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4.(F)/Aufkl.Gr. 121

(Unit Code 7A+)

Formation. (May 1939?))

Formed or ordered formed (new) spring 1939, with 1 May 1939 being used in some sources, at Prenzlau/Brandenburg with Dornier Do l7Fs and Do l7Ps.[1]

Polish Campaign. (September 1939)

1 September 1939: deployed from Prenzlau to Jesau/East Prussia with 12 Do l7Fs/Ps toward the end of August for the attack on Poland commencing 1 September. Flew reconnaissance over Poland under the Luftwaffen-Lehrdivision/Lw.Kdo.Ostpreussen from Jesau and, according to some accounts, also from Dessau/52 km south-east of Magdeburg. After the campaign concluded at the end of September, 4.(F)/Aufkl.Gr. 12l returned to Prenzlau and was then reassigned to the West a short time later where it became a major participant in long-range reconnaissance missions over France, photographing airfields, industrial targets, key bridges and other infrastructure. The Staffel’s station in south-west Germany has not been determined with certainty, but strong circumstantial evidence points to Stuttgart-South airfield (a.k.a. Stuttgart-Echterdingen?).

West and Attack on France and the Low Countries. (October 1939 - June 1940)

10 November 1939: a Do l7P from the Staffel crashed near Stuttgart after being shot up by a RAF Hurricane over north-east France, 100%, Oblt. Horst Martinköwitz and crew KIA.

12 November 1939: Do 17 damaged at Stuttgart-South airfield. when right motor cut out on take-off, 50%, 1 injured.

22 November 1939: Do l7P shot down near Baden-Baden by a French Morane fighter on return from a reconnaissance mission over the Belfort area, 100%, Oblt. Helmut Böttcher and crew WIA.

2 March 1940: Do l7P (7A+KM) shot down by Moranes near Luxeuil and Epinal, 100%, crew KIA, although one may have bailed out.

28 March 1940: Do l7P failed to return from a recce mission, 100%, 3 MIA.

2 April 1940: Do l7P crash landed near Lahr after being attacked by 6 Moranes near Saverne, one of which was shot down by the Dornier, 25%.

19 April 1940: Ju 88 shot down by a RAF Hurricane near Lyons while on a recce mission over the St-Dizier - Romilly area, 100%, Oblt. Klaus Pritzel and crew captured.

25 April 1940: Ju 88 A-l damaged on landing at Stuttgart-South due to engine fire, 15%.

25 April 1940: Do l7P force landed near Tournai/Belgium while on a recce mission, 100%, Oblt. Peter Doering and crew interned.

9 May 1940: flew airfield reconnaissance in the Sezanne-Romilly-Troyes area on the eve of the Blitzkrieg in the West.

10 May 1940: at Gablingen/8 km north of Augsburg with 10 Do l7Ps and 2 Ju 88As under V. Fliegerkorps/Luftflotte 3 for the beginning of the invasion.

21 May 1940: Ju 88 crashed in the Saar area, 100%.

26 May 1940: Do 17P failed to return from a recce sortie, 100%.

1 June 1940: Ju 88 failed to return from an operational sortie - no details, 100%.

Air Offensive against England (Battle of Britain). (July 1940 - March 1941)

July 1940: probably based at Paris-Villacoublay, but as the offensive progressed operational flights were increasingly staged from Caen-Carpiouet.

10 July 1940: Do 17P shot up by RAF Spitfires over Margate/Kent and crashed at Boulogne, 60%, Oblt. Sombern KIA + 1 WIA.

19 July 1940: Do l7P shot down by Hurricanes off Brighton, 100%, 1 KIA and 2 MIA.

22 July 1940: Do l7P shot down by Hurricanes off Selsey Bill, 100%, 2 KIA and 1 MIA.

13 August 1940: at Paris-Villacoublay with 4 Do l7Ps and 4 Ju 88As under V. Fliegerkorps/Luftflotte 3 for the main phase of the Battle of Britain.

