German, FW-190 Ace, Horst Petzschler

Focke Wulf FW-190A-4

Artwork and Research By;

Sir Ernie Hamilton Boyette; Aviation Artist/Historian

German, FW-190 Ace, Horst Petzschler  Size 12×18″

There are 750 limited edition prints in this series.

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Limited Edition Prints are signed and numbered by the Artist and by the Ace. $65.00

All signatures by both the Aviator and the Artist is done in soft graphic pencil.

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Poster Print $14.95

Poster prints are autographed by the artist only.

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This is my painting of the Fw-190A flown by Horst Petzschler.

Horst Petzschler

Horst Petzschler was born on September 1, 1921 in Berlin Germany. As with many other young boys and men worldwide, he found himself fascinated with flight. At the time of him being a new teenager, the government was sponsoring  programs with glider schools. This was some thing like the Boy Scouts. They had meeting and took test and collectively build a glider and all learned to fly it! Germany has lots of mountains and at the time villages all through the mountain ranges. Here were villages full of young boys that wanted to belong to the Glider Club. How great it would be for a group of boys from village to village competing against each other. To build gliders and fly them down the mountains and to learn to sore high. What a thrill! They learned to fly! Horst first flights was in a Grunau-Baby II-a glider in 1937 and 1938 in Trebbin, which was 50km south of Berlin.

It is impossible for such an experience not to be everlasting to the individual. Horst was still excited when talking to me about the glider club just like he did it yesterday. He was still filled with the heart-throb that the experience gave him to fly as a boy, as a young man, as a future Luftwaffe Ace. Horst was flying when at the same age I was learning to tie the square-knot.

Horst told me that he was just a so-so student in school, a bit mischievous. But at this time in Germany there was one assembly after another with the government telling all of its citizens how great they are. To be German is to be Proud. The radio was filled with music and propaganda always singing the high-lights of the greatness of Germany. Horst was proud too. It was impossible not to love your country. For many millions life in Germany changed and for many it changed for the good. There was much prosperity for many with school, work, and medical for everyone. Even a factory worker was rewarded as being a good German. And never forgotten, the German mother was rewarded with special medals and accolades when birthing new German baby boys.

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Official Luftwaffe paper work. Horst is apparently a Unteroffizier. Cool!

As Horst was growing up it this environment World War Two started. In September 1939 the German Army rolled into Poland with an umbrella of Luftwaffe aircraft that concurred all. Holland and other countries fell then finally France. All quite exciting for  boy who knew he would join the Luftwaffe. He was just waiting to get older. His last teenage years was watching the German Army and Air Force world wide in Europe and North Africa. Japan had also cut out a portion of the Pacific that they were now claiming. It was exciting times.

Horst joined the Luftwaffe in April 1941 at he age of nineteen. His enlistment was for twelve years. Basic training is how every enlisted man is introduced into the military. After finishing boot camp and receiving NCO training, in September 1941, Master Sergeant Petzschler reported to A/B-10 Pilot School in Grottkau/O/S. In May Horst was assigned to the JG 101 fighter school squadron located at Villacoublay, which is near Paris. After all, Germany owned France at this point in time.

In May 1943, Horst experienced combat for the first time while still in training school. By chance his fighter school squadron JG101 tangled with Colonel Robert Morgan flying the Memphis Belle and 200 other B-17’s over Guyancourt, north west of Paris. The incident was mostly a taunting harassment by the Luftwaffe flying students with their formation getting the opportunity to get close and actually observe the American formation and get a good look at the defensive guns of the Fortress. Horst would be attacking formations of bombers like the ones he confronted with his Luftwaffe pilot trainees in the next few years. Horst finished his training in the Fw 190-A2 at Toulouse in southern France.

Horst served as a trainer pilot and low level flying requirement for a year before Horst was transferred to the Russia campaign in September 1943. The Russian assault was in full swing and all the German military had been advancing onto its giant neighbor but now the advance had stalled and the Russians were becoming aggressive. Horst experienced poor conditions in Russia which advancing with the Army from airfield to airfield. No matter what condition the airfield or even wheat field was in they had to operate from it. Many of the airfields were very basic. Nothing more than flat farm fields cut up and sectioned off for runways and aircraft parking areas. In his first tour of duty in Russia he flew 126 fighter-bomber missions against Russian armor in support of the German troops.

