Biplane fighter aces


Hauptmann Harro Harder

28 November 1912 – 12 August 1940

Harro Harder was born on 28 November 1912 in Freiburg.

He was appointed as Staffelkapitän in 2./JG 232 on 1 April 1936.

Harder took part in the Spanish Civil War as a member of the Legion Condor.

Another shipment of 60 crated Heinkel He 51s, disguised as agricultural machinery, arrived in Seville on 18 November 1936, for assembly at Tablada.
The arrival of these fighters heralded the adoption of Plocher’s new unit designation for the fighter group as Jagdgruppe 88. The Gruppe was to be led initially by Major Baier, who fell ill and was replaced by Hauptmann Hubertus Merhart von Bernegg.
The three Staffeln were established as 1.J/88 under Hauptmann Werner Palm, 2.J/88 under Hauptmann Siegfried Lehmann and 3.J/88 (intended to undertake ground-attack sorties) under Hauptmann Jürgen Roth, who led a new batch of pilots that had recently arrived via Cadiz. These included Feldwebel Peter Boddem, Oberleutnant Harder, Erwin Kley, Oberleutnant Günther Lützow, Douglas Pitcairn and Leutnant Rolf Pingel. The original cadre of Heinkel pilots already in Spain were mustered into 4.J/88 under Hauptmann Herwig Knüppel.

Like their predecessors, the new German pilots viewed operating conditions in Spain with some shock and disdain. Harder lamented that Tablada was a ”jackass station where the situation was awful. We would welcome an opportunity to sort things out. The fighters sit here and don’t go anywhere. The entire operation appears increasingly like some great escapade controlled by incompetent staff officers. Are our operations justified by results? Why can't we have better aircraft?”

On 4 January 1937, the He 51 B-1s of J/88 escorted Ju 52/3ms bombing enemy positions when they were surprised above Torrijos by Republican I-15s. The escorting fighters claimed three enemy fighters over the Bilbao area when Leutnant Wolf-Heinrich von Houwald (2 Staffel) claimed an I-16 and Unteroffizier Erwin Sawallisch (4 Staffel) and Oberleutnant Harder (1 Staffel) claimed an I-15 each. Oberleutnant Harder (flying He 51 B-1 2-64) described his first claim for a subsequent propaganda article:

“I hear machine guns behind me. A Red is coming for me sharply from above, his radial engine appearing like a giant eye. I pull “2-64” into a turn and the Red streaks past with two of our fighters already in pursuit. Far below, down in the valley, I see one turning around. Using my superior speed I know I can block him off. I get behind him, fire, he turns, I cut him off, another turn, the smoke twists from my tracer shells disappear into his machine. Now he climbs, black, with a red band in front of the tail, rolls onto his back and plunges almost vertically to the ground. I pull myself together - the intoxication has blinded me to everything else going on. I see a He 51 nearby. Exhausted, I pull up and fly to Vitoria, where I make a low-level loop over the airfield.”
One Ju 52/3m from 3.K/88 was lost over Bilbao when they attacked the Campsa fuel depots. Oberfeldwebel Adolf Hermann and Karl Schmidt parachuted but Feldwebel Herbert Barowski, Unteroffizier Paul Ziepek and Gefreiter Hans Schüll were all unable to escape the burning bomber and were all killed. This was the only bomber loss on this day. Once upon the ground, Oberfeldwebel Adolf Hermann tried to defend himself with his pistol from an armed mob but was rapidly overpowered. His body was dragged through the streets of Bilbao provoking a demand for rerisals by the Legion Condor which were, however, refused.
The Republicans reported that eight I-15s intercepted nine Ju 52/3ms escorted by 20 He 51s, claiming two Ju 52/3ms and two He 51s. One Ju 52/3m crashed near Bilbao while the second crashed at Vitoria airfield. Spanish sources credit the Ju 53/3m that was shot down near Bilbao to alférez Felipe del Río Crespo from the Escuadrilla de Chatos del Norte. There is some confusion in this claim since Soviet sources credits the Ju 52/3m shot down at Bilbao to Leitenant Sergei Bulkin while the second was credited to Leitenant Nikolai Petrukhin (both from Escuadrilla Turzhanskii). No claimants for the He 51s have been found.
One I-15 was lost when teniente Juan Roldán Maldonado of the Escuadrilla de Chatos del Norte was shot down and killed in I-15 ‘15’. Three more I-15s were damaged and Leitenant Petrukhin was wounded.

