Sonderstaffel Schwilden

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AKA Staffel Schwilden

On 14 March 1940, Sonderstaffel Schwilden was formed using the seaplanes allocated to 3./K.G.z.b.V.108 (which was still then in the process of forming up for Weserübung). Under the command of Hauptmann Horst Schwilden, the Staffel was equipped with He 59 seaplanes and assigned the special mission of securing several key bridges in Rotterdam on the opening day of Germany's Western Offensive: 10 May 1940. For the attack, the Sonderstaffel was placed under the operational command of 7. Fliegerdivision. In order for the bridges to be captured and then held, the Sonderstaffel was assigned troops of the 11./Infanterie-Regiment 16 (under the command of Oblt Schrader) and 22 sappers of the 2nd company of the Pioneer-Batallions.

Departing from Lake Zwischenahn near Oldenburg in the early morning hours of 10 May 1940, the twelve seaplanes of the unit approached the Willems Bridge over the Maas. Once they neared the target area the formation split into two flights of six. One flight approached from the east and while the other made its approach from the west. Landing on the Maas under fire, the soldiers carried by the aircraft managed to secure the Willems Bridge as well as a railroad bridge lying in the vicinity and the Leeuwen and Jan-Kuiten Bridges.

Once the aircraft of the Sonderstaffel had landed the German troops along the banks of the river, those still airworthy took off imediately. In total, the following aircraft were all written off during the Rotterdam operation:

Heinkel He 59D W.Nr. 1830, 1995, 2593 and 2599.

The remaining eight He 59s all suffered various degrees of damage from ground fire.[1]

With the operation complete, Sondertaffel Schwilden was disbanded on 12 May 1940 and its aircraft returned to Höhere Fliegerausbildungskommando 2 for distribution to training establishments while its crews were returned to 3./KGzbV 108.

All the aircraft of this unit wore Stammkennzeichen


  1. Other sources - (The Battle of France Then and Now - Peter Cornwell, J-P.Pallud-Blitzkrieg in the West Then and Now:120, 123-24; W.Green-Warplanes:276.) suggest that there were no losses or damage to the 12 He 59s

© H.L. deZeng IV & A. Thompson, 2024