The Russian Army advance was spearheaded by tanks with Russian troops in tow. Defeating the tanks was essential. However Horst said that there would be thousands of Russian infantry killed in the process. Many of Petschler’s sorties were direct attacks onto the Russian armor and troops. Horst attacked the Russian armor hitting the tanks with a 500-kilo bomb that would destroy or disable the tank and decimate any troops riding on the back of the tank and all that were close by.

Horst would drop antipersonnel 250-kilo bombs onto the hordes of advancing Russians troops. Horst described a mass of brown and white camouflaged figures moving over the snow like ants on the ground below. When his bombs landed among them they would rip large holes in the moving mass vaporizing the snow and exposing the brown earth. Around the edges of the blast where the snow began again the edges of show was accentuated with the red of blood. Horst could see this when he was low over his targets. As ghastly sight he told me. Horst knew he was killing men.

All German pilots knew the furious brutality of the Russian infantry towards the Germans especially the Luftwaffe pilots. The pilots would be brutally killed as soon as they were captured. Sometimes the pilots would be taken prisoner for interrogation and then tortured to death. During his first mission, Horst was shot down by Russian flak. He was still new to the fighting and got a little too close to the ground conflict. This was the worst thing that could happen to a beginner or even a veteran.

Horst bailed out too closed to the lines of battle. Upon landing and freeing himself from his parachute, Horst ran through the trees towards the German lines. The problem is that the lines were flexing back and forth and Horst found himself practically surrounded. The Germans and Russians were surging and withdrawing making an uneven battle line that changed constantly like the movement of a serpents back. Horst was able to watch the troops on both sides advancing and withdrawing back and forth before his eyes.

Fortunately a Panzer tank crew saw Horst land and was close enough for a rescue. There were no Russian tanks in the immediate area, however there were many Russians with weapons that could disable the tank. Horst was petrified with fear when he saw the friendly tank appear. It could have been a Russia tank, which would have sealed his fate, but it was a German.

The tank crew threw open the doors on the top of the turret and motioned for Horst to come quickly. With machine gun and rifle fire all through the area Horst did not know or care if any of the shooting was directed towards him. He raced over the snow-covered frozen earth and leaped onto the side of the tank quickly disappearing into one of the open hatches. The warmth inside the tank was welcomed. The tank crew was from the 3rd SS Panzer Division.

Horst was much relieved while the tank made a straight run back to its lines and deposited him. The tank crew then returned to the battle. This would not be the only time Horst would be shot down by Russian flak. However it was the scariest. Horst made many ground attacks against the Russian hordes.

At times the Russians would have the advantage of tanks in their attacks on the German infantry. The Russians would attack in groups of 40 to 50 tanks against the besieged German troops who did not have enough anti tank guns to stop the Russian armor. Horst and his group turned into the only hope for their fellow ground troops below.

Many times Horst and his squadron attacked from 12,000 feet and dropped 250 and 500-kilo container bombs which were loaded with armor piercing ammunition. The altitude was high for ground attack but the Russians were always equipped with anti aircraft guns of different sizes. Horst estimates that he destroyed at least twelve Russian tanks in all from high altitude down to low level attacks. It was impossible to attack ground units without getting low from time to time where you could better direct your efforts.

Horst and his fellow pilots would carpet bomb the enemy with devastating results on both the Russian armor and the enemy’s troops. The canister bombs would destroy the tanks with direct hits. The charge would also disable the enemy tank with near misses knocking the tracks off the tanks wheels. However the bombs would rip holes in the ranks of the Russian infantry. Yet the waves of Russian infantry keep coming running over their own dead and wounded.

