Kampfgeschwader 54


Kampfgeschwader 54

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=Kampfgeschwader 54


caption=
dates=1939-1945
country=Germany
allegiance=flagicon|Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
branch=Luftwaffe
type=Bomber Wing
role= Tactical and Direct Ground Support.
size=Air Force Wing
command_structure=
current_commander=
garrison=
ceremonial_chief=
colonel_of_the_regiment=
nickname= Totenkopf
patron=
motto=
colors=
identification_symbol=
march=
mascot=
battles=
notable_commanders=
anniversaries=
decorations=
battle_honours=

Kampfgeschwader 54 "Totenkopf" (KG 54) was a Luftwaffe bomber wing during World War Two.Its units participated on all of the fronts in the European Theatre until it was disbanded in May 1945. It operated two of the major German bomber types; the Heinkel He 111 and the Junkers Ju 88. Its unit insignia, displayed on a shield-like device, bore a strikingly close graphic resemblance to that of the 3rd SS Panzer Division, known by the same name.

History

"Kampfgeschwader 54" was formed on 1 May 1939 at Fritzlar, Germany with "Stab"./KG 54, II "Gruppe" and III "Gruppe". I "Gruppe" were not formed until December 1939 near Hoya.

War Time Service


=Poland=

Only "2 Staffel" of "I Gruppe" particpated in the invasion. The rest of the unit did not participate during the campaign. Instead it was put on standby in western Germany, incase of Allied attack. Among the targets were Troop concentrations against Praha on 10 September, and Brest-Litovsk on 15 September. The "Staffel" was withdrawn on 20 September [de Zeng "et al", Vol. 1, 2007, p. 178.] .

Denmark and Norway

Only II./KG 54 participated, and was put under the command of "X FliegerKorps". The "Gruppe" targeted rail links at Dombås-Åndalsnes-Vaalebru, Norway, on 23 April. The "Gruppe" also attacked Dombås railway station on 26 May, and retreating British forces at Namos [de Zeng "et al", Vol. 1, 2007, p. 183.] .


=France and the Low Countries=

KG 54 began the campaign in the west with a strength of 106 He 111s and Ju 88s, with 80 Servicable [de Zeng "et al" 2007, p. 177, 178, 183, 188.] . KG 54 lost 46 bombers, 130 personnel killed, 10 missing, 60 wounded and 188 as POW (some were later released). KG 54 dropped 409 tons of bombs in 1,200 sorties. [de Zeng "et al" Vol 1, 2007, p. 177.]

Battle of Britain

On 11 July IV.(Erg)/KG 54 was created at Lechfeld using some personnel from III./KG 54. Equipped with Ju 88As and He 111Ps the "Staffel" was renamed 10.(Erg)/54.The unit lost 265 killed, 121 missing, 63 as POWs and 65 wounded as well as 62 aircraft during the operation. [de Zeng "et al", Vol.1, 2007, p. 177.] I./KG 54 flew 1,189 missions, and lost 27 aircraft and another 27 damaged in July 1940 - May 1941. [de Zeng "et al", Vol.1, 2007, p. 179.] III./KG 54 lost 9 aircraft, 12 personnel killed, and one wounded (POW figures unknown). [de Zeng "et al", Vol.1, 2007, p. 188.] KG 54 flew thousands of sorties during the Blitz, hitting targets all over the United Kingdom, including targets as far away as Glasgow, Scotland and Belfast, Northern Ireland in April and May 1941. [de Zeng "et al", Vol.1, 2007, p. 184.]


=Channel Front: Atlantic Duties, 1941=

During its time on in France, II./KG 54 also attempted to support the German battleship Bismarck during her Atlantic operation during 26-28 May 1941. However, the unit was unable to intervene before she sank.