19 August 1940: Ju 88 A-l damaged landing at Condé airstrip/22 km south-east of Caen, 90%, 4 injured.

26 August 1940: Ju 88 A-l damaged in runway collision at Caen-Carpiquet, 20%.

6 September 1940: Ju 88 A-l damaged landing at Caen-Carpiquet, 5%.

19 September 1940: Ju 88 A-l (7A+FM) shot down by Hurricanes off the Suffolk coast, 100%, 4 MIA.

20 September 1940: Do l7P shot up by fighters over south England and crash landed at Caen-Carpiquet, 60%, 1 WIA.

22 September 1940: Ju 88 A-l (7A+AM) shot down by a Spitfire in mid-Channel off south-west England, 100%, 4 MIA.

14 October 1940: Ju 88 A-l (7A+DM) damaged landing at Caen-Carpiquet, 40%.

20 October 1940: Ju 88 A-5 damaged landing at Caen-Carpiquet, 75%, 1 killed and 1 injured.

28 November 1940: Ju 88 A-5 belly landed at Caen-Carpiquet, 20%.

12 December 1940:Ju 88 A-5 shot up and crash landed at Caen-Carpiquet, 40%.

25 December 1940: Ju 88A shot up by Spitfires near Falmouth and landed damaged at Caen-Carpiquet, 20%, 1 WIA.

19 January 1941: Ju 88 A-l (7A+DM) crash landed at Caen-Carpiquet after being attacked by Spitfires over the Channel near the French coast and shot up, 35%.

13 March 1941: Ju 88 A-5 (7A+LM) shot down by Hurricanes off Worthing/Sussex and crashed in mid-Channel, 100%, 4 KIA.

24 March 1941: Ju 88 force landed near Biarritz/south-west France after running out of fuel, 100%.

30 March 1941: transferred from France to Austria for the campaign in the Balkans on or about this date.

Balkan Campaign. (April 1941 - May 1941)

6 April 1941: at Vienna-Seyring with 10 Ju 88As and 3 Bf 110Cs under Luftflotte 4 for the attack on Yugoslavia and Greece this date.

27 April 1941: Ju 88 (7A+AM) was intercepted by an RAF Hurricane and shot down into the Aegean off the coast of Greece.

11 May 1941: now based at Athens-Eleusis and flying recce over Crete and the Aegean, these missions continuing until early June.

30 May 1941: Ju 88 (7A+HM) was caught at dusk by Hurricanes and a Beaufighter and shot down, probably off the south coast of Crete. The aircraft had been searching for ships evacuating British and Commonwealth forces from Crete to Egypt. The Staffel is not known to have suffered any other losses through enemy contact during the campaign. In early June 4.(F)/Aufkl.Gr. 121 departed Greece for Poland.

South Russia. (June 1941 - April 1942)

22 June 1941: at Zamosc/south-east Poland with 9 Ju 88As under V. Fliegerkorps (Luftflotte 4) for the attack on the Soviet Union this date.

August 1941: now at Berdichev/western Ukraine after moving forward.

7 October 1941: Ju 88 D-l crash landed in bad weather at Kirovograd airfield, 25%.

October – November 1941: the Staffel’s base is uncertain, but its aircraft operated from Dnepropetrovsk, Mariupol and Taganrog to provide recce support to Panzergruppe 1 (Pz.AOK 1) as it advanced rapidly toward Rostov.

26 November 1941: Staffel ordered to transfer without aircraft from South Russia to Brussels-Evere in Belgium along with other components of V. Fliegerkorps, which was supposed to be reorganized as a special Fliegerkorps to command mine-laying units and operations in the West. A small element, perhaps a Kette of 3 aircraft, remained behind at Nikolayev to support Sonderstab Krim, a temporary command left behind by V. Fliegerkorps.

