Biplane fighter aces

Germany

Oberst Eduard ‘Edu’ Neumann

6 May 1911 – 9 August 2004

Eduard Neumann was born in Molodia on 6 May 1911.

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

On 4 September 1937, Oberfeldwebel Reinhard Seiler of 2.J/88 claimed his second kill - and the first by a German fighter over Asturias - when he downed an I-16, while newly arrived, Leutnant Neumann, who had joined 3. Staffel from I./JG 232, shot down a Rata for his first kill. He recalled:

“During my first operational flight over Asturias, on 4 September 1937, I was flying behind Galland when I sighted a Polikarpov I-15, and I shot it down. It was very hard to do that with a He 51.”

He was later transferred to the Stab of J/88.

On 11 June 1938, Leutnant Neumann, Stab J/88 (Bf 109), claimed an I-16.
According to the Jefatura de Fuerzas Aéreas War Diaries, Republican fighters claimed two Bf 109s during the day.

Neumann ended the Spanish Civil War with 1 biplane victory and a total of 2.

As a Oberleutnant, he was appointed to Staka 4./JG 134 on 2 November 1938 and he was still with the unit when it was renamed 4./JG 26 on 1 May 1939.

He was transferred to 8./JG 26 on 23 September 1939.

On 15 March 1940, he was transferred to JFS 3 in Stolp-Reitz.

On 1 June 1940, he was appointed Adjutant at JG 27 and promoted to Hauptmann on 20 July.

He was appointed Kommandeur of I./JG 27 on 21 July.

On 30 September, he crash-landed Bf 109E-4 (WNr. 1577) at Marquise following a combat sortie over southern England.
The aircraft was a write-off but Neumann was uninjured.

In April 1941, I./JG 27 was sent to North Africa.

In the morning on 7 July 1941, six Hurricanes from 73 Squadron took off, led by Flight Lieutenant Aidan Crawley, to strafe various airfields. First attacked was Sidi Aziez, but on leaving this location Flying Officer M. P. Wareham (Hurricane Z4773) noted that only three other aircraft were with him and that there were several columns of smoke rising from the Axis base. The four remaining pilots then attacked Gambut, but from here they encountered heavy Flak during their return journey. Wareham saw one Hurricane go down 15 miles east of Gambut, but when he landed he did so quite alone (his Hurricane was damaged by Flak). Flight Lieutenants Crawley (Hurricane V7802 - PoW) and Oliver Green (Hurricane Z4173 - PoW), Pilot Officers Stephen John Leach (Hurricane Z4649 - KIA) and Rodney William Kinkross White (Hurricane V7757 - KIA), and Sergeant Gordon Archibald Jupp (Hurricane M9197 - KIA) all failed to return. Oliver Green recalled what had happened:

“We positioned at Sidi Barrani, our forward refuelling strip, where we could also rendezvous with our top cover. Bill Smith was leading the 229 contingent so I felt assured of good support, particularly as I had won some money from him at poker the night before and I knew he was keen to get it back. Thie other squadrons were also there and they too off first so that they could climb to height and be in position. We went off in loose tactical formation, giving us freedom to manoeuvre and maintained tactical radio silence. Our course to Greater Gambut from Sidi Barrani was in a rough west-north-west direction and I was surprised that Aidan led us on a northerly course roughly parallel to the enemy coast, knowing that he would had to turn west towards Gambut and that he was increasing our chances of being spotted and reported by their listening post as we crossed the coast.
Looking back on our ill-fated sortie, I realised that Aidan had not actually flown over enemy territory before. Nevertheless, it was surprising when he crossed right over the top of the coastal town of Bardia which was the main German garrison and forward base for their tank forces. We sailed over the town at 2,000 feet, just as if giving a flying demonstration. I knew that we were bound to have been spotted and reported to their fighter organisation and that our only hope lay in dropping to ground level immediately and flying south in the hope of gaining some tactical advantage before turning west for the attack on Gambut.
'The only way to do this was to break radio silence to tell him that I would lead him to the target at low level. To my consternation my radio set was not functioning. I could neither transmit nor receive. This was not an unusual fault and we normally overcame it by using hand signals but from my position on the right flank with another pair of aircraft between us, there was no way I could signal to him. I could only hope we would not be picked up and, if we were, that Bill and his boys could give us protection. However Aidan carried on at 2,000 feet before descending in a shallow dive on Lesser Gambut, the wrong airfield. Now surely, I thought, we must turn south and do a deep diversion before heading north for a very low level run from a different direction on the right airfield.
Aidan however had different ideas and climbed up slowly to 1,000 feet searching for Greater Gambut which lay about ten miles to the south. I should explain that airstrips in the desert were hard to pick up as they consisted of an area of level sand with no runways or buildings and only a few tents and refuelling bowsers. In short, they looked like any other stretch of sand. After doing a leisurely circuit Aidan saw Greater Gambut and went into another shallow dive attack. I had no option but to follow him although it was a recipe for disaster and compounded when I got my first glimpse of the target and saw there were no aircraft there. The birds had flown and our trip had been in vain. Just as I realised this I saw tracer bullets, looking like red ping pong balls, zipping past me. I immediately broke hard left, away from Rod
[Pilot Officer R.W. K. White], who was close in on my right, and behind the formation hoping that he would be able to stick with me.
We were flying at ground level by then and although he turned with me, tragically he hit the ground and exploded in flames. The attacking formation was a mix of 109s, G.50s and what looked like Macchi 200s but I was too busy taking evasive action to look closely or even care for it was obvious that they had made me their principal target. My last sight of Aidan was of him sailing along with his boys apparently unaware of what was happening behind him. I knew that against these superior odds, my only chance of survival was to keep twisting and turning at ground level to make it as difficult as possible for them to get a clear shot at me and to keep heading for home. I could see the bullets hitting the ground alongside and ahead of me and knew I would have to be very lucky to get away.
Sure enough, after a short, desperate series of evasive turns the oil tank was hit and exploded. Oil sprayed all over the windscreen, effectively blinding me, and the engine seized and stopped with a bang. I hit the ground at about 180 mph and, although my straps were done up tightly, my snapped forward and hit the gyro gunsight with protruded from the windscreen. We rocketed along the ground. Bouncing about in a cloud of dust, my greates fear was that my Hurricane would burst into flames and I would be trapped inside.
My luck was in. As we came to a halt, I was able to scramble out and run from the wreckage before they strafed it and me. I got far enough away to be a spectator to their attacks. Curiously, the Hurricane did not burn, perhaps due to the recent fitted self-sealing tanks. After a short time and several attacks each, they flew away and I was left alone to contemplate that loneliest of all feelings, total isolation in the desert, one of the most unfriendly and harshest of place on earth. As I collected my thoughts and tried to work out what to do next, I heard the noise of an aircraft overhead and looked up to see a Blenheim flying home. There could not have been a more poignant reminder of my isolated predicament.”
Three casualties were recorded among Regia Aeronautica personnel at Gambut after the attack - a young car driver, killed, a fitter, Av.Sc Ugo Giacomazzi, and a pilot, Sergente Maggiore Francesco Visentin, both wounded. Also some G.50bis suffered minor damage.
353a Squadriglia, 20o Gruppo, made two claims when Tenente Vittorio Merlo and Sergente Bruno Baldacci claimed one Hurricane while flying their G.50bis. Two more such claims were also submitted by pilots of I./JG 27 next day. These would also seem to fit Oliver Green’s narrative almost perfectly - particularly as there are no matching RAF losses on that date. It seems very likely therefore that the claims of Hauptmann Neumann and Leutnant Werner Schroer were incorrectly listed a day late; two of the five Hurricanes lost were indeed their victims. Leutnant Schroer (1./JG 27) made his claim west of Bardia at 07:00 while Hauptmann Neumann (Stab I./JG 27) made his claim 3 miles east of Halfaya Pass at 07:55. Anti-aircraft defences at Bardia claimed to have caused two Hurricanes to crash-land, reporting that one of the pilots was captured but the other got away.
Green managed to remain free for seven days, during which time he befriended a Bedouin, who was herding camels. However, Leutnant Paul von Metternick, who was out shooting desert hares with his rifleman, then caught him.