Horst primarily flew the Focke Wulf 190 A-2 and A-4. The camouflage of his Fw 190’s changed with the weather. In the spring and summer the Fw-190 had the standard black green and dark green splinter patterns on the top surfaces of the wing areas. The spine of the fuselage and the top of the cowling was also toped with the same green colors. The bottom and the sides of the Focke Wulf was a light sky blue that came up three quarters of the sides toward the top of the fuselage.

Along the light blue sides of the fighter the ground crews would spray patterns of dark grays and or light and dark greens to blend the top of the fuselage with the bottom of the aircraft. This gave the German aircraft the most unusual yet distinctively attractive camouflage of any of the warring nations.

During the winter the ground crews would spray the top of the Focke Wulf all white. If they were short of paint they would mottle with a spray gun or apply a white wash that did not completely cover the original colors but allowed some of the bottom dark colors to slightly show through to create an illusion of looking down on a snowy area yet you can see some of the earth and grasses bleeding through the snow.

Germans were artist with their aircraft coloring. However sometimes when there was no time for art the ground crew would have to climb on top of the aircraft with a can of white paint and brushes and slop on the paint as quickly as possible. After all, the lifespan of a German aircraft was at times only a day or two in combat.

With his first tour in Russia coming to and end, Horst had flown 126 sorties, which were mostly ground attack missions. This was grueling on Horst and gave him little time to pursue shooting down enemy aircraft, which is what every fighter pilot dreams of. In the first tour Horst was able to shoot down only three confirmed aerial victories. But the primary mission of his Staffel (squadron) was to bust the Russian tank. They called it “Tank Busting”. Many times Petzschler and his fellow pilots were the last and only hope for the German infantry below them in the snow and frozen earth. Most of his missions were Leningrad to Kiev, Russia.

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This is artwork was done by Horst to show me how a cretin battle happened. This artwork is available for $850.00.

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Defense of the Reich

Master Sergeant Petzschler left the Russian front and was transferred to JG3 “Udet” near Madeburg, Germany. While he was with JG 3 his rank was officially Feldwebel Horst Petzschler. From the first week in April 1944 through the last week in May Horst was flying and fighting against the American bomber formations. Horst was looking for action in the air and here he would be flying solely to shoot down enemy aircraft.

This was also to be a reprieve against the utter stress that Horst was experienced fighting against the Russians. In his own way Horst felt that this charge to fighting American bombers would be a welcomed change of pace. He told me that this was one of his worst decisions he ever made. the stress got even worse!

Horst told me his first impression of the bomber formations was to be “astonished.” Remember, Horst had encountered the Memphis Belle with a few hundred bombers and no fighter escort in the past. This was 1944 and the bomber formations were hundreds of bombers and hundreds of fighter escort.

Horst flew fourteen missions during this time frame flying against the Eight Air Force. Horst shot down a B-17, a B-24 and two P-51 Mustangs, with himself being shot down once by a Mustang.

In Europe Horst flew the Messerschmitt Bf-109G-6 fighter. Improvements continued through out the war on the premier German fighter and this aircraft was designed for high altitude fighting. He also flew the G-14 and the new “K” model. A Daimler-Benz DB 605A 12-cylinder engine powered the G-6. The engine was rated at 1,475hp at take off and could fly at 386mph at 22,640 feet. The armament of the G-6 was one 30mm Mk 108 cannon mounted in the engine with two 13mm MG 131 cowl mounted machine guns. The engines continued to excel as did the aircraft models.

Petschler’s Messerschmitt was to operate at high altitudes so instead of the dark green and olive green or gray splinter camouflage this aircraft was simply painted an over all RLM 76. This was a very good color against the thin bluish gray skies over Europe.

The crosses on the wings and the sides were simple basic black with no trim. The swastika was also painted a simple black with no outlines of white. Horst had the JG 3 Udet squadron shield in red and white on the cowling and the spinner was in a spiral black and white design, which was quite typical of many of the German fighters. His aircraft was officially a Bf 109G-6 AS, W Nr 412179, of 2./JG 3.

Horst claimed his first two American aircraft on May 12, 1944 as his squadron was sent up against the bomber formations over Frankfurt. Once they reached altitude, he and his fellow pilots spotted an incoming formation of American bombers.

