Following is a war diary on this combat-filled week:
29th of May (Whit Monday)
In the early morning, Sinesti (15km SE of Targul-Frumos) is attacked by
ca. 15 soviet planes. Two more attacks are flown
against axis airfields at Husi and Roman:
On this day, two Staffeln from I. and II. Gruppe of JG52 get orders to leave the Eastern Front: 2. Staffel under Oblt. Paul-Heinrich Dähne and 4.Staffel under Ltn. Hans Waldmann. So, JG52 is reduced to 7 of 9 Staffeln. Anyway, the last claim by Hans Waldmann is dated for the evening of 31st of May.
30th of May
At 4:00, the German operation "Sonja" starts after a 20 minutes artillery barrage and air strikes. I./KG4's He 111 bomb enemy artillery positions, claiming an enemy fighter during the mission. The first two German fighter claims around the end of the artillery preparation are a Sturmovik and a Airacobra.
During the first two hours, three times Stukas attack own troops, once even a first-aid station. Two of these friendly-fire incidents affect the tip of 24.PzDiv, which is operating on the right wing of the ground forces. Its Fliegerleitoffizier is not able to stop these attacks. Reportedly, this is caused by Romanian Stukas, who themselves loose four or five planes during the day.
By 10:00, the red Air Force gets more and more active. This is also visible in the claims by Luftwaffe: In the six hours before 10:00 only 10 claims, after that 58 more claims.
10:50, the Red Army uses artificial fog to protect its bridges over the Prut river at Sculeni and Medeleni. These bridges were often attacked by SG2's Stukas, only to be quickly repaired by the Russians [H.-U. Rudel].
During the day, Korpsgruppe Mieth is frequently under attack by groups of up to 30 Sturmoviks. Of all these IL-2, eleven are claimed by Luftwaffe fighters.
Around 19:00, NW of Erbiceni a German plane makes an emergency landing. It's pilot is able to reach German lines. This may have been Uffz. Josef Lechner from 3./JG52 who is reported as KIA (later?).
Coming back to Luftwaffe's claims: Two thirds of the 68 claims are located
in a 10km broad and ca. 25km long stripe between Iasi and Sculeni
(Luftwaffe grid "78 xxx", 2/3 again in "78 6xx" and "78 8xx"). The
rest except two (typos?) are in adjacent sectors. Known losses for the
soviet side are 15 Cobras from 205.IAD (six pilots MIA or KIA, five
wounded) and one from
16.GIAP. Further known soviet personnel losses are
The VVS also files big numbers of enemy planes shot down: 9 GIADs
Airacobra alone claim 34 enemy planes. Together with the other known
claims, the result is reported
as follows: 65 kills which include two Hs 126, one IAR-80, 21 Bf 109, 20
Fw 190, a He 111, a Hs 123, five Hs 129 and 14 Stukas. Rather
exceptional is that ca. 80% of the kills are reported by Airacobra-units, the
rest being shared between regiments equipped with Lavochkin (240.IAP) or
Yakovlev-fighters (427. and 516.IAP)
This day's events of the Romanian 9th Fighter Group are described
The IAR-81C-equipped 2nd Fighter group also flew
but much less successful:
Altogether, the ARR had a very bad day: In 476 flights ca. 240tons of bombs are dropped, nine planes are lost. Nine bomber missions included 96 planes, four ground attack missions include 47 planes and a dozen Stukas missions includes 168 planes. The rest of 165 is reccon and fighter missions.
31th of May
On this day, the German Panzer forces widen the wedge they pushed into the Soviets defense. In the morning, a tank-supported red counterattack is cleared with 15 tanks destroyed each by Luftwaffe and Heer.
The sky over the battlefield is filled with aircraft for the whole day, with Luftwaffe's effort summing up to 1.100 combat sorties and minimum the same number on the Soviet side. That means ca. 80 starts per hour on each side during daylight. All these planes met in the mentioned, hard-fought small area!
A group of six Airacobras from 16GIAP, lead by Rechkalov, is nearly annihilated in a dogfight with only the leader escaping. Probably, this happened between 8:45 and 9:00 with several Luftwaffe units involved. The regiment looses three pilots, Leit. Karpov Nikolai, Ml.Leit. Petukhov Vladimir and Leit. Chistov Nikolai. Another combat loss for this regiment is Leit. F.I. Aleksandrovich, an ace with 11 kills. 129GIAP sent out a group of six Cobras to cover ground forces. They made contact with eight Bf109, of which Leit. Zadiraka claimed one shot down. Later, this group met 30 Stukas covered by 16 "Messers". In the dogfight which developed, the Soviets claimed four Stukas and three Messerschmitt while loosing only two planes: Ml.Leit.A.Kozinov was shot down in flames and hit the silk, while Leit. L.Zadiraka was able to bellyland his crippled plane. Altogether, 205IAD looses nine P-39 today, Other known P-39-losses are Mayor S.V. Vasilavsky (438.IAP, 12kills) and Leit. V.N. Aleksandrovich (16.GIAP, 11 kills out of which 2 were on 30th of May). These incomplete losses stand against 76 claims by German pilots, all fighters or Sturmovik with one Pe-2 by Oblt. Helmut Lipfert from 6./JG52 as the only exception.
Luftwaffe reports three Bf 109, four Fw 190, one Stuka and a Hs 129 as combat losses with several others damaged. ARR losses are unkown except one IAR-81C. This stands against 67 known claims by VVS fighters. One particularly hard loss for JG52: Gerhard Barkhorn, Kommandeur of II./JG52 is shot down and badly wounded during his sixth mission of the day, escorting Stukas (Bf 109 G-6 Werknr.163 165 ). Also Wolfgang Hahne from Stab II./JG52 is missing in action since the early morning (take-off 5.20), when he flew cover for a Stuka-unit. Around 05.50 he is shot down near Iasi (Bf 109 G-6 Werknr. 165 068 NP+ER). Karl Schuhmacher, a DKiG veteran from 8./JG52 with 56 kills is killed in a dogfight with a superior number of Soviet fighters ca. 5 km SW of Iasi (Bf 109 G-6 Wnr.163 165). In the one lost Stuka from I./SG2, Lt. Hans Schwirblat is wounded with his Bordschütze (rear gunner) escaping unhurt. In the Focke recorded as lost by II./SG2, a nephew of Wolfgang v. Richthofen is MIA after a dogfight with Soviet fighters.
Two examples for the Luftwaffe's high activity level: Hermann Buchner, member of Fw190-equipped 6./SG2 flew six missions with 50-60 minutes each on the 30th and 31st from the base in Bacau, ca. 15 flight minutes away from the battle zone. Willi Batz, the new Kommandeur of III./JG52, flew the same number today and claimed 15 (sic!) aerial kills, six of these being IL-2s.
Last update 12.11.11