Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 Trop

Flown by Hauptmann Gerhard Homuth, 3./JG 27, Agedabia/Libya, 9 January 1942


Curtiss P-40 E Kittyhawk Mk I

Flown by F/Sgt. Ronald "Ron" Henry Simes, No. 3 Squadron, Msus/Egypt, 9 January 1942


During January 1942, the two leading German fighter aces in North Africa was competing against each other which ultimately would result in open hostility between the two. One of those two pilots were the head of 3./JG 27, Hauptmann Gerhard Homuth and the another one was his subordinate, Leutnant Hans-Joachim Marseille.

Both were very different as persons, Homuth was a Prussian-styled officer, Marseille was openly unidisciplinary, long haired and sloppy dressed, and to make things even worse, they was simultaneously engaged in a race to see who would be the first "African" pilot to reach 40 victories.

Marseille who loathed Homuth simply ignored him as his Stafflekapitän and refused to acknowledge the chain of command by reporting to the Gruppenkommendeur for the I./JG 27, the easy-going Euduard Neumann. herby challenge Homuth´s direct authority. And although if Homuth praised Marseille openly as a great fighter pilot, he would gladly have reduce his rank and shipped him off from the continent.

However the situation would deteriorate even further by an incident on the 8th of February. This day Marseille scored his 37 th to 40 th abschuss, reaching his goal of 40 and at the same time beating his rival Homuth who's standing by that time was 39. After Marseille had landed his machine he invited one of his British victims to his tent for a chat.

After a pleasant chat (Marseille talked good English) he suddenly took of once again, of cause without notifying his commander, and all alone. When he retured, after another of his "missions of mercy", informing the enemy unit of the shot down pilot´s whereabouts, he was dressed down by Homuth who also imposed a two days flight ban for Marseille´s insubordination.

Marseille determined to follow his own rules, jumped into his Messerschmitt fighter and took off, circled the base, then dove down and strafed the ground in front of Homuth´s tent.

Homuth reaction was to write him down for a court-martial. However all this ended up to nothing, others than a few days of a fly ban and a denied promotion. As Werner Schroer commented: "Everyone knew that Marseille would have got away with anything, including murder, but then again most did not care. He was good, effective, and he raised the moral".

However, on 9 January, one month before this incident. Gerhard Homuth, flying with his wingman at 5000 meters manage to bounced the RAAF 3 Sqn over Marsa-el-Brega. At 14.15 he claimed a Curtiss P-40 and five minutes later he claimed another for his 37 th and 38 th victory.

The first victim in the engagement was the Australian fighter ace, Sgt, Ron Simes (5 destroyed, 1 probable and 1 damage victories) the second pilot shot down by Homuth was Geoff Chinchen. Ron Simes machine was seen by his fellow pilots "spinning as if he was hit". Chinchen was wounded and Simes was declared MIA.

Ronald Henry Simes, was posted to 3 RAAF squadron in 1941 as a Sergeant. On 8th January 1942, just after the unit had converted to Kittyhawks, he claimed three Italian fighters (one Cr 42 and two Mc 200) in a single engagement only to be killed the next day. Three months after he was was killed in action he was posthumously awarded a DFM, credited with six victories, although only five was recorded.

Gerhard Homuth on the another hand, finally manage to score his 40 victory on the 9th of February, the day after the "tent incident" with "the Star of Africa" the untouchable Hans-Joachim Marseille.

Please note that there is not any photos of Simes Kittyhawk, this profile is therefore based on other machines from this unit and period.


© Claes Sundin 2016