Biplane fighter aces


Major Werner Palm

6 April 1908 –

Werner Palm was born on 6 April 1908.

On 1 April 1927, he entered service with the Heer (Infanterie).

He was promoted to Hauptmann 1 February 1936.

Werner Palm 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 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 Harro 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.

The Kette of machines forming Hauptmann Palm’s 1.J/88, which comprised 11 pilots, was just about operational by the end of November, and was moved north to Burgos.

Hauptmann Palm’s 1.J/88 moved from Burgos to Vitoria on 4 December.

At 13:30 on 16 December, fighters clashed over Madrid when 22 I-16s and 14 I-15s were scrambled against approaching Ju 52/3m bombers escorted by a reported 25 fighters. In this combat, Hauptmann Palm of 1.J/88 (He 51B) claimed a ‘Boeing’ (in fact an I-16).
Republican I-16 pilots claimed one Ju 52/3m and four He 51s without losses and reported that two Heinkels fell in the neutral zone near Madrid, and the rest - as stated in the documents – “near Madrid”. The Ju 52 3/m was claimed as a shared between leitenant Sergey Denisov and Leitenant Sergey Chernykh (both Escuadrilla Kolesnikov). Denisov also claimed a He 51 while Konstantin Kolesnikov (Escuadrilla Tarkhov) claimed two of them. The fourth He 51 was claimed by Konstantin Dubkov.
It also reported that the I-15s pilots claimed two more fighters (including a CR.32).
The Ju 52/3m was flown by mayor Juan Antonio Ansaldo, who managed to return his damaged bomber to his airfield.

Early February 1937 saw the component Staffeln of J/88 dispersed as follows
1.J/88 under Hauptmann Palm at Escalona del Prado (known as the ’Marabu’ Staffel)
2.J/88 under Hauptmann Siegfried Lehmann at Almorox (known as the Zylinderhut’ Staffel)
3.J/88 under Hauptmann Jürgen Roth at Villa del Prado (known as the ’Mickymaus’ Staffel)
4.J/88 under Oberleutnant Herwig Knüppel at León.
As early as 4 February however, von Richthofen had intended to disband 4.J/88. ”The aircraft will be flown to Seville for overhaul and transfer to the ‘Spaniards’”, he wrote. ”Their personnel will be sent home, insofar as they are not needed for new single-seaters.” But this does not seem to have happened immediately.

At 10:30 on 12 February, 18 I-16s (and probably four I-15s) scrambled towards Madrid to intercept three Ju 52/3ms and 16 He 51s. The fighters became involved in combat with each other, and the Soviet pilots returned to claim seven He 51s shot down. All victories were claimed by the I-16s from 1a/21 (Escuadrilla Kolesnikov) and claiming pilots were leitenant Pavel Putivko, leitenant Petr Khara, Petr Shevtsov, leitenant Prokopiy Akulenko, starshiy leitenant Aleksandr Tarasov while leitenant Dmitriy Lesnikov and Nikolay Vinogradov claimed a shared. The last was claimed as a shared by Andrey Morozov together with the two other pilots in his group. There were no losses among the Republican aircraft but the I-16s flown by Lesnikov, Putivko, Morozov and Tarasov returned with battle damage.
The Kapitän of 1.J/88, Hauptmann Palm (He 51B-1), and Unteroffizier Hans-Jürgen Hepe (He 51B-1) were both shot down in flames by I-16s over the Jarama area after that Hepe had claimed an I-16 (claimed as a ”Boeing”). Although both men were wounded, they were able to use their parachutes to jump to safety, landing in Nationalist territory.

Palm left the command of 1.J/88 on 6 April 1937 and also left Spain.

Palm ended the Spanish Civil War with 1 biplane victory.

On 2 July 1938, he was appointed Staffelkapitän of 4./JG 234.

Palm was appointed Kommandeur of II./JG 234 on 1 October 1938.
On 1 November 1938, this unit was redesignated to II./JG 132.

On 1 May 1939, the unit was redesignated to II./JG 26.

Palm remained Kommandeur of II./JG 26 until 27 June 1939.

Around 1 July 1939, he was appointed as Leiter Annahmestelle 4 für Offizieranwärter der Luftwaffe Wien.
He remained in this command until November 1939.

On 1 February 1941, he was promoted to Major.

He was assigned to Luftflotte 3 on 10 July 1943 and later transferred to Luftgaukdo. XI for further assignment.

Palm ended the war with 1 biplane victory.

Kill no. Date Time Number Type Result Plane type Serial no. Locality Unit
1 16/12/36 13:30 1 I-16 (a) Destroyed Heinkel He 51B-1   Madrid area 1.J/88

Biplane victories: 1 destroyed.
TOTAL: 1 destroyed.
(a) Not verified with Republican losses.

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
The Luftwaffe, 1933-45

Last modified 26 May 2021