In January 1937, the He 51 was withdrawn as a fighter aircraft in Spain.
The change in mission meant that Hauptmann Siegfried Lehmann’s 2.J/88 with ten He 51s was moved to Vitoria, in northern Spain, while another Staffel was sent to León. The other units remained on the Madrid Front at Escalona and Ávila. From Vitoria, the Heinkels engaged in regular ground-attack missions, dropping fragmentation bombs on Basque positions and strafing road transport where enemy forces had launched an attack at Villarreal de Alava.
Oberleutnant Harder commented:

“We were all convinced that it was madness to continue sending the He 51 s on escort missions over Madrid. The Ratas played cat and mouse with us. Even the “Martin” [SB] bombers were at least 50 km/h faster than us. The morale of the pilots was excellent, but all the guts in the world were useless with such technical inferiority. So once again we were to be employed in low-level attacks. Apparently, several more of us would have to be shot down before they became convinced of the stupidity of these orders.”

On 19 March, as part of another reorganisation of the Legion Condor, Oberleutnant Günther ‘Franzl’ Lützow assumed command of 2.J/88 at the new north-eastern airfield at Vitoria. The Staffel was to operate the Bf 109 exclusively, with an initial strength of seven machines, while 1.J/88 under Oberleutnant Harder and 3.J/88 under Douglas Pitcairn retained the He 51, with a nominal strength of ten aircraft each. They operated from the new and old north-western airfields, respectively.

Oberleutnant Harder was appointed Staffelkapitän of the 1.J/88 on 6 April.

On 27 April, von Richthofen gave J/88 ’a free rein to attack the roads around Guernica’. The He 51s flew high sortie numbers during the battle for the heights near Amorebieta and the 200 metre-high Bizcargui, which dominated the surrounding area. Oberleutnant Harder’s 1. Staffel went to work, and Harder recalled:

“April 27 - bad weather again. The clouds hang low over the mountains. I manage to make it past Udala with my Kette and find good targets on the Durango-Bilbao road. The Reds had apparently not bargained on the famous “motor-vehicle hunters” coming out in this awful weather. They have assembled their vehicles without camouflage. Flying low, we shoot up about 20 motor vehicles. Again and again, we dive beneath the low clouds. The next day we’re back at it again. Oberfeldwebel [Karl] Wilfert finds three trucks towing guns. Once again we come across a vehicle column. Bombs on target. A few bursts at the church tower in Durango, where there are reported to be machine gun posts, then I roll over the town at low-level as usual and then head back home over Udala.”

On 30 April, Oberleutnant Harder flew another six sorties, during which his Kette from 1.J/88 (He 51) shot up nearly 40 more vehicles.

The Gruppenstab of J/88, together with 3.J/88 had moved, temporarily, to Escalona by 18:00 on 8 July, before transferring to Villa del Prado. That day Hauptmann Hauptmann Hubertus Merhart von Bernegg relinquished command of the Jagdgruppe to Hauptmann Gotthardt Handrick, who recalled the local operating conditions:

“I was able to accommodate my Gruppenstab in a nice Castello, which lay in a canyon, in the grounds of which a river invited one to bathe. During the period of little rainfall, it was only some 30 m wide and at the most 15 to 30 cm deep, but during the rainy season it swelled enormously. The Castello then became cut off from its surroundings. A comrade of mine, Oberleutnant von Gilsa, in trying to swim across at one time, almost came to grief. The Stabsquartier and the airfield were situated on the vast edge of the high plateau of Madrid, in Castille. Whoever thinks that the Castillian countryside consists of something especially romantic would be very disappointed in Escalona. It is brown, barren, the soil is arid and in terms of dust, the region could easily compete with Herrera de Pisuerga.
At the airfields, an insane heat raged - between 40-45o C in the shade, so that the work of the groundcrews was not exactly easy. The mechanics worked exclusively in their swimming trunks and protected their heads from the scorching heat of the sun with wide-brimmed sombreros. During flight our aircraft just could not be kept cool at all. The coolant was at 120o C and the oil clocked up 110o C.
The Staffeln of the Gruppe were located some 50 km away from each other. This made communication between the units quite difficult. In this summer of 1937, our activity was made even more difficult by the scorching heat. We normally woke at 0600 hrs, and our nightly sleep was never especially refreshing. During the night, the temperature was “only” around 30o C, and flies and mosquitoes buzzed. We isolated ourselves with mosquito nets and often took to sleeping out in the open, but the nights were never refreshing in and around Escalona.
On the other hand, the evenings were a little more pleasant. We refreshed ourselves as far as it was possible, by bathing in the river, but unfortunately the water was almost constantly 25-30o C. We ate, but in a careful way, we drank wine, or sometimes the expensive local and highly-regarded beer, when we would plant ourselves in deckchairs in the tolerably cool courtyard of our “castle”. Oberleutnant Harder squeezed appealingly at his accordion. In the distance lay burning villages, and clearly recognisable were the contours of the Sierra de Gredos and the Sierra de Guadarrama on the horizon. We were able to make out the defensive searchlights of the Madrid Front, and now and again our night bombers flew over us on their way to the enemy to carry out their attacks.”

On 24 July, Leutnant Ernst-Friedrich von Reuter of 1.J/88 was lost in a He 51 during one of three ground-attack missions against enemy flak positions near Brunete. Leutnant Adolf Galland (3.J/88) made his combat debut during one of these flights. Oberleutnant Harder (1.J/88) recalled:

“We were greeted by a real display of fireworks. Shells burst beside, above and below us, sometimes almost right in our machines. We went over to a low-level attack and were met by intense 20 mm fire from every direction. Everywhere one looked there were He 51s dancing and attacking through the flak. The battle lasted about eight minutes, until we had dropped all our bombs. Although we had almost no ammunition or bombs, we so shook the Red infantry that they left their positions and ran in headlong flight.”
Leutnant Galland (He 51 2-10) recorded:
“We flew in close formation very low up the valleys, approaching the enemy position from the rear. At a sign, the bombs were simultaneously released and our load went down in a cluster. We called this “the little man's bomb-carpet”.”

In August, with the resumption of operations in the north, the three Staffeln of J/88 moved to Herrera and Alar del Rey, which was declared ‘Arbeitsfähig’ (ready for work) for Bf 109s during the first few days of the month.
At this time, Oberleutnant Harder’s 1 .J/88 and 3.J/88, now under the command of recently-promoted Oberleutnant Adolf Galland, possessed a total of nine Bf 109s and 18 He 51s, respectively.

On 27 August, Oberleutnant Harder of 1.J/88 (Bf 109 B) made his first claim in the Bf 109 B when he claimed a SB. Unteroffizier Max Schulz of 2.J/88 (Bf 109 B) claimed an I-15.

On 7 September, Oberleutnant Harder claimed a French dual engine aircraft.
This was Airspeed A.S.6J Envoy III F-AQCS of Air Pyrénées (it had joined the airline only three days before) flown by Abel Guidez (late of the Malraux squadron) flying to Gijón to rescue some Russian airmen before they fell prisoner to the Advancing Nationalists. The Envoy was shot down by Bf 109s and Guidez was killed.

J/88 (Bf 109) made five claims on 9 September when Oberleutnant Harder (1.J/88) claimed a Ni-H.52 and an I-15 and Leutnant Heinrich Brücker (2.J/88) claimed an I-16 while Leutnant Peter Boddem (2.J/88) claimed an unconfirmed I-15 and Hauptmann Gotthardt Handrick, CO of J/88 claimed an unconfirmed I-15.

On 15 September, Oberleutnant Harder claimed an I-15.

On 27 September, five Bf 109Bs were engaged in an air battle with five I-16s over the rooftops of Gijón. Oberleutnant Harder (1.J/88) accounted for one of the Russian fighters shot down, and he forced down another, strafing it several times as it landed. Leutnant Erich Woitke (1.J/88) also shot down a Rata.

