Oberst Gustav Roedel (Rödel)
© Dan & Nick’s Collaborative Experten Biographies
[photo credits | Wikipedia]
Oberst Gustav Roedel (Rödel) was credited with 97 victories against the Western Allies and a single victory over Soviet Air Forces in over 980 combat missions.
On 20 April 1941, Roedel is credited with shooting down and killing S/L Marmaduke Thomas St. John Pattle of 33 Squadron, the RAF’s highest scorer and in all likelyhood, the Leading Allied Fighter Ace of WW II, near Athens Greece.
Out of the 97 (98) enemy aircraft shot down, one was claimed in the Invasion of Poland, one on the Eastern Front and 52 in the Mediterranean Theatre.
His 98 aerial victories include 13 four-engined bombers.
Oberst Gustav Rödel was quoted as saying;
“You are fighter pilots first, last, always. If I ever hear of any of you shooting at someone in a parachute, I’ll shoot you myself.”
Gustav Rödel was born on 24 October 1915 in Sachsen. In 1933 the National Socialists came to power in Germany. Rödel had to choose a military career and he applied to join the Luftwaffe in late 1935 and was accepted the following year.
After basic training he was selected to train as a fighter pilot. In 1938 Rödel completed his training and was assigned to Jagdgruppe 88, under the command of the Condor Legion.
J/88 participated in the Spanish Civil War. There is no record of Rödel claiming any success in combat in Spain.
There, he predominantly flew escort and close air support missions. In Spain, he was also tasked with the exhumation and identification of German dead.
For his service in Spain, Rödel was awarded the Spanish Cross in Bronze with Swords (Spanienkreuz in Bronze mit Schwertern) on 6 June 1939.
In July 1939, Rödel was sent to Jagdgeschwader 21 (JG 21).
On 1 September 1939, the German Reich attacked Poland, beginning World War II in Europe.
Operating with 2 Staffel (2 Squadron), he claimed his first aerial victory on this day.
On the opening day, Rödel claimed a PZL P.24. Although the claim was over a PZL P.24, it might have been a misidentified PZL P.11, the type flown by the Pursuit Brigade based at Okęcie Warszawa.
Claims Research Verification by Nick Hector
PZL P.11 (“PZL P-24”)
Lt.Col. Leopold Pamula, CO of Pursuit Brigade. Baled out WIA
In November 1939, he was transferred to Jagdgeschwader 27 and saw action in the Battle of Belgium and Battle of France in May and June 1940.
Roedel claimed three aircraft shot down during this period.
On 10 May 1940, JG 27 supported Army Group A and B’s invasion of Belgium. Rödel was part of I./JG 27, attached to Fliegerkorps VIII.
Rödel was assigned as Adolf Galland’s wingman.
On 12 May 1940, Stab./JG 27 was patrolling near Huy led by Galland. The Stabsschwarm claimed four Royal Air Force (RAF) Hawker Hurricanes; one of them was claimed by Rödel the other three by Galland. The Hurricanes were probably from No. 87 Squadron RAF.
15km S of Luettich
87 sqn. Either L1630 of 87 sqn. Sgt. Frank V “Dinky” Howell, baled out WIA (parachute was damaged, landed heavily) or L1970 of 87 sqn. F/O John Alexander “Jack” Campbell (Canadian), KIA
Both are generally attributed to Galland, likely overclaiming, see also I/JG 21, I/JG 27 and I(J)/LG 2
Adolf Galland recalls flying with Roedel during the French Campaign, when he finally scored his first victory.
“I finally got my first kill on May 12, 1940, when Gustav Roedel and I went on a mission.
I shot down (two) Hawker Hurricanes on two missions. I had about a dozen victories by the end of the French Campaign.”
Rödel was promoted to Oberleutnant (first lieutenant) on 1 June 1940.
Stab./JG 27 took part in the Battle of Dunkirk on 2 June 1940, and were peripherally involved in Operation Paula on 3 June.
Roedel claimed a Supermarine Spitfire on 2 June 1940.
W of Dunkirk
66, 266 and 611 “West Lancashire” sqns. 266 lost P/O James Walter Bryan Stevenson in N3169, Sgt. Ronald Thomas Kidman in N3092 (both KIA) and N3169 of P/O N G Bowen safe, whilst 611 sqn lost F/O R K Compton in N3064 and F/O Thomas Donald Little in N3055 (both KIA). 66 Sqn lost N3047 of F/S M W Hayman, KIA; N3028 of Sgt D A C Hunt and N3033 of Sgt. F N Robertson both baled out safely, returned. F/O Oswald St. John Pigg WIA in K9924
On 7 June 1940, he claimed his fourth and his last victory in France over a Potez 630 near Dunkirk.
JG 27 transferred to the Netherlands, Belgium and France in the aftermath of the French capitulation on 25 June 1940.
The Luftwaffe began its air offensive against the United Kingdom in support of a planned invasion codenamed Operation Sea Lion. The air offensive became known as the Battle of Britain.
In July 1940 Rödel was transferred to 4. Staffel (4th squadron) of JG 27 for the Kanalkampf phase of the battle.
