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Leutnant Fritz Rumpelhardt (deceased)
|From 1942 as an Unteroffizier, Fritz Rumpelhardt was radio operator to Heinz Wolfgang Schnaufer with NJG1 and NJG4. He participated in 100 night fighter victories with Schnaufer, and was the most successful night fighter radio-operator in the Luftwaffe. Fritz Rumpelhardt flew over 130 combat missions and was awarded the Knight's Cross in July 1944, and was nominated for the Oak Leaves in March 1945. Fritz Rumpelhardt passed away on 20th January 2011.|
Major Paul Zorner (deceased)
|Originally a transport pilot, Paul Zorner flew in North Africa, the Mediterranean and southern Russia before retraining as a nightfighter pilot, joining II./NJG2 in 1942 flying the Ju88. In December he took command of 2./NJG3 operating first the Do217 and then the Me110. At the beginning of 1943 he was squadron commander of 3./NJG3 and then 8./NJG3, which he led until April 1944, when he took command of III./NJG5, re-equipping with the Ju88G-6. In October 1944 he was promoted to become Kommander of II./NJG100. Paul Zorner was credited with 59 victories and was awarded the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves.|
Major Werner Hoffmann (deceased)
|Born in 1918, Werner Hoffman began flying gliders in 1932 before joining the Luftwaffe in 1936, being awarded his pilots bagde in June 1938. A month later, he was with 7./JG234 which, at the beginning of May 1939, became one of the first Destroyer units, I./ZG52. He was assigned to 4./ZG2 and took part in the Battle of France, scoring his first victory, a Spitfire, over Dunkirk. After being wounded, he served as a Staffelkapitan with Erganzungs Zerstorer Gruppe in Denmark, before retraining as a night fighter. Becoming Staffelkpitan of 5./NJG3, he took part in the Channel Dash operations. Hoffmann claimed two twin engine RAF bombers during the 1,000 bomber raid on the night of 25th - 26th June 1942, his first victories at night. In July 1943 he was appointed Gruppenkommandeur of I./NJG5. By the end of 1943, his victory total had increased to 18, but on 20th January 1944 his aircraft was damaged by a Lancaster bomber and he was forced to bale out. At the end of January 1944, he shot down three Halifaxes one night, followed by two Lancasters the following night. With further victories over four-engined bombers at night, his tally grew until the night of 16th - 17th March 1945, when his Ju88 was shot down by a Mosquito night fighter, thought to have been the 239 Sqn Mosquito of British Ace Dennis Hughes. He flew almost 200 missions, scoring 51 night and 1 day victories. Awarded the Knight's Cross in 1943, he was nominated for the Oak Leaves. Werner Hoffman passed away on 8th July 2011.|
Oberfeldwebel Gunther Bahr (deceased)
|Born 18th July 1921. Serving first as an instructor, he was posted to 6./SG210 (later 6./ZG1) on the Eastern Front until June 1942, when he retrained to fly night fighters. Posted first to NJG4 in August 1943, and then I./NJG6 where on the night of 21st/22nd February 1943 he shot down seven four-engined Russian bombers in one night, after claiming four victories on each of the two previous nights. Gunther Bahr flew over 90 night fighter missions, and was awarded the Knight's Cross in March 1945. He had achieved 37 air victories, including shooting down Norman Jackson VC. Sadly, Gunther Bahr passed away on 29th April 2009.|
Oberst Wolfgang Falck (deceased)
|At the outbreak of war Wolfgang Falck was Staffelkapitan of 8,/JG132 flying the Bf110 Zerstorer in the Polish Campaign. In Feb 1940 he became Kommandeur 1./ZG1 and led it during the Western campaign. From June 1940 Falck was appointed Kommodore NJG1, the largest Geschwader in the Luftwaffe. During this time the greatest Luftwaffe night Aces were under his command. In July 1943 he joined the staff of Luftflotte Recih where he was responsible for the day and night fighter defence of the Reich. In the autumn of 1944 he was made Fighter Leader in the Balkans, and later became head of staff for flying training. Wolfgang Falck flew 90 operations and was awarded the Knight's Cross. Died 13th March 2007.|
|The Aircraft :|
|Lancaster||The Avro Lancaster arose from the avro Manchester and the first prototype Lancaster was a converted Manchester with four engines. The Lancaster was first flown in January 1941, and started operations in March 1942. By March 1945 The Royal Air Force had 56 squadrons of Lancasters with the first squadron equipped being No.44 Squadron. During World War Two the Avro Lancaster flew 156,000 sorties and dropped 618,378 tonnes of bombs between 1942 and 1945. Lancaster Bomberss took part in the devastating round-the-clock raids on Hamburg during Air Marshall Harris' "Operation Gomorrah" in July 1943. Just 35 Lancasters completed more than 100 successful operations each, and 3,249 were lost in action. The most successful survivor completed 139 operations, and the Lancaster was scrapped after the war in 1947. A few Lancasters were converted into tankers and the two tanker aircraft were joined by another converted Lancaster and were used in the Berlin Airlift, achieving 757 tanker sorties. A famous Lancaster bombing raid was the 1943 mission, codenamed Operation Chastise, to destroy the dams of the Ruhr Valley. The operation was carried out by 617 Squadron in modified Mk IIIs carrying special drum shaped bouncing bombs designed by Barnes Wallis. Also famous was a series of Lancaster attacks using Tallboy bombs against the German battleship Tirpitz, which first disabled and later sank the ship. The Lancaster bomber was the basis of the new Avro Lincoln bomber, initially known as the Lancaster IV and Lancaster V. (Becoming Lincoln B1 and B2 respectively.) Their Lancastrian airliner was also based on the Lancaster but was not very successful. Other developments were the Avro York and the successful Shackleton which continued in airborne early warning service up to 1992.|
|Me110||The Bf-110 grew out of Herman Gorings specifications for a multipurpose aircraft capable of penetrating deep into enemy airspace to clear the sky of enemy fighters in advance of German bomber formations. The aircraft would also be utilized as a long range interceptor, and as a ground support and ground attack bomber. The Bf-110 prototype first flew in 1936. The prototype was under powered with its Daimier Benz DB 600A engines. Several months passed before a go ahead was given for large scale production which commenced in 1938. Utilizing improved DB 601 engines, the early production 110s were as fast as any single engine fighter at that time, and had superior fire power. Their biggest apparent weakness was in the areas of armor protection for the crew, and in terms of maneuverability when compared to single seat fighters. The 110 was produced in large numbers and in many different variants. The 110D was the long range model. An additional belly tank was fitted to that aircraft, with several later variants having the more traditional drop tanks. The first serious test for the Bf-110 came during the Battle of Britain. About 300 Bf-110s were involved. They became easy prey for Hurricane and Spitfire pilots, and Bf-109s were often required to assist the 110s in their own defense. On August 15, 1940, which became known as Black Tuesday, the Bf-110s were ravaged by the RAF, and for the month over 100 aircraft were lost. On the Eastern Front the Bf-110 performed admirably in the early stages of Operation Barbarossa. With the Soviet Air Force weakened in the first several weeks of the attack, 110s were effectively utilized in a ground attack role. Ultimately, the Luftwaffe re-equipped a significant number of its 110s as night fighters. The aircraft performed well in this role because it was a good gun platform with sufficient speed to overtake the RAF night bombers. Such night missions were typically carried out with no Allied fighter escort, so the 110 night fighters would not have to engage or elude Allied fighters in this role.|
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