Messerschmitt Bf 109 B-1

Red 14, flown by Unteroffizier Reinhold Schmetzer, 5.(J)/186, Jever/Germany, late September 1939

II./186 (T) a Träger Gruppe was established in November 1938 as a carrier fighter unit that would have equipped Germany first carrier, the "Graf Zeppelin". The 4th Staffel in the Gruppe was equipped with the Ju 87 Stuka while Staffeln 5 and 6 receive the Bf 109. The unit first saw action in Poland and then in Norway, followed by the France campaign and finally in mid 1940 they flew in the home defense.

The two fighter Staffeln was far from successful, claiming just a manger 20 abshusse, losing 13 Bf 109s, five of them in combat, with four lost in air-combat and the fifth downed by flak. Three of the pilots pilost was killed, two was made POW and one pilot was lost in action.

However in this unit, beside Reinhold Schmetzer a number of other know Luftwaffe pilots experience their first battles in II./186, such as Emil Omert, Kurt Lasse, Wolf Dietrich Huy and Kurt Ubben. Finally after the carrier idea was shelved by the german high command this unit was finally incorporated in III./JG 77.

Reinhold Schmetzer would amassed a total of 35 confirmed victories before being shot down and killed over Catranico/Italy. His first victory was a Blenheim that he downed 60 km north of Terschelling on 5 May, 1940. His 2nd, a Dutch D-XXI on 10 May, 1940. His 3rd, and the final one in II./186, a RAF Hudson claimed on 18 May,

Note the Gruppe badge in front of the cockpit, the family crest of Count Zeppelin. Note also the oversized crosses on this Berta, an experience learnd from the Polish campaign, and the trigger happy German Flak crews.

This is one of the six profiles made this week by me, all of them including this profile would be published in my profile book No 13.

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