30 November 1941: Ju 88 A-5 returned to Taganrog airfield shot up, 30%.

February 1942: elements at Nikolayev. 1 March 1942: strength returns show 4.(F)/Aufkl.Gr. 121 as having no aircraft on hand this date.

March – April 1942: Staffel’s main body not located – believed to be in Germany for rest and refit, perhaps at Dresden-Klotzsche, and began receiving its allowance of Ju 88 D-5s during April with 9 on hand by 1 May.

Central Russia. (May 1942 - March 1944)

8 May 1942: Ju 88 D-5 crash landed at Dresden-Klotzsche, 50%. The Staffel was already assigned to Luftwaffenkommando Ost (formerly Gen.Kdo. V. Fliegerkorps) in Central Russia on this date and may have been en-route to its next station at Smolensk-North.

3 June 1942: Ju 88 A-3(?) (7A+CM) based at Smolensk-North failed to return from a recce to the Zagorsk-Rybinsk area north of Moscow, 100%, 4 MIA. The Staffel was flying long-range reconnaissance for Luftwaffe bomber missions targeting tank, automotive and aircraft plants located within a wide radius around Moscow that had commenced in May.

14 June 1942: 2 Ju 88 D-5s (70%, 10%) damaged by bombs during a Russian air raid on Smolensk-North.

11 July 1942: Ju 88 D-l (7A+NM) failed to return from the Rybinsk area. 100%, 4 MIA.

4 September 1942: Ju 88 D-l (7A+MM) reported missing near Kiev, 100%, 4 MIA, but all 4 later returned.

2 October 1942: Bf 110 G-5 flew into the ground at Smolensk airfield, 100%, 2 killed.

26 October 1942: flew reconnaissance coverage of the Velizh area/80 km north-east of Vitebsk.

12 November 1942: Ju 88 D-l (7A+OM) based at Smolensk failed to return from the Ryazan area southeast of Moscow and believed shot down by a fighter, 100%, 4 MIA.

30 January 1943: Ju 88 D-l (7A+IM) failed to return from operations - no details, 100%, Oblt. Volkmar Geng (observer) + 3 MIA.

27 February 1943: Staffel aircrew member WIA by ground fire over Pl.Qu.16463 (near Glazkovo/45 km east of Velizh).

1 March 1943: transferred from Smolensk-North to Orsha-South on or about this date with 6 Ju 88 D-1 and 2 Ju 88 D-5, this being the beginning of a major pulling back of the front in the Vyazma-Rzhev area toward Smolensk (Operation "Büffel" or "Buffalo").

15 March 1943: Ju 88 D-l (7A+GM) failed to return from operations - no details. 100%, 4 MIA.

17 March 1943: Ju 88 D-l damaged landing at Orsha-South, 15%.

19 March 1943: Ju 88 D-5 shot up by AA-fire and belly landed at Orsha-South, 25%.

26 March 1943: Ju 88 D-l shot up by a fighter and belly landed at Orsha-South, 25%.

17 March 1943: 3 Ju 88 D-ls hit by bombs during an enemy air raid on Orsha-South, 100%, 25% and 15%, respectively.

20 April 1943: 2 Ju 88 D-ls hit by bombs during air raid on Orsha-South, 20% and 15%.

9 May 1943: Ju 88 damaged landing at Orsha-South, 80%. May 1943: transferred from Orsha-South to Seshchinskaya/40 km south-east of Roslavl during the second half of May.

2 June 1943: Ju 88 D-l returned to Seshchinskaya shot up by a fighter, 20%.

11 June 1943: Ju 88 D-l (7A+LM) shot down by a fighter near Belev, 100%, 4 MIA. 18 June 1943: Ju 88 D-l hit by bombs during air raid on Seshchinskaya, 100%.

15 July 1943: Ju 88 D-l (7A+BM) failed to return from the Kursk area, 100%, 4 MIA.

17 July 1943: Ju 88 D-l (7A+GM) failed to return and reported missing over Pl.Qu.6445 (c.68 km south-south-east of Tula), 100%, Hptm. Erich von der Ropp (observer), Oblt. Siegfried Schlafender (pilot) + 2 MIA.

