Soviet night a/c ID ?

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the old Sage
May 20, 2004
Platonic Sphere
well here we go again guys.............

little old me trying to figure out what these German Luftw. night fighter pilots shot down.

In December of 44 on the Ost front many DB-3F's are claimed as well as PS-84's.

ok experten can you share your thoughts and pics please ?? 8)

vielen Dank !
The DB-3F is more widely known as the Il-4. It was the most heavily used Soviet bomber during World War II. It began series production in 1940. Post-War NATO refered to this aircraft as Bob. Just over 5,000 of the Il-4 had been built when production ceased in 1944.

The DB-3 series started in 1936. The DB-3M was an improved version, mainly made up of superior build techniques. The DB-3F (Il-4) had quite a few changes, increased gunner armour and improved protection (Upgraded guns to 12.7mm UBT) along with new 1,100 hp M-88 [replacing the old 950 hp M-87B] engines. The DB-3F was renamed the Il-4 sometime in 1942.

It could carry 2,500 kg of bombs internally, and on short missions would carry another 1000 kg externally.


The PS-84, aka. Li-2, is the Soviet conversion of the DC-3. It was basically the same aircraft but with a turret in the top mounting a 12.7mm UBT - I think.


These aircraft would have been in direct support of the coming Soviet offensive that relieved Leningrad and pushed the Wehrmacht over the Oder river, in January 1945.

Do you have information on where on the Ost Front these kills were made? Because the Red Army was marching through Romania and Bulgaria in December 1944 ... and these could also have been in aid of that advance.
thank you Plan for the explanation/information on these two craft. I do see in another claims listing of Li-2's being shot down so this makes much sense with the two names being interspersed.

I. and II./NJG 5 were flying Ju 88G-6's in I. gruppe and II. gruppe Bf 110G-4's until FEb. of 45 with replacement by 88G-6.

the areas were in the general area of Libea, with kills east, north and SE some 20km away to 60km away. 13 kills were made just on the night of December 22/23, 44 and on an earlier date in the moth NJG 5 was tackling RAF Lancs on 18/19th of December in the area of Danzig and gotenhafen.

On December 20/21 NJG 5 reported 10 kills over the same Soviet two types of a/c over Libea and Memel anywhere from 1500m to 4500m no higher

Erich ~
ah my carperal tunnel in both hands...yuk, typing to fast and the send button ........

I./NJG 5 with Ju 88G-6's were operating from Jesau just south of Königsberg.

the Latvian town should be called Libau, and in fact I./NJG 5 operated most of Janaury 1945 till the 25th on Soviet ground attack missions until back into Germany to face RAF heavies....

Werner Hoffmann, I./NJG 5 Gruppenkommandeur


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nothing like the RAF heavy counterpart I can assure all of you and seemed to not have the speed to outrun the Ju 88G-6 crews either. One upper turret for protection it appears without belly, side or tail gun positions.

Ace and Staffelkapitän of 3./NJG 5 Walter Engle shot down 4 Il-4's on December 20/21, 1944 east of Memel, flying a Ju 88G-6

and then on December 22/23, 1944 he shot down 1 Li-2 and two Il-4's and his last kill of the night was a B-25 Mitchell, all in the area of Libau, S.W. and S.E. to East of the city.

Walter Engle who later became III./NJG 5 Gruppenkommandeur and was shot down, bailed out wounded in April of 45. He still maybe alive but a very ld gent if he is


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any of our East European forum members can help ......... where is exactly the town of Jesau in Ost Preussia located.. ?

thankx E ♫
Sounds like the aircraft were in direct support of the coming offensive against Army Group North/Center. It makes me wonder what the Li-2s were carrying though ...

Jesau is near Eselsburg, Erich ... just north of Czechoslovakia ...
plan I have had some interewting correspondance the lat couple of days on this as I was looking for info on the town and airfield. It is actually just south of Königsberg a sshown in the following map of the old city pre Ww 2 from one of the many Ost Preussian maps of an elderly friend Frau R. Reichert.

just go south of the major city on the main drag past Wittneberg going south


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this pic from a google search done for me from a European friend. note the old airfield to the east and south of the city/town, now called Juzny ~ Polish


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Quite obviously I had the wrong Jesau ... so, is this where the NJG were stationed... ?

It seems the Il-4 was quite an efficient machine, but hardly capable of combat in enemy skies. Consider it the Soviet equal to the Blenehim IV. A capable machine, but in dire need of escort. Very little protection but more so than in the DB-3 and DB-3M, which carried 7.62mm for protection and no armour!

With only a 12.7mm in the top mount, I imagine these machines were easy pickings for the Luftwaffe day and night. No more protected than the Li-2 ... and with no real night escort. And with a top speed of 404 km/h , the Il-4 was hardly at fast pace ...I think the Il-4 crews would have appreciated some Mosquitos as escort!

Easy kills ...

Apparently Il-4s were used on raids against Berlin ... which served the Soviet propaganda machine well. A dangerous route for the RAF in four-engined heavies ... let alone undefended VVS twins ... the NJG on the Ost Front seemed to have a nice time.
actually the Ost front NJG had a terrible time facing the very slow prey, no radar frequencies to home in on, mid altitiude, and no typical heavy bomber type routes were taken to and from targets in the Soviets case, really a cat and mouse and by luck did NJG 100 and parts of NJG 5 take on the crafty Soviet crew(s). true over 25 pilots in NJG 100 bcame aces with Francsi being the highest scorer, and scoring till wars end. also the not so nice duty of performing night ground assault missions in between operational a/c flights.

I./NJG 5 was stationed at Jesau from Septembers 44end till the area was overtaken by Soviet armor/infantry in January 45's end.

E ~
Ah, not such a nice time then. But at least the prey didn't have teeth. If the Luftwaffe had the same set up in the East as it did in the West - the VVS wouldn't have been able to operate at night ... with any success. But we all know that wouldn't have been possible ...the Wehrmacht was moving backwards too quickly to set up anything of a near permanent defensive network.

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