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Sonderkommando Sommer

German Air Force

Sonderkommando Sommer

This photo, taken by the British Field Intelligence late April 1945 depict the wreck on the only German twin jet Arado Ar.234B Blitz lost in combat over the Italy. A small number of Ar.234B was assigned to Sonderkommando Hecht formed on November 1944 and transferred, 28 February 1945, at Campoformido, near Udine, North East Italy, for reconnaissance missions over the Italy occupied by the Allies. Afterwards the Unit was nominated Sonderkommando Sommer from the name of his new commander, Oblt. Erich Sommer, a well-respected test pilot. The Sonderkommando Sommer had aircraft: Ar.234B-2b, Wn.140344, fuselage code T9+EH piloted by the same Sommer and equipped with a pod Magirus with two 20mm cannons and ammunitions, Ar.234B-2, Wn.140142, code T9+DH (former SM+FB), pilot Lt. Gunther Gniesmer, and Ar.234B-2, Wn 140153, code T9+HH (former SM+FM), pilot Stabsfw. Walter Arnold. From the base of Campoformido the three jet was often deployed on other Northern Italy’s airfield: Verona-Villafranca, Osoppo and Lonate Pozzolo well camouflaged under the trees and often disguised with false wooden propeller in front to the engines. The Sonderkommando Sommer make about twenty missions, the first date to 15 March 1945 over the harbor of Ancona and San Benedetto del Tronto, in front to the Adriatic Sea, two day later was make a flight over the Leghorn’s harbor, Pisa and Elba Island. In the same month the Sonderkommando Sommer flew again over the Ancona’s harbor and Leghorn’s harbor and over Perugia. On 25 March Sommer make personally the first of two long-range missions: from Campoformido to Lonate for refueling and from here over the French harbor of Toulon and Marseille. The second Sommer’s long range mission date to 27 March: a reconnaissance over the Corsica and Elba Island overflying Leghorn’s harbor on the return. On 29 March taking off from Lonate the Arnold’s Arado was strafed and damaged by Spitfires, but the first loss, and the only in combat, occurred on the afternoon of 11 April 1945 when the Ar.234 of Gniesmer, took off from Lonate, was attacked and strafed over the Bologna’s South-East Area by two Mustang of the 2nd Fighter Squadron of the USAAF’s 52nd Fighter Group, piloted by the Lieutenants Hall III and Cooper. Gniesmer, with an engine in flames, bailed out hitting the tail of his planes. Landed beyond the German lines and seriously wounded (skull’s fracture), Gniesmer was hospitalized at Ferrara, but died two days later. The plane glided to Comacchio’s Valley and crashed 10 miles NW Alfonsine. The second Arado lost, but not in combat, was the aircraft of the same Sommer, at Campofornido on 20 April 1945, when, because the failed exit of the principal landing gear, the pilot landed with only the nose wheels extended hitting, because the strong wind abeam and the breakdown of the nose wheel, the terrain. The pilot escaped unhurt, but the aircraft burst into flames and was completely destroyed. Sommer flew the last missions, 22 or 24 April 1945, over the Po river with the Arnold’s plane, the T9+FH which, transferred at Holzkirken after the collapse of the German forces in Italy, was blow up on 30 April 1945.Victor Sierra