Luftwaffe Orders of Battle January 1945

Orders of Battle of the Luftwaffe from 10 January 1945: strength and aircraft of the Luftflotten for the last phase of Second World War.

Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-14
This Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-14 of III./JG3 is pictured late in the war, with toned-down national markings.

The following is a summary of the strength of the operational units at the beginning of 1945, when the Luftwaffe was preparing for the final battles of the war.
The terrible losses of the last 2 1/4 years had left their mark and the force was a shadow of what it had been the Luftwaffe in September 1942.

The striking power of two once powerful air fleets had been reduced to almost nothing. The Soviet advance in the summer of 1944 had cut off Air Fleet 1 in Lithuania, whose 247 combat aircraft had to remain on the ground for most of the time due to lack of fuel.

Air Fleet 2 in Northern Italy was in an even more critical condition. Of its 68 aircraft, 23 were obsolete Ju 87 Stuka and the rest were reconnaissance aircraft of various types. This air fleet did not have a single fighter unit.

Even among the air fleets with a large stock of aircraft, the crippling lack of fuel led to a sharp decline in operations and several of the bomber squadrons were disbanded. Although the operational units flew combat missions with three types of jet aircraft – the Me 163, the Me 262 and the Ar 234 Blitz, less than a hundred of these modern machines were available for deployment. Thus, the Me 109 G, Me 110, Ju 87 Stuka, Ju 88 and He 111, all of which were still based on prewar designs and had become completely obsolete, were far more numerous and were still in service with many front-line units.

Orders of Battle Luftwaffe 10 January 1945

Aufklärungsgruppe = Reconnaissance group
Fernaufklärungsgruppe = Long-range reconnaissance group
Nahaufklärungs-Gruppe = Close reconnaissance group
Seeaufklärungs-Gruppe = Maritime Reconnaissance Group
Nachtschlachtgruppe = Night ground-attack group
JG = Jäger (fighter) Geschwader (Wing)
NJG = Nachtjäger (night-fighter) Geschwader (Wing)
SG = Schlacht (ground-attack) Geschwader (Wing)
ZG = Zerstörer (heavy fighter) Geschwader (Wing)
KG = Kampf (bomber) Geschwader (Wing)
LG = Lehr (operational training) Geschwader (Wing)
TG = Transport Geschwader (Wing)

Luftflotte 1

in Kurland (Lithuania)

UnitGroupMain aircraft typeTotalServiceable
Nahaufklärungs-Gruppe 5 (Close reconnaissance group)Bf 1092922
JG 51StaffBf 1092016
JG 54StaffFw 19011
I.Fw 1903532
II.Fw 1904140
SG 3III.Fw 1903935
Nachtschlachtgruppe 3Go 1453426
TG 1I.Ju 524542

Luftflotte 2

in Northern Italy

UnitGroupMain aircraft typeTotalServiceable
Nahaufklärungsgruppe 11Bf 1093129
Aufklärungsgruppe 122Me 41043
Ju 881210
Nachtschlachtgruppe 3Ju 872314