18 July 1943: Ju 88 D-l (7A+RM) reported missing in the Pl.Qu.8494 area (c.100 km south of Ryazan’), 100%, 4 MIA.

5 August 1943: photographed troops and vehicles building up in and around Kozel’sk/62 km south-south-west of Kaluga.

7 August 1943: Ju 88 D-l (7A+MM) failed to return from operations - no details, 100%, Oblt. Otto Reibold + 3 MIA.

7 August 1943: Ju 88 D-5 shot up and belly landed west of Karachev, 40%.

16 August 1943: Ju 88 D-l hit by bombs during air attack on Seshchinskaya airfield, 60%.

19 August 1943: Ju 88 D-l (7A+UM) failed to return - no details, 100%, 4 MIA. 23 August 1943: Ju 88 D-l shot up by a fighter north of Livny, 20%.

23 August 1943: Ju 88 D-5 (7A+WM) failed to return from Pl.Qu.8474 (south of Ryazan’), 100%, 4 MIA.

28 August 1943: Ju 88 D-l damaged undercarriage at Seshchinskaya, 20%.

30 August 1943: Staffel evacuated Seshchinskaya as Soviet forces advanced in the Roslavl-Bryansk sector, but the Staffel's next station is not known with certainty (probably Stary Bykhov/42 km south of Mogilev).

6 September 1943: Ju 88 D-l (7A+HM) failed to return from Pl.Qu.44546 (immediate vicinity of Bryansk), 100%, 4 MIA.

10 September 1943: Ju 88 D-l (7A+DM) failed to return - no details. 100%, 4 MIA.

12 September 1943: Ju 88 D-l (7A+NM) failed to return from Pl.Qu.22 (c.85 km east of Chernigov). 100%, Oblt. Hans Westendorf (observer) + 3 MIA.

14 September 1943: operating from Stary Bykhov.

7 October 1943: Ju 88D (7A+CM) failed to return from operations - no details, 100%. 4 MIA.

October 1943: Staffel possibly withdrew from operations in October to rest and refit in the rear area. The losses incurred to the end of 1943 do not appear to be connected with flying over Soviet controlled territory.

14 October 1943: Heinkel He 72 (biplane hack) crashed on take-off from Baranowicze airfield in eastern Poland, 100%, 2 killed.

28 October 1943: Fiesler Fi 156 damaged landing at Slonim airstrip/north-east Poland, 30%.

17 November 1943: Ju 88 D-1 damaged its undercarriage at Posen (Poznan)/north-west Poland, 25%. 15 December 1943: Ju 88D belly-landed south of Lublin in central Poland, 30%, 2 injured.

21 December 1943: Ju 88 D-5 crashed south of Brest-Litovsk, 100%, 1 killed and 2 injured.

1 March 1944: Staffel at Baranowicze airfield under FAGr. 2 with 12 Ju 88 D-1 on strength.

22 March 1944: photographed enemy concentrations and positions in the Vitebsk area.

Reich. (March 1944 - May 1945)

27 March 1944: said to have departed Baranowicze on or about this date to begin an extended rest period with home leave for all personnel followed by conversion to the Ju 188 at Gutenfeld/East Prussia until c.23 July and Jüterbog in Germany from c.23 July.

September – December 1944: again operational and now at Stubendorf/Silesia under FAGr. 3/Luftflotte 6.

1 December 1944: Staffel reported 10 Ju 188 D-2 on strength.

11 January 1945: Einsatzkommando (Operational Detachment) 4. (F)/Aufkl.Gr. 121 at Krakow in South Poland with 2 officers and 20 men, but forced to withdraw a few days later.

4 February 1945: transferred from Stubendorf and/or Breslau to Sprottau (Szprotawa)/Lower Si1esia with Ju 188s under FAGr. 3.