Five Bf 109Bs were engaged in an air battle with five I-16s over Gijón on 28 September. Oberleutnant Harder of 1.J/88 (Bf 109B) claimed an I-16 shot down in flames.
This was teniente Andrés Rodríguez Panadero, CO of the Escuadrilla Mosca del Norte, who was shot down and killed. The entry in the 6a Región Aérea Operations Record Book noted:

“At 1100 hrs enemy aircraft were detected heading towards Gijón. Four monoplanes and four biplanes were scrambled, which prevented the bombers from reaching Gijón. A combat ensued with the enemy escort monoplanes, several of which were driven off but others arrived, which our aircraft continued to repel. This combat lasted for an hour. The monoplane flown by the teniente Jefe of the Escuadrilla, Andrés Rodríguez Panadero, was shot down in flames. The pilot was killed and the aircraft completely wrecked.”
Rodríguez Panadero was posthumously promoted to the rank of capitán on 26 January 1938.

1.J/88 (Bf 109 B) claimed two enemy aircraft on 13 October when Oberleutnant Harder claimed an I-16 and Oberfeldwebel Leo Sigmund claimed an I-15. Oberleutnant Harder described combat with the I-16s as being ”unbelievably manoeuvrable. It was difficult to get close to these fellows - one was always closing too fast, had only a fleeting instant to fire and almost rammed the target.”

On 30 October 1937, Generalmajor Hugo Sperrle relinquished command of the Legion Condor to Generalmajor Hellmuth Volkmann. One of Volkmann’s first measures as commander of the Legion Condor was to restructure J/88 by enlarging it into four Staffeln. Thus, under the command of Hauptmann Gotthardt Handrick, the Gruppe was formed as follows:
1. Staffel with Bf 109s under Oberleutnant Harder
2. Staffel with Bf 109s under the newly-arrived Oberleutnant Joachim Schlichting
3. Staffel with He 51s under Oberleutnant Adolf Galland
4. Staffel with He 51s under Oberleutnant Eberhard d’Elsa (known as the ‘Pik As’ Staffel)
The men and aircraft to form the latter unit had arrived at Vigo by sea in early November 1937 and had formed up at León. The pilots had been drawn from a variety of Jagdgruppen in Germany, but the groundcrews all came from l./JG 136.

Hauptmann Harder claimed an I-15 on 5 December.

On 10 December and in order to camouflage a planned Nationalist offensive towards Madrid on the Guadalajara, the Republican air forces were to be destroyed on their airfields east of Zaragoza. A Nationalist force of 88 bombers and 56 fighters took part in the operation. The slower bombers (SM.81s and Ju 52/3ms) were to attack the nearby airfields in the Barbastro zone; the faster bombers (SM.79s, Breguet 20s, He 111s and Do 17s) those at Sariñena, Bujaraloz, Candasnos, Puebla de Híjar, Selgua, Pomar, Lérida and Balaguer. The Condor Legion’s bombers, which had to operate from more distant bases, would require refuelling before making their return flight, and facilities were provided at Sanjurjo.
The attacks failed to achieve the desired success, however; the airfields were empty and about 70 fighters were waiting in the air. It must be said that the Republicans were very well prepared to deal with surprise air attacks. They had constructed a large number of airfields and at each was based at most a single squadron, its aircraft widely dispersed around the airfield perimeter. In addition, they had built a number of decoy airfield on with mock-up aircraft.
At least, the VI and XVI Gruppi of the Aviazione Legionaria took part in this combat and Tenente Corrado Santoro of the 31a Squadriglia (VI Gruppo) took part in an escort mission to bombers attacking Sariñena and Sottotenente Mario Visintini of the 25a Squadriglia (XVI Gruppo) took part in his first combat, firing at some enemy aircraft but without claiming anything.
At the end of the battle, the Italians claimed eight I-15s shot down for just one CR.32 lost and its pilot KIA when Sottotenente Vittorio Barberis of the 32a Squadriglia, was killed in action near Alcubierre when his CR.32 collided with I-15 CC-022, flown by Soviet pilot Mikhail Vasilhevich Kotyhov from the 1a/26. The latter pilot also perished.
Group 2-G-3, which was flying below the Italians, climbed to their assistance and claimed seven I-15s without losses.
1.J/88 was airborne, with 15 Bf 109s flying deep into enemy territory. They were attacked by 30 enemy fighters. Oberleutnant Harder recounted:

”Another major action on December 10. The Fiats patrolled the front, we flew deep into enemy territory with fifteen Bf 109s. Fifteen Curtisses and fifteen Ratas climbed up in close formation. There was nothing else to do, we attacked repeatedly, but so many aircraft immediately dove on us that we were happy just to escape in one piece.”
The German fighters didn’t claim anything during the day.
Totally, the Nationalist and the Italian fighters claimed to have together shot down 15 Chatos while losing only one aircraft.
It seems that Republicans lost two I-15s and two I-16s, while 21 other fighters returned with various damages to their bases.
The 2a/26 claimed to have downed five CR.32s, one of them falling to capitán Chindasvinto González García (CO). The remaining four were credited to teniente Nicomedes Calvo Aguilar and sargentos Vicente Castillo Monzó, Jaime Torn Roca and A. Martín García.
During an engagement on the Aragon front, teniente Miguel Zambudio Martínez and Antonio Britz Martínez of the 3a/26 (I-15) claimed a shared Legion Condor He 111. This seems to have been a He 111 from K/88, which was lost during a mission against the aerodrome of Candasnos when it exploded in flight for reasons unknown. The crew (Leutnant Friedrich-Karl Beucke, Leutnant Heinrich Klein, Feldwebel Anton Bergmann, Unteroffizier Fritz Brühl and Obergefreiter Alois Ehlen) were all KIA.

Oberleutnant Harder left the command of the 1.J/88 on 23 December 1937 when he was replaced by Oberleutnant Wolfgang Schellmann.

1.J/88 escorted Stukas when they encountered I-15s and I-16s on 14 June 1938. The newly promoted Feldwebel Erich Kuhlmann claimed an I-15 but Leutnant Eckehart Pribe of 1.J/88 (on his 140th mission) gets his Bf 109 (6-33) severely damaged by an I-15 in the combat while trying to dislodge a particularly tenacious aircraft of the tail of Leutnant Rudolf Rech (2.J/88). Pribe later wrote:

‘Stuka escort, altitude about 4,000 meters; in front of us and above us a squadron of Ratas and many Curtisses. The command Schwarm turns to the left to climb into the sun. The Rata squadron dives on them. I intend to follow and after completing a turn I look around for Lt. Rech; instead I see a Curtiss close behind me. I dive away and in doing so I am struck a blow on my left shoulder. This is the end. My arm falls from the throttle lever, my side is completely stiff, great pain – a curtain begins to fall before my eyes! Then I pull myself together: the 109 is tumbling like a falling leaf, one moment the nose is up the next down. I don’t have the strength to reach over to the left with my right arm and jettison the canopy. That is my salvation, as I would have bailed out over Red territory. Orientation is simple: the Mediterranean to the right, to the left land and home!
Then I see Villafames, friendly territory, I become wide awake. I begin preparations to land, but I am unable to operate the throttle lever which is on my left side. With the last of my strength I push the red button to kill the engine, so as to land with a stationary propeller and, as it turned out, one flat tire. I come to as someone pounds on the canopy and shouts: “Herr Leutnant, open up, what’s wrong?” We are just behind the line of advance. They pull me out of the cockpit and report my condition to the Kommandeur. That’s Hpt. Harder, as Handrick is on leave. Harder comes rushing up, sees me spitting blood and laying in the hot Spanish earth surrounded by Spaniards and says in gretting: “Well, the big-mouth Berliner is going to be taking a little rest.” Covered in blood, I reply: “Thanks very much for the flowers!”
Zaragoza hospital: A bullet has pierced one lung, another is lodged in my shoulder blade. I receive excellent care and am given leave to recover. Several times I try to obtain permission to return to action, but nothing doing. I am sent home.’