Horst and his fellow pilots attacked the B-17’s head on. As Horst raced at full speed into the oncoming bombers, he selected his target. Viewing the bomber through his gun sites, the bomber grew in size quickly. Squeezing his trigger, Horst saw his tracers reach out at the fast approaching B-17.

Bright flashes appeared between the engine and the main body of the Flying Fortress striking the fuel tanks in the wing and damaging the wing root. The bombers inside engine then exploded as it took direct hits from the 20mm cannon on “Black 14”. Within the blink of an eye Horst was forced to pull up to avoid hitting the oncoming bomber head on.

As Horst pulled up and over the stricken Fortress, his gun camera filmed the bombers wing start to collapse at the wing root sending the once mighty bomber to the German countryside below trailed by the parachutes of its surviving crew members.

As Horst cleared the bomber formation he looked up and saw a flight of Mustangs diving on him. Horst thought that he would dive to get away, but knew that he would then have five Mustangs with a speed advantage on his tail. He pulled up to meet the diving Mustangs and fired on the lead aircraft.

His first shots struck the enemy plane, and as they passed the Mustang exploded into a fireball. That was two aerial victories in one mission. A Flying Fortress, which was no easy task, and a Mustang, which was also a considerable adversary. However both attacks by Horst were good and effective, but also very lucky on his behalf to take out his adversary quickly. His next victory against the Americans was on May 14th against a B-24 returning to England from its mission. Again with a head on attack, Horst was able to drop the American heavy bomber.

On May 28th, Horst and about 330 Bf 109’s and Fw 190’s were scrambled on Ascension Day to intercept American fighters and bombers which were headed towards the German oil facilities. Horst was unaware of the actual size of the force they were up against. The numbers of bombers were 1,200 four-engine bombers, escorted by nearly 700 fighters. Before the air battle was over 266 of the German fighters actually engaged in combat with the bomber and fighter force. Fifty German pilots were shot down. One of the Luftwaffe pilots that was shot down you will be reading about shortly.

A little after 14:00, I./JG 3 engaged the first of the American forces, Mustangs south of Magdeburg, Germany. In the aerial battle four Mustangs and six Messerschmitt from JG 3 were shot down. Horst had witnessed German ace Captain Moritz attack as he was flying top cover for the engagement. Horst described Moritz as attacking an endless stream of bombers, which had clouds of what looked like bees buzzing around them. These were not bees; they were P-38’s, P-47’s and P-51 fighters.

Oscar Boesch was also in the aerial battle below Horst. There were no clouds and visibility was seemingly unlimited. Horst and his wingman were at 30,000 feet watching the melee below when they were hit from behind by Mustangs. The American 352nr Fighter Group attacked Petzschler and his wingman Unteroffizer Herdy. The American pilot Capt. Woody Anderson came in quickly on the rear of Petschler’s wingman and shot him down killing Unteroffizer Herdy.

Captain Anderson was going so fast that he flew over Petschler’s aircraft. As Anderson’s Mustang passed over Horst’s Messerschmitt Horst pulled up the nose of his Bf109 and fired into belly of the P-51 as it flew over him. Horst watched the Mustang nose down trailing a slipstream of coolant. He did not see the American pilot attempt to bail out.

As Horst watched the enemy plane his Messerschmitt was attacked from behind by Capt. Anderson’s wingman in his Mustang. Fortunately the Mustang did not get a lethal blow on Horst’s Messerschmitt, but a glancing blow. Part of Petschler’s wing tip was shot away sending him into a downward spin. His instruments went wild. Horst delayed his bailout because the temperature out side was so cold that his canopy was iced shut.

As Horst lost altitude the air became thicker to where he was able to gain control his aircraft. He leveled out and checked everything over for a bail out. With his “Black 14” disabled, Horst bailed out at a lower altitude and landed near a B-17 that had been shot down.

