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The Henschel Hs 129 in Tunisia
By Andrew Arthy
The Henschel Hs 129 arrived in Tunisia in November 1942 with 5.(Pz.)/Schlachtgeschwader 1, which had previously operated on the Eastern Front. In Tunisia the Hs 129 enjoyed some success, especially in December 1942.
|An anandoned Hs 129 in North Africa.|
Thursday 26 November 1942
At 12:15 [original time] six Hs 129s - ‘X + BC’, ‘+ RF’, ‘+ RB’, ‘+ RH’, ‘+ RO’, and ‘H + SB’ - arrived at Bari, having flown from Jesi.
Friday 27 November 1942
Saturday 28 November 1942
Sunday 29 November 1942
Three Hs 129s of 5./Sch.G. 1 arrived in Tunis.
During the night of 29/30 November a truck was to arrive at Bizerta airfield to fetch Fw. Sander and two men, along with 800 rounds of 30 mm ammunition and weapons equipment for 5./Sch.G. 1. III./Z.G. 2 was to ensure immediate loading occurred. The three men were to arrive in Tunis by 05:30.
Monday 30 November 1942
5./Sch.G. 1 flew one mission with two Hs 129s. One tank was destroyed on this mission.
By the evening forward German elements had reached four kilometers north of Chouigui.
At 20:00 [original time] orders were passed from the Führer der Luftwaffe Tunis to his units for the German offensive set to commence at dawn on 1 December. For J.G. 53, the first target in support of the army would be in and around Chouigui. The Luftwaffe was warned to be on the lookout for friendly units. Recognition signals were to be orange visual signals, ground strips, with white light signals fired in the direct of the enemy. If enemy strong points were considered to be priority targets, they would be indicated by arrows with details of the distance to the target.
Tuesday 1 December 1942
5./Sch.G. 1 flew no mission on the first day of December 1942.
Wednesday 2 December 1942
Two missions with nine Hs 129s were flown against tanks and vehicle concentrations near Tebourba. The effects of the attack were not seen.
II./J.G. 51 flew two escort missions totaling nine sorties for Ju 87s and Hs 129s.
Thursday 3 December 1942
5./Sch.G. 1 flew a two aircraft mission against ground and artillery targets at Tebourba. Effects of the mission were not seen.
Friday 4 December 1942
There were three Hs 129 sorties in Tunisia on this day.
There was a three aircraft Hs 129 mission against vehicles and tanks south-west of Tebourba. A 5./Sch.G. 1 pilot claimed a Hurricane damaged.
Saturday 5 December 1942
5./Sch.G. 1 carried out just two sorties on the fifth. They attacked vehicles south-west of Tebourba with bombs and cannon. There was light anti-aircraft fire. One aircraft received hits from enemy fire.
Sunday 6 December 1942
Two Hs 129s flew a mission. Two or three tanks in the area of Bir Mcherga were “wirkungsvoll geschossen”.
Monday 7 December 1942
5./Sch.G. 1 flew a seven sortie mission during the day. The target was tanks in the area south-west of Bir Mebirga, south of Tunis. Eight tanks and Panzerspähwagen were destroyed.
Tuesday 8 December 1942
There was very poor weather in Tunisia. The Hs 129s flew no mission.
Wednesday 9 December 1942
5./Sch.G. 1 was the only Luftwaffe unit to operate on this day. Two missions with four Hs 129s were flown against tanks and vehicles in the area of Pont du Fahs, Goubellat and Bou Arada. Three tanks or Panzerspähwagen were destroyed. There was opposition from machine guns, and there were also two enemy fighters over the target area on one of the mission.
Thursday 10 December 1942
5./Sch.G. 1 flew no missions on this day due to bad weather.
Friday 11 December 1942
Four Hs 129s of 5./Sch.G. 1 took off from El Aouina to fly armed reconnaissance in the area of Goubellat – El Aroufsa – Pont du Fahs, but due to bad weather the mission was called off.
Saturday 12 December 1942
At 10:30 ten Hs 129s attacked a column of fifteen to 20 vehicles south-east of Goubellat. This column had been spotted by reconnaissance at 09:15 on the road from Medjez el Bab to Goubellat heading south, and was noted to include tanks, Panzerspähwagen, artillery and other vehicles. The Hs 129s set on fire three tanks, one Panzerspähwagen, 5 Art-Zug, and one truck. Two other trucks were destroyed. The column was defended by light anti-aircraft fire and machine-gun fire. Three Hs 129s received machine-gun hits.
5./Sch.G. 1 claims were as follows:
Set on fire – five tanks, one Spähwagen, five Zugmaschinen, two trucks
Damaged – two tanks, one truck with four-barreled anti-aircraft gun
Sunday 13 December 1942
5./Sch.G. 1 flew two missions with four Hs 129s. They attacked tanks at Goubellat. One Panzerspähwagen was destroyed.
