Since the retreat from France, NAG 13 had been providing tactical reconnaissance over the southern part of the German front. As April began, the Gruppenstab was in Bechhofen, the 2. Staffel in Donaueschingen (its base for several months) and the 3. at Lichtenau, an airfield whose suitability was still being investigated. The 1. Staffel meanwhile was in Lechfeld with a view to re-equipping with the Me 262. This picture had changed by the 6th of the month, with the Stab also in Lechfeld and the 2. about to withdraw to Niederbiegen, these moves evidently being necessitated by Allied advances. (For a map showing these bases, see here).
This was far from being a full-strength Gruppe, the position of the operational elements on the evening of 8 April being summarised as:
NAG 13 had been subordinated to Fliegerdivision 16 since late January and the Allied intercepted many of this higher formation’s daily operations reports. These along with intercepted wireless traffic gave quite a good picture of its reconnaissance effort although the Bf 109 sorties are not always differentiated between 2. and 3./NAG 13. However, the latter Staffel is known to have flown the following operations in the first half of April:
On the evening of 12 April 3./NAG 13 had 6 (5) Bf 109s and 12 (10 pilots; at 1700 hours on the 14th, it had a strength of 4 (4) aircraft and 11 (10) crews. Two operations by named airmen were reported on 15 April: a Rotte consisting of pilots Stoffer (in yellow 2) and Welscher (yellow 4) took off from Cham-Michelsdorf at 04.38; Elster and Ziesmann flew a sortie from 16.06–17.06 hours. This was not the whole picture however since Allied monitoring picked up:
Two early morning operations, one of which covered the area Cham – Bayreuth – Munchberg – Kulmbach – Bayreuth – Kasendorf – Weiden.
An afternoon mission North and South of Bayreuth.
One evening reconnaissance on the route Gräfenwöhr – Bayreuth – Hollfeld – Nürnberg – Gräfenwöhr (almost certainly the Elster/Ziesmann mission).
Author Harald Dill elaborates on Stoffer and Welscher’s flight:
… on 15 April, Uffz. Hans Welscher had flown one of the last reconnaissance missions from Cham towards Franconia. Only by luck were he and his Messerschmitt able to escape an American Mustang … With every aerodrome taken by the enemy the noose tightened around the field at Cham
That evening, numbers had increased to 6 (2) Bf 109s. The two additional machines were:
Both of these had FuG 16Z, 2 x MG 131 machine guns and an MG 151 cannon and were presently not operational while acceptance tests on their camera installations proceeded. Also unserviceable were yellow 4 (change of electrical circuit, presumably arising from its early morning flight) and yellow 8 (change of landing gear fairings).
Although an operation had been flown from Cham two days earlier, on the morning of the 16th Luftwaffenkommando West was still asking for Flak protection to be provided for 3./NAG 13 at Bechhofen. Next day the Staffel was ordered to fly a battle reconnaissance battle north and south of Bayreuth, in the area Redwitz – Müncheberg – Kulmbach – Creussen. As well as this, there were two early morning flights to cover Nürnberg – Erlangen – Forchheim – Gräfenberg.
The Staffel was next heard from on the afternoon of the 21st when it reported that it had 6 (5) aircraft and 12 (12) crews. New to strength was Bf 109 G-10 W.Nr. 770049, yellow 1 which was armed with 2 x MG 131 and one MG 151; it carried an Rb 20/30 camera but was lacking any radio gear. Next day the order came for the 3. Staffel to transfer from Cham to an alternative airfield in the Nürnberg area but, in common with so many instructions at this stage, it could not be carried out.
continued on next page …
A short account, largely based on deciphered German signals traffic and the monitoring of wireless traffic between aircraft and ground stations.
(All times of are GMT except in the passages of quotation which are probably GMT+2)
Article © Nick Beale 2015