|Size||Air Force Wing|
|Engagements||World War II|
SKG 210 had its origins in Erprobungsgruppe 210 (‘Test Wing 210’), formed at Köln-Ostheim airfield under the command of Hptm. Walter Rubensdorffer in July 1940. The unit initially raised to oversee the testing and operational development of the newly introduced Messerschmitt Me 210. However, such were the delays in that aircraft’s development that the unit was utilised to develop tactical and strategic practices required to operate the in-service Bf 110 in the fighter-bomber and ground-attack role.
1. Staffel was formed from 1 staffel, Zerstörergeschwader 1 (ZG 1—1st Destroyer Wing) commanded by Hptm. Martin Lutz, a Spanish war veteran with 2 confirmed kills. 2. Staffel was formed from the already battle-seasoned 3. Staffel, Sturzkampfgeschwader 77 (StG 77—77th Dive Bomber Wing) under Oblt. Wilhelm-Richard Rössiger. 3. Staffel had its origins within 4 (jagd)./Träger Gruppe.186. This unit was originally raised to equip the German aircraft-carrier Graf Zeppelin, which was launched in 1938 but never commissioned. Using the Bf 110C-6 (equipped with the MG-101 30mm cannon), the Bf 110D-0 and Bf 109E-4B fighter bombers, the unit carried out anti-shipping operations during the initial stages of the Battle of Britain.
Switching to low level precision bombing operations in August, Erprobungsgruppe 210 targeted Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter airfields, often using the element of surprise due to their low level approach and causing extensive damage. Losses could be often high however, as on 15 August 1940 when the unit lost 6 Bf 110s and a Bf 109, including Hptm. Rubensdorffer.
By the time the unit was re-designated I. Gruppe, Schnellkampfgeschwader 210 in April 1941 the unit was based at Abbeville, undertaking missions against shipping and land-based targets. The unit, comprising Stab., I. and II. gruppen, then moved East to prepare for the attack on Soviet Russia as part of Fliegerkorps II and originally based at Radzyn.
Some 50 servicable Bf 110s took part in Operation Barbarossa from two units; Zerstörergeschwader 26 and Schnellkampfgeschwader 210. The Bf 110 gave valuable support to the German Army, carrying out strike missions in the face of heavy AA and ground defences. In the opening air strikes, on 22 June, SKG 210 claimed 344 Soviet aircraft destroyed, more than any other unit, for the loss of 7 Bf 110s destroyed and damaged. A large number of ground kills were achieved by these Bf 110 units in the east. SKG 210 flew over the Central part of the front supporting the German army's encirclement and overrunning of Russian land forces in the Bialystok and Minsk areas in the early phase of the campaign, and flew in support of the advancing Army Group Centre advance to Moscow in 1941. Between 22 June 1941 and 26 July 1941 the unit claimed to have destroyed 823 Soviet aircraft on the ground and 92 in the air, 2,136 vehicles and 165 tanks destroyed for 57 Bf 110s lost to enemy action.
With the coming of winter SKG 210 continued to operate in support of the army, covering their retreat.
As part of 1./SKG 210 Leutnant Eduard Tratt flew numerous ground attack and fighter missions during 1941 and had claimed another 9 air victories over Soviet aircraft by the end of 1941.
- Major Walter Storp, 24 April 1941 – 30 September 1941
- Major Arved Crüger, 30 September 1941 – January 1942
- Hauptmann Karl-Heinz Stricker, 24 April 1941 – 13 September 1941
- Major Ulrich Diesing, 15 September 1941 – January 1942
- Hauptmann Rolf Kaldrack, April 1941 – January 1942
- Bergström 2007, p. 19.
- Bergström 2007, p. 50.
- "Sting of the Luftwaffe: Schnellkampfgeschwader 210 and Zerstorergeschwader 1 "Wespengeschwader" in World War II" (Schiffer Military History), John J. Vasco.
- Bergström, Christer. Barbarossa - The Air Battle: July–December 1941, London: Chervron/Ian Allen, 2007 . ISBN 978-1-85780-270-2.
|This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).|