Werner "Vati" Mölders
Oberst

Werner Mölders

    Werner "Vati" Mölders was born on 18 March 1913, at Gelsenkirchen in the Ruhrgebiet. He joined the army in 1931 and served as an officer cadet in the Infantry. In 1934, with the rebirth of the Luftwaffe as a result of Hitler coming to power, Mölders requested a transfer to become a pilot. At his first attempt to join the Luftwaffe, he was declared unfit for flying. He tried again and was accepted for flying training. He was badly afflicted by air sickness but overcame the problem through sheer willpower. On 1 July 1935, Leutnant Mölders was posted to Fliegergruppe Schwerin (later to be redesignated I./StG 162). He was appointed Staffelkapitän of 1./JG 334 (later to be redesignated 1./JG 53) on 15 March 1936. On 1 April 1936, he was transferred to the Schulstaffel of JG 134 to undertake instructing duties. For two years he was an instructor at Wiesbaden. He volunteered for the Condor Legion and arrived by sea in Cadiz on 14 April that year. He took over from Adolf Galland at the head of 3.J/88. During the Spanish conflict he showed considerable qualities not only as a pilot and marksman but also, and especially, as a tactician and organiser. Together with other airmen, in Spain he developed the technique known as the "finger four", or fan, which improved a flight's all-round vision and encouraged the pilots' initiative. Between 15 July and 3 November 1938, he shot down fourteen aircraft: eleven I-16 "Mosca", two Polikarpov I-15 "Chato" and one SB-2 "Katyuska", as well as one unconfirmed I-16 victory, most of these at the controls of  the Bf 109 C-1 coded 6-79 "Luchs". He was awarded the Spanienkreuz in Gold mit Schwertern und Brillanten in recognition of his achievements. At the end of the year he returned to Germany as the highest scoring German pilot of the Spanish conflict, with a glowing reputation and a maturity beyond his years and rank. At the beginning of World War II, Mölders was Staffelkapitän of 1./JG 53 "Pik As", based at Wiesbaden-Erbenheim. He became known by those under his command as "Vati" (Daddy) Mölders. He shot down his first aircraft of the Second World War on 21 September 1939, a French Curtiss 75 A fighter. On 1 November he went on to command  III./JG 53, also based at Wiesbaden-Erbenheim. On 27 May 1940, after his 20th victory, a French Curtiss 75 A SW of Amiens, he was promoted to Hauptmann and decorated with the Knight's Cross. He was shot down in combat on 5 June 1940, by French ace Sous Lieutenant René Pommier Layragues (6 victories) flying a D.520 of GC II/7 after having scored 25 victories during 128 missions and was taken prisoner. He was liberated two weeks later upon the armistice with France. He returned to Germany to be promoted to Major and given command of JG 51 as Kommodore. On 28 July 1940, during his first flight with his new unit, he succeeded in downing a Spitfire, but his aircraft was then hit by the enemy aircraft. Severely wounded in the legs, Mölders just managed to make an emergency landing at the airfield at Wissant in France. It was not until a month later that he was able to return to combat, most likely flying the Bf 109 E-4 W.Nr. 2404 (photographed on 31 August with 32 victory bars), as well as W.Nr. 3737, (shot down over England while being flown by Hptm Asmus on 25 October, with no stab markings according to the crash report, but 49 victory bars). He quickly brought his score up by downing 28 British fighters during the remainder of the Battle of Britain, including his 40th, a Spitfire over Dungeness, on 20 September, for which he was awarded the Oak Leaves (No. 2) the next day. On 22 October he downed three RAF Hurricanes to become the first Luftwaffe pilot to reach a score of 50 aerial victories. By the end of the Battle of Britain he had a total of 54 victories, and he would add one more before the end of the year.

Mölders with Grasser

Major Werner Mölders and Oblt. Hartmann Grasser of the Stab flight of JG 51 after a mission over the British Isles during the Battle of Britain. Grasser was later assigned to JG 11 and would survive the war with 103 confirmed victories.

