Diary Iasi 2


Targul Frumos 1
Intro Sonja & Katja
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Continuing the war diary of operations Katja / Sonja:

1st of June

In the morning (10:00 Berlin), an attack from German 79.ID & 23PzD just west of Stanca is supported by artillery and the Luftwaffe. It starts successfully, but after an hour the situation worsens for the Germans and they give in.

Strong AAA in the area Carpiti - Rediu Metripoliei hinders axis air operations.

Around noon, constant attacks by IL2-groups are reported in the combat zone as well as behind it. These groups are as big as 20-30 planes plus fighter escort.

Nevertheless, German fighters only claim one Sturmovik today: Uffz. Anton Resch, 3./JG 52, alt.300m at 09:15. Above that, 19 fighter claims are recorded, eight of them P-39 (205IAD looses four Cobras that day). Reports also indicate that the Soviet fighters fly free hunt in addition to escorts missions.

At 9:30, PzGrnRgt. 128 and PzPiBtl.51to its right attack the west side of Height 197 while being supported by Schlachtflieger. But the attack ends in vain and the group from PzDiv.23 has to return to it starting positions.

Soviet fighters record 31 enemy aircraft shot down today, three from Yak-units, five from Lavochkin-regiments. 9GIAD alone contributing 17 kills. This stands against 5 known German losses. One of these losses is a Storch from JG52 (Fi 156 Werknr. 448 213 + OA). But for this, there can only be found two Soviet claims on the 31st of May by Kapitan G.A. Rechkalov "South-East Porcheshti" and another one by V. A. Merenkov (897.IAP) on 2nd of June "at Height 226 / Romania". The other is a Bf 109G-6 (Werknr.165 019 NP+ IE) from 5./JG52 which ends as a crash fire with its pilot Fhj. Fw. Heinrich Horn (24) from Berlin on board at 14.55 Uhr ca. 12 km northeast of Iasi. Supposedly this fits to record of 104 GIAP: N.N. Klimov and I.I. Rychashkov each shot down a Messerschmitt during a patrol between 16.15 and 17.20 (Moscow Time).

A La5F, identifiable by the shape of the air intake. Often, Soviet pilots flew with open canopies in order to always be able to leave the aircraft and because of bad quality of the Plexiglas. This lowered maximum speed by ca. 20km/h.

The Romanian 8. Attack group has only 15 Henschels left in flyable condition, but it still manages to make 66 sorties, dropping 35 tons of bombs. A Schwarm of Hs 129 is attacked by Soviet fighters. One loss is recorded for SG9 this day, which might reflect this attack.

In the afternoon, the weather worsens, allowing only 650 combat sorties to be flown by the Axis. This is also reflected in the claims, only two are after 15:00. Reports of 8.Armee indicate that 31 soviet tanks were destroyed today, six of them by the Luftwaffe.

2nd of June

At 3:00, the second German operation "Katja" starts in the western and center part of the battle area:
- In the center, Stanca is retaken until ca. 8:00, after the Soviets had pushed the Axis out in a night attack. Here, the Soviets counterattack without success on the whole front from Stanca up to Goldesti.
- In the western part, Horlesti is reached by Gruppe Knobelsdorff (24. PzDiv & "Großdeutschland"). This is achieved despite strongly built Soviet defensive positions, minefields and Pak-nests.
Until 6:00, small thunderstorms prevent flying, at least on the German side. Later in the morning, Schlachtfieger destroy rivercrossings near Carpiti. The VVS supports the counterattacks in the East, while the main operation by Gruppe Knobelsdorff is more or less free from aerial bombardements. Support by own air forces for Gruppe Knobelsdorff is appraised as being "exemplary". This is also obvious from the report of a german infantry squadron leader: 

"The emptiness of the battlefield during this operation was frightening. No masses of Panzers, no big gatherings of Grenadiers of Russians, no vehicle accumulations in valleys and ditches. More or less, nothing was to be seen. I didn't know where the neighbours advanced. Wether we were at the right place - I was also not sure, because the maps were too bad.
[..] I saw a flat field, which fell down towards a valley. This field surely was full of mines. Therefore, I with the 30 men of my squadron which I only had taken command of yesterday, and whom I didn't know at all, advanced along that ridge in a long line. Suddenly, to the left, a Sturmgeschütz appeared. Right, on the other side of the valley, ca. 2km away there  was strong combat noise. In the valley, nothing was to be seen. [...]
A dozen Stukas arrived, circled not far from us around a peak and then commenced to dive. That was ca. 800m in front of us. We shot light signals and I drove my men onwards. [...] Now, we had the worst before us: Up there had to be the Russian, we couldn't see him, the Stukas were circling and diving, but soon they would to be done and then the Russian would come out of his foxholes again. We again shot light signals and orange smoke. Sometimes, a Stuka came so deep that we could see him from the side in his cockpit. He shook his wings as he recognized us. At the last power of lung, into the trench. No Russians visible." [24.PzD, Rebentisch]

