Much has been written about the Jagdwaffe's poor performance during the battles over the Mediterranean during 1943-44. The top brass in Berlin accuse the fighter pilots of cowardice and Göring wanted to court-martial his pilots. As everyone now knows, with a leader of the Luftwaffe like Richmarchall Hermann Göring, it all fizzled out and came to nothing. Perhaps with the historical hindsight we now have, with all rights.
After all, it was in the Mediterranean area that the Western Allies during 1943 to 1944 launched their thrusts, first in Libya, then Tunisia, followed by Sicily and finally the main land of Italy. A fight of attrition they knew the German air-force and Army could not withstand.
As always, the German military force, the Wehrmacht, was undersized for their task, lacking both the material and personnel resources to withstand the onslaught. The pilots of the Jagdwaffe who took part in the battles in the Mediterranean, despite their inferiority, did everything they possible could, resulting in own terrible losses.
Its amazing to acknowledge that during this period the German fighter pilots considered themselves superior to their Western-allied opponents, despite own crippling losses in the air-battle they continued to out preform their adversaries in the air, claiming more Allied aircraft than their own losses.
One of the German Jagdgeschwaders involved in the fierce fighting in 1943-44 was JG 53. During this period their losses were very heavy, totaling 542 write offs with another 353 fighters damaged due to all causes. Resulting in 105 pilots killed, 160 wounded, 88 missing in action and another 16 taken prisoner.
These were very noticeable pilot losses, more than two times their establishment, all lost during their 18 months of fighting in the Mediterranean teatre. The JG 53 losses due to air-combats during this period amounted to 267 Bf 109s, at the same time the pilots in the Geschwader claimed no less than 607 enemy aircraft shot down.
This MTT built Bf 109 G-6 "Gelb 8" was flown by (Officer candidate) FhjFw. Kurt Braasch who during the Campaign over Southern Italy on 31 August 1943 amassed his 10th confirmed victory, a USAAF P-40.
However more important for the I. Gruppe of JG 53, it was the 3rd Staffeln 500 victory. A feat that was duly celebrated with photos of him, his aircraft and the Staffeln pilots.
Kurt Braasch would fly his last combat mission on 2 April 1944, after attacking USAAF B-24s SE of Laibach (Ljubljana) in Slovenia he was downed and is still listed as missing in action. By this time the tally stood at 13 Abschusse.
Note the "overpainted"
wavy line behind the fuselage cross, a sign that this Bf 109
had previously belonged to III./JG 27.