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Jagdgeschwader 54 "Grünherz" or JG 54 was a fighter wing that served under the Luftwaffe during WWII. It was originally formed in July of 1939 and in the end, became the second highest scoring Luftwaffe unit during the war. For combat operations, the wing mainly flew the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Focke Wulf Fw 190 but was notable for using camouflage patterns more similar to that of bombers compared to others used at the time.

Commanders

The first commander of JG 54 Grünherz was Martin Mettig who had kept his command for a short time, ending in August of 1940. Replacing him would be Hannes Trautloft who himself would maintain command until 1943.[1] Trautloft was one of the more influential commanders of the wing. He had been a favorite among pilots, especially during the Battle of Britain and had even created the original Green Heart insignia, taking inspiration from his home in Thüringen, often called the "Green heart of Germany". Taking command after him, for several months would be Hubertus von Bonin before he was replaced by Anton Mader for a year. The final commander of the fighter wing was Dieter Hrabak.

Stucture

The structure of JG 54 like any other Luftwaffe fighter wing consisted of four different squadrons that each had separate commanding officers throughout the war, though all reported to the head of the fighter wing. These squadrons were I/JG 54, II/JG 54, III/JG 54, and IV/JG 54.

Unit History

JG 54's first combat operation was in September of 1939, taking part in the invasion of Poland. JG 54's main tast during this time was to ensure the safety of Stuka pilots flying to destroy Polish ground targets. Following the closure of the campaign in Poland, JG 54 was relocated to the west in preparation for the German invasions of France and the low countries.[2]   Once again, JG 54 found itself in escort duty of heavier bombers against French ground targets. Limited aerial kills were observed during the campaign and in the mean time, the division was sent to Holland for a rest period before again being sent into combat. However, the wing still carried out important duties in defending against RAF attacks in the newly secured territory.

Bf109G-2 IIIJG54 1942-800

Two Bf 109G-2 fighters of III/JG 54 in 1943.

The Battle of Britain proved to be one of the more extensive campaigns that the wing served in. By 1941, the wing was recalled again to the east where it participated heavily in the fighting in the Soviet Union. From that point on, JG 54 was fundamentally stationed in the East for the rest of the war. As such, most of the aerial victories won by the wing were collected here. The wing itself participated in various battles and served mainly as a support to the German forces serving in its region. In 1943, part of the fighter wing was ordered to the Western Front where III/JG 54 remained while the rest of the wing continued to serve until capture in the Courland Pocket.

References

  1. http://www.ww2.dk/air/jagd/jg54.htm
  2. Weal. John. Jagdgeschwader 54 Grünherz. Osprey Publishing (2001), Page 18


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