• Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-4, Günther Rall, 5 May 1943

Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-4 flown by Hauptmann Günther Rall, 8./JG 52, Taman/USSR, 5 May 1943

From mid April and throughout May 1943 one of the largest air battles in the Second World War was fought over a small piece of land called the Kuban Bridgehead in north-western Caucasus.

Here the Germans manage to maintain a bridgehead which tied down large Soviet forces that otherwise should had been deployed in the Red Army Ukraine offensive.

During those air battles thousands of aircrafts was to be committed and large air combats was fought, mainly between the fighters of both sides.

When the air battle ended on 31 May the VVS (Soviet Air Force) claimed 1100 German Aircraft for the own loss of 469 aircraft lost in combat. On the another side the German fighter pilots claimed 1030 enemy aircraft shot down for the loss of 40 Messerschmitts.

Resent research have shown that this battle in fact was rather one sided, the Luftwaffe lost 148 planes destroyed at Kuban. So according to the somewhat inflated claims, the participating German fighter units, JG 3 and JG 52 should have chalked up 25 victory claims for each own loss, in reality they manage to shot down ten enemy aircraft for every loss.

One of this claims over the Kuban Bridgehead was filed by Hauptmann Günther Rall who on the fifth of May claimed a Aircobra at 12.09, his second abschuss this day.

The pilot Rall shot down was one of the VVS greatest aces at this time, Kapitan Vadim "The Beard" Fadeyev. Fadeyev with 17 kills (+ 3 shared) at this time was able to make a bell-landing in a swamp. However he would succumbed to his wounds in the cockpit of his Aircobra before receiving medical help.

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Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-4, Günther Rall, 5 May 1943

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