Messerschmitt Bf 109 E-1

Red 13, flown by Oberfeldwebel Josef "Joschi" Pöhs, 2./JG 76, Stubendorf/Germany, 17 September 1939

Josef "Joschi" Pöhs was born on 14 March 1912 at Altkettenhof in the Schwechat region of Austria. He joined the Luftstreitkräft in 1934 and served in the aerobatic team.

Following the annexation of Austria on 12 March 1938, Pöhs transferred to the Luftwaffe serving with JG 138 initially. On 1 May 1939, JG 138 was redesignated JG 76.

At the outbreak of World War II, Pöhs was serving with 2./JG 76. He participated in the invasion of Poland. And on this day he was forcedt to belly land his Messerschmitt at Kamien, 60 km southeast of Breslau (Wroclaw) due to FLAK damage. Already on the 14th September I./JG 76 started their trasfere back to Germany ending up in Wien-Apen on 26 September 1939.

Thereafter "Joschi" Pöhs participated in the French campaign and the Battle of Britain. On 4 July 1940, 2./JG 76 was redesignated 5./JG 54. By the end of the Battle of Britain, Pöhs had seven victories to his credit.

Pöhs served with 5./JG 54 during the invasion of the Balkans. He recorded a victory over a Yugoslavian Blenheim twin-engine bomber during the campaign. The unit later relocated to Russia where Pöhs was to be particularly successful.

He claimed two Russian SB-2 twin-engine bombers shot down on 22 June 1941, the opening day of Operation Barbarossa, to record his 10th and 11th victories. On 13 July, Pöhs claimed two Russian DB-3 twin-engine bombers shot down to record his 19th and 20th victories.

Leutnant Pöhs was awarded the Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross) on 6 August 1941 for 28 victories achieved in 225 missions. On 11 August, he shot down three enemy aircraft (29-31). He recorded his 40th victory on 7 September. In September 1941, Pöhs was transferred to the Ergänzungsgruppe/JG 54 to undertake instructing duties.

He was transferred to Ergänzung-Jagdgruppe Ost in February 1942. In June 1942, Pöhs was ordered to Erprobungstelle Rechlin and, later, he joined Wolfgang Späte at Erprobungskommando 16, where he assisted in the development of the Me 163 rocket-powered fighter.

On 30 December 1943, Pöhs was killed when the undercarriage dolly of his Me 163A V8 "CD + IM" (W.Nr. 163 000 0005) bounced higher than normal following release and struck the underside of the aircraft rupturing a T-Stoff fuel line thus prompting an installed safety device to shut down the engine.

In attempting to return to Bad Zwischenahn one of the wings clipped the tower of the radio ground station antenna causing the aircraft to cartwheel into the ground where it exploded. "Joschi" Pöhs was credited with 43 victories in approximately 300 missions. He recorded 35 victories over the Eastern front.

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