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JG 77 at Tulln-an-der-Donau, 8 July 1944

The Allies quickly learned, from a Luftflotte 2 daily operations report that 30 Bf 109s had transferred to Tulln-an-der-Donau on 8 July, shooting down a P-38 (corresponding to Hptm. Lothar Baumann of Stab I./JG 77's claim of a P-38 at 11.05 hours, local time). Also, one Bf 109 had crash landed on returning to its Italian base.

Events on the ground at Tulln first became known on 8 August, a month after they took place, when the Government Code & Cipher School deciphered the report submitted by the airfield's base commander to higher authority. From this it can be inferred that JG 77's complaints had travelled up the chain of command to the Luftwaffe General Staff ("Robinson").

I have edited following text slightly for the sake of intelligibility:

From Luftflotte Reich Centre, No. 5504 IA (Ops.) Air to Luftflotte 2, dated 23 July 1944:-

Ref: Gen. Stab-Air-IC (Robinson), No. 52365 (Op. 1) of 18 July.

Acting on [paragraph] 3D of the above which was passed to Luftflotte Reich for information, Luftflotte Reich has thoroughly investigated events during the refuelling of JG 77 on 8 July at Luftwaffe Station Tulln and received a report from Luftgau XVII. The report of Tulln's base commander, Genmaj. Volkmann, reads:

On 8 July at 06.45 [GMT = 08.45 hours, German Summer Time] CUMMERBUND was announced. From 07.28 to 07.40 a formation of 27 Me 109s [led by] Geschwaderkommodore Oberstltn. Steinhoff, landed.

Nineteen of these aircraft were directed into the East refuelling point and were very quickly refuelled. These were reported serviceable one after another from 07.46–08.10, except for: "white 11" and "white 13" which had a change of landing wheel because of tyre damage; and "black 2" which had to be taken into the workshop because of damage to [its] engine. The (Roman) I Rotte also had a change of landing wheel but was serviceable by 08.07.

Eight further aircraft, presumably all belonging to one Gruppe were to be directed into the South refuelling point. The leader of this unit however failed to see the motor-cyclist who was directing them in and taxied his aircraft to the western edge of the airfield. Six or seven other aircraft followed him. Some mechanics had to be driven in cars to the western perimeter in order to start up these aircraft up again and taxi them to the south refuelling point, which resulted in about half an hour's time being lost.

The aircraft reported serviceable at the East refuelling between 07.46 and 08.10 did not start until between 08.22 and 08.25. The formation leaders failed to disperse them in the parking places as requested on the grounds that ops. orders would be coming at any minute. One aircraft, probably the (Roman) I Rotte piloted by an Oberleutnant, stopped his take-off because the left brake did not function. His three Rotte comrades, although their aircraft were fully serviceable, thereupon stopped their engines also.

Then came the dogfight near the airfield and the low-level attack, at approximately 08.28. Everyone took cover. Even the crews of the eight aircraft at the South refuelling point. Following this, these machines were made ready at once but they did not start till later.

To sum up: landing and refuelling of the aircraft was in no way hindered by the [training] school activity. Rather, owing to the failure of the aircraft crews to pay attention to the men directing them in to tank at several places concurrently, servicing of the aircraft was considerably delayed. This was discussed on the following day by me personally with Oberstltn. Steinhoff, and he admitted the charge and promised amendment.

In fact on arrival on 9 July concurrent taxying to several different refuelling points was carried through without a hitch. I myself was present on 8 and 9 July from the beginning — at the Fighter Battle HQ and the refuelling points — and convinced myself that the servicing of the aircraft was carried through quickly and without a hitch by adequate personnel and equipment. Compare, in this connection, the times of renewal and serviceability after landing. Therefore the tanking difficulties and hindrance through school activity mentioned in the above document could not be established on this score.

Allied analysts added the following:

NOTE: It emerges from this that CUMMERBUND is issued to an airfield as a warning that a tactical transfer to this airfield is expected.


Information from two deciphered German communications.

"CUMMERBUND" is an Allied substitution for the original German code word. What that original was is not mentioned in the translated text.

The meaning of "(Roman) I Rotte" is not clear although from the context it may refer to the machine of a Rottenführer (element leader). Conversely, the other Bf 109s requiring attention are referred to by their markings.