Rödel was credited with 10 Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft in the Battle of Britain.
On 11 August 1940, JG 27 formed part of the large-scale fighter sweeps over England.
Rödel arrived over Weymouth Bay with JG 27 to cover the withdrawal of the Messerschmitt Bf 110s from Zerstörergeschwader 2. A large dogfight began at 1040 GMT as Rödel’s unit fought a withdrawal across the English Channel.
He claimed a “Spitfire” shot down.
On 30 August 1940, Rödel claimed another Spitfire. At 1145, JG 27 became embroiled in battle with Spitfires from 616 and Hurricanes from 253 Squadrons.
JG 27 lost five Bf 109s and four pilots were missing in action.
253 Sqn. lost three Hurricanes and two pilots killed and 616 Sqn. lost two Spitfires—Flying Officer J. S. Bell was killed and Sergeant J. Hopewell survived a force-landing.
The losses were reported over Redhill, the area recorded in Rödel’s claim.
On 1 September 1940, Rödel claimed two Spitfires shotdown over Ashford and Folkestone.
Fighter Command lost 15 destroyed and four damaged in combat with five killed and seven wounded.
7th and 8th claims
1.9.40/1505 and 1530
2 x “Spitfires”
Ashford – Folkestone
85 sqn Hurricanes? Includes V7343 of F/O A V Gowers baled out WIA, L2071/VY-O of Sgt. G B Booth WIA (DOW 7.2.41, parachute on fire when he baled out), P3150 of Philip P Woods-Scawen KIA parachute failure), P2673/VY-E of Sgt. J H M Ellis MIA and P3151/VY-Y of P/O A G Lewis damaged.
Foonly nlthe second and last time in the campaign, the Luftwaffe suffered the loss of fewer aircraft: five fighters destroyed and two damaged; two bombers destroyed and six damaged.
However, only Hurricane squadrons reported losses in the afternoon battle at the time of Rödel’s claim: 1 Squadron (two destroyed one damaged), 79 (three destroyed), 72 (three destroyed), 85 (five destroyed one damaged) and 253 Squadron (one destroyed).
On 3 September 1940, Rödel claimed a Hurricane and Spitfire over Southend. JG 27 were involved in combat with Spitfires from No. 603 Squadron RAF and lost one pilot wounded.
9th and 10th claims
3.9.40/1120 and 1150
Spitfire and Hurricane (likely both Hurricanes)
46 sqn. Losses include P3114 of P/O P W Le Fevre damaged and P3063 of P/O H Morgan-Gray. Combat occurred over Rochford at this time. Possibly also P3064 of Sgt. G H Edworthy MIA
(versus 6 claims)
Once again, the only British losses sustained were by Hurricane squadrons. No. 46 Squadron RAF lost three Hurricanes over Southend at the time of Rödel’s claims—Sergeant G. H. Edgworthy, Pilot Officer H. Morgan-Gray and Sergeant E. Bloor were shot down by Bf 109s. Edgworthy was killed.
Rödel was appointed Staffelkapitän (Squadron Leader) of 4. Staffel on 6 September 1940. He replaced Oberleutnant Hermann Hollweg who took over 2. Staffel of Jagdgeschwader 2.
Rödel was credited with another Spitfire on 6 September 1940. JG 27 lost five Bf 109s and one damaged. Four were missing and two wounded.
Possibly Hurricane I P3363/W of 601 “City of London” sqn? F/L C R Davis (American) KIA over Tunbridge Wells at 0930 British Time
(Plus 2 more unconfirmed….)
Gruppenkommandeur Schlichting of III./JG 27 was among the missing.
43 and 303 Squadron are known to have been their opponents. 303 lost two Hurricanes and a further two were damaged by Bf 109s.
Two pilots were severely wounded including Squadron leader Z. Krasnodebski. 43 Squadron suffered no loss.
On 11 September 1940, Rödel claimed another victory over Tunbridge Wells.
On 27 September 1940, Rödel claimed two Hurricanes. One was claimed at 12:05 GMT.
Rödel probably shot down Squadron leader C. Haw, commanding, No. 504 Squadron RAF. Haw force-landed Hurricane P3415 uninjured.
Milton Regis/Bristol (landed at Gammons Farm, Kilmington)
P3415 of 504 sqn. Sgt. C Haw unhurt, aircraft damaged
Spitfire I (“Hurricane”)
E of London
Very likely R6622 of 92 sqn. Sgt. T G Oldfield KIA over Dartford at exactly this time
In this battle, JG 27 lost three Bf 109s to Spitfires from 19 and 222 Squadron. 222 lost one Spitfire and a severely wounded pilot and 19 Squadron two Spitfires with one wounded and killed.
In March 1941 Rödel was transferred to the Mediterranean theatre. 4./JG 27 was redeployed to Bulgaria.
Rödel served with JG 27 through the Battle of Greece and received credit for six aerial victories.
On 6 April he participated in the German-led invasion of Greece after the failed Italian invasion.
