A Luftwaffe pilot in Africa, 1941

Luftwaffe Oberleutnant exchanges gifts with a native black Arab in North Africa. Original inscription: On the other side of the Mediterranean Sea. "Signal", U/Nr. 12/41. Photo taken by Kriegsberichter Sturm from PK-W (Propaganda-Company Wehrmacht).

The Luftwaffe squadron (wing) that fought during the North Africa Campaign was Jagdishwar 27 (JG 27). Synonymous with the Africa Corps and the campaign in North Africa, JG 27 provided combat protection for Rommel's forces for virtually the entire 'roller coaster ride' that was the war in the Western Desert from 1941–43.

Formed in Germany on 1 October 1939 (with Adolf Galland as I.Gruppe's CO), JG 27 saw considerable action during the Battle of France and Britain, downing 146 aircraft in the latter campaign alone. Sent to North Africa in April 1941, Geschwader had an immediate impact on the campaign, which was until then dominated by the Allies.

Fighting against the Desert Air Force's generally inferior Hawker Hurricanes and Curtiss P-40s, which were often flown by inexperienced and less trained pilots, the German Bf 109 suffered heavy losses, although serviceability in harsh conditions and chronic fuel shortages did greatly reduced the effectiveness of Geshvader. On March 24, 1942, Lieutenant Korner killed Douglas Boston, Geshwader's 1,000th victory.

The squadron achieved: 3,142 kills and lost 1,400 machines. Between 1939 and 1945, 725 pilots died. 24 pilots of the squadron received the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross. Nine of these pilots were awarded Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross.

Three of them also found swords on the Knight's Cross. Squadron ace Hans-Joachim Marseille was also the winner of the Knight's Cross with a diamond. This award has been given only 27 times.

Geschwader units on the Eastern Front claimed over 270 aircraft during operations in 1941, with just 16 aircraft lost in aerial combat.

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