    He continued flying and fighting over the Channel Front until early May, by which time he had brought down an additional 13 British aircraft. On 22 June 1941, the first day of Operation Barbarossa on the Eastern Front, he shot down four Russian aircraft, one I-153 and three SB-2 bombers, his 69th through 72nd victories, and was awarded the Schwertern (No. 2). He was the first pilot to surpass von Richthofen's WW I record score of 80 on 30 June, when he shot down 5 SB-2 bombers to score his 78th to 82nd victories on a day that JG 51 claimed 110 SB-2 and DB-3 bombers. He shot down a further four enemy aircraft on 5 July for his 83rd to 86th victories. On 15 July he became the first pilot in history to record 100 victories and was immediately awarded the Brillanten (No. 1), the first German soldier to be so recognized. He was immediately forbidden to fly combat on the personal orders of Göring. At only 28 years of age, he was promoted to Oberst and appointed Inspector General of Fighters on 7 August. Even though ordered to cease flying combat missions, he continued to do so and achieved several unconfirmed victories over the Crimea. He personally instructed many pilots on how to achieve success, and helped develop the  forward air controller concept. On 22 November 1941, he was flying as a passenger in a He 111 from the Crimea to Germany to attend the funeral of Ernst Udet. Landing during a thunderstorm at Breslau the aircraft crashed and Mölders and the pilot were killed. In his memory, on 20 December 1941, JG 51 was bestowed the honor name "Mölders".
    He flew a total of some 330 missions during the Second World War, 100 of these on the Eastern Front, during which he shot down a total of 101 aircraft,  33 of these in the East. He also was the top scorer of the Legion Condor in Spain with 14 victories achieved in some 100 missions, and helped develop many of the modern fighter tactics still in use today.
 