On 15 April 1941, Rödel led his staffel to Kalambaka and Vassiliki. Captain George Mokkas, commanding 23 Mira engaged them but was shot down and killed by Rödel, who mistook his Bloch MB.150 for a Hurricane.
Bloch MB 151 (“Hurricane”)
W of Trikkala
24 Mira, Sminagos George Mokkas KIA
It was his 15th victory.
Minutes later Rödel claimed two Gloster Gladiators and another three claims were made for Gladiators by his staffel.
The Greek fighters were actually PZL P.24s. Captain Kellas of 21 Mira, Katsarellas of 22 Mira and First Lieutenant Kontogiorgos were wounded.
On 20 April 1941 Rödel claimed three Hurricanes from No. 33 and 80 Squadron RAF, within ten minutes.
18th, 19th and 20th claims
20.4.41/1657, 1701 and 1708
3 x Hurricanes
33 and 80 sqns, victims include S/L Marmaduke Thomas St. John Pattle of 33 sqn (RAF’s highest scorer) KIA
Plus Sgt. Leonard Cottingham WIA (said to be hit by a rear-gunner), Ernest George Victor Wildman “Jimmie” Kettlewell baled out of V7807 and WIA in resultant heavy landing, plus F/L William Joseph “Timber” Woods in V7852 of 80 sqn. Eight losses in total and one severely damaged.
In June 1941 Rödel and 4./JG 27 were moved to East Prussia to support Army Group North and briefly posted to the Eastern Front to support Operation Barbarossa. He claimed only one victory in the Soviet Union.
On 25 June 1941 Rödel claimed his only victory in this theatre over Vilnius. The claim was recorded as a Tupolev SB.
1 AE, 128 SBAP. Kapt. Marshalkovich, Lt. Lepekhin and Starshina Komar failed to return
For his 21 successes, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross on 25 June 1941.
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes :
22/06/1941 as Oberleutnant (Staffelkapitän 4./JG 27)
In July 1941 4./JG 27 was moved to North Africa to support a German contingent, the Deutsche Afrika Korps under the command of Erwin Rommel, and remained there until November 1942.
Rödel’s staffel was operational by late summer 1941.
On 3 October 1941, Rödel claimed a Desert Air Force Curtiss P-40 Warhawk of No. 112 Squadron RAF shot down. The pilot may have been Sergeant Stirrat.
SW of Sidi Barrani
112 sqn. Overclaiming: only AK502 of Sgt. Ian Harper Stirrat (Australian) KIA was lost
(Schacht claimed as well)
On 6 October 1941, Roedel claims a Tomahawk and a Hurricane shot down during a free hunt with Otto Schulz.
23rd and 24th claims
P-40 Tomahawk and Hurricane
Freie Jagd, SE of Sidi Omar
2 sqn SAAF. AN251 of Lt. R C W Millar KIA, AN391 of Lt. Charles Albert Whaites (survived) plus AK513 of Lt. Clement A N McGarr POW later murdered after great escape
Some overclaiming as Otto Schulz claimed 3 as well
On 10 October 1941, he claimed a pair of P-40s. One of the claims may have been from 2 Squadron SAAF which lost two P-40s.
Rödel claimed his 25th and 26th victories over a Bristol Blenheim near Gazala, perhaps belonging to No. 11 Squadron RAF, and a P-40 near Bir Hacheim.
80km SE of Gazala @ 1500m
45 sqn, 4 losses (two down in flames): T2318 of Sgt. C Melly and P/O F L Rippingale both POW but Sgt J Halsall KIA, Z6439/Y of W/C J O Willis DFC, P/O L P Bourke RNZAF and Sgt M F Carthy all KIA,
Z9609 of Sgt R Wood and Sgt S B Whiteley POW but Sgt R A Turton RNZAF evaded and Z7686 of P/O C E O’Neill, Sgt L O Smith and Sgt K J Chapman all KIA
(Espenlaub, Grimm and Doye also claimed)
P-40 Tomahawk IIB
SE of Bir Hacheim
3 sqn RAAF and 112 sqn. 112 lost Sgt. Henry George Burney, RAAF in AM390/GA-W (returned). 3 lost Sgt. Ronald Henry Simes in AM507/Z also returned whilst F/L Lindsay Eric Shaw Knowles AN410 , F/O William Kloster in AK390 and P/O Lawton “Sammy” Lees AN305/E(?) were all KIA as was F/O F Fischer in AK407. F/O H G Roberts in AN373 POW
The British Eighth Army began Operation Crusader on 18 November 1941.
On 25 November 1941, Rödel mistakenly claimed a pair of Hurricanes in a large air battle over Northern Tobruk that were infact Tomahawks from 3 Squadron.
27th and 28th claims
25.11.41/1555 and 1557
2 x P-40 Tomahawk IIBs (“Hurricanes”)
N of Tobruk
3 sqn RAAF. Losses include AN343 of F/O Bruce Aitken Evans MIA, AN406 of F/O W E Jewell POW (escaped, returned), AM398 of F/O P R Bothwell WIA (DOW 26.11.41). F/O B A Evans was KIA whilst F/L Manford crashlanded safely and F/L W S Arthur’s machine was damaged
(6 claims in total)
Rödel claimed single victories on the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th of December 1941—two Hurricanes, one P-40 and a Bristol Beaufighter.