Luftflotte 3

in Western Germany and Holland

UnitGroupMain aircraft typeTotalServiceable
Nahaufklärungs-Gruppe 1Bf 109158
Nahaufklärungsgruppe 13Bf 1095139
Kommando Braunegg (Recon)Me 26252
Kommando Sperling (Recon)Ar 23444
Kommando Hecht (Recon)Ar 23411
JG 1StaffFw 19054
I.Fw 1902722
II.Fw 1904030
III.Fw 19040 35
JG 2StaffFw 19043
I.Fw 19028 23
II.Fw 19032
III.Fw 190196
JG 3I.Bf 1093122
III.Bf 1093226
IV. Sturm (assault)Fw 1903524
JG 4StaffFw 19021
I.Bf 1094133
II. Sturm (assault)Fw 1902518
III.Bf 1091310
IV.Bf 1092617
JG 11StaffFw 19076
I.Fw 1902320
II.Bf 1093731
III.Fw 1904226
JG 26StaffFw 19033
I.Fw 1906036
II.Fw 1906442
III.Fw 1905628
JG 27StaffFw 19022
I.Bf 1093324
II.Bf 1092520
III.Bf 1092823
IV.Bf 1092422
JG 53StaffBf 10941
II.Bf 1094629
III.Bf 1093925
IV.Bf 1094634
JG 54III.Fw 1904731
IV.Fw 1905039
JG 77StaffBf 10921
I.Bf 1094324
II.Bf 1093220
III.Bf 109107
SG 4StaffFw 1904917
I.Fw 1902924
II.Fw 1904036
III.Fw 1903424
Nachtschlachtgruppe 1Ju 874437
Nachtschlachtgruppe 2Ju 873926
Nachtschlachtgruppe 20Fw 1902821
LG 1StaffJu 8811
I.Ju 8829 25
II.Ju 8833426
KG 51StaffMe 26210
I.Me 2625137
KG 53StaffHe 111 (V-1)11
I.He 111 (V-1)3725
II.He 111 (V-1)3329
III.He 111 (V-1)3024
KG 66I.Ju 8829 17
KG 76III.Ar 234 Blitz1211
TG 3II.Ju 525048
TG 4III.Ju 525146
Transport-Gruppe 30He 111105

Luftflotte 4

in Hungary and Yugoslavia

UnitGroupMain aircraft typeTotalServiceable
Nahaufklärungsgruppe 12Bf 1092316
Nahaufklärungsgruppe 14Bf 1094625
Nahaufklärungs-Staffel KroatienBf 1092416
Fernaufklärungsgruppe 2Ju 882517
Aufklärungsgruppe 33Ju 881310
Aufklärungsgruppe 121Ju 18885
Fernaufklärungs-Gruppe NachtDo 21776
JG 51II.Bf 1093626
JG 52II.Bf 1093430
JG 53I.Bf 1091918
JG 76StaffBf 10944
SG 2StaffFw 190107
I.Fw 1903223
II.Fw 1903429
III.Ju 873529
10. (anti-tank) Staffel (squadron)Ju 87 G109
SG 9IV. (anti-tank) Gruppe (group)Hs 1295945
SG 10StabFw 19031
I.Fw 1902217
II.Fw 1902319
III.Fw 1902120
Nachtschlacht-Gruppe 5Go 1454739
Nachtschlacht-Gruppe 7Hs 1265437
Nachtschlacht-Gruppe 10Ju 873025
KG 4StaffHe 11111
I.He 1112522
II.He 1112312
III.He 1112411
TG 2II.Ju 521111
III.Ju 522816
TG 3III.Ju 523122

Luftflotte 5

in Norway and Finland

UnitGroupMain aircraft typeTotalServiceable
Aufklärungs-Gruppe 32Fw 19096
Aufklärungs-Gruppe 120Ju 881917
Aufklärungs-Gruppe 124Ju 881917
JG 5StaffBf 10944
III.Bf 1095543
IV.Bf 1094535
ZG 26IV.Me 4104135
Nachjäger-Staffel Norwegen (night fighter squadron Norway)Bf 110109
Nachschlacht-Gruppe 8Ju 873330
KG 26StaffJu 88114
I.Ju 883022
II.Ju 883732
III.Ju 883725
Seeaufklärungs-Gruppe 130BV 12221
BV 1382119
Transport-Gruppe 20Ju 525047
Seetransport-Staffel 2 (sea transport squadron)Ju 52 (float-planes)75

