JG 26: Top Guns of the Luftwaffe

JG 26: Top Guns of the Luftwaffe

by Donald Caldwell
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JG 26: Top Guns of the Luftwaffe by Donald Caldwell

Jagdgeschwader 26, the German elite fighter unit, was more feared by the Allies than any other Luftwaffe group. Based on extensive archival research in Europe, personal combat diaries and interviews with more than 50 surviving pilots, Caldwell has assembled a superb day-to-day chronicle of JG 26 operations, from its first air victory in 1939 to its final combat patrol in 1945.

A microcosm of World War II exists in the rise and fall of this famous fighter wing. For the first two years of the war it was an even match between the Spitfires and Hurricanes of the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe's Messerschmitts and Focke Wulfs; but the scales tipped in favor of the Allies in 1943 with the arrival of the Eighth US Air Force and its peerless P-51 Mustang.

The book has been endorsed by the top fighter commanders of three air forces: the RAF (Johnnie Johnson), the USAAF (Hub Zemke), and the Luftwaffe (Adolf Galland) and is considered essential reading for anyone interested in the aerial war of 1941–45.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781848327467
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Limited
Publication date: 03/05/2014
Pages: 440
Sales rank: 1,150,161
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.80(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword xiii

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction xxi

1 Origins (1935-1939) 1

The Resurgent Luftwaffe 1

The Condor Legion 4

Days of Peace 6

Albert Leo Schlageter 7

War Looms 8

2 Sitzkrieg And Blitzkrieg (1 September 1939-26 June 1940) 10

War Begins 10

Formation of the Third Gruppe 10

The Geschwader's First Victory 11

10(Nacht)/JG 26 and the Battle of the Helgoland Bight 12

The Winter Doldrums 14

The Blitzkrieg Strikes West 16

Breakthrough on the Meuse 21

The Dunkirk Evacuation 23

Operation Paula-The Air Attack on Paris 26

The End of the Campaign 28

3 JG 26 In The Battle Of Britain (24 July 1940-9 February 1941) 29

Return to Germany 29

The First Phase-Channel Attacks and Free Hunts 30

The Second Phase-Adlerangriff 35

13 August-Adlertag 38

15 August-The Luftwaffe's Black Thursday 41

18 August-The "Hardest Day" 45

Galland Takes Command 48

Decimation of the Defiants 50

The Third Gruppe in Action 53

The Third Phase-Attacks on London 59

15 September-The Battle's Climax 61

The Fourth Phase-Fighters as Bombers 64

Conclusions 67

4 The 7th Staffel In The Mediterranean Theater (February-August 1941) 72

A New Theater of War 72

The Scourge of Malta 73

Flank Duty for the Balkan Campaign 76

Back to Sicily 76

Malta Reprieved 78

Return to the Kanalfront 81

5 Defense In The West (1941) 83

New Equipment 83

Cover for the Navy 85

Back to the Channel 86

The Nonstop Offensive 89

Arrival of the FW 190 98

A Successful Summer 99

Galland to Berlin 103

6 Abbeville Kids And St. Omer Boys (1942) 106

One Day on the Kanalfront 106

Winter on the Channel Coast 109

The Channel Dash 110

Formation of the Jabostaffeln 113

Renewal of the British Offensive 115

Focke-Wulf Summer 116

The Dieppe Raid 124

A New Enemy 129

A Time of Trials 135

7 Schlageter Fighters On The Eastern Front (January-July 1943) 142

The First Gruppe Leaves the Kanalfront 142

The Situation in the North Is Stabilized 144

The Seventh Staffel on the Leningrad Front 146

Springtime Lull 147

The Return 148

8 Holding In The West (January-June 1943) 150

The Jabo Effort Peaks 150

Change of Command 153

Battles with the RAF 156

A Slow Buildup 160

Arrival of the Thunderbolts 168

9 Temporary Ascendancy (July-December 1943) 176

The Battles Escalate 176

The Schweinfurt-Regensburg Raid 184

Steady Pressure 191

Defensive Reorganization 196

The Muenster Raid 198

The Second Schweinfurt Raid 200

The Dueren Raid 202

Harder Battles 205

10 The Allies Command The Skies (January-May 1944) 211

The War of Attrition 211

Big Week 219

The Berlin Raids 226

Jaegerschreck-Fear of Fighters 231

The First Attacks on the Oil Industry 239

11 The Invasion Front (6 June-3 September 1944) 242

D-Day 242

The Defensive Plan and Its Execution 243

Hopeless Inferiority 253

Successes and Failures 261

A Black Day for the Lightnings 276

Retreat to the Reich 280

12 Support For The Army (September-December 1944) 284

Disorganization and Recovery 284

Operation Market Garden 290

A Dreary Autumn 296

The Battle of the Ardennes 311

III/JG 54 Returns to Combat 318

13 Unternehmen Bodenplate-The Attack on Allied Airfields (1 January 1945) 323

JG 26 Gets the Word 323

I/JG 26 and III/JG 54 Attack Grimbergen 325

II/JG 26 Attacks Brussels-Evere 331

III/JG 26 Attacks Brussels-Evere 338

The Balance 340

14 The Final Battles (January-May 1945) 343

Attrition Continues 343

The Spirit of the Geschwader 350

Breakup and Consolidation 353

The Defenses Break 368

Himmelfahrtskommandos-Missions to Heaven 376

The Lines Close In 380

Sources 392

Table Of Equivalent Ranks-German Air Force, U.S. Army Air Force, And Royal Air Force 400


1 Abbreviations (non-German) 403

2 Aviation Terms 403

3 Aircraft Types 404

4 German Terms 408

JG 26 Tables of Organization 413

JG 26 Victory Claims-A Statistical Summary 424

JG 26 Casualties-A Statistical Summary 426

Index 428

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Jg26; Top Guns of the Luftwaffe 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
JG26 documents a detailed rise and fall of Germany's premier fighter group on the western front. The book is well documented with the amount of kills and missions almost on a day to day basis. The book reads almost like a diary. At the same time this may be the book's greatest fault. I felt the book fell into a routine,i.e.,the squadron goes up, shoots down X amount of enemy planes, and lost X amount of planes. At the same time these details are well documented, how many planes participated in the air battle, who got shot down and/or how each pilot survived or got killed. The book even documents whether the pilots over claimed their kills. I would have liked to have read more about the ground crews, their shortages,a day in the life of a Luftwaffe pilot and some of the more unusual missions.