Republican aircraft made five major missions to cover the Caspian region, Onda, Nules. During the last mission in the afternoon, 32 I-15s and 25 I-16s encountered 30 bombers escorted by Bf 109 in the Castellón area. The commander of the group Nikifor Glushenkov attacked the bombers and fighters out of the sun but were counter-attacked by the Germans.
According to the Jefatura de Fuerzas Aéreas War Diaries, Republican I-16s claimed three Bf 109s and one He 111 during the day and Petr Bashmakov, leitenant Nikifor Livanskiy and Andrey Stepanov claimed the three Bf 109s as shared with Spanish pilots while Livanskiy also claimed the He 111 as a shared together with Glushenkov.
Known claiming Spanish pilots were capitán Eduardo Claudín Moncada, CO 1a/21 (I-16), and sargento Francisco Tarazona Torán of the 3a/21 (I-16).
One I-16 was shot down, the pilot bailed out and after running out of fuel, leitenant Vasiliy Andreyev crash-landed his I-16 being slightly injured in the crash. According to some sources a third I-16 crash-landed, killing the Spanish pilot.
The battle seems to have been very intense since no German pilots claimed anything during the combat. Hauptmann Harder in He 112V-9 (8-2), recalled:

‘There come the Red fighters, first several Curtisses, then swarms of Ratas, spiralling upwards. By turning tightly we are able three times to keep them from attacking the bombers. Suddenly the Reds are gone. There are still two Curtisses south of Sagunto at 4,000 meters. I attack one of them. In the instant I begin to fire he pulls up and opens fire at me while on his back. I pull up and at the same instant I am attacked by four Ratas. One is already on my tail in firing position. I dive away but can’t shake him off. I try everything to lose him: full throttle, shallow dive, radiator flap up, propeller pitch set for diving flight. The Rata sits somewhat off to my left and tries to get below me by diving steeply. There are machines in front of me, many Red fighters! The way is blocked!
I try to count them. 10, 20, then a new swarm approaches, I can only estimate their numbers at 10 to 20. I try to slip past them at the coast but that fat radial engine is still behind me. The Reds fail to notice me until I’m at their altitude, too late for them. Not far from Castellon, at an altitude of 1,000 meters, my pursuer gives up. How would things had turned out if I hadn’t had the fatest machine in the Gruppe?’
Oberleutnant Helmut Henz’ Bf 109 was hit over Castellón, however, and he crash-landed his machine north of the Mijares River. He tried to set his fighter alight but was subsequently taken prisoner and sargento Tarazona subsequently recorded:
‘14th June. Today we were returning, the first and third squadrons, from Castellón front. Nules had been bombed brutally. We had had a tremendous battle with Heinkel bombers and Me 109 fighters. During the battle I had teamed up with Claudín. Yuste was at my side.
Whilst looking at the destruction caused by the Fascists at Nules, something down there, near the beach caught my eye.
A plane, leaving a trail of white smoke, was turning towards the north. I pointed this out to Claudín. We dived. We discovered that it was an Me 109. It had been hit. We swooped over it, without firing, where it had landed on the beach, on the right bank of the River Mijares…
… On reaching Sagunto I received orders to go out and bring back the Me 109. We went in a lorry, various mechanics, armourers and myself…
…”There is the ugly bird”, said one of them. “The pilot is nearby, in a gully at Villareal. He has been detained; he is only a lad of about 18 years”.
I am enthralled with the beauty of this fine piece of German aeronautical engineering. I admire it from the outside for a long time. Then, with aplomb, I sit in the cockpit. The oxygen, the radiotelephone, the fuel tank which serves as the pilot’s seat…
… We need to fly it; to study its characteristics, to compare it more closely with our own fighters. It is intact. As we are talking, the rattle of friendly machine-guns and the hollow sound of cannons from both sides serve as a background. The enemy is barely fifteen kilometres from us; within sight of Castellón…
… The rumble of aeroplane engines makes us look up. The noise increases; it seems as if they are coming along the road, but they are not yet visible.
There they are!
Six Me 109s appear over the sea, skimming the water. When they reach the Mijares estuary they make a gentle bank to starboard.
They are coming towards us…
Get out quickly!
The monoplanes form a circle around the Me 109 on the ground. They fire at it. At their second attack it bursts into flames…’

Harder ended the Spanish Civil War with 1 biplane victory and a total of 11.

He was decorated with the Spanienkreuz in Gold mit Brillanten for his service in Spain.

On 1 January 1938, Hauptmann Harder was appointed as Staffelkapitän of 2./Lehrgeschwader Greifswald.
One month later, on 1 February, he was appointed as Staffelkapitän of 1.(le.Jagd)/Lehrgeschwader Greifswald.

