1./JG 53 – The Luftwaffe’s ‘Ace of Spades’

Nine Messerschmitt Bf 109E-equipped Jagdgeschwaders would take part in the Battle of Britain, each of which was made up of nine staffels. Chris Goss relates the story of one of these – 1 Staffel/Jagdgeschwader 53

As Europe spiralled into political chaos and the shadow of another war grew on the horizon during the summer of 1939, some of the Luftwaffe’s pilots were no strangers to combat, having honed their skills in Spain as it tore itself apart in a civil war that had lasted three years from July 1936.

Commanded by Legion Condor ace Hptm Werner Mölders, 1 Staffel (unit) / Jagdgeschwader (fighter wing) 53 – 1./JG 53 – scored the wing's first ‘kill’ of what would become World War Two on September 9, 1939; Ofw Walter Grimmling, another Spanish Civil War veteran, downing a reconnoitring Bloch MB.131.

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