As Horst landed a German Flak Lieutenant and some of his men who were rounding up the downed surviving American aviators also rounded up Petzschler thinking he was an American. For a brief period Horst was apprehended as one of the American bomber crew. Horst was quickly able to convince the Flak crew that he was a Luftwaffe pilot by showing his identity to the Germans. After transporting the POW’s to a local holding area Horst helped in the interrogation of the American bomber crew. Horst was the only German present that could speak English. Speaking English made the soldiers suspicious. Horst told me that when a gun is pointed at you, you do hold up your hands. The Germans checked all of Horst’s paperwork again.

With Horst being able to speak American he talked to the Americans. The only problem was that Horst had only taken classes and was by no means an expert. And we all know when someone tries to translate another language when they know little they mush it up and make it sound funny. So was this interview with poor Horst who was flat and sterile in his approach went this way.

When Horst offered his services the American Navigator who was from Chicago was in an argument with the German Flak Lt. who took him prisoner. When Horst took over and the American realized that Horst could translate his story the American Navigator told Horst to tell the Flak Lt., “Tell that Asshole Lieutenant that we speak American and not English. And tell him, No!, the Flak did not hit us; it was an FW-190 that brought us down.” The German Flak Lieutenant. thought that his gun crew shot down the B-17.

There seamed to be some confusion and argument as to weather the Americans spoke “English or American.” The American airmen were insisting that they spoke American and not English! They were American and they spoke American! Talk about being picky!

Horst was picked up by his unit and returned to his airfield later that afternoon. This was the only time that Horst was actually shot down by an enemy aircraft. He was assigned another “Black 14”, Bf109 G-6 which he flew until he gladly transferred back to the Russian Front. His new “Black 14” would not last for long. Just days later as Horst was getting ready to transfer back to the Russian front, his friend Otto Bussow was shot down and killed on May 30, 1944 while flying “Black 14”.

Russian Front, Again!

As the allies were invading France, Horst was again transferred back to Russia where he scored against nineteen more Russian aircraft. Horst was now flying with Stabsstaffel JG Molders. Flying both the Fw-190 and the Bf-109. Horst predominately flew the Bf-109G. Horst on his second tour would be concentrating on downing Russian aircraft. Several of the aircraft Horst shot down were observation aircraft. Another aerial victory was an American A-20 Boston twin-engine bomber over a lake in Russia in September 1944. Now Horst was able to prove himself as a fighter pilot. On his second tour in Russia his aerial victories rose steadily.

Germany’s need for fighter pilots had grown to where Horst was transferred in September 1944 to the flight school in Liegnitz/Silesia where he trained 28 bomber pilots to be fighter pilots. His training schedule with his pilots took five months often flying six to eight hours a day. With the number of American aircraft that were now constantly flying over Europe, Horst had to constantly keep an eye out for his students from highly trained American pilots who were roaming the skies looking for German aircraft of any type to shoot down.

From February through May 4, 1945, Horst served with the 10th Squadron JG51 in Danzig near Pillau Konigsberg. Here Horst and his squadron fought to the bitter end. In the spring of 1945, III./JG 51 lost 51 pilots. Many were to the French unit that was fighting for the Russians known as the Air Regiment “Normandie-Neimen” who were flying the Yak-9.

I was able to personally work with the top French Ace of WWII, Marcel Albert that was flying and fighting daily against Horst and his squadron. It was most fascinating to be able to hear about the air battles in this area from experienced pilots from both sides.

Horst was one of the most successful pilots of his squadron of III./JG 3 as Feldwebel Petzschler shot down 22 aircraft in the last months of the war. His last aerial victory was against a twin-engine Pe-2 on April 27,1945 near Pillau. Horst shot down four of these aircraft along with several Jak-3’s, IL-2, Lagg-5 and Mig’s. On one mission Horst shot down an