The first Luftwaffe kills are around 8:45 (two Sturmoviks). During the day, only 22 Abschüsse are recorded, out of which six are Sturmoviks and two are Bostons (both 10:45). The rest of 14 being fighters, mostly P-39. Added to this should be the claims by the ground units: i.e., at least five were recorded from the heavy Army Flak batallion GD. 129.GIAP from 205.IAD looses two Cobras while claiming not a single kill. Losses of other VVS-units are not known.

 On the other "side of the fence", the VVS-fighters claimed minimum 17 victories: seven Me 109, five Fw 190, two each of Stukas and Hs 129 and even a Storch.
There is one german 100%-loss of a Me 109 known in II./JG52 (details?). Further a Fw 190 of I./SG10 is totally lost in combat. But Luftwaffe also looses planes to "not combat-related" reasons, of which two Fw 190 from II./SG2 are total losses.
I.N. Koshedub, the famous Soviet fighter ace, reports a Hs 129 near Stanca while his comrade V.F.Mudresov also claims such a plane shot down. One of these fits to a Hs 129 which was filed by 14./SG9 as a total loss with its pilot Flieger Bruno Nindler KIA after an attack by fighters at Cucuteni, 15km W Iasi (Werknummer 141850).

 Oberst Willy Langkeit and comrades (PzGrDiv "G.D.") meet in front of a Panther tank, presumably near Jassy [Bundesarchiv]

After noon, the VVS shifts its focus westwards to the attack of Gruppe Knobelsdorff, while the Luftwaffe also stays active there. Luftaufklärung (aerial reccon) in the afternoon reports 120 cars North of Sculeni and circa 16 tanks plus 30 trucks moving towards Epureni from the West and several other observations. Altogether, the Luftwaffe flies 650 sorties.

3rd of June

After a request by  Gruppe Knobelsdorff, the Luftwaffe attacks Epureni, height 181, MalayaTayata (a crossing southwest of Epureni) and Larga. By 10:20, the Red Air Force gets more and more active over Gruppe Knobelsdorff, while the right flank (Mieth) is spared out.

Around 11:00, Uffz. Wester from 9./JG52 is involved in a dogfight. His Gustav receives hits in the engine and cabine area, he is wounded in his left arm and has to jump clear of his machine. Heinz Sachsenberg from 6./JG52 is also wounded, but continues flying at least three days later.

3./JG52 takes off in Husi to intercept a group of 30 enemy fighters. Fw. August Rieckhoff and Ltn. Franz Schall each claim one around noon.

At 13:00 (Moscow Time) 81.GBAP (Kapitan Gusenko) bombs Axis Panzers and motor vehicles in the area of Harlau. Only 10 minutes later, an attack by 162.GBAP (Major Reshidova) against targets at Zahorna begins. Altogether, seven tanks, ten cars and two guns are stated as destroyed in the report. This attack seems to not have made contact to German fighters, who did not claim any kills around that time plus minus 40 minutes (15:00 Berlin time).

A Ju87D is bombed up on the Eastern Front in summer 1944

 Around 21.30 (sic), over Iasi Soviet fighters are reported, while an attack by Knobelsdorff is hindered by a combined IL-2 and fighter-group.

Luftwaffe's claims 32 aircraft shot down. Two are a bit special: Uffz. Jung from 2./NAGr.14 shoots down two R-5 biplanes east of Botosani, 50km deep in enemy territory. The others include nine IL-2's, the rest of 21 being fighters. No details of Soviet losses are known, except that 205.IAD has no loss recorded.

Fighters from 5 VA claim to have shot down 46 planes over the day, but altogether, Luftwaffe reports only two combat losses and ARR looses three Hs 129s. Several other planes are damaged including a Ju 88. Here, the data has some potential inconsistencies.

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Last update 14.11.11