Luftflotte 6

in East Prussia and Poland

UnitGroupMain aircraft typeTotalServiceable
Nahaufklärungs-Gruppe 2Bf 1093530
Nahaufklärungs-Gruppe 3Bf 1095746
Nahaufklärungs-Gruppe 4Bf 1092321
Nahaufklärungs-Gruppe 8Bf 1092416
Nahaufklärungs-Gruppe 15Bf 1092013
Fernaufklärungs-Gruppe 1Ju 1882517
Fernaufklärungs-Gruppe 3Ju 1882215
Aufklärungs-Gruppe 22Ju 1881310
Aufklärungs-Gruppe Nacht (recon group night)Ju 883623
Aufklärungs-Gruppe 122Ju 882823
JG 51I.Bf 1093626
III.Bf 1093828
IV.Bf 1093424
JG 52StaffBf 109105
I.Bf 1093430
III.Bf 1094240
NJG 5I.Bf 1094335
NJG 100I.Bf 1095141
SG 1StaffFw 19055
II.Fw 1903938
III.Fw 1903836
SG 3StaffFw 19098
I.Fw 1904743
II.Fw 1903431
SG 77StaffFw 19066
I.Fw 1904034
II.Fw 1903831
III.Fw 1903830
10. (ant-tank) Staffel (squadron)Ju 87 G1916
Nachschlacht-Gruppe 4Ju 876047
KG 55IV.He 1111410
TG 3I.Ju 523627
Seeaufklärungs-Gruppe 126Ar 1962111
BV 13896

Luftflotte Reich

in Central Germany

UnitGroupMain aircraft typeTotalServiceable
Aufklärungs-Gruppe 122Ju 18897
JG 300StaffFw 19064
I.Bf 1095737
II. (assault)Fw 1904128
III.Bf 1094438
IV.Bf 1095339
JG 301StaffFw 19055
I.Fw 1903826
II.Fw 1904028
III.Fw 1902620
JG 400I.Me 1634619
NJG 1StaffBf 1102018
I.He 2196445
II.Bf 1103727
III.Bf 1103731
IV.Bf 1103324
NJG 2StaffJu 8887
I.Ju 884126
II.Ju 882820
III.Ju 884926
IV.Ju 883629
NJG 3StaffJu 8863
I.Bf 1104840
II.Ju 883023
III.Ju 883722
IV.Ju 883719
NJG 4StaffBf 11055
I.Ju 883417
II.Ju 882318
III.Ju 882819
NJG 5StaffJu 88108
I.Bf 1104329
III.Bf 1106660
IV.Bf 1105124
NJG 6StaffBf 1102923
I.Bf 1102612
II.Ju 882618
III.Bf 1102319
IV.Bf 1103729
Nachtjagd-Gruppe 10 (night-fighter group)Ju 881714
NJG 11I.Bf 1094330
II.Bf 10931ca. 18
Me 26210ca. 5
NJG 100II.Ju 882518
KG 100II.He 1774432
Bordflieger-Gruppe 196 (ship-based planes)Ar 1962523
KG 200different units, also for special and secret operationsvarious aircraft, including captured planes369267

The German Air Force in 1945

Messerschmitt K-4
Pictures of the last Messerschmitt variant are rare. Here a snowed-up K-4 fighter of the Luftflotte Reich in the winter of 1944-45.
The last major deployment of the German Luftwaffe also took place immediately on 1 January 1945. When the allied pilots and ground personnel were still celebrating New Year in their canteens, there was a lot of activity at the German airfields.

In the morning hours of the first day of the New Year, ‘Operation Bodenplatte’ began, with which the Allied air forces, which since the clearing of the winter weather have so badly affected the German troops in the Ardennes during their major offensive in the West, were to be eliminated, at least temporarily.
It is not possible to determine the exact number of German aircraft deployed, and the figures range from 800 to 1,500 aircraft taken off. The diary of the OKW, however, reports 1,035 aircraft ready for action for this day.

Practically all flying units of Lieutenant General Schmid’s Luftwaffe Command West were brought up against 13 British and four American airfields in northern France, Belgium and southern Holland with the help of pathfinder planes.
For the Allies, the air strike came as a complete surprise, because, as with the Ardennes offensive, their intelligence services had already missed the German preparations and transfer of entire squadrons to advanced airfields.

The ground fog delayed the take-offs of many aircraft, so that all of them took place between 7:25 and 9:20 am. The approach had to take place at an altitude of less than 200 meters below enemy radar and under absolute radio prohibition.
Hitler had again issued the highest level of secrecy and so not even the anti-aircraft gunners were inaugurated. And just the especially strong 16th Flak Division under Major General Deutsch protected exactly in this area the important launching positions for the V-1 flying bombs and V-2 missiles.

