Müncheberg, Joachim.

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Müncheberg, Joachim.
germanyFlyer AceLuftwaffeMajor

Müncheberg, Joachim, born on 18-12-1918 at Friedrichsdorf in the Dramburg, the second child of Paul Müncheberg, a farmer, and his wife Erika, born Ulrich. His sister Eva-Brigitte was one and a half years older. His father had served as a cavalry officer of the reserves during World War I. The hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic forced his father to sell their farm Friedrichshof in 1923; they resettled in Königsberg, where Müncheberg started his elementary schooling (Grundschule). His father was able to repurchase their old farm in 1927 and the family moved back to Friedrichshof. Müncheberg completed his elementary school in Falkenburg, Pomerania. He walked or rode on a horse-drawn wagon 24 kilometres (15 mi) each way to school. In 1928 he transferred to the Realgymnasium (a type of secondary school) in Dramburg and graduated with his Abitur

Müncheberg, who was talented in sports and athletics, played football for the T.V. Falkenburg youth team in the early 1930s. He attended the Sturmabteilung-sports school in Hammerstein for a few weeks in 1934 and in 1935 spent his summer vacation in Bulgaria where he, among other places, stayed at the Rila Monastery. In early 1936 he attended a National Socialism course in Lauenburg, Pomerania. He completed his compulsory labour service (Reichsarbeitsdienst) in October 1936 with Abteilung (department) 5/50 in Lüttmannshagen, district of Cammin. As an athlete, he especially excelled in the decathlon; almost daily he practised the ten different disciplines. Aged 17, he attended a summer camp held in conjunction with the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.

His interest in flying was kindled by his cousin Hermann Hackbusch, a pilot during World War I, who often took Müncheberg to the Berlin-Staaken airfield for sightseeing flights. Müncheberg volunteered for service in the then newly emerging Luftwaffe and started his recruit training on 04-12-1936 in the Army of the Wehrmacht. Müncheberg spent his 1936/37 winter vacation in Altenberg in the Erzgebirge.

He then attended the III.Lehrgang (3rd training course) in the 4. Schülerkompanie (4th student company) at the Luftkriegsschule 1 (1st Air War School) in Dresden as a Fahnenjunker (Officer Applicant) from 1 April to 30 June 1937. A year later he completed his flight training there and was promoted to Fähnrich (Officer Cadet) on 16-12-1937. He transferred to the Luftwaffe in 1938 and attended the Jagdfliegerschule (Fighter Pilot School) in Werneuchen, under the command of Oberst (Colonel) Theodor Osterkamp. Osterkamp survived the war and died 02-01-1975 (aged 82) in Baden-Baden, Müncheberg was then posted to I. Gruppe (1st group) of Jagdgeschwader 234 (JG 234—234th Fighter Wing) under command of Major Gotthard Handrick, stationed at Cologne on 23-09-1938. Handrick who won the gold medal in the modern pentathlon at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, survived the war and died 30-05-1978 (aged 69) in Ahrensburg. In October 1939, Müncheberg joined III./JG 26. under command of Oberst Eduard Ritter von Schleich,  Eduard Ritter von Schleich died on 15-11-1947, aged 59 years, from a heart condition. Schleich was buried in Diessen am Ammersee, near Munich. Leutnant Müncheberg was assigned to 10.(N)/JG26. On 23 September, he was appointed Adjutant of III./JG 26. He recorded his first victory on 7 November:a RAF Blenheim twin-engine bomber  shot down near Opladen. During the invasion of France, Müncheberg claimed eight French and British aircraft shot down . Oberleutnant Müncheberg had recorded 10 victories by end of July 1940. On 22-08-1940, he was appointed Staffelkapitän of 7./JG 26. On 14-09-1940, he was awarded the Ritterkreuz.  Müncheberg achieved his 20th victory the same day. He claimed 14 victories during the Battle of Britain.  From February 1941, Müncheberg’s unit operated in the Mediterranean theatre from bases in Sicily

