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4.(H)/Aufkl.Gr. 12

(Code: H1 + )

Formation and Training. (Feb 39 - Aug 39)

Formed February 1939 at Münster-Loddenheide (new) with He 45s and He 46s.[1]

West - Attack on France and the Low Countries. (Aug 39 - May 41)

25.8.39: at Münster-Loddenheide until receipt of general mobilization orders 25-26 August and then deployed to a field airstrip at Rheinberg, a few kilometers NW of Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhr, with 12 He 45s and He 46Cs in support of XXX. Armeekorps, which was occupying defensive positions along the Lower Rhine.

24.10.39: the Staffel turned in its old Heinkels and converted to the Henschel 126, and at the beginning of 1940 a few Dornier Do 17Ms were taken on strength. Over the next six months the Staffel engaged in continuous training with its new aircraft and took part in joint exercises with Army units.

12.3.40: an Hs 126 from the Staffel crashed during low-level flight while practicing with infantry forces (possibly in the Saarbrücken area), 100%, 1 killed and 1 injured.

8.5.40: Hs 126 destroyed in collision during practice maneuvers, 100%, 1 killed.

10.5.40: under Koluft AOK 1 for the attack on France this date, and supported XII. Armeekorps along a line of advance from the Saarpfalz area into Alsace and Lorraine with Hs 126s and 3 Do 17Ms.

6.6.40: Hs 126 failed to return from a recce mission in the Samoucy area.

9.10.40: Fi 156 crash landed and damaged its undercarriage at Fp. Blankenberge on the Belgian coast, 40%.

7.12.40: Staffel assigned to VIII. Fliegerkorps for Operation "Felix", the planned attack on Gibraltar that was eventually abandoned. Many of the units assigned to this operation were temporarily based in southwest France.

22.12.40: Staffel based at Landes de Bussac/c.40 km NE of Bordeaux and assigned to 7. Armee.

14.1.41: Hs 126B-1 damaged due to engine trouble at Fp. Quimper/Brittany, 20%.

16.2.41: Hs 126 and a Fi 156 slightly damaged by a storm at Fp.Landes de Bussac, each 5%.

15.5.41: Staffel departed France this date for the East.

31.5.41: a Bf 109 belonging to 4.(H)/Aufkl.Gr. 12 reported with tire damage at Fp. Wien-Aspern, 30% (the Staffel began converting to the Bf 109 a few months later, so it may have sent a few pilots to the Messerschmidt factory near Vienna to begin conversion training).

Central Russia. (Jun 41 - Oct 41)

22.6.41: at Dubowo/c.13 km SW of Suwałki in NE Poland under Koluft Panzergruppe 3/Army Group Center for the attack on the Soviet Union this date, and assigned to support XXXIX. Armeekorps (mot.) (later renamed Panzerkorps) along an axis of advance Grodno - Vilnius and then across Belorussia to the encirclement and capture of Smolensk.

17.7.41: one of the Staffel’s pilots hit and WIA by AA-fire over Demidov/NE of Vitebsk - aircraft apparently not damaged.

8.41: withdrawn from operations in the Smolensk area and returned to Germany to convert to the Bf 109 and Bf 110.

10.41: ordered to transfer to South Italy for shipment to North Africa. This process took 5 or 6 months to complete since the Staffel needed to draw special equipment and uniforms designed for the tropics.

North Africa. (c.Feb 42 - Jan 43)

Early 1942: transferred to South Italy without aircraft.

1-4.4.42: transported to Martuba/Libya and took over the aircraft of the departing 2.(H)/14, which left Africa to rest and re-equip.

20.4.42: Bf 109E shot down by Hurricanes SW of Bir Hacheim, 100%, pilot KIA.

23.4.42: Bf 110 shot down over Bir el Chaulat, 100%, crew KIA.

24.4.42: Bf 109E shot down by a P-40 Tomahawk over the Bir Hacheim area, 100%.

1.5.42: Staffel reported 4 x Bf 110E-2, 2 x Bf 110E-3 and 11 x Bf 109E-7 on strength.

10.5.42: at Martuba under Koluft Panzerarmee Afrika - reported 17(7) Hs 126s, Bf 109s and Bf 110s on strength.

