Tracking a Pilot Career in Rowan's Battle of Britain
by Len "Viking1" Hjalmarson
Game: Battle of Britain
Version: UK Release
Category: Air Combat Simulation (WWII)
Developer: Rowan Software
Publisher: Empire Interactive
Release Date: North America - January 2001, UK - Released
Links: | Playable Demo | First Look | Preview | Message Forum |
Article Date: January 5th, 2001
Article Type: How-To
If you are a serious virtual pilot, there are two things that you look for in a good military flight simulation: immersion, and a sense of history.
The first isn’t hard to come by in most good simulations these days, but the latter is sometimes lacking. One of the things that contributes, however, is the individual gamer’s knowledge of history, and the ability to track an individual career via an alter ego that you create for yourself.
While Battle of Britain lacks a true career mode, there is plenty in the game on which to anchor actual history. All of the historic squadrons are here, as well as the historic bases and towns, all where they should be. Even squadron leaders are here, and aircraft have their proper markings.
In the next image you’ll see a slightly modified paint scheme, taken during one of my forays as a pilot in JG26 in the Battle of Britain. Notice the prominent Schlageter emblem on the yellow nose of the Me109.
BoB Screen Capture Modified Paint
Albert Leo Schlageter was from the South of Germany, a small town named Schoenau in the Black Forest. At the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted in the army at age 19, and became an officer in the Artillery.
Wounded twice, he was fortunate to survive the campaign. After further actions against the Poles, he returned to the Rhineland to disrupt the French occupation and was captured after blowing up a section of the Duisburg to Düsseldorf rail track. He received a sentence of death and was executed on 26th May 1923. His burial plot became a German nationalist shrine and, when the French withdrew, a tall stainless-steel cross was erected on the site, and ceremonies were held on the anniversary of his execution each year.
The coming years were to see the restoration of the Rhineland back under German control and military occupation. In 1938 the Geschwader, then JG 132, were based at Cologne and Düsseldorf airports. The local people felt a great pride in them and adopted them as their own.
With honor restored, it was suggested that the Geschwader take the name of a local hero. The name "Schlageter" was accepted by the Luftwaffe High Command, and the title Jagdgeschwader 132 "Schlageter", awarded at a ceremony on 11th December 1938. A suitable emblem was adopted, a gothic S in a shield, and was displayed on all the units aircraft from 1939-1941.
For those unfamiliar with German military nomenclature, let’s cover the basics:
Jagdeschwader: (JG) Fighter Wing, commanding three or four Gruppen.
Geschwader: the largest mobile, homogeneous, Luftwaffe flying unit.
Gruppe: the basic Luftwaffe combat and administrative unit.
Schwarm: flight of four aircraft
Rotte: tactical element of two aircraft
JG26 was commanded by Oberleutnant Ritter von Schleich in 1938 and 1939, then by Major Hans Hugo Witt from December, 1939 to June, 1940. Major Gotthardt Handrick took over in June and commanded until the 21st of August. Major (equivalent to Lt. Colonel) Adolf Galland, who had commanded the third Gruppe of JG26 since June, took over command of the Jagdeschwader in August and commanded until his promotion in May of 1941. Major Gerhard Schopfel assumed Galland’s old position as commander of the third Gruppe under his command.
From the outset of the Battle of Britain many pilots of the JG26, and particularly of the third Gruppe, showed particular ability. Under Galland’s leadership that ability grew. He was an able leader and an excellent combat instructor.
Galland’s first combat victory in Europe was a Hurricane in France on May 12th, 1940. Shortly afterward he was transferred to JG26, and shot down two fighters in his first mission with them. On July 18th he was promoted to Major and received the Ritterkreuz (Knights Cross) on August 22, 1940, for his 17th victory. On September 25th he received the Oak Leaves for his Knights Cross for his 40th victory.
The reputation of Adolf Galland and the III/JG26 continued to grow until they acquired a nickname, “the Abbeville kids,” by the Allied pilots who strove with them for air supremacy.
Map of France
On the 21st of July JG26 was ordered to the channel coast. The three combat Gruppen occupied airfields within a few miles of coast at Calais: the First at Audembert, the Second at Marquise and the Third at Caffiers. The Messerschmitts were parked beneath trees, where available, and under camouflage netting.