On 1 November, I.(le.Jagd)/Lehrgeschwader Greifswald was reformed as LG 2, still with Harder as Staffelkapitän of 1 Staffel.

He left as Staffelkapitän on 9 September 1939 and on 15 October he was reassigned from I.(J)/LG 2 and appointed Gruppenleiter in JFS Werneuchen (later JFS 1) where he remained until 20 June 1940.

On 21 June 1940, he was appointed as Kommandeur of III./JG 52.

On 25 July, he was appointed as Kommandeur of III./JG 53.

Harder was killed on 12 August 1940 when his Bf 109 E-3 (<< +I) was shot down by a Spitfire east of the Isle of Wight.
On 13 September, his body was washed ashore near Dieppe.

At the time of his death, Harder was credited with 1 biplane victory and a total of 17 (according to some sources, he is credited with a total of 22 victories but the last five from the Second World War is yet unconfirmed).

His brother, Jürgen (65 victories), kept his memory alive, carrying the name “Harro” on all his Bf 109’s, before his own death on 17 February 1945, as the last of three fighter pilot Harder brothers killed .

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 04/01/37   1 I-15 (a) Destroyed He 51 B-1 2-64 Bilbao area 1.J/88
2 27/08/37   1 SB Destroyed Bf 109 B   Spain 1.J/88
3 07/09/37   1 Airspeed AS-6 Envoy (b) Destroyed Bf 109 B   Spain 1.J/88
4 09/09/37   1 Ni-H.52 Destroyed Bf 109 B   Spain 1.J/88
5 09/09/37   1 I-15 Destroyed Bf 109 B   Spain 1.J/88
6 15/09/37   1 I-15 Destroyed Bf 109 B   Spain 1.J/88
7 27/09/37   1 I-16 Destroyed Bf 109 B   Gijón 1.J/88
8 27/09/37   1 I-16 Destroyed Bf 109 B   Gijón 1.J/88
9 28/09/37   1 I-16 (c) Destroyed Bf 109 B   Gijón 1.J/88
10 13/10/37   1 I-16 Destroyed Bf 109 B   Spain 1.J/88
11 05/12/37   1 I-15 Destroyed Bf 109   Spain 1.J/88
12 09/09/39 17:00 1 PZL P.24 Destroyed     Raum Lubien 1.(J)/LG 2
13 11/08/40 11:40 1 Spitfire Destroyed Bf 109 E     Stab III./JG 53
14 11/08/40 11:50 1 Spitfire Destroyed Bf 109 E   20km S Portland: 600m Stab III./JG 53
15 11/08/40 11:53 1 Spitfire Destroyed Bf 109 E   Portland/Insel Wight: 4500m Stab III./JG 53
16 12/08/40 13:20 1 Hurricane Destroyed Bf 109 E   E Insel Wight Stab III./JG 53
17 12/08/40 13:25 1 Hurricane Destroyed Bf 109 E   E Insel Wight Stab III./JG 53

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 17 destroyed.
(a) J/88 claimed 2 I-15s during the day. It seems that Republican losses was one shot down (pilot KIA) and three damaged.
(b) Airspeed A.S.6J Envoy III F-AQCS of Air Pyrénées shot down. Pilot Abel Guidez KIA.
(c) Teniente Andrés Rodríguez Panadero, CO of the Escuadrilla Mosca del Norte, KIA.

Aces of the Legion Condor – Robert Forsyth, 2011 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84908-347-8
Aces of the Luftwaffe
Aircrew Remembered
Condor: The Luftwaffe in Spain 1936-1939 - Patrick Laureau, 2000 Hikoki Publications, Ottringham, ISBN 1-902109-10-4
Russian Fighter Aces of 1914-1953 years
Soviet airmen in the Spanish civil war 1936-1939 - Paul Whelan, 2014 Schiffer Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978-0-7643-0
Spanish Republican Aces – Rafael A. Permuy López, 2012 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84908-668-4
The Legion Condor - Karl Ries and Hans Ring, 1992 Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-88740-339-5
The Luftwaffe, 1933-45

Last modified 09 May 2022