28.5.42: Bf 109E shot down by Tomahawks near Gazala, 100%, pilot KIA.

2.6.42: Bf 110 shot down by AA-fire SW of Acroma, 100%, Staka Hptm. Kühlwetter and crew KIA.

6.6.42: Bf 109E shot down by fighters near Bir Hacheim, 100%, pilot KIA.

6.6.42: Bf 109E shot down by AA-fire near Bir Hacheim, 100%, pilot captured.

6.6.42: Bf 110 failed to return (FTR) in the area between Gazala and Bir Hacheim, 100%, 2 MIA and 1 captured.

20.6.42: still based at Martuba.

21.6.42: transferred to EI Adem/S of Tobruk, and then moved rapidly forward across the desert; by 4.7.42 based in the EI Daba area on the Egyptian coast.

4.7.42: Bf 110 shot down by P-40 Kittyhawks in the EI Daba area.

11.7.42: Bf 110 crashed while on a recce mission, 100%, crew KIA.

24.7.42: Bf 110 shot down by Tomahawks and Kittyhawks W of El Daba, 100%, 2 KIA, 1 captured.

20.9.42: now based at Bir el Aba.

1.10.42: Staffel reported 1 x Bf 110F-3 trop, 1 x Bf 109E-7 trop and 12 x Bf 109F-4/R3 on strength.

1.10.42: Bf 109 FTR from a photo recce sortie over Alexandria/Egypt, 100%, 1 MIA.

24.10.42: still at Bir el Abd.

5.11.42: following aircraft reported destroyed to prevent capture by the enemy: 2 Bf 1l0E-3s at Fuka; 1 Bf 109F-4 “Trop” at Qutaifiya; 1 Bf 109E-7 at Qasaba; and 1 Fi 156 at Bir el Abd.

22.11.42: Bf 109F-4 trop damaged taxiing at Arco, 35%.

24.11.42: Staffel at Arco.

30.11.42: now at EI Agheila.

7.12.42: Bf 109 shot down by a Spitfire behind Allied lines, 100%, pilot captured.

17.12.42: at Tamet near Tripoli, and still there 18.12.42.

13.1.43: now at Bir Dufan/Libya under Fliegerführer Afrika.

20-24.1.43: in the final days around Tripoli before the Allies took it, the Staffel lost 5 Bf 109F-4s, including 2 of which were destroyed near Tripoli-Castel Benito to prevent capture by the enemy.

Tunisia. (Jan 43 - Apr 43)

24.1.43: transferred from the Tripoli area to Gabes-West in Tunisia.

10.2.43: Gabes-West under Fliegerkorps Tunis.

10.3.43: Bf 109G-2 FTR from recce mission, 100%, pilot MIA.

17.3.43: Staffel flying reconnaissance over the Mareth Line.

7.4.43: transferred to Bourdjine (in north Tunisia?).

12.4.43: Bf 109G-2 destroyed in bombing at Fp. Marie du Zit/SE of Tunis, 100%.

15.4.43: ordered to transfer to Decimomannu/Sardinia with 7 aircraft within the next few days.

Sardinia and Italy. (Apr 43 - Nov 43)

21.4.43: arrived at Decimomannu from Tunisia; the Staffel’s motor vehicles were flown to Decimomannu on 26 April by 7 Me 323s.

1.5.43: Staffel reported 7 x Bf 109G-4 and 4 x Bf 109G-4/R3 on strength.

20.5.43: ordered to support Division Sardinien (later 90. Pz.Gren.Div.) in the event of enemy landings on the island.

21.5.43: Staffel flying Bf 109 reconnaissance of Algerian and Tunisian harbors checking on the buildup of invasion shipping.

26 May 43: Decimomannu – a number of technical personnel belonging to Verbindungsstaffel/Fliegerführer 2 reassigned to the Staffel and ordered to report to a Hptm. Eichholz.

28.5.43: Bf 109G-4 FTR - no details, 100%, pilot MIA.

6/43: Staffel reported routine take-off and landing accidents at Decimomannu.

