(Special Interest Group Luftwaffe in Norway)


JG 5 in 1943 Part II


Quite frankly we don't know much about the camouflage and markings of the I.Gruppe's Bf 109Fs and G-2s. It is very probable that the normal greys were are used, and as related in the 1942 part, there were few personal markings and no known Gruppe or Staffel insignia in use. It is also possible that as the Focke-Wulfs were used and suffered damage (loss records tell us that several were damaged on airfields during) the consequent repair would lead to repainteg and a more "worn" look with perhaps more motling on the fuselage sides. The Bf 109G-1 mentioned above was marked "White 11" and was flown by Uffz. Rudolf Rdig. He lost his life during an alarmstart from Herdla on 1.May 1943. The other G-1 from I./JG 5 which we know anything about was marked "Black 6" and belonged to 2./JG 5 stationed at Lista. It was lost due to engine fire on 11.October 1943, not long before the Staffel, the last of I. Gruppe remaining in Norway, left the country. The pilot of W.Nr. 14 141 was Wilhelm Grtner. He survived the crashlanding on the sea, but was badly injured. "Black 6" originally had the Stammkennzeichnen DG+UF. In November 1983 what remained of this 109 was salvaged for restauration by the Aviation Museum at Sola. The real interesting fact concerning "Black 6" is hat it had remnants of RLM 79 on its wings underneath the normal grey colors. As it is known that several G-1s served with the special high-altitude Staffels 11./JG 2 and 11./JG 26 in the Mediterranean in November 1942, it is possible that W.Nr 14 141 once served with ne of these Staffels. Another explanation would simply be that it had received replacement wings from a RLM 79-camouflaged Bf 109. This is perhaps more likely as no G-1 has been seen with desert camouflage. When the Gruppe left for Romania in late 1943 the Fw 190s had all vanished (as far as we know). The Bf 109G-6 mentioned above of 3./JG 5 in Rumania was camouflaged in the normal greys with relatively large spots on the fuselage sides. The spinner top was yellow (Staffel color) with the rest in 70. Interestingly, the undercarriage door had been removed on this machine (there was snow in Rumania at this time). The colors used by I.Gruppe had not changed from 1942 to 1943.

Not much is known about II. Gruppes camouflage either, with the exception of 6. Staffel. Their Bf 109Fs initially had the specially designed two-color segmented camouflage as described in the 1942 part of this story, but it is not known if it was used in 1943 or totally replaced by winter camouflage or a new "spring" camouflage. Their most famous pilot, (then) Oblt. Heinrich Erhler flew a G-2 marked "Yellow 12" with a second Gruppe bar in the same color. His G-2 were camouflaged in the normal greys in the summer, but during the winter and spring it received a topcoat of white distemper and large irregular spots of RLM 70. This machine has been the subject of several decal manufacturers and pohtos of it has been widely pubslished. What is not normally appreciated from these photos is that the white distemper was not covering the grey colors completely. On Erhlers machine the grey colors are visible on the starboard wing, though the fuselage is more or less completely covered. That was not the case with Rudolf M¸llers G-2, "Yellow 3". The upper part of the engine cowling is left in the grey colors, mostly 75, as are small segments on the wings. Only one other similarily camouflaged G-2 is known; this was "Yellow 10", pilot unknown. The fuselage cross of these machines had their black centre lightly oversprayed with white to make them less conspicious. The centres was not white thmeselves, but more like RLM 77 or light grey. Apparently, the Gruppe inisgnia was not used on these machines with the exception of "Yellow 10". The other Staffel's Bf 109Fs and G-2s were most certainly camouflaged in the normal greys, but what winter camouflaged they used it not known. We are very ignorant on this matter due to the scarcity of photos that exists of this Gruppe, especially for the years 1943-44. The same Staffel colors and unit insignia were in all probability used, but there is a possibility that 5./JG 5 used black numbers instead of red. Frequently the Gruppesymbol, a horisontal bar, was absent, though the G-2s of 6./JG 5 described above used them.

As will be seen, many photos and documantation have been published when it comes to III.Gruppe. This is of cource due to its popularity with various authors. The Bf 109F-2s and F-4s of III./JG 5 were camouflaged in the normal greys. An example of such machines are the Bf 109F used by the Gruppekommodore of III.Gruppe, Major Scholz. During the winter of 1942/43 JG 5 began experimenting with winter camouflage and the first examples of what must surely be the most beautiful camouflage of this kind could be seen. (JG 5 was, perhaps naturally so, to become masters in winter camouflage). One documented example is Uffz. Alfred Kern's Bf 109F, "Yellow 11", of 7./JG 5. This apparently had two different patterns of white camouflage applied over the normal grey colors. The fuselage was sprayed in different patterns; larger streaks on the rear fuselage, and more spotted on the engine cowling. The wings however (and probably the tailplanes as well), had a markedly different pattern, consisting of sharp-bordered streaks and lines in a criss-cross pattern. This was possibly applied by brush as the borders were not diffuse. Alfred Kern was shot down on 14. march 1943 and died on 5. February 1945 in a Russian prison camp.