On 11 May 1942, he was decorated with the Deutsches Kreuz in Gold.

He was promoted to Major and Kommodore of JG 27 on 8 May 1942.

In the end of 1942, JG 27 was evacuated from North Africa.

On 22 April 1943, he was transferred to Führer-Reserve Ob.d.L. and ordered to Stab/General d.Jagdflieger (L.In.3) for temporary duty but was permanently transferred to Stab/General d.Jagdflieger (L.In.3) on 7 May.

He was promoted to Oberstleutnant on 1 August 1943.

Around 7 February 1944, he was appointed Jagdfliegerführer Rumänien and remained in this role until 4 September.

Around 27 September appointed Jagdfliegerführer Oberitalien and remained in this role until October.

He was promoted to Oberst on 1 October 1944.

In January 1945, he was again appointed Jagdfliegerführer Oberitalien and remained in this role until April and the end of the war.

Neumann ended the war with 1 biplane victory and a total of 13.

He passed away on 9 August 2004.

Claims:
Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
  1937                
1 04/09/37   1 I-15 Destroyed He 51B-1   Asturias 3.J/88
  1938                
2 11/06/38   1 I-16 Destroyed Bf 109   Spain Stab J/88
  1940                
3 20/07/40 19:15 1 Blenheim Destroyed Bf 109   30km S Portland Stab JG 27
4 08/08/40 13:55 1 Spitfire Destroyed Bf 109   40km S The Needles Stab I./JG 27
5 11/09/40 17:05 1 Hurricane Destroyed Bf 109   Dungeness Stab I./JG 27
6 17/09/40 16:30 1 Hurricane Destroyed Bf 109   Gatwick Stab I./JG 27
7 17/09/40 16:30 1 Hurricane Destroyed Bf 109   Gatwick Stab I./JG 27
8 27/09/40 10:15 1 Hurricane Destroyed Bf 109   Orpington Stab I./JG 27
  1941                
9 15/06/41 17:30 1 Hurricane Destroyed Bf 109E   10km W Capuzzo Stab I./JG 27
10 07/07/41 07:55 1 Hurricane Destroyed Bf 109   5km E Halfaya-Pass Stab I./JG 27
11 27/09/41 10:00 1 Hurricane Destroyed Bf 109   W Bardia Stab I./JG 27
12 23/11/41 12:44 1 Hurricane Destroyed Bf 109F   Sidi Rezegh Stab I./JG 27
13 30/11/41 16:00 1 Hurricane Destroyed Bf 109F   Bir el Gobi Stab I./JG 27

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 13 destroyed.

Sources:
Aces of the Legion Condor – Robert Forsyth, 2011 Osprey Publishing, Oxford, ISBN 978-1-84908-347-8
Aces of the Luftwaffe
Aircrew Remembered
The Legion Condor - Karl Ries and Hans Ring, 1992 Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-88740-339-5
Additional information kindly provided by Johannes Matthews.




Last modified 21 January 2015