No
Date
Time
A/c Type
Unit
Location
Comments
1.
15.7.1938
-
Curtiss 3. J/88 Algar area  
2.
17.7.1938
-
Curtiss 3. J/88 N Liria  
3.
19.7.1938
-
Rata 3. J/88 W Villar del Arzobispo  
4.
19.8.1938
-
Rata 3. J/88 Flix area  
5.
23.8.1938
-
SB-2 3. J/88 Albi area  
6.
9.9.1938
-
Rata 3. J/88 Flix area  
7.
13.9.1938
-
Rata 3. J/88 Flix area  
8.
23.9.1938
-
Rata 3. J/88 SW Ginestar  
-
23.9.1938
-
Rata 3. J/88 not confirmed  
9.
10.10.1938
-
Rata 3. J/88 NE Flix  
10.
15.10.1938
-
Rata 3. J/88 W La Figuera  
11.
15.10.1938
-
Rata 3. J/88 Sierra de Montsant area  
12.
31.10.1938
-
Rata 3. J/88 NW Flix  
13.
31.10.1938
-
Rata 3. J/88 S Ribarroja  
14.
3.11.1938
-
Rata 3. J/88 Mola area  
15.
20.9.1939
14:30
Curtiss 1./JG 53 W Merzig Hawk H-75A of GC II/5, Armée de l’air flown by Sgt Queginer, baled out
16.
30.10.1939
11:12
Blenheim III./JG 53 Near Klüsserath Blenheim I (L6694) of 18 Sqn, RAF flown by Flt Lt AA Dilnot, crew killed
17.
22.12.1939
15:05
Morane III./JG 53 15km NE Metz Hurricane (N2385) of 73 Sqn, RAF flown by Sgt RM Berry, killed
18.
2.3.1940
12:20
Hurricane III./JG 53 Völklingen Possibly Hurricane I (L1808) of 73 S1n, RAF flown by F/O EJ Kain (19/0/2 victories), crash-landed at Toul
19.
3.3.1940
13:55
Morane III./JG 53 Metz Morane 406 of GC II/3, Armée de l’air flown by Cpl Chef Korber, crash-landed at Toul
20.
26.3.1940
15:00
Morane III./JG 53 Diedenhofen Hurricane I of 73 Sqn, RAF flown by F/O N Orton, returned damaged
21.
2.4.1940
12:10
Hurricane III./JG 53 St Avold Hurricane I of 1 Sqn, RAF flown by P/O CD Palmer, baled out
22.
20.4.1940
11:54
Curtiss III./JG 53 Zweibrücken area Probably Hawk H-75A (No 136) of GC II/4, Armée de l’air flown by Adj Chef Cruchant, crash-landed near Bliesbück badly wounded
23.
23.4.1940
11:14
Hurricane III./JG 53 S Diedenhofen Probably Hurricane I (N2391) of 73 Sqn, RAF flown by Sgt CNS Campbell, baled out wounded
24.
14.5.1940
16:30
Hurricane III./JG 53 Sedan-Charville  
25.
15.5.1940
13:05
Hurricane III./JG 53 Sedan  
26.
19.5.1940
9:35
Curtiss III./JG 53 NE Reims  
27.
20.5.1940
19:15
Vickers III./JG 53 Compiegne Possibly Vickers Wellesley
28.
21.5.1940
17:30
Morane III./JG 53    
29.
21.5.1940
17:50
Morane III./JG 53    
30.
21.5.1940
19:18
Morane III./JG 53    
31.
22.5.1940
17:50
Potez 63 III./JG 53 SW Mourmelon airfield  
32.
25.5.1940
18:55
Morane III./JG 53 Villers Cotterets Forest  
33.
27.5.1940
9:10
Curtiss III./JG 53 15km SW Amiens Mölders said it was a Bloch 152
34.
27.5.1940
9:11
Curtiss III./JG 53 15km SW Amiens Mölders said it was a Bloch 152
35.
31.5.1940
19:00
LeO 45 III./JG 53 Abbéville-Amiens LeO 451
36.
3.6.1940
14:30
Curtiss III./JG 53 Paris Possibly D.520
37.
3.6.1940
15:00
Spitfire III./JG 53 Paris  
38.
5.6.1940
11:20
Bloch III./JG 53 Compiegne  
39.
5.6.1940
11:23
Potez 63 III./JG 53 Compiegne  
40.
28.7.1940
-
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Dover Spitfire I of 41 Sqn, RAF flown by F/O ADJ Lovell (18.5/2/10.666 victories), crash-landed wounded
41.
26.8.1940
12:55
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Folkestone  
42.
28.8.1940
10:40
Curtiss Stab/JG 51 NE Dover  
43.
28.8.1940
18:40
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 Canterbury  
44.
31.8.1940
9:50
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 between Folkestone and Dover  
45.
31.8.1940
9:50~
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 between Folkestone and Dover  
46.
31.8.1940
9:50~
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 between Folkestone and Dover  
47.
6.9.1940
14:40
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Folkestone  
48.
7.9.1940
18:30
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 London  
49.
9.9.1940
18:45
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 London  
50.
11.9.1940
17:05
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 SE London  
51.
14.9.1940
17:40
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 SW London  
52.
16.9.1940
8:50
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 London  
53.
20.9.1940
12:34
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Near Folkestone Spitfire of 92 Sqn, RAF flown by P/O HP Hill
54.
20.9.1940
12:34
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Near Folkestone Spitfire of 92 Sqn, RAF flown by Sgt PR Eyles
55.
27.9.1940
17:00