Another variation on the theme could be seen on Ofw. Karl Schulz' Bf 109G-2, "Black 4" of 8./JG 5. Schulz crashlanded this machine on 21. March 1943 after having been damaged by a russian fighter and overturned. His Messerschmitt looked much like the F-4, "Yellow 2", described above in that white wavy bands had been applied over a dark upper surface color. The light bands were much more elaborate however, having more curls and a defintie articstic appearance! A larger white/light grey portion was painted on the rudder. Again it is difficult to do anything but speculate about he dark undersurface color; dark grey or dark green? "Black 4" carried the combination of gruppe and staffel insignia as often seen on Messerschmitts from this Staffel, the Gruppe insignia being first.

"Theo" Weissenberger flew a G-2 marked "White 4", but accurate details about this plane is not known. It is known that Weissenberger flew a G-2 with a green rudder and an elaborate rudder marking (more about that later) as seen on a rare color photograph, but the exact identity of this Messerschmitt is not certain. Werner Girbig, the chronicler of JG 5, will have us believe that it was "White 4" with a Black III.Gruppe bar. The photo shows that Weissenberger had 112 victories at the time and that sets the date to on or just after 25. July 1943. The reason for the III.Gruppe bar is simple. Due to various changes in the command sructure as explained above, Weissenberger took over command of 7./JG 5 in late July, a position he kept until September 1943. It might be that when he left 6./JG 5 he brought his plane with him (he flew a "White 4" in this Staffel) and that the change of Gruppe resulted in the application of a Gruppe bar in another color. Weissenberger was apparently fond of the number 4 so it is probable that he chose not to change it. If this is the case, the color photo is most likely of "White 4". The colors of the machine is open to speculation. The green rudder suggest a non-standard finish, but the normal greys is also a possibillity. AMD has decals for this machine, and suggests the normal grey color.

Ofw. Franz Drr took over command of 7./JG 5 in September 1943 after "Theo" Weissenberger, and at one time he was flying a Bf 109F-4 marked "White 4" ("Yellow 4" is also a possibility) with the combination of Gruppe and Staffel insignia below the cockpit on the port side, the Gruppe insignia again coming first. It is probable that a Gruppe bar was also carried. Drr's Messerschmitt had a seemingly peculiar camouflage which appear to consist of an overall grey scheme with darker segments here and there. Similar schemes which can almost be described as "segmented" have been seen on other Bf 109Fs from JG 5, most probably III.Gruppe. One marked "Black 10" of 8./JG 5 clearly has darker segments on its wings and fuselage and no Gruppe bar ( see "The German fighter units over Russia" by W. Held, p. 141). The fuselage cross has no black borders and shows signs of overpainting on the white areas. This could also be a machine from 5./JG 5. It has the yellow wing tips seen on some Bf 109s from JG 5.

Most probably the same colors were used by each staffels as in 1942. The Gruppesymbols used by III./JG 5 is somewhat confusing. Apparently both a verical bar and a wavy line was used, although they were frequently absent in this Gruppe.. Also, both yellow and white numbers could be seen on machines from 7./JG 5.

Fortunately some information has surfaced regarding IV./JG 5 in 1943. One Bf 109F-4 from 11./JG 5, "Black 15", was camouflaged in the normal grey colors with a rather sharp edge on the engine cowling. It had a black IV.Gruppe disk, and perhaps unusual for an Bf 109F, no black borders to the fuselage cross. "Black 15" was flown by Rudolf Meyer. The Gruppe also converted to the G-2 early in 1942. One of them was "Black 9" from 11./JG 5. It has the disk symbol of IV.Gruppe and an interesting pattern. White or light grey/blue streaks and small spots had been applied over what is almost certainly the standard grey pattern. The fuselage cross was non.standard, the black centre being wider than was usual. Somewhat surprisingly, "Black 9" carried a 250 kg bomb on an ETC 500 IXb (R¸stsatz R-1). Another pattern seen on several F-4s and G-2s in winter 1942/43 was more elaborate. It consisted of long, wavy lines of a light color (white or perhaps even 76) over a dark undersurface color,strongly reminding of the "Wellenmuster" seen on bombers. The undersurface colors is more hard to describe. It is possible that RLM 74 or even 70 was sprayed on the top surfaces prior to the application of the wavy bands tp provide stronger contrast, but at present this matter has not been settled. One of the F-4 in question was "Yellow 2" of 12./JG 5. A similar pattern was seen on a G-2 marked "White 7" from 10./JG 5, looking much like Schulz' "Black 4" from 8./JG 5, only with the Gruppe circle on the rear fuselage. A Bf 109F with segmented camouflage has been described by Girbig as belonging to III.Gruppe, but the very distinctive, angular style of its "White 7" has also been seen on several Bf 109s from IV. Gruppe, including the other "White 7" described above. This would in my view suggest that the machine in fact belonged to IV./JG 5. Other fighters with this distinctive style of numerals with IV.Gruppe's circle on the rear fuselage include "White 17" (or was this an unfinished "12"?) of 10./JG 5 and "Yellow 15" of 12./JG 5. They both have dark grey added to their upper surfaces, and the wing tips may have been yellow. The centres of the fuselage cross was apparently not black, but dark grey 74. The Gruppe symbol (a circle in the Staffel color with white or black outline) was practically always used by IV./JG 5. There was no change in Staffel color for this Gruppe either.

