Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4

Yellow 3, flown by Oberfeldwebel Leopold "Poldi" Steinbatz, Barwenkowo/USSR, 20 May 1942

"Batzi" joined the Austrian Air Force's aviator training regiment in 1937 and was then transferred to the German Air Force in 1938. His flying training began in August 1939.
In November 1940, Feldwebel Leopold "Poldi" Steinbatz was assigned to 9./JG 52 (later known as the "Karaya Staffel") and flew as wingman to Hermann Graf. During the Balkan campaign and the Crete operation, he distinguished himself particularly through successful low-level attacks. On 4 August 1941 he claimed his first Abschuss on the Eastern Front and four months later, on 27 December 1941 he managed to chalk up his 32nd kill.

After his 42nd victory on 8 January 1942, he was awarded the Knight's Cross and on 20 February was promoted to Oberfeldwebel. At the end of April 1942, after a well deserved leave he returned back to the Eastern front, where "Poldi" immediately picked up his scoring run by shooting down 6 VVS opponents. In May 1942, Steinbatz claimed 39 kills over the Crimea, Kerch, Sevastopol and Kharkov area, achieving no fewer than 7 kills in one mission on 8 May. On 1 June his 87th opponent fell to his fire and the next day, he was awarded the Oak Leaves.

Flying to the point of complete exhaustion, he only allowed himself short breaks as he strived to reach the landmark of 100 kills before his next well-deserved spell of leave.

On 15 June, 1942, he downed his 99th enemy aircraft on the Eastern Front. However, overflying an area of woodland as he returned to base, his Bf 109 was hit by Russian anti-aircraft fire and Leopold "Poldi" Steinbatz was seen to crash north-west of Woldschanks. He died in the crash.

Posthumously promoted to Leutnant, "Batzi" also received the posthumous award of the Swords to his Oak Leaves for his 99 confirmed victories in around 300 combat missions.

My comments regarding this profile: There is a photo of this machine, that on the back it read, that this was Lt. Köppens machine photographed in June 1942 after he claimed his 77th abschüsse. This was simply impossible since his 76-77 claims was filed on 1 May 1942 and by June 1942 he was filed as MIA.

The Yellow 3 numerals on the fuselage also suggest that this was an machine from 9,/JG 52 and not from Köppens Staffel, the 7./JG 52. My guess is instead that the machine in the photo was of Obfw. Steinbatz machine when he returned after scoring his 77th on 20 May 1942.

Its known that Steinbatz flew by others in Yellow 2, Its also known that Köppen flew in Black 5 and White 4, but who knows? as high scoring experten they could have picked whatever machine needed for any mission.

This is one of the profile that I will include in my upcoming Profile book No 14 "Experten Stories of JG 52", due to be published in March 2023.

Work in progress of my Experten Stories of JG 52 book No 14

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