   The unit was to achieve success out of all proportion to its size. Hurricane V7430, piloted by Pilot Officer R.J. Goode, is shot down on 28-03-1941 in Pwales Valley, Malta. Goode apparently is the victim of Luftwaffe ace Joachim Müncheberg of JG 26.  The unit gained 52 victories without losing a single pilot. Müncheberg claimed almost half of the victories. In addition to flying missions over Malta, Müncheberg also flew over Yugoslavia in support of the German invasion of the Balkans. He claimed a JKRV Fury biplane fighter shot down near Podgorica on 06-04-1941 and claimed another as a ground victory. Müncheberg had mis-identified his victims. Both victories were, in fact, over Avia BH-33 biplane fighters.  On 07-03-1941, Müncheberg was awarded the Eichenlaub (Nr 12)  and the Italian Medagalia d’Oro.  Müncheberg had 43 victories to his credit. A sojourn in Libya during June-July 1941, to support Erwin Rommel’s    Afrika Korps repel the British relief of Tobruk, saw Müncheberg add a further five victories to his tally. In August 1941, 7./JG 26 was transferred to France. Müncheberg shot down a RAF Spitfire fighter near Dunkirk on 29 August to record his 50th victory. From the time he returned from North Africa until he left JG 26 in late June 1942, Müncheberg was to claim 35 victories of which 34 would be Spitfires, including his 50th victory on 29 August, his 60th on 8 December, his 70th on 26-04-1942 and his 80th on 2 June. On 19 September, Müncheberg was promoted to the rank of Hauptmann and appointed Gruppenkommandeur of II./JG 26.  On 22-07-1942, Müncheberg was posted to the Eastern Front to join Jagdgeschwader 51 ., under command of Oberstleutnant Karl-Gottfried Nordmann   Karl-Gottfried Nordmann survived the war and died at his home on 22-07-1982, age 66, in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA. Nordmann’s wife was named Tina. They had a son, Eric, and a daughter, Corinne.On 5 September, Müncheberg recorded his 100th victory. On 9 September, he was awarded the Schwertern (Nr 19)  following his 103rd victory. Müncheberg achieved 33 victories over Russian aircraft (84 – 116). However, Müncheberg was shot down twice during his four weeks on the Eastern Front. On 01-10-1942, Major Müncheberg was appointed Kommodore of Jagdgeschwader 77 , succeeding Major Gordon Max Gollob, Gollob, Gordon Mac  , operating over North Africa, Sicily and Tunisia. Müncheberg added 24 victories to his victory total but had to force-land his Bf 109 G-2 (W.Nr. 10725)  following aerial combat with RAF Kittyhawk fighters on 10-12-1942.

Death and burial ground of Müncheberg, Joachim.


Joachim Müncheberg, above with General der Flieger Adolf Galland 

, died of wounds after an engagement in his Bf 109 G-6 (Nr 16 381) on 23-03-1943 over Tunisia when his 135th victim, a USAAF 52nd Fighter Group Spitfire  exploded in front of him after a close range burst of cannon fire, incapacitating Muncheberg’s aircraft. The Spitfire was piloted by Captain Theodore Sweetman. Müncheberg managed to bail out and landed, severely wounded.  Although the search team quickly recovered him, Müncheberg died of his injuries on the way to a field hospital. Captain Hugh L. Williamson, who was also shot down in the engagement, later stated that he thought Sweetmann had deliberately rammed Müncheberg’s aircraft with his burning Spitfire. Müncheberg’s body was originally buried at El Aouina; it was later moved to the “Heroes’ Cemetery” at Tunis. In the 1950s it was moved again and re-buried at the German Military Cemetery at Bordj-Cedria. The Wehrmachtbericht announced his death on 25-03-1943, age 24..

Joachim Müncheberg  scored 135 aerial victories in over 500 missions. 102 victories were achieved over the Western Front and 33 on the Eastern Front. He shot down at least 46 Spitfire fighters




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