Profile no 41. Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 trop

Black 4, W.Nr.8653, flown by Leutnant Hans-Joachim Kirschner, 5./JG 3, Frolow/USSR, 7 August 1942

Joachim Kirschner could be characterized as a slow starter. He joined the Jagdwaffe in August of 1941, when he reported to 1.(Erg)/JG 3. His score would not take off until one year later during the German summer offensive in the East. On 21 May 1942 when with 5./JG 3 he downed his third adversary, a VVS DB-3 bomber. Flying in this machine he would add another 19 victories in little more than a month, scoring his 22nd against a LaGG-3 on 27 July. Thereafter on this day, 7 August, after experiencing engine-problems he was forced to belly-land his "Black 4" sustaining 60% damage, more or less a write-off. Two days later he downed another four VVS aircraft. Thereafter a string of successful missions followed, and on 3 December 1942, he received the German Cross in Gold. On 23 December 1942, he was awarded the Ritterkreuz for 51 victories. On 27 April 1943, Kirschner was credited with his 100th aerial victory, an A-20 Boston bomber. And finally, on 2 August 1943, he received the Eichenlaub for a total of 170 aerial victories. He would fly his last combat mission on 17 December 1943. After being bounced by USAAF P-47 Thunderbolts. Hptm Kirschner's Bf 109 G-6 was hit hard but he managed leave his crippled machine by parachute. After Kirschner had landed between the villages of Bjelojevici and Donje Hrasno in former Yugoslavia, he saluted his capturers and gave them his weapon. Then he was taken to the village of Grab, tied to a peach tree and promptly shot by a firing squad. Hauptmann Hans Joachim Kirschner is credited with a total of 188 kills, but he also achieved notable success against ground targets, destroying 58 trucks, two locomotives, an armored car, an ammunition train, and 22 aircraft on the ground, all in about 600 combat missions.

This Bf 109 F-4 trop was one of many destined for North Africa, but as the German summer offensive was to be launched in the East, many desert-camouflaged machines ended up in units such as JG 77 and JG 3. It is interesting to note that another machine in 5./JG 3 had much the same RLM 78/79 camouflage scheme, that of Obfw. Alfred Heckmann´s Friedrich with its green overspray, probably in RLM 80. Note also that this aircraft, just like Heckman's, displays markings of both the Geschwader and the Gruppe.

This is the 41st caption for Profie Book No 11

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