5.7.43: Bf 109G shot down by a Spitfire during a photo recce mission to Bône harbor, 100%, Lt. Manfred Jungke captured.

6.7.43: still at Decimomannu.

7.43: transferred to Ottana/Sardinia and continued flying recce off the Algerian coast.

5.8.43: Bf 109G-6 landing accident at Ottana, 35%.

c.15.8.43: still at Ottana.

26.8.43: Bf 109G-6 FTR from recce to Philippeville/Algeria, 100%, pilot MIA.

28.8.43: Bf 109G-6 FTR from recce to the Bougie-Djidjelli area/Algeria, 100%, Oblt. Theodor Janzer MIA.

1.9.43: Bf 109G-6 damaged in landing accident at Fp.Casa Zeppera/Sardinia, 40%.

7.9.43: 2 Bf 109Gs FTR - no details, both 100%, both pilots MIA.

9.43: transferred from Sardinia to the Pisa area on the Italian mainland.

28 Sep 43: at Metato landing ground/6 km NNW of Pisa.

16.10.43: Bf 109G-2 shot down by a Free French Spitfire IX 15 km NE of Ajaccio/Corsica, one of two the Staffel sent out to check airfields in the Ajaccio area, 100%, Oblt. Heinrich Kess captured.

24.10.43: Staffel based at Pisa - 1 Bf 109G-6 shot down and another badly damaged by P-51 Mustangs in the Aqua Pendete area; one of the P-51s was claimed, 100% and 70%, 1 pilot KIA.

28.10.43: Staffel re-equipping at Poggio-Renatico prior to being incorporated into NAGr. 11.

13.11.43: Bf 109G-6 ran out of fuel and force landed N of Ferrara, 80%.

11.43: Staffel renamed 2./NAGr.11. The order for the renaming may have been issued on 1 November but did not take effect until several weeks later.

FpN:4.(H)/12 (L 20781).


Hptm. Friedrich Trute (1 Sep 39 - 28 Feb 41)

Hptm. Hubert von Kühlwetter (  ? - 2 Jun 42) KIA

Hptm. Scheffer (c.2 Jun 42 -  ? )

Hptm. Eberhard Schneider (  ? - 24 Feb 43) 1942

Hptm. Rolf Sauer (24 Feb 43 -  ? ) 6/43

© H.L. deZeng IV, 2021

Additional Notes and Losses

9.9.42 – 1 Bf 109, operating from Bir El Aba was active around 09.40 hrs on M/T reconnaissance.[2]

10.9.42 – Bf 109s were active very early (03.50 hrs Z) on M/T reconnaissance.[3]

11.9.42 – 2 Bf 109s were operating between 06.30 and 06.50 hrs Z on the usual M/T reconnaissance.[4] 12.9.42 – 1 or more Bf 109s were up performing the M/T reconnaissance.[5]

13.9.42 – 1+ Bf 110s were out on the usual M/T reconnaissance.[6]

14.9.42 – A Bf 110 and a Bf 109 performed the morning M/T reconnaissance.[7]

15.9.42 - A Bf 110 and a Bf 109 performed the usual morning M/T reconnaissance.[8]

16.9.42 – 1 Me 110 probably operated on an afternoon sortie offshore between Sidi Barrani and Alexandria. However, this flight was broken off due to engine trouble.[9]

2 Bf 109 operating from Bir el Abda performed a photo reconnaissance sortie to Gianaclis airfield.[10]

Bf 109s were out in the morning and afternoon on the usual sortie to find Allied motor transport.[11]

17.9.42 – 2 Me 110 departed 14.14 hrs Z for a shipping reconnaissance sortie between Sidi Barrani and Alexandria. No shipping was sighted and the aircraft landed by 15.30 hrs Z.[12]

18.9.42 – 2 Bf 109s carried out a photo reconnaissance sortie to Alexandria harbour and the surrounding airfields.[13]

1 Bf 110 and 2 Bf 109s were out on the morning M/T reconnaissance sortie.[14]

19.9.42 - 2 Bf 109s sent on a photo reconnaissance sortie to Alexandria – this task was broken off due to technical trouble.[15]