SW of El Adem
274 sqn. Z2817 of Sgt. G W F Perse returned 3.12.41, Z2510 of Sgt. Alman MiA and Z4008 of P/O R N Weeks returned.Z5310 of Lt. W H Hoffe forcelanded, returned safely
Redlich and Niederhoefer also claimed
The 4 December 1941 victory, his 30th, was probably the Hurricane flown by Second Lieutenant Meek of 2 Squadron SAAF over Al Adm near Bir el Gobi.
NE of Bir el Gobi
Was this from 1 sqn SAAF? 2/Lt T A Meek forcelanded and returned the next day (attributed to an MC202)
On 5 December, during a large air battle near Bir el Gobi, Roedel and 4./JG 27 engaged 112 and 250 Squadron RAF at 1150 hrs and proceeded to shoot down 5 Tomahawks for no losses.
P/O Neville Frederick Duke of 250 sqn. was shot down for the second time at 1150, after taking to his parachute earlier in the morning.
NW of Bir el Gobi
112 and 250 sqns, losses include P/O Coles (WIA), Sgt. McWilliam returned and Sgts. James Ross Gilmour and Edmondson Peter Greenhow both shot down and KIA, plus P/O Neville Frederick Duke shot down (crashlanded in at least this instance) for the second time this day in AN337/GA-F.
AK457 of P/O Joseph Jean Sabourin (Canadian) was also damaged
(versus 5 claims in total)
The 6 December 1941 claim was probably the No. 274 Squadron RAF Beaufighter flown by Pilot Officer William G. Snow which crashed near Tobruk.
Snow and his navigator Sergeant John K. Dutton were captured.
T3246 of 272 sqn. P/O W G Snow RAAF and Sgt. J Dalton both POW
On a mission in January 1942, Rödel was accidentally rammed by Unteroffizier Heidel and was forced to carry out a force-landing in the middle of the desert.
20km SE of Agedabia @ 1500m
Possibly 30 sqn, P/O F A Scott MIA
(Monska appears to have claimed him as well)
On 27 March 1942, 1. and 4. staffel formed 10 Bf 109s to escort 15 Ju 87s from I.Sturzkampfgeschwader 3.
P-40s from 2 SAAF and 80 Squadron RAF were scrambled to intercept.
Ludwig Franzisket from 1. staffel claimed a victory and Rödel claimed two of the three by his own unit.
34th and 35th claims
27.3.42/1710 and 1724
2 x P-40 Tomahawks
W of Tobruk, SW of Ain-el-Gazala
Either Hurricane of 80 sqn, or P-40 of 2 sqn SAAF. 2 sqn lost AN439/J of Lt. Smith, forcelanded and AN278/E of Lt. P D Bryant slightly damaged. 80 sqn suffered BE482 of F/S Comfort badly damaged, pilot safe
(versus 5 claims all up)
From 2 SAAF, Lieutenants Lipawski and E. Smith were shot down and survived crash-landings—the former’s aircraft was strafed and burnt out on the ground.
Lieutenant Bryant’s P-40 was also damaged, lightly. Flight Sergeant Comfort from 80 Squadron was also hit and his Hurricane badly damaged.
On 6 April 1942, Rödel claimed one of the four claims made by JG 27. Gerhard Homuth was among the other claimants.
Between Tmimi and Martuba @ 800m
94 sqn plus 2 and 4 sqns SAAF. 94 sqn lost AK861 of F/L Douglas Frederick Ommanney Shelford KIA, 2 sqn SAAF suffered Lt. R D B Morton’s Tomahawk damaged
von Lieres und Wilkau plus Kalista also claimed
Desert Air Force records show that No. 94 Squadron RAF Flight Lieutenant D. F. O. Shelford was killed. 2 and 40 Squadron SAAF lost one P-40 and a Hurricane respectively—Lieutenants R. D. B. Morton and Egner survived.
The next day II./JG 27 engaged 94 Sqn, 260 Sqn, 450 Sqn RAAF and 4 Squadron SAAF. 450 Sqn lost one in combat. 260 Sqn lost one P-40 and another badly damaged and one of 4 Sqn SAAF’s P-40s was damaged.
Rödel quite possibly shot down the 260 Squadron P-40 piloted by Flying Officer E. T. Thompson.
N of Mteifel Chebir
450 sqn RAAF. Possibly overclaiming as there was just one loss: AK774/O of F/O E T Thompson, baled out.
(Fluder and Kientsch also claimed)
Willi Kientsch appears to have fired at and claimed the same aircraft but both were credited with victories while JG 27 claimed four victories.
On 9 April 1942, 4 staffel intercepted 40 Squadron SAAF and Rödel made the only claim—although three P-40s were brought down. The claim was Rödel’s 38th victory.