10 March 1945: Ju 188 D-2 failed to return from operations - no details, 100%, 5 MIA.

26 March 1945: at Alt-Lönnewitz under FAGr. 3 flying recce missions as fuel allowed for VIII. Fliegerkorps/Luftflotte 6.

9 April 1945: under FAGr. 3 with a mixed complement of 13(4) Ju 188s and Me 410s, and probably still at Alt-Lönnewitz.

3 May 1945: now at Königgrätz (Hradec Kralove)/Czechoslovakia under FAGr. 3 with Ju 188s; no Me 410s are listed.

FpN:4.(F)/121 (L 22674).


Hptm. Ulrich Kerber (  ? -  ? ) 9/39, 5/40, 8/40

Maj. Otto Kleye (  ? -  ? ) 1940

Hptm. Manfred Vogelmann (  ? -  ? ) 4/41

Hptm. Oskar Otolski (  ? - 8 February 1943) 6/41

Hptm. Günter Kratzmann (24 February 1943 - July 1944) 1943-44

Hptm. Helmuth Fritsch (July 1944 - 8 May 1945)

Also see:

BARGENDA, Heinz, Lt.

BARTH, Dr.Karl, Lt.

BORMANN, Gert, Lt.

BÖTTCHER, Helmut, Oblt.

BUCHER,  ? , Lt.

BURIAN, H.-W., Lt.

BÜSCHER, Karl, Lt.

DEGELOW, Horst-Eberhard, Lt.

DÖRING, Paul (Peter?), Oblt.

DÜHRKOP, Ernst-Günter, Oblt.

FABRICIUS, Günther, Lt.

GAAB, Kurt, Lt.

GENG, Volkmar, Oblt.

GRÜNWALD, Franz-Karl, Lt.


HENKEL, Werner, Lt.

HERBERT, (Albert?), Lt.(Kr.O.)

HEYDER, Lothar, Oblt.(Kr.O.)

HUBER, Lothar, Lt.

ILGNER, Dietrich, Hptm.

JANK, Albert, Oblt.

KELLER, Erich, Lt.

KNAB, Helmut, Lt.


LEHMANN, Dietrich, Lt.

LÜDECKE, Fritz, Lt.


MEISS, Herbert, Lt.


NIEBELSCHÜTZ, Hans-Wolfgang von, Oblt.

PEIN, Horst Alfred, Lt./Oblt.(Kr.O.)

PRISTAAT, Erich, Lt.

PRITZEL, Klaus, Oblt.

REIBOLD, Otto, Oblt.


RICHTER, Ewald, Lt.


ROPP, Erich von der, Hptm.

SCHLAFENDER, Siegfried, Oblt.

SCHNEEWEIS, Wolfgang, Oblt.


SEIMANN, Klaus, Lt.

SOLDMANN, Klaus Wilhelm, Lt.

SOMBORN, Otto, Oblt.


STEPAN, Alois, Oblt.

STREICHER, Lothar, Oblt.

THOMASSEN, Fritz, Lt.(Kr.O.)

ULSCHT, Kurt, Oblt.(Kr.O.)


© by Henry L. deZeng IV (Work in Progress). (1st Draft 2022)

Additional Notes & Losses

29.6.40 – 1 Do 17 departed Villacoublay 12.17 hrs. This was a reconnaissance sortie to the Channel Islands. St.Helier Port 2 warehouses destroyed, 35 vehicles on quay, cars and trucks.

St.Peter Port 2 hits in vehicle columns, 150 vehicles on the quay. 3 cargo ships (about 800 - 1200 t), apparently loading.

Guernsey airfield, no occupancy apparent,

Jersey airfield occupancy apparently 2 single-engine aircraft, probably dummies. [2]

3.7.40 – 1 Ju 88 departed Villacoublay at 07.12 hrs for an airfield reconnaissance in the area Newbury – Frome – Poole- Portsmouth.[3]

4.7.40 - 1 Ju 88 departed Villacoublay at 08.15 hrs for an airfield reconnaissance in the area Newbury – Frome – Portsmouth - Poole.[4] Reconnaissance result: (observation time 08.30 - 09.30) visual reconnaissance take-off was at 07.25, not 08.15 as stated in Einzelmeldung Nr.2).

