Focke Wulf Fw 190 D-9

Black 1, W.Nr. 211143, flown by Oberstleutnant Erwin Bacsila Stab IV./JG 3, Prenzlau/Germany, February 1945

During the summer of 1944 the situation became so desperate for the German air defenses that special assault units ­ Sturmgruppen ­were created using the heavily armed and armoured Fw 190 A-8/R2. The first of these new Sturm units was IV./JG 3, into which the 'test unit for the new assault tactic, Sturmstaffel 1 had been incorporated. The first Sturm pilots took an oath that they would carry out their attacks on the bombers to within the closest possible range, and if this was impossible, they would attempt to take down the bomber by ramming. At the same time the pilot was to make every effort to ensure that the attack left them with the possibility of escape. Between 7 July 1944 and the end of March 1945 this tactic would be rather successful and result in the destruction of around 500 four-engine bombers.

By February 1945 JG 3 was one of the Luftwaffe fighter units that together with most of the Jagdwaffe was hastily transferred to the Eastern Front. There IV./JG 3 conducted their initial missions form Prezlau, 60 km northeast of the capital Berlin. By this time the Gruppe had within its ranks a very limited number of experienced pilots, and was mostly filled with very young and inadequately trained pilots. It should also be taken into account that their missions were more than often compromised by a critical shortage of fuel. In IV./JG 3's case however, it was numerically far superior and at least equivalent technically to the another Gruppen within the Jagdwaffe. Skillfully led, and despite the average level of pilot training, their operations in the East in 1945 were rather successful and had some, albeit brief, impact. Indeed, during the last three months of the war combatting the numerically superior Soviet air force, the VVS, IV./JG 3 claimed at least 130 victories.

The Austrian Erwin Bacsila had acquired significant experience with Sturmstaffel 1 ­ later integrated into IV./JG 3 - having joined it in November 1943. He was also the first pilot in this unit to be awarded the first confirmed victory in downing a USAAF B-17 bomber on 30 January 1944 for his 15th Abschuss. However later in April 1944, he was wounded in the arm and subsequently declared unfit for combat. Major Bacsila was to be one of the last Gruppenkommandeure of IV./JG 3 when he took command of the Gruppe on 5 January 1945.

Erwin Bacsila had a long military career beginning in 1931 when he was accepted into the Austrian army, initially served in the artillery. He transferred to the Austrian Air Force on 1 September 1935, serving with a flak regiment with the rank of Leutnant. Bacsila later undertook flying training and flew as a reconnaissance pilot before converting to fighters. Following the German annexation of Austria, Bacsila was absorbed into the Luftwaffe and was promoted to the rank of Oberleutnant.

Bacsila would serve in units such as I./JG 333, later re-designated I./JG 54, then joining II./ZG 1, 11.(N)/LG 2, and 7./JG 52. Later, during the Soviet campaign in 1941 he was placed in temporary command of the entire JG 52. Thereafter he was posted to a number of staff positions before in September 1942 transferred to JG 77's Geschwaderstab. Then followed another stint in a staff position before being back in action in Sturmstaffel 1. After his recovery from his wounds Bacsila was posted to Erprobungskommando 16, then the Ergänzungsstaffel of JG 400 and I./JG 400 here flying the Me 163 rocket powered fighter. In November 1944, Bacsila was serving as a Staffelführer in JG 301. After leaving IV./JG 3 he was finally transferred, once again back to JG 400.

Lucky to have survived the war, Bacsila returned to Austria and Vienna where he passed away at 72 years old. Oberstleutnant Erwin Bacsila is credited with a total of 34 victories and eight unconfirmed victories during the war years. This machine was one of Stab IV./JG 3 and 14./JG 3's first Fw 190 D-9s they received during the early spring of 1945. It was definitely not a new Dora, and shows clear signs of being refurbished prior to being returned to an operational unit.

This is one of 130 profiles and captions that is include in my new Profile Book No 12, as profile No 104

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