Operation Bodenplatte: burning Spitfires
Burning Spitfires at the RAF base St Denis-Westrem in Belgium during an attack by German fighter-bombers at Operation ‘Bodenplatte”.
Before that, however, the German planes succeeded in destroying about 439 Allied aircraft in their raids within a very short time, mainly on the ground. At first, they lost 93 aircraft themselves to Allied fighters and anti-aircraft guns.
On the return flight, however, their own anti-aircraft guns, which had not been warned, shot down another 184 German planes, which naturally regarded the planes returning from the west in low level flight as enemy incursions. This increased the German losses to 277 aircraft and among the killed were 59 highly experienced leading pilots.

On the same and next day 570 heavy US bombers attacked the Rhine bridges of Remagen, Neuwied and Koblenz. This disrupted the German lines of communication, which soon brought the Ardennes offensive, which had already been weakened by the increasing Allied resistance, to a complete collapse.
Also in the first days of the new year a change in British deployment tactics occurred to the previous attacks on Berlin. From the night of January 3rd to 4th, only Mosquito bombers flew in groups of 35 to 50 aircraft, loaded with heavy 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) bombs, disruptive attacks on the German capital. These short attacks usually lasted only a few minutes, but every night they woke the population up and continued well into April 1945.

On January 12, 1945, the last Soviet winter offensive began with the Battle at the Vistula. The Soviets were many times superior in numbers and so even in the air the 4,800 Red Air Force planes were matched by only 300 German aircraft.

He 111 launching V-1 flying bomb
From the autumn of 1944 the only effective strategic bomber force of the Luftwaffe was KG 53 which operated Heinkel He 111’s equipped to launch Fi103 flying bombs (V-1).
On 14 January 1945 at 4.30 a.m. the last of 1,200 Fieseler Fi 103 ‘flying bombs’ launched by He 111 bombers hit Great Britain.

From the night of 22nd to 23rd January 1945, the heavy strategic bombers of the RAF Bomber Command attacked the German railway junctions; in cooperation with the American bombers of the 8th US Air Force by day. The increasing transport difficulties caused by the devastated railway network further worsened the German military situation. Allied fighter-bombers destroyed numerous vehicles in attacks on the road network. On 22 and 23 January 1945 alone, 6,000 vehicles were destroyed during the German withdrawal from the Ardennes.

At the same time, fuel shortages increasingly deterred the German Air Force from missions. Many Geschwader (Wings) received only just enough fuel to bring a single squadron into the air each day and sometimes even fuel was missing for the evacuation from the airfields threatened by Allied ground forces.
The V-1 retaliation weapon, on the other hand, was continued in January 1945 with 100 take-offs per day from the Eifel and Holland against the important Allied supply port of Antwerp and the city of Liège. Greater London was also still under fire from the V-2 missile.

Me 262 jet-fighter
Me 262 jet-fighter landing.
It was not until February 1945 that Colonel Steinhoff’s first regular Jäger Geschwader (Wing) 7, equipped with jet fighters Me 262, became operational. In addition to this came the fighter unit 44 under Lieutenant General Galland, which had been replaced by Göring because of his criticism as General of the fighter pilots.

The fiercest air raid on Berlin took place on 3 February 1945, when 937 B-17 Fortresses and B-24 Liberator with 613 escort fighters P-51 Mustang and P-47D Thunderbolt appeared over the densely clouded sky of the Reich capital. Within 53 minutes 2,667 tons of bombs were dropped, which represented the first American terror attack on residential areas. There were about 23,000 dead among the population, while 36 American bombers and 9 escort fighters were lost.

