6th Jan 2002 :See also 'Fifty five new III Gruppe victory claims' released by the German military archive, Freiburg
See also 'Luftwaffe Aircraft Losses By Theatre, Sept 43 - Oct 44', which helps put JG 26's contributions and sacrifices in to perspective.

combat graph - claims/losses

The table and figures on this page include the recently released additions

Except for I Gruppe's short spell on the Eastern Front and the 7 month tour in the Mediterranean by 7 Staffel, the above figures represent combat in and against the West. The figures represent a remarkable ratio of claim v loss, especially when the hectic activities of the late war period are taken into consideration. Often outnumbered and fighting a defensive campaign against mass RAF and USAAF bomber formations escorted by hundreds of fighters, the "Schlageter" Geschwader did it's best to help stem the onslaught. The claim figure of 2726 is not as high as most other Geschwader, though not for JG 26 the luxury of easy pickings in the East.

The graph and table represent claim and loss accounts by Gruppen for each year of the war. For each pair of bars, the left = victory claims; the right = combat losses (killed or missing in action + taken prisoner). These are compiled from data obtained by Don during his extensive research into the Geschwader’s historical records.

Research into Luftwaffe victory claims is hampered by a lack of official documentation. At the end of the war, the Luftwaffe destroyed (or hid) its master list of victory confirmations. However, "confirmed claims" would be an unsatisfactory statistic in any case. It frequently took more than a year for confirmations to be awarded by Berlin, and it appears that no claim filed after November, 1944, was ever confirmed. As JG 26's claims were for the most part quite accurate, the graph has been based on "claims considered valid by the unit" rather than "confirmed claims". We are fortunate in having the claims lists for the First and Second Gruppen for the entire war, and virtually all of the claims of the Geschwaderstab. No complete lists exist for the Third or Fourth Gruppen. However, "milestone" claims totals for the Geschwader (e.g., 2000, 2500) were widely reported, and have been used to estimate the Third Gruppe's claims totals for the graph. Estimates of the Fourth Gruppe’s total claims were provided by survivors; details appear to be missing for fewer than ten.

The casualty data, on the other hand, can be considered to be accurate. The records of the Wehrmacht's World War II casualties are maintained with great care by the Deutsche Dienststelle, the German personnel bureau in Berlin. According to the official records, Jagdgeschwader 26 lost 701 pilots in combat (killed, missing, or taken prisoner.) The graph shows these combat losses in order to provide a direct comparision with the victory claims, but the Geschwader suffered many other losses which should be recognized. 121 pilots were killed in aircraft accidents—wing or engine failure, bad weather, lack of fuel, takeoff and landing mishaps, air collisions, and the catch-all "loss of control". Five pilots died in other types of accidents. And approximately sixty ground personnel died during the war, from a variety of causes.

Records of injuries are less comprehensive, but it is known that more than 300 JG 26 pilots were wounded in combat (some several times), and more than 100 were injured in flying accidents. Some of these men were put back on flying status within days, but many never returned to combat. Details may be viewed in the full casualty listings.


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