30km SW of Mteifel Chebir
Either 450 sqn RAAF, Sgt. W J Metherall baled out or 40 sqn SAAF, Lt. Johannes S Gouws POW (murdered after the Great Escape)
Lieutenants Gouws, J. P. Blaauw and D. N. Stott all survived the encounter.
On 25 April 1942, JG 27 fought a large air battle over Gazala. The Germans claimed 10 victories.
2, 4 SAAF and 260 Squadron RAF lost 8 destroyed between them and another 5 damaged.
Rödel claimed one, while Günter Steinhausen claimed one and Hans-Joachim Marseille claimed two.
6km N of Ain-el-Gazala
2 and 4 sqns SAAF. 2 sqn lost AM464 of Lt. J O De Waal baled out returned, AK354 of Lt. H F Howard, AK475 of Lt. F J Ball KIA, AN454 of Lt R G Harrison slightly WIA, AN278 of Lt. H S McMaster was cat II damaged
4 sqn lost AK469/M of Maj. Moodie crashlanded attributed to MC202, and AK555 of Lt. Christian Knut Langaard baled out over the sea, severely burned and KIA 10.5.42 when the hospital ship he was on was sunk (attributed to Reuter due to one of his claims baling out into sea).
(8 claims in total)
JG 27 lost four Bf 109s in this aerial engagement.
Rödel was promoted to Hauptmann on 1 May 1942. On 20 May 1942, Rödel was appointed Gruppenkommandeur (Group Commander) of II./JG 27, replacing Major Erich Gerlitz who took over III. Gruppe of Jagdgeschwader 53.
On 23 May 1942, Rödel led the formation in an attack on 33 Squadron Hurricanes.
He shot down its leader, Flight Lieutenant P. D. Wade, and his wingman
Sgt. H M Laflamme, for his 40th and 41st credited victories.
10km N of Ras el Tin
This one said to be BG923/Z of 33 sqn. F/L Desmond Percy Wade MIA-KIA
40km NE of Ras el Tin @ 200m
33 sqn. Overclaiming: the only other loss was Z5654/T of Sgt. H M Laflamme badly damaged, pilot safe
(versus 4 applicable claims in total)
Wade survived the ditching into the sea but died, presumably of drowning or wounds. Rödel’s combat report stated that he observed the enemy pilot swimming away from his sinking fighter.
5 staffel lost one Bf 109 with a wounded pilot.
Over Bir Hacheim on 4 June 1942, I./JG 27 escorted Ju 87s from I./StG 3 over the front. 2 SAAF, 3 Squadron SAAF and 5 Squadron SAAF led by Major John Frost.
The P-40s attacked and claimed eight of the Ju 87s before the Bf 109s could act.
Rödel’s Gruppe arrived as the last Ju 87s were going down and attacked the South Africans. 4 SAAF lost three P-40s and two pilots captured.
Rödel claimed one P-40 destroyed.
3km SE of Bir Hacheim @ 4500m
4 sqn SAAF. AN393 of J Capt. Morphew WIA, AN460 of Lt. John de la Harpe Lane (rescued, attributed to Ju87 rear gunner) and AN461 of Lt. K H Lawler POW all failed to return
(Willi Kientsch claimed as well)
The First Battle of El Alamein began on 1 July 1942.
6km SW of El Alamein @ 3000m
DAF. 601 sqn lost BR325 near El Daba (El Dabs?) this date
Rödel had his most successful day in Africa, claiming three shot down on 10 July 1942.
The three P-40s raised his total to 45.
Rödel accounted for his 46th and 47th victories on 19 July 1942. The identity of the Allied formation was probably 127 Squadron.
46th and 47th claims
19.7.42/0913 and 0917
2 x Hurricane IIs
S of El Alamein/Chebel-el-Gabir/Bir Gabatte
127 sqn. Overclaiming, only two losses: BN160 of F/O M E Gardner baled out badly WIA (burned) and BE224 of F/S L D Sherwood safe
(versus 7 claims in total)
Two days later, on 21 July 1942, Rödel claimed four Hurricanes shot down from seven claims submitted by German pilots in combat over the El Alamein area.
There were 6 RAF losses in total.
48th to 51st claims
21.7.42/1810, 1812, 1812 and 1820
4 x Hurricane IIs
El Alamein, El Daba, El Taqa sectors
238 sqn lost “M” of F/O Colin Richard Morrison-Jones (KIA 24 Jul?), 80 sqn lost BN462 of Sgt. James Douglas Robb RNZAF. 4 sqn SAAF suffered AK817 of Lt. Van Nus slightly WIA with tailplane shot away, Lt. B Futeran was WIA, machine also damaged. 145 sqn lost AR288/C of P/O P B Laing-Meason baled out safely and 601 sqn suffered BR384 of Sgt. E G Shea damaged, pilot safe
On 31 August 1942, he claimed a solitary victory as the Battle of Alam el Halfa began.
15km SSE of El Alamein @ 3500m
Marseille and Sinner also claimed Spitfires.
Three claims for BR363 of 601 sqn? Sgt. K J Lusty MIA. Same unit appears to have lost BR470
On 1 September 1942, six Kittyhawks of 450 Squadron RAAF provided top cover to 18 Boston bombers at 07:38.
