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Historical : Luftwaffe Last Updated: Apr 21st, 2015 - 23:52:06

Stürmbock! Converting Hasegawa’s 1/32 Focke-Wulf Fw190A-8
By Mike Regan. IPMS Wellington, New Zealand
Mar 25, 2010, 21:58

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September 27th 1944.
The 8th Air Force’s 445th Bomb Group had earned a reputation for it’s good bombing record and in the three months after the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, it led all other B-24 Liberator groups on accuracy ratings. September 27th saw the 2nd Air Division send 315 Liberators to bomb the Henschel factories at Kassel in Germany. The 445th with 37 aircraft was leading the second combat wing, navigating by “Gee” because of a solid cloud undercast. At the I.P. (Initial Point - where the run to the A.P. – Aiming Point began), the 445th took a wrong heading and began to turn away from the main bomber column. The divergence was not picked up by the rest of the formation, but was picked up by German ground controllers….
The 445th then began a radar-assisted PFF attack over what was believed to be Kassel, but instead dropped over the town of Göttingen, some twenty miles away. Turning off the target, the group started its withdrawal plan which placed them well behind and to the east of the 2nd Air Division force. Ten minutes after bombing three line-abreast waves of Fw190s closed in on the rear of the 445th formation, closing at 150mph and quickly diving away after firing on the B-24s. They were followed by two Gruppen of Bf109s, who finished off the stragglers from the broken formation. In an attack lasting no more than 3 minutes, 25 out of a formation of 37 B-24s were brought down. Survivors described the scene as “fantastic, a sky full of blazing aircraft, parachutes, smoke and the debris of battle”. All the remaining aircraft had suffered some degree of damage with two making forced landings at French bases, two landing at Manston (a British emergency airfield) and one crashing near the 445th BG’s home at Tibenham. The human cost was 236 aircrew missing, plus 1 dead and 13 wounded retrieved from the B-24’s that reached safe airfields. The 445th BG now had another distinction: it had just suffered the heaviest single-day losses of any Bomb Group in the U.S. 8th Air Force. The next day, only ten serviceable aircraft remained for operations.

The assailants of the 445th BG were the “Stürmbocks” (Stürmbock – “Battering Ram”) of II/ JG4, which had been re-constituted in August 1944 as a “Stürmgruppe” (assault group) on the orders of Adolf Galland, the head on the Luftwaffe’s fighter arm.
The Stürmbock or “Rammjäger (Ram-fighter) was a heavily armed and armoured version of the Fw190 day fighter, configured as a specialised bomber destroyer. Fw190A-6 and A-7 variants had been equipped with the R8 conversion kit - armoured windscreens, armoured glass “blinkers” on each side of the main canopy and additional armour plating around the engine and under the fuselage. As well as the armour, the outboard wing guns could be replaced with either Mk103 or Mk108 30mm cannons. All this made for a fighter that could take the punishment of the massed .50 calibre guns of a bomber formation and had the firepower to bring down a bomber with only a few well placed shots. The downside was that the extra weight made the Stürmbock horribly vulnerable to American escort fighters, and they were usually escorted themselves by two Gruppen of Bf109s or standard Fw190s to sweep away the American escorts and create access to the bomber formation.

A typical Stürmbock attack formation would consist of up to ninety aircraft!
The early Stürmbocks equipped Stürmstaffel 1, an assault squadron set up by Major Hans-Gunther von Kornatzski in late 1943 specifically to take on the growing threat of the American bomber formations. Its aircrew had to swear to a melodramatic oath that they would not return to base without having destroyed a bomber – even to the point of ramming.

The success of this unit led to its disbandment and the formation of the first Stürmgruppen IV/JG3 “Udet”, led by Willy Moritz. Equipped with the “ultimate” Stürmbock, the Fw190A-8/R8, IV/JG3 at first suffered severe losses after being sent to France in June 1944 as part of the response to the Allied invasion. After being withdrawn from the Normandy meat grinder, Moritz continued to refine the tactics of the unit and developed the “Company Front” line-abreast attack on the rear of a bomber formation as the most the likely to achieve results. The success of the Gruppe led General Galland to order that each Jagdgeschwader (Fighter Wing) should convert one of its constituent gruppen to a Stürmgruppe.

On December 5th 1944, Moritz was relieved of command after a nervous breakdown and placed in charge of the reserve training unit of JG3.

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