At the same time, the Soviet advance on the Oder forced the German Luftwaffe to transfer practically all squadrons and anti-aircraft units to the Eastern Front. As a result there was even a temporary German air superiority over the Oder area.

victims of the terrorar attack on Dresden
For days, the victims of the terror attack on Dresden on 13-14 February 1945 were burned on rail grates.
In the night of February 13-14, 1945, the terror attack on Dresden ordered by Churchill himself was carried out by 773 Avro Lancaster of the RAF. Presumably the attack was also intended as a demonstration of power against the Soviets on the approaching Eastern front.
The anti-aircraft batteries of the city, which had hardly been affected by the war so far, had all been moved to the approaching eastern front for anti-tank defense. Only 27 German night fighters were able to take off for action that night, but none of them were in action over the Dresden area.

Therefore, 16 square miles (20 square kilometres) of the Dresden city area was been destroyed that night and the fires could be seen up to 200 miles (320 kilometres) away. During the entire Second World War, however, the German Luftwaffe was unable to destroy even 1.9 square miles (2.4 square kilometres) of Greater London.
However, the commander of the Wehrkreis (Military district) reported that the military damage was insignificant.

At noon on 14 February, 311 B-17 Flying Fortresses bombed the burning Dresden. The Mustang escort fighters strafed the refugees on the congested arterial roads in the absence of other targets. The next day 210 more American bombers attacked the city.
The airfields, barracks, communications and transport links and huge supply depots for the Eastern Front were not hit. Instead, the German Federal Statistical Office reports today the number of dead in the city, which is overcrowded with refugees from Silesia, at 60,000, while other estimates range up to 245,000 dead.

On Thursday, February 22, 1945, the Allies launched Operation ‘Clarion’, in which rolling attacks were flown against German traffic targets all day. During two days, about 9,000 Allied aircraft were deployed at a time and practically all traffic connections and junctions in Germany were shut down.

After a long time, in March 1945 the intruder attacks of German long-range night fighters over Britain were resumed. In the night from March 3 to 4, 1945, more than 100 German night fighters chased a stream of British bombers which had flown an air raid into the Dortmund area. Nineteen heavy British bombers were shot down on landing that night and another seventeen were destroyed on the ground.

Shortly afterwards, on 6 March 1945, an He 111 with a Hs 132 glider bomb managed to hit one of the bridges captured by the Red Army near Görlitz at the Oder. Two days later, ‘Mistel’-teams (fighter connected with an unmanned bomber as directed ‘flying bomb’) succeeded in destroying two more Oder bridges.

M16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage protect Remagen bridge
M16 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage try in vain to protect the on this picture still intact bridge over the Rhine at Remagen.
In the meantime, however, the Americans had already crossed the Rhine in the West when, on 7 March 1945, the 9th US Armored Division surprisingly managed to capture the Ludendorff railway bridge near Remagen over the Rhine, which was to shorten the war in Europe by several weeks.
Therefore, on 13 March, the German Air Force began to attack the bridge with all available units. 360 fighter-bombers as well Me 262 and Ar 234 Blitz jet bombers of the IIIrd group of the 76th Kampfgeschwader (Combat Wing) were deployed on this important strategic target on this day alone.
Later, also ‘Mistel’-teams and even eleven V-2s in the first tactical missile operation were used against the bridge.
Finally, the already badly damaged bridge collapsed, but only after the Americans had already formed a strong bridgehead on the eastern bank of the Rhine. And on March 24, the British under Montgomery also managed to cross the Rhine at Wesel.

Bielefeld Viaduct after being attacked by Lancaster
The Bielefeld Viaduct after being attacked by Lancaster Specials of 617 Sqn, which dropped one Grand Slam and several Tallboys on the structure on 14 March 1945. The large craters visible in this picture are those left by the Tallboys, while the Grand Slam made a rather smaller hole, penetrating deep and exploding underground.
In the meantime, the heaviest air raid of the Second World War in Europe took place on 12 March 1945. The target was Dortmund, which had already been devastated before, when 1,107 British Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax bombers dropped 4,851 tons of bombs.
On March 14th, a 10-tonne ‘Grand Slam’ bomb destroyed the important Bielefeld railway viaduct, which thus was unusable until the end of the war.