Rödel led his four Bf 109s, shooting down one of the three claimed by his flight.
450 sqn RAAF. Appears to be overclaiming, no losses. Or was this 2 sqn SAAF, ET575 of 2/Lt. H E Ironside KIA?
Possibly EV365/GA-A of 112 sqn. Sgt. Desmond Ibbotson DFC and Bar, machine damaged in combat (One source says Sinner was responsible)
On 5 September 1942, he claimed a triple victory.
55th 56th and 57th claims
5.9.42/1054, 1055 and 1057
3 x Hurricane or Curtiss P-40
SSW of El Alamein
127 sqn (covering 7 sqn SAAF or 6 sqn RAF) Overclaiming, only one recorded loss, P/O Rebman crashlanded
Rödel repeated this feat on 9 October 1942, scoring his 60th victory.
58th, 59th and 60th claims
9.10.42/0923, 0927 and 0935
3 x Spitfire or P-40 (all claimed as “P-39 Airacobras”)
Turbiya, El Daba and Sanyet Quotifiya
14 losses by WDAF this day. They include: 4 sqn, SAAF lost Lt. Shulz (Schulz?), 2sqn SAAF had two Kittyhawks badly damaged. 3 sqn, RAAF had P/O Clabburn attacked by 5 Bf109s and Sgt. Holloway (Canadian with 450 sqn) shot down and POW. 5 Sqn, SAAF lost Lts. Thornley and Murdock. 250 sqn lost P/O Rogerson and F/O Tribken’s machine was damaged (said to be by MC202) as were 3 others.
Roedel makes another claim shortly after, but the date is missing.
Curtiss P-40 (“P-39 Airacobra”)
SW of El Alamein
Likely ’53’ of 65th FS, 57th FG. 1/Lt. Robert M Nichols MIA-KIA by Bf109 this date
On 22 October 1942, Rödel claimed a B-25 Mitchell bomber from the US 12th Bombardment Group shot down.
The bomber was hit by anti-aircraft artillery, fell out of formation, and was then shot down by Rödel.
It was the 12th Group’s only loss.
SW of El Alamein
“52” of 83rd BS, 12th BG. 1/Lt. J L Cleary and 3 others POW, 1 MIA. Believed hit by flak, then caught by Roedel
On the night of the 23 October 1942 the British began the Second battle of El Alamein. The following morning JG 27 flew an all-out operation to support German and Italian forces.
Rödel led II./JG 27 and they met 18 bombers and 30 P-40s.
He claimed three of the latter between 11:43 and 11:50.
On the morning of the 26 October 1942, German and Italian forces counter-attacked Outpost Snipe.
Rödel and eight other Bf 109s from his Gruppe took off on a frei jagd. They engaged a large formation of P-40s and Rödel probably shot down the P-40 flown by Sergeant Rattle from 260 Squadron.
SW of Sanyet Quotaifiya
260 sqn, Sgt. Hopkins or F/O Meredith POW
Rödel claimed another trio of RAF fighters on 27 October 1942—a P-39 Airacobra, P-40 and Spitfire. The Spitfire fell at 0923 and the Curtiss at 0942.
The P-39 claimed at 1605 that afternoon seems to have been mistaken as a Hurricane.
67th and 68th claims
27.10.42/0923 and 0942
2 x P-40 Kittyhawks (the first was claimed as a “Spitfire”)
El Daba/El Hammam/El Alamein
AL177/B of 4 sqn SAAF. Lt. Humphrey WIA (crashlanded back at base, attributed to an MC202, only loss in the engagement)
Spitfire or P-40 (“P-39 Airacobra”)
N of El Daba
64th and 65th Fighter Squadrons with Spitfires from 601 sqn. No losses, but Hurricanes from both 33 and 213 sqn were also involved losing F/S S G Brooks and BP398 of S/L R M Lloyd (243 Wing) plus P/O Gardner (of 33 sqn top flight). Sgts Bates and Marcus had their machines damaged
Rödel’s unit fought to cover the 15th and 21st Panzer Division in another assault on Outpost Snipe.
On 29 October 1942, Roedel registers his 70th victory over another Tomahawk over Deir el Bein; however, there are no corresponding losses.
This could be inpart to the severe neck itch that the desert sands of Afrika seem to cause. (OAK LEAVES ENVY?)
Spitfire (“Curtiss P-40”)
Deir el Bein
Possibly a Spitfire of 92 sqn. Overclaiming, no losses
Roedel claimed two more victories just before 1000 on 31 October 1942, as JG 27 sought to provide determined German-Italian counter-attacks with air support.
71st and 72nd claims
2 x Curtiss P-40
SW of Sanyet Quotaifiya
3 likely losses at this time: 260 sqn lost Sgt. R G Mockridge KIA, definitely by Bf109. 5 sqn SAAF lost AM471/A of Lt. E W L Popham KIA collided with AM474/Z of Lt. B A Kearns forcelanded (attributed to this combat)
(Rudolf Philipp also claimed at this time)
The following morning, 1 November 1942, Rödel filed his last claim for a victory over Egypt.