The IL-2 was a Russian ground attack aircraft that flew slow and low. The airplane had a two-man crew, a pilot and a rear gunner. The aircraft was well known to be hard to shoot down. They were in fact well armored and afforded their crew good protection. The best way to shoot down the Il-2 was by hitting the radiators on the bottom which would over heat and burn up the engine. The best way for the Il-2 to defend itself was to fly low so German fighters could not get under their aircraft. Horst was forced to approach the Il-2 from the above rear. He weaved back and forth but the rear gunner was quick but did not hit him. Yet another weave or too and the gunner could hit him. So when Horst weaved back out he fired right at the rear gunner. Horst pulled back quickly behind the protection of the rudder. Horst knew he killed the rear gunner. Horst came back around and closer and fired all along the fuselage under the canopy. The aircraft took several hits from the German 20mm cannon. The Russian fighter-bomber belched smoke, both dark and light colored. He must have hit the pilot because he did not see him bail out. But as Horst followed the Russian down it looked like the pilot was trying to fly the plane in for a belly-landing. It was a nasty landing and did not look hopeful for the aircrew when they hit and came to a stop.

After Horst landed, he with some of the other pilots and ground crew drove out to the location of the downed Russian IL-2 since it was close by. After going over the damage of the aircraft and trying to identify the crew they discovered that the rear gunner was a dead woman. Many women fought bravely for the Soviet Union and many of them died. Horst told me he felt a little funny inside. Not in a good way because the bullets had just killed a woman. A woman manning a machine gun that would have killed Horst if luck had been with her.

On May 4th 1945, Horst took off to find an Allied airfield to surrender. Low on fuel, Horst landed his Bf109 at an airfield he believed was an American airbase, but the airfield he was gliding into was actually Malmo, Sweden. Running out of fuel Horst was able to land “dead stick”. Horst was interned for six months after the war was over in Sweden. Horst was then transferred or sold to the Soviet Union as slave labor by the Swiss government. Horst served four years as a slave laborer in Russia before being released. If he had landed into the hands of the Americans he would have been set free as soon as the war was over.

Horst Petzschler ended the war flying 297 combat missions and with 26 confirmed aerial victories. He was shot down 13 times. Eleven were crash landings and two were bailouts. Only once was Horst shot down by an enemy fighter, which was by a Mustang that jumped him from behind on May 28, 1944 near Magdeburg. The rest were due to close encounters with Russian flak.

Horst Petzschler was awarded the Iron Cross first and second-class along with the Golden Fighter Clasp as he passed 150 frontline sorties of which 126 were fighter-bomber missions in the FW-190-A-4 against the Russians.  He also received the Goblet of Honor for passing 250 missions. Horst was recommended for the Knights Cross as the war came to an end but he never received the award.

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Above and below are the confirmed aerial victories that were credited to Petzschler.

First tour in Russia

  1. May 11,1943Yak-7
  2. November 10, 1943IL-2
  3. November 10, 1943IL-2

Tour in Germany

  1. May 12,1944B-17
  2. May 12,1944P-51
  3. May 14,1944B-24
  4. May 28,1944P-51

Second tour in Russia

  1. June 1944Yak-9
  2.  June 1944 Pe-2
  3. July 1944 Yak-9
  4. July 1944 Mig-3
  5. July 1944 IL-2
  6. August 9, 1944 Lagg-5
  7. September 7, 1944 Pe-2
  8. September 1944 Pe-2
  9. September 1944 IL-2
  10. September 1944 Lagg-5
  11. September 1944 A-20
  12. February 1945 Lagg-5
  13. March 1945 IL-2
  14. March 1945 Yak-9
  15. March 1945 IL-2
  16. March 1945 Lagg-7
  17. March 1945 Yak-3
  18. March 1945 Yak-3
  19. April 1945 Pe-2

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The above is every airfield and dates showing where Horst was stationed. The hand written notes are by Horst.

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The handsome Luftwaffe Pilot.

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Horst Petzschler and Artist Ernie Boyette at art show.

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Petzschler landed in Russia and pulled off the runway. The soil was soft where he pulled off the runway and his aircraft went over on its prop. Horst was fined one months wages for this accident! This is the aircraft the printing was rendered from. Horst old me that this was a photo of his fighter. Yet some American Army occupiers said that they took this photo and it was not were Horst was stationed. OK, so the Luftwaffe had two “6’s”.