At the beginning of the battle the Geschwader fought as individual Gruppen; the wing was considered too large to fight effectively as a unit. The forty aircraft Gruppe employed a formation that was flexible and superior to the formation employed by the RAF at the time. The fighting element was the Schwarm of four aircraft flying in the “finger four” formation. The typical Staffel formation was a broad vee containing the three Schwarme.
The Schlageter’s first missions to England were flown on the 24th of July. At the time the British were continuing to run convoys of small colliers through the Channel. Shortly before noon on the 24th the British detected a German formation approaching a convoy. The raiders were two Staffeln of Do-17s escorted by forty Bf109s of Galland’s III/JG26. No. 54 Squadron’s Spitfires intercepted the 109s while six Spitfires of No. 65 Squadron attacked the bombers.
The fighter combat was long and vicious. Two German aircraft were lost in exchange for two Spitfires, one claimed by Major Galland. Galland later stated that this first engagement removed any doubts that the RAF would prove a brave and formidable opponent.
A Virtual Career in JG26
It is possible to create a virtual alter ego in the Battle of Britain and pursue a consistent career. Here is what I did.
I brought up the Control Menu by clicking on the left most VCR style control in the Operations Room map interface. I then elected to be notified when the Third Gruppe of JG26 was taking off
I elected to be notified on takeoff, but could have chosen a particular time or a particular size of engagement. If you want to fly with a greater sense of involvement in the battle, flying from engine startup to forming up to engagement is the way to go. If you have AUTO engine management selected, you won’t have to worry about finding the right fuel switches, magnetos and the like, and your engine will be running when you hop into the crate. (You will still have to release the brakes using the < and > keys.)
If you want to fly for Adolf Galland’s JG26, this paint mod is almost finished. You’ll notice some increased detail at various points of the airframe and some cleaned up textures. Simply copy the three files from the zip to your \IMAGEMAP directory. It’s a good idea to create backups of the original files first.
DOWNLOAD FILE >>> jg26-109mod.zip
A First Person Account from Galland on Adlertag
"The opening day of September, 1940, saw my group once again provide cover for the bombers of KG76. The target was Kenley airfield and the bombers were able to get their attack in before the RAF fighters arrived. Around 30 fighters attacked and I was successful in downing a Hurricane."
Galland's victim was one of nine Hurricanes lost by 79 and 85 Squadrons in this action, and it has not been possible to establish which of the nine he shot down.
"Tuesday September third found us escorting KG2's Dorniers to North Weald. This airfield was very heavily damaged during this attack. We were engaged by RAF fighters as we returned to the coast and I downed another Hurricane."
257 Squadron lost 4 Hurricanes as they attempted to get past JG26's fighter screen to the bombers. Again it has not been possible to establish which of the four Galland shot down.
"The following day I led two escort missions as the airfield at Eastchurch was attacked but we made no contact with RAF fighters. The next day we flew to the London area but failed to entice any RAF fighters into the air. On September sixth I led my group on another escort mission, this time the target was RAF Farnborough. The RAF fighters were waiting for us and we had to fend off several attacks. I downed a Hurricane in one of these attacks. In the afternoon I led another escort mission for bombers attacking Rochester Airfield. We were attacked by Spitfires but I failed to score although the group claimed five Spitfires as destroyed."
Galland's success on September sixth was over a Hurricane of 601 Squadron and was one of four they lost that morning.
"In mid-afternoon on September eleventh I led an escort mission to cover the bombing of installations along the Thames. We came under heavy attack and in the general melee I was able to down a Hurricane."
The Hurricane is believed to be that of Sergeant Pickering of 501 Squadron. He had been flying one of 11 Hurricanes that left Kenley that afternoon to patrol over Maidstone. There they met a large enemy force of Dornier Do 17s and Me 109s, which they mistakenly identified as Heinkel 113s -- indeed the Heinkel He 113 fighter never flew in the Battle of Britain. In the combat that followed the sump of Sergeant Pickering's aircraft, P5200 coded SD-W, was shot away. He managed to bale out and came down in the Guards Barracks at Caterham. The aircraft, crashed into Happy Valley, Old Coulsdon and was in 1986 the scene of an archaeological dig by the Medway Aviation Group.
For more information:
Reference: Donald Caldwell, JG26: Top Guns of the Luftwaffe.
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