At approximately 0700, he claimed a 112 Squadon RAF Spitfirshot down, south of Sidi Abdel Rahman.
Kittyhawk III (“Spitfire”)
S of Sidi abd el Rahman
112 sqn. This was likely FR264/W of Sgt. R De Bourke (WIA in the shoulder)
II./JG 27 avoided the defeat at El Alamein which began with the British breakthrough on 4 November 1942
Along with the Stab staffel, II. Gruppe withdrew to Germany for resting. In February 1943 it began staging down the leg of Itaty towards Sicily.
The fighter group was based at San Pietro, 20 miles (32 kilometres) inland from the island’s southern coast.
Rödel supervised an influx of new pilots and re-equipment with Bf 109G-4s and Bf 109G-6 models to replace the depleted staffeln. Once at established strength it moved some staffeln to Trapani and operated from there.
On 22 April 1943, Neumann left JG 27 for a staff appointment with the staff of Galland’s General der Jagdflieger.
Rödel replaced him as Geschwaderkommodore of JG 27. Rödel appointed Werner Schröer to command II Gruppe.
Subsequently, Rödel saw action over Sicily and Southern Italy in May 1943.
Rödel was a firm believer in leading in the air in contrast to the fighter wing’s previous commanders. All five of the victories claimed by the Stab unit in the first two months over Sicily were credited to him.
From 18–22 May 1943, Rödel claimed two B-17 Flying Fortress heavy bombers and three P-38s.
10km SE of Marettimo @ 7000m
Likely Buren J Snyder of 49th FS, 14th FG POW (definitely attributed to an enemy fighter)
SW of Marettimo @ 4000m
Was this John C Henry Jr of 37th FS, 14th FG KIA?
Rödel’s Geschwaderstab moved to Kalamaki in occupied Greece. Here, Rödel assumed direct control of III. Gruppe and the newly formed IV Gruppe.
On 20 June 1943, he was awarded the Oak Leaves to the Knight’s Cross for 78 victories.
Eichenlaub zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (No. 255 ) :
20/06/1943 as Major (Kommodore JG 27)
On 2 July 1943 Rödel claimed a Bristol Beaufighter shot down for his 79th victory near Milos.
Rödel claimed a B-24 on 4 October 1943, and a P-38 and B-25 Mitchell on 8 October to bring his tally to 82.
20km S of Lebadeia @ 3500m
Kurt Hoppe claimed as well. These appear to be two claims for 42-64590 of 445th BS, 321st BG. 3 KIA, 2 POW and 2 evaded capture (generally attributed to Roedel)
N of Patras @ 2000m
82nd FG. – P-38G-10-LOs 42-13062 James P Shawver KIA (definite JG 27 victim) and 43-2332 Clayton A Bennett evaded (the latter came from 95th FS, also definitely to JG 27 over Greece)
(versus at least 8 claims)
In October 1943, JG 27 moved back to Germany for Defence of the Reich operations.
Kommodore Roedel continued to lead from the front and claimed 11 of the 25 victories claimed by the command squadron in the last few weeks of operations over Hungary, Austria and southern Germany.
On 13 May 1944, the command staffel moved to Wien-Seyring near Vienna.
On 19 March 1944, Rödel flew his first RLV operation. The US Fifteenth Air Force sent a small formation of bombers to southern Germany.
Rödel led III. and IV. into battle with 87 Bf 109s against of formation of 92 B-24s, which formed part of the USAAF operation.
The battle cost Rödel ten Bf 109s and six pilots.
The Germans claimed 27 B-24s and were credited with 21. American losses amounted to six B-17s and 12 B-24s for a total of 18. Eight came from the 454th Bombardment Group.
Rödel claimed two B-17s.
III Gruppe claimed 12 B-24s for two losses.
On 2 April 1944, the Fifteenth bombed a ball-bearing and aircraft factory near Steyr.
Rödel claimed a P-47 Thunderbolt.
The following day, JG 27 scrambled to intercept large formations of Fifteenth bombers targeting Budapest. Other fighter units of the 7 Jagddivision could only reach the target area if given amply warning and Rödel’s Geschwader were the only German fighters to make contact. Three Gruppen attacked.
The Fifteenth confirmed lost four B-17s and one B-24 half the total amount Axis pilots claimed.
Rödel claimed one of the B-17s in the action.
B-17 Flying Fortress
15km SSW of Budapest @ 7000m
15th AAF. 2nd BG lost B-17G-20-BO 42-31465 of 49th BS. 97th BG lost B-17F-100-BO 42-30381 of 341st BS and B-17F-105-BO 42-30436 of 414th BS. 301st BG lost B-17G-10-VE 42-39986 of 352nd BS. Crew details pending
On 12 April 1944, the Eighth Air Force targeted Schweinfurt and the Fifteenth attacked targets around Vienna. Jagddivision 7 committed 190 fighters to battle and lost 21 in dogfights with the USAAF escorts.
American losses amounted to just seven bombers: fighter losses are not known.
Rödel claimed one of the seven B-17s.
