Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-4

Flown by Leutnant Max-Helmuth Ostermann, 7./JG 54, Guines/France, 8 October 1940


Hawker Hurricane MK I

Flown by Sergeant Josef Frantisek, No 303 Squadron, Northolt/England, 8 October 1940

In October the Battle of Britain enters a new phase, what historians later called the "The race for height" the time when the fighter pilots on both sides try to get a tactical advantage by attacking from height superiority. The air-battles was during this time fought at a hight as high as 10.000 meters or 30 000- 35 000 feet, the lower edge ot the dark blue stratosphere. Adolf Galland remembered: "My personal record was 8 200 meters, but I saw Messerschmitts and Spitfires combatting at hights higher than 9 000 meters.

However during the same time period, bomb laden Bf 109:s continued their attack on the British Iles. On the 8th of October Leutenant Max-Helmut Osterman from 7./JG 54 took of from Guines to join a large group of Bf 109:s from JG 54, of which eleven where carrying bombs, for a mission against London. As no British fighters rose to attack the bombs where dropped over London.

However on their return flight the germans was involved in a clash with numerically inferior British fighters. Max- Helmut manage to attack an hit one of the enemy fighters. At the same time a Hurricane crashed in the same area near Sutton, west of Croydon. This machine was flown by the leading RAF Ace at this time, the Czech Sergeant Josef Frantisek from 303 Sqn, who was thrown out of his cockpit and was killed instantly.

Josef Frantisek, had at the time of his death manage to shot down 17 German machines and another probably, in just four weeks time. To this one should add the 10 to 11 victories he manage to chalk up during his spell as a fighter pilot in France, a truly great fighter pilot.

Max-Helmut Osterman on the other side, had manage to score two Abschuss during the French campaign, and added six more during the Battle of Britain. He would continue to fight the Yugoslavian Air Force and then the VVS during the USSR campaign. Here he was able to score another 94 Abschuss before he was shot down and killed in a dogfight with Soviet fighter pilots in the vicinity of Amossovo on August 9th 1942.

© Claes Sundin 2016