Bembridge airfield (10 14) Occupancy not detected. 2 other airfields Isle of Wight well camouflaged, occupancy not detected.

Cowes (West) airfield (10 52) unoccupied.[5]

5.7.40 – A Do 17 of this staffel departed at 07.00 hrs for a reconnaissance sortie covering the area bounded by Oxford, Bristol, Lands End and Portsmouth. This was without success due to bad weather. 10/10 cloud cover with a cloud base at 1800 m altitude.[6]

7.7.40 – 1 Do 17 of the staffel left Villacoublay at 08.30 hrs for a weather and airfield reconnaissance mission covering the area Oxford, Portsmouth, Isle of Wight and Swindon.[7]


  1. G.Tessin - Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen-SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1945, 16+ Bde., Teil 14: Die Luftstreitkräfte (Osnabrück, 1980); W.Dierich - Die Verbände der Luftwaffe 1935-1945: Gliederungen und Kurzchroniken – Eine Dokumentation; N.Kannapin - Die deutsche Feldpostübersicht 1939-1945; J.-P.Défieux - Répertoire des Unités Aériennes de la Luftwaffe 1935-1945: Reconnaissance Aéronavale (Nanterre, privately published, n.d. (c 1988-90?); K.Ries - Luftwaffen Story 1935-1939 (Mainz, 1974), pp.80-89; BA-MA Freiburg: RL 2 III Meldungen über Flugzeugunfälle…..(Loss Reports – LRs); BA-MA Freiburg: RL 40/Kart; PRO London: AIR 40 Air Ministry intelligence reports and lists based on ULTRA, “Y” Service intercepts, captured documents and PoW interrogations; NARA WashDC: RG 242 (Microcopy T-321 roll 50/876), (T-501 roll 218/1276), (T-971 roll 19); U.Balke - Der Luftkrieg in Europa: Die Operativen Einsätze des Kampfgeschwader 2 im Zweiten Weltkrieg, 2 Bde (Koblenz, 1989-90), pp.394, 405, 414, 419; C.Shores - Fledgling Eagles: The Complete Account of Air Operations During the ‘Phony War’ and Norwegian Campaign, 1940 (London, 1991); J.Foreman - 1941 - The Turning Point, Parts 1and 2 – The Battle of Britain to the Blitz (Walton on Thames (Surrey), p.190; C.Shores et al - Air War For Yugoslavia, Greece, and Crete 1940-41 (Carrollton (TX), 1987), pp.180, 301 and 397; E.F.Ziemke - Stalingrad to Berlin: The German Defeat in the East. Army Historical Series, Office of the Chief of Military History (WashDC, 1968), pp.114-17; M.Griehl - Dornier Do 217-317-417: Eine luftfahrtgeschichtliche Dokumentation (Stuttgart, 1987), p.220; M.Rauchensteiner - Der Krieg in Österreich, 1945. (Wien, 1984), p.360; M.Abicht – captions from captured Luftwaffe reconnaissance photos held by the U.S. National Archives; M.Holm – web site ww2.dk.
  2. Luftflotte 3 Einzelmeldung Nr 5 vom 29.6.40
  3. Luftflotte 3 Einzelmeldung Nr 5 vom 3.7.40
  4. Luftflotte 3 Einzelmeldung Nr 2 vom 4.7.40
  5. Luftflotte 3 Einzelmeldung Nr 4 vom 4.7.40
  6. Luftflotte 3 Einzelmeldung Nr 5 vom 5.7.40
  7. Luftflotte 3 Einzelmeldung Nr 2 vom 7.7.40

Aufklärungsgruppe 121

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