The national insignia used by these Gruppen were mostly of the standard type having black edges. But there were some in which these diappeared and also a few non-standard types.

The Messerschmitt Bf 110s of 13.(Z)/JG 5 were camouflaged in the standard 74/75/76 pattern, and some had a rather heavy motling, often with heavy application of RLM 02. The same special coding was still in use, and the individual letter was frequently yellow outlined in black. One example of this practise was LN+SR which also had heavy mottling in 74 and 02 on the fuselage and engine sides, this almost taking the shape of stripes. Some time in 1943 the Dachshund insignia disappeared from the Bf 110s, LN+SR again being our example. The spinners were usually RLM 70 with a yellow tip (the Staffel color). Fuselage bands were very uncommon on Bf 110s also, the only one identified with such a band is W.Nr. 5052, LN+NR flown by Lt. Ziegenhagen and Uffz. Kirchmayer. More common was the yellow lower surafces of the wing tips with the individual letter repeated on the same surfaces.

The Focke-Wulfs of 14.(J)/JG 5 had standard 74/75/76 camouflage. Most were rather clean with little mottling on the fuselage sides and they were devoid of any theatre markings. Often the demarcation line between the upper and lower colors were sharper than was usual on Fw 190s. 14.(J)/JG 5 used black numbers with a rather thick white outline. These figures were much larger (higher) than those used by the fighters, reaching from the rear part of the wing fillet and almost up to the cockpit rim. No Gruppe or tactical symbol was carried, but the Staffel had its own insignia. This consisted of a bomb-in-a-bow on a white circle outlined in black. It was applied to both sides of the engine cowling and was not very conspicious. Some sources (Karl Ries) have stated that the background was blue, but photos show that it must surely be very pale, or perhaps even silver or white. It was carried by most, but not all of the Jabos.

Some Jabos were rather heavily mottled on the fuselage sides. An example of this is "Black 5" which had a dark overspray (74?) on its sides with little of the blue showing through. This machine was heavily damaged by Russian flak and survived a direct hit in its rear fuselage. "Black 6" also had some overspray behind the exhaust, but not so much aft of the number. Actually, this is not mottling, but more like overspray of larger areas. The national insignia used were of the early type having black edges, the exception was "Black 6" which had white edges and a black centre only. Spinners were normally finished in RLM 70 with one-third in white. Some Focke-Wulfs also had a thin white stripe around the spinner at roughly the mid-section.


Perhaps the most publisized plane from JG 5 is Erhler's Bf 109G-2, "Yellow 12" of 6./JG 5. AMD has issued a really beautiful Luftwaffe Top Guns double decal sheet on which decals for this and his F-4 can be found. Most, if not all photos of his Messerschmitt was taken on 27. march 1943 after a dogfight in which he destroyed 5 Russian fighters. He suffered a hit in his engine cannon which forced him to break off combat. When he landed there were several PK (PropagandaKompanie) people waitning for him and they took the aforementioned photos. It is not known if the 5 victories were painted on the rudder of his Messerschmitt prior to the photos being taken, but they probably were. Anyway, the scoreboard of Erhlers G-2 consisted of 77 white bars with appropriate national markings (mostly Russian!) on top and details regarding the kills below. The victoriy bars were arranged in 8 rows with between 5 and 11 bars in each. The rudder itself has been desrcibed as RLM 76 or a mixture of 75/76 (Barbas), but it could also have been RLM 02 grey. What is certain is that it was camouflaged differently from the rest of the aircraft.

Weissneberger's Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2, "White 4" is also featured on the AMD Top Guns sheets. He scored his 100th victory on 4. July 1943 and ws awarded the Oak leaves to his Knights Cross on 2. August 1943 after having scroed a further 12 voctories. As told elsewhere he was the Staffelf¸hrer of 7./JG 5 at the time. The green rudder (as evidenced by a color photograph) clearly shows Wessisenberger's victory markings. The number "100" was surrounded by a laurel wreath (in gold according to AMD) and was "carried" by an eagle. Below this was a representation of the Iron Cross with a swastika in the middle. His 12 other victories were indicated by white bars below in the same fashion as Erhler's.

Rudolf M¸ller had no victory markings on his G-2. The rudder was finished in the same pattern of white and RLM 70 as was the rest of his Messerschmitt.


1943 saw JG 5 at its maximum strength. It consisted of 14 Staffels; 12 regular single-engined fighter Staffels equipped with Bf 109s and Fw 190s, one Bf 110-equipped Zerstrerstaffel and finally the Jabo unit, 14.(J)/JG 5. They were not fighting together, however. Two Gruppen were stationed on the West coast of Norway, fighting the allies, while the rest were fighting the Russians in the North.1943 was also the year in which the decline began and the last in which JG 5's four Gruppen had any sense of unity. As already noted, the I., and II.Gruppe left Norway and Finland for good in the fall to fight the rest of the war away from the parent Geschwader.

Written by © Kjetil Aakra 1996