Two other missions had to be broken off due to contact with fifteen Spitfires.
The Führer der Luftwaffe Tunis noted that on the 12th and 13th enemy fighters were regularly operating over the area of Goubellat, Bou Arada and Pont du Fahs.
Monday 14 December 1942
There were no Hs 129 missions on this day.
Tuesday 15 December 1942
Again 5./Sch.G. 1 flew no missions.
Wednesday 16 December 1942
5./Sch.G. 1 did not fly any missions on the 16th.
Thursday 17 December 1942
No missions were flown by 5./Sch.G. 1.
Friday 18 December 1942
Two Hs 129s of 5./Sch.G. 1 searched for a submarine south of Hammamet, without luck.
Saturday 19 December 1942
Bad weather restricted operations in Tunisia. 5./Sch.G. 1 flew no missions as a result of this.
Sunday 20 December 1942
5./Sch.G. 1 flew five sorties during the day.
One mission was flown with two Hs 129s looking for a submarine south of Hammamet, without luck.
The other mission involved three Hs 129s against columns on the road from Pont du Fahs to Yahia. This mission was called off due to bad weather.
Monday 21 December 1942
At 15:12 on a reconnaissance mission a variety of targets were attacked at Goubellat. One Panzerspähwagen, an ammunition vehicle and two trucks were set on fire. Between Bou Arada and El Aroussa two trucks and four cars were damaged.
On a 15:45 reconnaissance mission to Mateur – Medjez el Bab – Tebourba, two vehicles were destroyed. At Pont du Fahs – Yahia three Panzerspähwagen and five trucks were damaged. South-south-east of the reservoir two Panzerspähwagen and four vehicles were shot up and damaged.
Six Hs 129s of 5./Sch.G. 1 flew armed reconnaissance to the Bou Arada – El Aroussa – Goubellat area.
II./J.G. 51 provided escort for 5./Sch.G. 1.
II./J.G. 51 destroyed one tank, a bus, six trucks and one “Z.kw.” Three tanks were shot up and damaged.
5./Sch.G. 1 destroyed one Panzerspähwagen, one gespanzertes Munitionsfahrzeug, two trucks, and two tanks. In addition two trucks and two tanks were shot up and damaged.
Tuesday 22 December 1942
5./Sch.G. 1 flew thirteen sorties on this day.
5./Sch.G. 1 attacked targets on the road from Pont du Fahs to Yahia, and near Djebel Chakeur. One armoured vehicle and eight vehicles were destroyed. Ten vehicles were damaged. Bombs fell amongst cavalry and horse-drawn vehicles. An ammunition dump was also hit.
II./J.G. 51 flew three mission with twelve Bf 109s to escort Hs 129s.
J.G. 51 pilots claimed eleven trucks destroyed, and four more damaged.
Two Hs 129s were lost, although the pilots were with Axis troops.
A Hs 129 was shot down by an enemy fighter near Kairouan. The pilot was reported to be dead.
Wednesday 23 December 1942
Three Hs 129s flew armed reconnaissance. At 08:00 at Sloughia they saw four trucks. They then flew to Bou Arada and El Aroussa. The Hs 129s then destroyed one medium tank, one Panzerspähwagen, and one truck. One medium tank and one car were shot up. Around Bou Arada, El Aroussa, Medjez el Bab and Goubellat there was combat with twelve Spitfires around 08:00.
Hs 129 claims amounted to one medium tank destroyed, one Panzerspähwagen destroyed, and one truck destroyed, along with one medium tank and one truck damaged.
Four Bf 109s of II./J.G. 51 provided escort for the Hs 129s.
II./J.G. 51 destroyed one truck.
Thursday 24 December 1942
Two Hs 129s of 5./Sch.G. 1 flew armed reconnaissance. At around 08:40 there were many vehicles at Medjez el Bab. They then flew to El Aroussa, and Bou Arada. The only opposition was anti-aircraft fire. The mission was broken off because of bad weather.
A Hs 129 of 5./Sch.G. 1 made a forced landing near Kairouan. Despite crashing, the pilot was not hurt.
II./J.G. 51 provided escort for Hs 129s.
Friday 25 December 1942, Christmas Day
Very poor weather meant that the Hs 129s did not operate on Christmas Day.
Saturday 26 December 1942, Boxing Day
5./Sch.G. 1 did not operate on the 26th.
Sunday 27 December 1942
Hs 129s flew a morning reconnaissance at around 08:30. They reconnoitered Medjez el Bab, Oued Zarga, Souk el Khemis, Beja, Teboursouk, Testour, and Djebel Chirich. The Hs 129 pilots destroyed five vehicles, and damaged others.
