By Pierre Kosmidis
Photos, documents and additional information by Lt. Col. (ret.) Hans Peter Eisenbach, used by kind permission.
Click the links below for additional reading:
A personal account of a Luftwaffe pilot in Greece: Friedrich “Fritz” Eisenbach in Kefalonia, Rodos, Leros – The Ju 87 “Stuka” dive bomber operations in Greece, 1943
Dogfight over the Aegean: A minute by minute account of the Air Battle west of Rodos island, October 9, 1943
Dogfight over the Aegean: The Leverette Report illustrated – P-38 “Lightnings” against Ju 87 “Stukas”, on 9 October 1943
The German dive bomber Junkers Ju 87D factory number 100375 with the call-sign S7+GM from 4. Staffel II./Sturzkampfgeschwader 3 from ARGOS Airbase (No. 4 Squadron, IInd Group, Dive Bomber Wing 3) with the crew Leutnant Rolf Metzger (Pilot) and Unteroffizier Hans Sonnemann (Radio operator) was downed during a dramatic dogfight west of Rhodos on 9 october 1943 by US Major William Leverette with his Lightning “Stingeree”.
The Dive Bomber Group was tasked to attack a British formation of seven war-ships and was intercepted by the US 37th Fighter Squadron from GAMBUT/North Africa. www.ww2wrecks.com has contacted Lt. Col. (ret.) Hans Peter Eisenbach, who gave us an overall detailed report of what has happened during the battle west of Rhodes on 9 October 1943.
Back in the autumn of 1943, a fierce battle was fought in and around Leros Island, between the British and the Germans, for the control of the Dodecanese Islands, after the capitulation of the fascist italian regime in September 1943, which occupied the islands since 1912.
|Bullet holes on a Ju 52 salvaged from Leros|
The Germans managed to take control of the island of Leros, after a battle that lasted for several days, involving naval forces, parachutists, Brandenburg troopers, aircraft and land forces.
|Another view of the salvaged Ju 52, after its restoration|
In 2003, a Ju 52, which was shot down over Alinda Bay in Leros on 13/14 November 1943, was salvaged after a difficult operation and was transported back to the Hellenic Air Force Museum in Tatoi, Athens, to be maintained and exhibited.
|An MP-40, an Iron Cross and other items salvaged from the Ju-52 shot down in Leros|
Among the debris, the remains of a German soldier were found and with the assistance of authorities, they were identified and returned back to his relatives. Other items salvaged include guns, ammunition, personal effects and are now on display at the HAF Museum in Tatoi, Athens.
|Inside view of the downed Ju-52|
Following a painstaking restoration process, the Ju 52 is now on permanent display at the HAF Museum. Bullet holes from anti aircraft guns are still evident of the ill-fated aircraft that was shot down in November of 1943.
|The Ju-52 at the exterior of the Hellenic Air Force Museum|
Another treasure of the seas was found and salvaged, a Stuka dive bomber, which was shot down during the same period. The Stuka bomber took off from Rodos island, which was controlled by the nazis and flew sorties over Leros.
|The German Cross is still visible on the side of the fuselage, after 70+ years at sea|
Thanks to Tony Rogers and Lt. Col. (ret.) Hans Peter Eisenbach we now know that the crew of the salvaged Ju 87 S7+GM, as it now is at the Hellenic Air Force Museum maintenance hangar, could be identified as Leutnant Rolf Metzger and Unteroffizier Hans Sonnemann.
|The tire of the Ju-87 still intact after 70 years at sea|
|View of the Stuka dive bomber at the maintenance hangar of the HAF Museum in Tatoi, Athens. Right in front of it, part of the Arado Ar-196 salvaged from a depth of 500 metres in the Aegean Sea, Greece|
|An interesting and rather unique feature of the downed and salvaged Stuka: A steel plate armour, on the side of the pilot’s seat, to further enhance survival|