Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Erich Schmidt III./JG 53 RK July 1941 - ebay photo find #237

Erich Schmidt III./JG 53, RK 23 July 1941. Note, above forty seven Abschussbalken, his final tally. Currently on offer here

Below, members of his ground crew paint victory bar number 44 on the rudder of Erich Schmidt`s "Yellow 11". Surash, 27 August 1941.

(expired Ebay auction)

A previous ebay sale image of III./ JG 53 ace Lt. Erich Schmidt. The exploits of III./JG 53 over the fourteen week period from the launch of Barbarossa to the end of September 1941 have assumed legendary status - by the end of the first summer in the East, III./JG 53 had submitted claims for some 373 victories! But as Jean-Louis Roba has pointed out in his four-part history of JG 53 published by Lela Presse and discussed here

 "..operating over Heeresgruppe Mitte, this latter organisation seems to have largely abdicated its authority to 'adjudicate' in the claims confirmation process ".

While its defenders claim Wilcke's Gruppe - established by Mölders - was a nursery for Draufgänger, as evidenced by the three Ritterkreuze awarded in this short space of time, Roba continues;

 " it is nonetheless a fact that many of these pilots' victory claims were no more than flights of fancy and that they were 'encouraged' to file these claims by a benevolent hierarchy and propaganda media looking for new heroes ".

 These 373 claims were made for the loss of some 31 Friedrichs either seriously damaged or destroyed and just three pilots killed. However one of those killed was Ritterkreuz holder Lt. Erich Schmidt. Following the award of the Ritterkreuz on 23 July 1941 for 31 victories he claimed five Russian DB-3 twin-engined bombers (32-36) on 26 July and his 40th, an I-16 fighter, on 7 August.

On 31 August 1941, Schmidt’s Bf 109 F-2 (W.Nr. 12 633) “Yellow 6” was hit by flak near Dubno. He was seen to bale out of his stricken machine but is still listed as MIA.