On March 18, Berlin also experienced its heaviest air raid of the Second World War, when 1,221 heavy American day bombers dropped more than 4,000 tons over the city center. Although there were fewer victims than in the air raid on 3 February 1945, the damage to the city was considerably more extensive. 48 American bombers and 5 escort fighters could be shot down, of which eight bombers and all 5 Mustang fighters were brought down by the 37 Me 262 jet fighters of JG 7.

Recovery of V-2 victims
Recovery of victims from the last V-2 strike on London.
On 27 March 1945 the last two V-2 missiles hit Britain, the first of which killed 130 people in a block of flats in Stepney in East London.
A total of 1,115 V-2 rockets hit England; 517 of these hit London. There were 2,724 dead and 6,467 seriously injured.
On March 29, the last of a total of 9,200 flying bombs launched against Britain also reached the island. Of these, more than 1,000 crashed after take-off and 3,957 were destroyed by the British defense from fighter planes, anti-aircraft guns and barrage balloons. Nevertheless, there were 6,139 dead and 17,239 seriously injured in Britain.
Another 8,000 V-1s hit the area around Antwerp and another 4,000 hit other targets in Belgium.
On 5 April 1945 the V-2 bombardment, which had been now directed exclusively against Antwerp, Brussels and Liège in the last days, ended finally.

On 7 April 1945 the ‘Sonderkommando Elbe’ (Special Commando Elbe) went into combat. These ‘Rammjäger’ (Ramming fighters) under the command of Colonel H Herrmann with hardly trained young pilots opened fire only at short range on American bombers, which attacked Dessau. Each pilot was to shoot down at least one bomber and if not otherwise possible, ram it.
It came to the last big air battle over Europe, in which between 120 and 183 German ramming fighters and escorting Me 262 of JG 7 were in action. Only 15 fighters of the ‘Sonderkommando Elbe’ returned and 77 German pilots were killed and 51 American bombers were reported destroyed.

The last mission of the German Luftwaffe over Great Britain took place on 10 April 1945, when a jet reconnaissance aircraft Ar 234B-1 flew from Stavanger in Norway over Scotland.
On April 17th, during the Soviet offensive on Berlin, there were still 1,433 German aircraft in the northern section and 791 of Luftflotte 6 further south on the Oder Front. However, the Red Air Force had about 7,500 aircraft at its disposal.
The last strategic air raid against Berlin was on April 20, 1945 by 150 heavy American bombers. The following night saw the last arriving of Western Allied aircraft over Berlin, when at 2 a.m. Mosquito Intruder Bombers of the RAF appeared again over the Reich’s capital, which became a front line city that day.

In the night from May 2 to 3, 1945, the Royal Air Force flew the last air raid on Germany with 125 Mosquito bombers. In the process 174 tons of bombs were dropped on the port of Kiel and there was no more German air defense.

Hauptmann Erich Hartmann (left) and Major Gerhard Barkhorn (right), both of JG52
In the history of aerial warfare, only two fighter pilots have achieved more than 300 victories – Hauptmann Erich Hartmann (left) and Major Gerhard Barkhorn (right), both of JG52.
On May 8, 1945 at 8:30 a.m., Major Erich Hartmann took off again for his last mission from Brod in Czechoslovakia. With his Me 109 G he shot down one of a group of eight Yak-9s over Brno, which was his 352nd air victory and probably the last of the entire German Luftwaffe.
The last loss of the German Luftwaffe was a single He 111 near Prague, which was shot down by Soviet fighters that day.

German fighters shot down about 70,000 enemy planes during the Second World War, 45,000 of them over the Eastern Front. 103 German fighter pilots achieved more than 100 air victories.
The German fighter and destroyer squadrons lost about 55,000 aircraft. Between September 1, 1939, and February 28, 1945, 44,065 German crew members were killed, 28,000 were wounded, and 27,610 were captured or missing.

References and literature

Luftkrieg (Piekalkiewicz)
Das große Buch der Luftkämpfe (Ian Parsons)
Luftwaffe Handbook (Dr Alfred Price)

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