On 12 May 1944, the Eighth Air Force struck at the petroleum industry near Bruz. 886 heavy bombers and 876 fighters began the operation. Luftflotte Reich committed 475 fighters in 22 fighter groups to intercept. II./JG 27 was able to get airborne and with II./JG 53 but came under attack from P-51 Mustangs.
The Bf 109s were able to break free and they intercepted the bomber stream over the Tannus Mountains, near Frankfurt.
Both groups reported successes but lost 11 Bf 109s.
Rödel claimed another pair of heavy bombers.
I. Grupppe claimed seven (plus two P-51s), III. Grupppe claimed 13, IV. Grupppe claimed five, while Stab./JG 27 claimed three bombers, 2 falling to Roedel.
Rödel led I. and III. personally but could not prevent his force losing 14 Bf 109s, three killed and seven wounded.
The 3rd US Bomb Division alone lost 41 bombers—possibly to attacks from JG 3 and 11—before the escorts intervened.
On 29 May 1944, Roedel succeeds in bringing another B-24 Liberator for his 94th victory claim.
St. Poelten @ 7000m
15th AAF. 98th BG lost B-24H-15-DT 41-28825, 449th BG lost B-24H-15-FO 42-52396 “Suzan Jane” of 718th BS. Another definite loss to fighters was B-24D-145-CO 42-41176 of 513th BS, 376 BG
464th BG lost B-24H-10-DT 41-28748 “Target for Tonight”, B-24H-20-DT 41-28969 to flak and fighters plus B-24H-30-FO 42-95336 to fighters as well. 484th (?) BG lost 41-28780
During June 1944, Roedel led the wing in the Battle of Normandy, and claimed four victories over Normandy.
On 6 June 1944 Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings began. Rödel was ordered to relocate to France immediately and he arrived at Champfleury, 60 miles (95 km) southeast of Paris late on 6 June. I., III., and IV. Gruppen were now pitted against the weight of Anglo-American air power.
On 29 June 1944, in the middle of Operation Epsom and Martlet, Rödel led his command flight into battle over Evreux against Hawker Typhoon fighter-bombers.
95th, 96th and 97th claims
29.6.44/1150, 1150 and 1157
3 x Typhoon Ib (mistaken for “P-47 Thunderbolts”)
NW of Evreux
183 and 193 sqns, 146 Wing. 193 had F/O J G Brown and P/O G L Bilz both damaged. One source says 373rd FG also involved
On 5 July 1944 he claimed a P-38 for his 98th and final air victory.
SSE of Gaye/Angleure S. Sezanne (PQ BH-55) @ 3000m
Overclaiming? No 8th or 9th AAF P-38s lost at this time
This was also the last of the 82 claims submitted by the Geschwaderstab in World War II. Rödel accounted for 28 of these 82 enemy aircraft.
On 2 November 1944, Rödel’s command suffered its worst loss of the war. Around 600 Eighth Air Force bombers attacked Merseburg-Leuna.
JG 27 could not penetrate the bomber stream, but claimed six P-51s battling escorting US fighter groups.
In return, JG 27 lost 50 Bf 109s with 27 pilots killed and 12 wounded.
By mid-December another 39 pilots were dead and 14 had suffered wounds.
On 16 December 1944, JG 27 participated in the Ardennes offensive but Rödel flew intermittently.
JG 27 was in constant action over Belgium from 16–29 December 1944 and suffered significant losses.
On 29 December 1944, he was relieved of his command. Long-term member Major Ludwig Franzisket replaced him.
On 1 January 1945, Rödel was appointed commander 2. Jagd-Division (2nd Fighter Division) based in Stade.
In this role, he also attended the meeting with Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring in what became known as the “Fighter Pilots Revolt”. The meeting took place on 22 January 1945.
In April 1945, his oldest son Rüdiger, still in his infancy, was killed in an RAF raid.
He served with the 2. Jagd Division until the German surrender in May 1945.
Spanish Cross in Bronze with Swords (6 June 1939)
Iron Cross (1939)
2nd Class (17 September 1939)
1st Class (19 June 1940)
Honour Goblet of the Luftwaffe (Ehrenpokal der Luftwaffe) on 14 December 1940
German Cross in Gold on 16 July 1942 as Oberleutnant in the II./Jagdgeschwader 27
Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes :
22/06/1941 as Oberleutnant (Staffelkapitän 4./JG 27)
Eichenlaub zum Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes (No. 255 ) :
20/06/1943 as Major (Kommodore JG 27)
On 16 March 1957, Rödel reentered military service in the West German Air Force. Following various training courses in the United States, in 1958, he was assigned to the Air Defense Division at NATO’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Paris.
His last service position was Sector Commander with the Second Allied Tactical Air Force (2 ATAF). On 30 September 1971, Rödel retired from military service. His final rank was Brigadegeneral (brigadier general).
Rödel died on 6 February 1995 in Bonn-Bad Godesberg and was buried at the cemetery Rüngsdorf (Section II–Grave 708).
Rödel was credited with 97 victories against the Western Allies and a single victory over Soviet Air Forces in over 980 combat missions.