"In respect of the photo of 2/JG 2, the
third from right is Hannig. First right is I believe Siegfried
Lemke, by comparing shape of nose, head hairline etc with a
similar profile view of Lemke in other photos. Second right may
be Lt Eickhoff."
(Information received courtesy by Russell Guest, sometime author of WWI books for Grub St, with Chris Shores and Norman Franks.)
If anybody is able to recognize other pilots - please write me!
The plane on the background is Focke Wulf Fw 190 A-4, is from I./JG 2 "Richthofen", based in the Cherbourg area, probably during the spring of 1943. Black "1" was a personal machine of Staffelkapitän Horst Hanning.
I have tried to recognize some of the pilots. It is possible that the fifth person from the left is Horst Hannig. He served as Oberleutnant and Staffelkapitän of 2./JG 2 during this period. Born in 1921 in Frankenstein/Silesia (today south-western Poland), Hannig joined 6./JG 54 "Grünherz" on the Eastern Front (Leningrad front) in the fall of 1941. He achieved his first 30 victories while he was still 19 years old (until 19 Nov 1941).
On 9 May 1942, Leutnant Hannig was awarded the Knight´s Cross (Ritterkreuz), having flown 200 missions and achieved 48 victories. Early in 1943 he became Staffelkapitän (squadron leader) of 2./JG 2 on the Channel Front. By then he had achieved 90 kills on the Eastern Front. In 2./JG 2 he achieved another 8 victories, including 1 four-engine U.S. heavy bomber.
Horst Hannig was killed when Jafü 3 directed most of I./JG 2 and I./JG 27 against the RAF Circus 297 operations that targeted Caen-Carpiquet Airdrome and Poix Airdrome on the afternoon of May 15, 1943. Mitchell bombers and Typhoon fighter-bombers of RAF 181 Squadron, escorted by Spitfires of Biggin Hill Wing and Northolt Wing, were tasked to attack Caen-Carpiquet Airdrome. Bostons with escorting Spitfires went against Poix.
Fw 190s of II./JG 2 bounced the Northolt Wing, which was flying top cover to the Mitchells, and in a quick high-side attack, Hauptmann Erich Rudorffer managed to shoot down Group Captain Stefan Pawlikowski and Sergeant Lewandowski - both of 315 Squadron.
Stefan Pawlikowski, the famous Polish pilot, was killed. His person is worth a few words because Pawlikowski was a real legend among the Polish fighter pilots! Born in 1896, he served already during WW1 with the French fighter forces. In 1918 he returned Poland and took part in the Polish-Soviet war. Pawlikowski was one of the main organizators of the Polish military aviation in the period between the world wars. In September 1939 he led the Persuit Brigade in the fighter defence of the Polish capital city (see the story: 1 September 1939 over Warsaw - The first air battle of WW2 ). In France, in 1940, Pawlikowski led the Polish fighter airbase Lyon-Bron. In Great Britan Pawlikowski, due his age, was ordered to organization & command functions, however the "old" pilot always keept an eye for every occasion to operational flights. On May 15, 1943, he took off in the 315 Squadron Spitfire IX LZ990...
315 Squadron's F/O Adam Swornikowski gave the following highly interesting eye-witness account:
"On 15th afternoon Piotr
Lewandowski and Col. Pawlikowski (C-in-C of Polish Fighter Command) didn't returned. Lewandowski was in my section,
flying as a Zielonka's wingman. F/Lt Marcisz, new Flight
Commander, led the section. Believe me, it was a miracle that
three of us returned.
