Gott mit uns. It was imprinted on the buckle of every German soldier: “God with us.” And so it seemed that day in 1946. From the abyss of disaster in late 1944, the Third Reich won a seemingly heaven-sent reprieve in the wake of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s assassination. With Russia descending into civil war, a de-facto cease fire had allowed the Wehrmacht to concentrate against the West. And there the lines had remained with little movement either way—an appalling replay of the Western Front of the Great War.
Oberstleutnant Karl-Heinz Schumacher commanded one of the smallest wings in the Luftwaffe, but perhaps the most noteworthy. Wearing the Ritterkreuz with Oak Leaves, his Jagdgeschwader 402 possessed only two Gruppen: a training unit of two Staffel for transition to the P.1101/1106, and a tactical group with three squadrons. Presently, only two of the latter were rated operational, awaiting more aircraft at Brandis Airfield, 200 miles east of Berlin.
The program had encountered numerous delays, but first flight had been achieved in the summer of 1945. Making 610mph, the Messerschmitt super fighter was expected to sweep Reich skies of Ami bomber task forces.
Schumacher strode to the front of the briefing room, walls bedecked with maps, tactical and communication information, aircraft silhouettes, and some fetching Anglo-American pinups retrieved from downed bombers. Whatever anyone could say about the Amis and the Tommis who routinely burned cities to the ground, apparently, they produced some exceptional females.
From the ceiling, scale models of German and Allied aircraft rotated on their strings. All were conventional designs, piston-powered, except for an Me 262 and Ar 234. However, the Kommodore had something new to share. He held up a silver-painted streamlined shape.
By Barrett Tillman
Read the article from the October 2012 issue of Flight Journal. click here.