Gerhard Barkhorn - World War II - Defense of The Reich

Defense of The Reich

On 16 January 1945 Barkhorn was assigned as Geschwaderkommodore to Jagdgeschwader 6 (JG 6), a unit assigned to defend the Reich and equipped with the Focke-Wulf Fw 190D,(although he preferred to retain his Bf 109G as well). JG 6 was a unit consisting mostly of new recruits and former Bf-110 pilots; it suffered heavy losses against the American air fleets. Barkhorn did not last long in this position and was forced to take a medical absence because of severe physical and mental strain.

After his hospitalization Barkhorn was invited by Adolf Galland to join the elite Jagdverband 44 (JV 44) flying the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet-fighter. He found flying the Me 262 over the western front difficult and he did not score any victories in it. On 21 April 1945, he flew his 1104th and last mission. One of the engines of his aircraft flamed out as he was approaching an enemy bomber formation and he was forced to make an emergency landing. As he approached the airfield, his jet was attacked by several prowling P-51 fighters; Barkhorn managed to land his burning plane though he received a slight wound as a result of this action when the cockpit canopy - which he slid back prior to crash landing - slammed forward on his neck. Taken prisoner by the Western Allies while still in hospital, he was released from Allied captivity in September 1945.

Barkhorn claimed 301 victories in 1,104 operational sorties. His total included 110 Yak fighters, 87 LaGG fighters, 21 Il-2s and 12 twin-engined medium bombers. He was shot down 9 times, bailed out once and was wounded 3 times.

Read more about this topic:  Gerhard Barkhorn, World War II

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