We were over Caen (between Le Havre and Cherbourg). While crossing the coast at 18K, without prior notice from Ops, I had noticed some a/c about three miles behind us. When we were turning west this a/c were steeply climbing on our left, converting on us. I was sure everybody saw them since we were told to watch out after the first warning. We flew left section when they started to peel off. Calmly, I R/T e/a attacking thinking that everything was under control. I was shocked to see no reaction from a leader when it was a high time to dodge this attack. Now we know that his radio didn't work. Also, I was the only one to see them attacking from the right! So I moved by Marcisz, giving space to Kazik (F/Lt Zielonka) with Lewandowski to close on us. I was pushed even more to the right when Kazio reacted to my maneuver by banking right. Four FWs shot madly but luckily for us, their deflection was too long. Seeing canon projectiles in front of us, Marcisz dived to the right, while sliding under me Lewandowski, put his tail right in the gun sights of yet another pair of Focke-Wulfs. I saw them in the last moment only because I monitored Lewandowski in order not to collide with him. I zoomed to the left and he was already smoking heavily going down. One of these two went after me, even closed up to 70 yards, but didn't have a good shot at me since I was going nearly vertically. He gave a short burst and went into the spin. Now, I was pursuing him and after stopping my spin I had him in gun sight. Intuitively, I took a quick look behind where to my horror, I saw four Fockes on my tail. Thanks God, I didn't panic and let them know that I see them. I leveled at full speed and waited till the moment, when the one leading "line astern" formation, was ready for a deflection shot when I turned toward them. Only he gave a burst but far behind my tail where he himself passed. I wanted to bite him back but he was already flipped over going down while the other three were climbing. Maneuvering carefully, I had managed to reach the supercharger level and I pressed home, without any game.
I think that if I had started to run, right after deciding not to shoot at my target, they would've split from their "line astern" formation and got me for sure. This all happened while flying on your "T" which is my "kite" now. She is fatigued and lacks oomph.
Pawliowski flew as a guest with Wing Commander K (Kolaczkowski). Both got stalked and the first one got lost after the turn, at the time as "Bloczek" (F/Lt Blok) was trouncing one."
(the relation from the letter published on Ratuszynski's 315 Squadron Site. )
In fact P/O Blok, flying Spitfire IX, EN172 PK-K, shot down 1 Focke Wulf.
Meanwhile, Oberleutnant Hannig led his 2./JG 2 in a climb from Triqueville to catch up with the retreating Mitchells. Hannig was so anxious to catch up with the bombers that he left his wingman far behind. Also, he apparently failed to notice the menace from the Biggin Hill Wing Spitfires above. Squadron Leader J.Charles led Yellow Section of 611 Squadron into the attack, while Cmdt. Mouchotte of 341 Squadron turned his section to cut off any Fw 190 that would attempt to avoid Charles's attack. Sqn Ldr Charles directed his Spitfires against two Fw 190s as they dived toward Caen and saw strikes from cannon foreon the rear Focke-Wulf. He then turned his attention against the leader - who was Horst Hannig. Hannig desperately turned tightly, but had no chance to avoid Charles's attack from above. Hannig's Fw 190 took the full blast from the Spitfire's guns. One of its wings came off and it cartwheeled to earth. Thus, the Biggin Hill Wing scored its 1,000th victory. At around the same time, Cmdt. René Mouchotte (KIA August 27, 1943) shot down a third Fw 190.
In total, I./JG 2 claimed six victories and lost four pilots on May 15, 1943. I./JG 27 claimed one victory for no losses.
The following German pilots claimed victories during those engagements:
Hauptmann Erich Rudorffer, II./JG 2: 2
Oberleutnant Horst Hannig, 2./JG 2: 1 Spitfire.
An unknown pilot of 3./JG 2: 1 Spitfire.
4./JG 2: Two victories.
Oberfeldwebel Rainer Pöttgen, 3./JG 27: 1 Spitfire.
On 3 January 1944, Horst Hannig was awarded the Oak Leaves (Eichenlaub) to the Knight´s Cross posthumously. Finally Hannig scored 98 victories in 350 sorties.
Below is another portrait of Horst Hannig, in France, dated on spring of 1943. Soon before death...
Here is a colour profile of FW 190 A-4 visible on the topic snap. This is Hannig's Fw 190 A-4, Werknummer 734, originally marked "TR + ZH", which was delivered to JG 2 in November 1942.
2000.11.12, © WW II Ace Stories.