Another message indicated that NSG 1 had gone to Kirrlach, about 13 km to the east. Gefechtsverband Hallensleben was operating in support of Army Group G for the time being.
At 17.15 hours on the 10th, III./KG 51 reported a strength of 9 (8) Fw 190 G-3 and 8 (6) Fw 190 F-8 at Hangelar, suggesting that about 20 of the Gruppe's aircraft had moved south.
At 23.00 hours next day, Hangelar reported that 16 (13) Fw 190s of III./KG 51 were on the airfield and these figures were unchanged both on the 12th and the 16th.
On the afternoon of the 16th, orders went out to NSG 1, NSG 2 and III./KG 51 to transfer immediately to their former bases. This could be carried out by night or by day using cloud cover but they must be ready to operate again on the 17th. A reference in a postwar memoir of NSG 2 (Bundesarchiv RL10/507) to 14 days' operations in the Strasbourg/Vosges region probably relates to AZIMUTH although it overstates the duration of the deployment.
By the evening of the 18th Hangelar recorded 37 Fw 190s present, of which 7 were unserviceable. The following evening, the figure was 36 with 9 unserviceable.
By the 19th, the Gruppe had been redesignated as NSG 20 (although this does not appear to have changed the type of missions it flew) and at 22.00 hours on the 21st there were no fewer than 42 Fw 190s of NSG 20 at Hangelar, 17 of them unserviceable.