In the morning there was an army operation on the southern part of the Tunisian front, which was supported by Luftwaffe ground-attack units, including Hs 129s.
Eight 5./Sch.G. 1 Hs 129s flew an armed reconnaissance mission 25 km south-west of Pont du Fahs. Five vehicles were destroyed, and others damaged.
II./J.G. 51 searched for a missing pilot during the day, without luck.
A Hs 129 of 5./Sch.G. 1, piloted by the Staffelkapitän, Oblt. Oswald, was down in the water on the reservoir 20 km south-west of Pont du Fahs.
Monday 28 December 1942
The escort Rotte for a Hs 129 mission had combat at 08:00 with six P-38s south-west of Pont du Fahs. One P-38 was shot down.
In the afternoon there was a Hs 129 mission escorted by II./J.G. 51, which ran into a mission by P-38s and escorting Spitfires. Three of the Hs 129s were shot down, with two making forced landings in German territory.
The Führer der Luftwaffe Tunis noted that this showed that Hs 129 operations were “only possible with heavy fighter escort” and that “the Hs 129 is completely defenceless against enemy fighters”.
5./Sch.G. 1 flew eight sorties during the day. The unit claimed five vehicles destroyed, and two vehicles and many tanks damaged. 5./Sch.G. 1 claimed two P-38s damaged, one Spitfire shot down, and one Hurricane shot down.
II./J.G. 51 flew seven missions with 18 Bf 109s escorting Hs 129s and reconnaissance aircraft, and on low-level attacks.
Oblt. Oswald, the missing Staffelkapitän of 5./Sch.G. 1, returned with Axis troops on this day.
Tuesday 29 December 1942
5./Sch.G. 1 flew no missions on this day.
Wednesday 30 December 1942
Again 5./Sch.G. 1 flew no missions.
Thursday 31 December 1942, New Year’s Eve
5./Sch.G. 2 did not undertake any missions on 31 December 1942.
In December 1942 thirteen Hs 129 B-2s were assigned in the area of Luftflotte 2.
Friday 1 January 1943
Saturday 2 January 1943
Sunday 3 January 1943
Monday 4 January 1943
Tuesday 5 January 1943
Wednesday 6 January 1943
Thursday 7 January 1943
14 January 1943
15 January 1943
22 January 1943
There was a very successful air raid on El Aouina. Amongst the aircraft damaged were two Hs 129 B-2s.
23 January 1943
24 January 1943
25 January 1943
26 January 1943
27 January 1943
31 January 1943
During January 1943 Luftflotte 2 assigned seven Hs 129 B-2s.
11 February 1943
Between 11 November 1942 and 11 February 1943, 5./Sch.G. 1 had flown 96 sorties, and 8./Sch.G. 2 had flown fifteen. Eight Hs 129s had been lost, according to the documents of the F.d.L. Tunis captured by the Allies.
12 February 1943
8./Sch.G. 2 had its headquarters at El Aouina.
13 February 1943
At El Aouina were three Hs 129s and one Ju 87.
14 February 1943
At El Aouina there were now four Hs 129s.
15 February 1943
28 February 1943
In February 1943 Luftflotte 2 assigned eight Hs 129 B-2s.
31 March 1943
During March 1943 no Hs 129 B-2s were assigned by Luftflotte 2.
15 April 1943
Up to 15 April 1943 seven Hs 129 B-2s were assigned by the Luftflotte 2 QM.
22 April 1943
By this date most of 8./Sch.G. 2 had been transferred out of Tunisia. Only 30 men were left to be transferred out.
23 April 1943
In the evening there were five Hs 129s serviceable under Fliegerkorps Tunis.
24 April 1943
25 April 1943
Early on this day four Hs 129s with cannon were to transfer to E35, El Aouina.
27 April 1943
On this date Hs 129 W.Nr 0351 of 8./Sch.G. 2 was shot down and destroyed by anti-aircraft fire west of Tunis, although the pilot was not hurt.
1 May 1943
In the evening Fliegerkorps Tunis reported seven serviceable Hs 129s.
5 May 1943
Flg. Gert Borghardt of 8./Sch.G. 2 was shot down and killed by anti-aircraft fire in Hs 129 W.Nr 0386 at Mateur.
8 May 1943
8. Pz.Jg.St. of Sch.G. 2 had six aircraft, of which three were serviceable. There were nine pilots, of which three were ready to fly operations.
BA-MA RL 7/30
BA-MA RL 7/31
BA-MA RL 7/34
NA AIR 22/78
NA AIR 40/2415
NA HW 5/166
NA HW 5/168
NA HW 5/204
NA HW 5/205
NA HW 5/240
NA HW 5/244
More to come soon ...
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