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Near Maidstone Possibly Spitfire I (P9364) of 222 Sqn, RAF flown by Sgt E Scott (5/3/0 victories), killed
56.
28.9.1940
15:00
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Near Littlestone  
57.
11.10.1940
12:30
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Near Folkestone Spitfire I (X4562) of 66 Sqn, RAF flown by P/O JHT Pickering, baled out over Canterbury, wounded
58.
12.10.1940
10:40
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 Liquizue  
59.
12.10.1940
10:40
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 Cauberberg  
60.
12.10.1940
10:45
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 Dungeness  
61.
15.10.1940
9:15
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 Kneleig  
62.
17.10.1940
16:25
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 London  
63.
22.10.1940
15:40
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 NW Maidstone  
64.
22.10.1940
15:40~
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 NW Maidstone  
65.
22.10.1940
15:40~
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 NW Maidstone  
66.
25.10.1940
10:45
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 NW Dover Spitfire I (P7365) of 603 Sqn, RAF flown by P/O SF Soden
67.
25.10.1940
13:10
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Margate Spitfire I (P7309) of 603 Sqn, RAF flown by P/O P Oliver
68.
29.10.1940
13:55
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 Dungeness  
69.
1.12.1940
15:15
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 Ashforth  
70.
10.2.1941
17:29
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 5km NNE Calais  
71.
20.2.1941
16:56
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Dover  
72.
20.2.1941
16:59
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Dover  
73.
25.2.1941
15:20
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 N Gravelines  
74.
26.2.1941
18:22
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 SW Dungeness  
75.
12.3.1941
19:15
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Dungeness Spitfire II of 74 Sqn, RAF flown by Sgt JN Glendinning (4/1/1 victories), killed
76.
13.3.1941
15:22
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 SW Boulogne Spitfire of 64 Sqn, RAF flown by Sqn Ldr ARD MacDonnell (12.5.1.7 victories), baled out, POW
77.
15.4.1941
-
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Boulogne  
78.
16.4.1941
-
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 SW Dungeness  
79.
16.4.1941
-
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 S Le Touquet  
80.
4.5.1941
-
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 E Canterbury  
81.
6.5.1941
-
Hurricane Stab/JG 51 Dover  
82.
8.5.1941
-
Spitfire Stab/JG 51 Dover  
83.
22.6.1941
-
Curtiss Stab/JG 51   I-153 of 123 IAP/10SAD, VVS
84.
22.6.1941
-
SB-2 Stab/JG 51    
85.
22.6.1941
-
SB-2 Stab/JG 51    
86.
22.6.1941
-
SB-2 Stab/JG 51    
87.
22.6.1941
-
SB-2 Stab/JG 51    
88.
24.6.1941
-
SB-2 Stab/JG 51    
89.
25.6.1941
-
SB-2 Stab/JG 51    
90.
29.6.1941
-
Pe-2 Stab/JG 51    
91.
29.6.1941
-
I-16 Stab/JG 51    
92.
30.6.1941
-
SB-2 Stab/JG 51 Bobyruysk area  
93.
30.6.1941
-
SB-2 Stab/JG 51 Bobyruysk area  
94.
30.6.1941
-
SB-2 Stab/JG 51 Bobyruysk area  
95.
30.6.1941
-
SB-2 Stab/JG 51 Bobyruysk area  
96.
30.6.1941
-
SB-2 Stab/JG 51 Bobyruysk area  
97.
5.7.1941
-
SB-2 Stab/JG 51    
98.
5.7.1941
-
SB-2 Stab/JG 51    
99.
5.7.1941
-
I-18 Stab/JG 51   MiG-3
100.
5.7.1941
-
I-18 Stab/JG 51   MiG-3
101.
9.7.1941
-
Curtiss Stab/JG 51 Rogachev-Orsha-Smolensk area I-153
102.
9.7.1941
-
Curtiss Stab/JG 51 Rogachev-Orsha-Smolensk area I-153
103.
9.7.1941
-
I-16 Stab/JG 51 Rogachev-Orsha-Smolensk area  
104.
10.7.1941
-
RZ Stab/JG 51 Rogachev-Orsha-Smolensk area  
105.
10.7.1941
-
RZ Stab/JG 51 Rogachev-Orsha-Smolensk area  
106.
11.7.1941
-
E/a Stab/JG 51 Rogachev-Orsha-Smolensk area  
107.
11.7.1941
-
E/a Stab/JG 51    
108.
12.7.1941
-
E/a Stab/JG 51    
109.
13.7.1941
-
E/a Stab/JG 51    
110.
13.7.1941
-
E/a Stab/JG 51    
111.
14.7.1941
-
Pe-2 Stab/JG 51    
112.
14.7.1941
-
Pe-2 Stab/JG 51    
113.
14.7.1941
-
Pe-2 Stab/JG 51    
114.
15.7.1941
-
E/a Stab/JG 51    
115.
15.7.1941
-
E/a Stab/JG 51    
-
8.11.1941
-
Il-2 Stab/JG 77    

Victories : 115
Awards : Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds
Units : J/88, JG 53, JG 51

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