2 Bf 109s flew the usual M/T reconnaissance sortie. No engagement with the “enemy” and no changes were identified.[16]

20.9.42 – 4 Bf 109s were sent out to perform photo reconnaissance of Alexandria – two of the Bf 109s failed to complete their task owing to cloud over the target.[17]

2 Bf 109s flew the usual M/T reconnaissance sortie, this was not exhaustive owing to the cloud cover. [18]

21.9.42 – 2 Bf 109s were active between 08.20 and 09.15 hrs Z on M/T reconnaissance, the southern area was covered in detail but recce of the northern area was hindered by cloud.[19]

A single Bf 109 performed the same M/T reconnaissance in the afternoon with the same results.[20]

22.9.42 – 2 Bf 109s operated over the front in the early morning.[21]

23.9.42 – 2 Bf 109s were sent to photograph Alexandria Harbour and successfully carried out their task, landing by 10.18 hrs Z.[22]

24.9.42 – 2 Bf 109s departed at 12.35 hrs Z for another photo recce sortie to Alaexandria. Photos were taken between 13.00 and 13.10 hrs Z and the aircraft had landed by 13.35 hrs Z.[23]

25.9.42 – On this day two sorties were made to Alexandria as the film from the morning operation could not be interpreted due to camera issues. The second set of photos were taken at 13.45 hrs Z.[24]

26.9.42 – 2 Bf 109s operated the afternoon off-shore recce sortie between Sidi Barrani and Alexandria. No sightings were reported.[25]

28.9.42 – 1 Bf 109 had been sent out on an early morning flight to Alexandria. However, this sortie was broken off due to driving sand. In addition any photographs that were taken could not be interpreted owing to camera failure. The aircraft was only airborne for 12 minutes, landing at 05.25 hrs Z.[26]

2 Bf 109s departed for Alexandria at 11.57 hrs Z, landing again at 13.57 hrs Z having successfully carried out their task to photograph Alexandria.[27]

29.9.42 – 2 Bf 109s photographed Alexandria harbour and several nearby airfields (Ogos, Shaltut etc.) The crews reported combat with 4 Martlets and claimed one shot down.[28]

2.11.43 - 1 member of the unit was wounded in a bombing attack on Fuka and two more wounded.<ref name="ftn8">Lw.Loss Returns 8.1.43 pg 7

  1. 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; 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; U.Balke - Der Luftkrieg in Europa: Die Operativen Einsätze des Kampfgeschwader 2 im Zweiten Weltkrieg, Teil I, p.397; K.Gundelach - Die deutsche Luftwaffe im Mittelmeer 1940-1945, pp.55, 534; C.Shores/H.Ring - Fighters Over the Desert, p.131; NARA WashDC: RG 242 (T-311 microfilmed documents – France, 12.40 – 5.41); PRO London: DEFE 3 ULTRA signals QT4340, QT6924, VM1222, VM2269, VM3794, VM8827, VM9391, ML2407, ML2420; PRO London: AIR 40/1995; PRO London: AIR 40 Air Ministry intelligence reports and lists based on ULTRA, “Y” Service intercepts, captured documents and PoW interrogations; BNA HW 5/256, HW 5/361, HW 5/401; BA-MA Freiburg: RL 2 III Meldungen über Flugzeugunfälle…..(Loss Reports – LRs); BA-MA Freiburg: Flugzeug-Bereitstellungen (Aircraft Availability Status Reports – FzB) in: M.Holm-website (ww2.dk); BA-MA Freiburg: Luftwaffen-Personalamt L.P.(A)5(V) (OKL Chef für Ausz. und Disziplin) Abschussmeldungen (claims reports); AFHRA Maxwell: decimal 512.619 British AirMin CSDIC P/W Interrogation Reports in microfilm rolls A5415-18, interrogation CSDIC AFHQ A.75 and CSDIC AFHQ A.244; AFHRA Maxwell decimal Karlsruhe Collection KC-Kl13.309-3/ v.1; AFHRA Maxwell: decimal 512 RAF 329 Wing Sigint reports.
  2. HW13/109 via Remi Traconelli.
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Aufklärungsgruppe 12

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