=Russia: Operation Barbarossa"=

The KG 54 comitted 70 aircraft to the initial attack, with 64 serviceable.On 22 June it attacked airfields at Ovruch and Korosten, in support of Army Group South. The unit also struck Soviet tank concentrations at Lubysza and Rawa Ruzka on 23 June, and Tarnopol on 30 June. Througout July KG 54 supported the advance toward Kiev. Rail tragets at Zhitomir-Kiev, Kazatin-Fastov, Fastov-Kiev, Korosten-Novograd and Korsun between 8-13 July. [de Zeng "et al", Vol.1, 2007, p. 179-84.] II./KG 54 lost 12 aircraft during July, during the same period I./KG 54 lost 19. [de Zeng "et al", Vol.1, 2007, p. 185.] II./KG 54 lost 24 bombers and 20 damaged. It lost 39 crew members killed, 37 missing, 2 as POWs and 28 wounded. [de Zeng "et al", Vol.1, 2007, p. 186.]

1942

II./KG 54, the only unit of the "Geschwader" to operate on the front after "Barbarossa", participated in the Battle of Kharkov(the unit had participated in two of the three battles for the city during the war, in 1941 and 1942) and the Battle of Stalingrad. It reported 32 aircraft losses and 20 damaged, suffered 31 killed, 57 missing and 29 wounded. No personnel were recorded as captured. [de Zeng "et al", Vol.1, 2007, p. 186.] The "Geschwader" was withdrawn from Russia on 8 October 1942.


=Channel Front: 1942=

II./KG 54 briefly returned to British skies in 1942. Between 29 July and 14 August 1942 it lost 6 bombers on missions against Bedford, Birmingham, Norwich, Southend, Hastings and Luton. [de Zeng "et al", Vol.1, 2007, p. 186.] It returned to the Eastern Front on 17 August 1942.


=Mediterranean, Middle East and African theatres=

I./KG 54 supported the "Afrika Korps" from December 1941 - February 1943. The unit flew missions in North Africa and from bases in Sicily against Malta, and later Allied supply convoys. In December 1942 the "Gruppe" was down to just 50 percent of its authorised strength. After refitting in Germany, the "Gruppe" returned to Italy. I./KG 54 then attacked ports along the Allied held coast of North Africa until December.II./KG also operated in North Africa from October 1942 - May 1943. The "Gruppe" lost 30 machines before its withdrawal.II./KG 54 then continued operating throughout the Italian Campaign, making all out efforts against Allied shipping, with LT 350 torpedos in the Gulf of Naples. The "Gruppe" lost 18 Ju 88s during these operations. [de Zeng "et al", Vol.1, 2007, p. 187.]


=The Western front, the Normandy Campaign and "Operation Steinbock"=

I./KG 54 lost 15 aircraft in February-March alone during "Steinbock". Operating from bases in northern Germany (Wittmund-Jever), the "Gruppe" was rushed to Juvincourt on 6 June 1944, due to the Normandy landings. I./KG 54 operated against the British beachheads, but suffered heavy losses. After just 5 days, I./KG 54 had lost 13 machines, and II./KG 54 lost a further 10. All "Gruppes" were withdrawn from the Western Front in September 1944. [de Zeng "et al", Vol.1, 2007, p. 183-190.] The "Geschwader" began to convert to the Messerschmitt Me 262 during this period.

References

Bibliography

*Bergström, Christer (2007). "Barbarossa - The Air Battle: July-December 1941". London: Chervron/Ian Allen. ISBN 978-1-85780-270-2.
*Bergstrom, Christer (2007). "Stalingrad - The Air Battle: November 1942 - February 1943". London: Chervron/Ian Allen. ISBN 978-1-85780-276-4 .
*Bergström, Christer (2007). "Kursk - The Air Battle: July 1943". London: Chervron/Ian Allen. ISBN 978-1-903223-88-8.
* de Zeng, H.L; Stanket, D.G; Creek, E.J. Bomber Units of the Luftwaffe 1933-1945; A Reference Source, Volume 1. Ian Allen Publishing, 2007. ISBN 978-1-85780-279-5


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