The unit's history began in 1934, when the Luftwaffe, impressed with Oberst (Colonel) Theodor Rowehl's aerial reconnaissance missions over Poland, formed a special squadron under Rowehl's lead that was attached to the Abwehr, Germany's military intelligence department. As the Abwehr started to lose the Führer's goodwill during the war, a new reconnaissance unit, the 2nd Test Formation, was formed in 1942 under the command of Werner Baumbach. This unit was combined with 1st Test Formation in March 1944 to form KG 200 on 20 February 1944.
On 11 November 1944 Baumbach became Geschwaderkommodore, all aerial special-ops missions were carried out by KG 200 under Baumbach's command.
The first Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber operated by German forces, in KG 200 markings. This B-17F-27-BO (41-24585; PU-B) was crash-landed near Melun, France by a crew from the 303d Bombardment Group on December 12, 1942 and repaired by Luftwaffe ground staff.
Its USAAF nickname, "Wulfe Hound", is frequently misspelled.
KG 200, unusual for a Geschwader-designated Luftwaffe unit, only consisted of two operational Gruppen; several others were planned but did not become operational before the end of the war.
I./KG 200 operated three or four Heinkel He 115 floatplanes and were responsible for dropping Abwehr agents behind enemy lines. The largest number of agents dropped was in July 1944, when a total of 260 men and women were dropped, mainly using automatic parachutes. It operated under direct command of the Sicherheitsdienst. I./KG 200 was divided into three squadrons ("Staffeln"): 1st Staffel operated in long-range missions ("Ferneinsätze") while 2nd Staffel flew missions in nearer short-range areas ("Naheinsätze").The 3rd Staffel consisted of Navy pilots ("Seeflieger") with one He 115, located in Rissala, Finland.
II./KG 200 was in charge of all other missions, including electronic warfare, long-range reconnaissance, delivery flights and special cargo missions. II./KG 200 had one Staffel for commando raids, the 3rd Staffel. They were located and trained in Dedelstorf, Germany.
Luftwaffe special forces parachute trained commandos of II./KG 200 were an arm of the Fallschirmjäger parachute forces and were listed on II./KG 200's ORBAT as the 3rd Staffel. In September 1944, this Staffel was no longer under the command of KG 200, but under the Army Paratroopers' command as Bataillon Schäfer.
III./KG 200 was to have fitted Focke-Wulf Fw 190A fighters with torpedoes but was never inaugurated.
IV./KG 200 was used for pilot training and for flights of long-range units using operational Junkers Ju 90 and Ju 290 potentially for maritime patrol, and ultimately the planned Ju 390 and Me 264 trans-Atlantic-range strategic bombers. Had it become operational, this squadron would have been responsible for reconnaissance flights and operations within the United States.
V./KG 200 aka 5th Gruppe (also known as Leonidas Squadron) was recruited for planned test flights and suicide and near-suicide manned missions using the piloted V-1 flying bomb and various partly expendable rocket interceptor designs.
The unit carried out a wide variety of missions:
Before the beginning of the war, aerial reconnaissance was usually carried out by civilian Lufthansa planes equipped with cameras. This practice was continued throughout the war as long as civilian airlines remained operational; later on, recon missions were most often carried out by Junkers Ju 86s flying at very high altitudes or by flying boats. Due to the lack of German aircraft with sufficient range, some recon missions used captured American B-17s or B-24s and Soviet Tu-2s. For the most part, these machines were used for re-supply roles (dropping in supplies to German forces operating behind Soviet lines), or transporting important personnel.
Beginning in 1942, to compensate for its lack of heavy bombers, the Luftwaffe started to experiment with packing some of its war-weary Junkers Ju 88 bombers with enormous shaped-charge warheads and guiding them to their targets with a fighter airplane mounted on the back of the unmanned bomber. Although not as effective as the Luftwaffe planners had hoped, the Mistel program continued to be developed through 1944. However, few effective operations were flown. The unit was originally intended to attack naval installations at Gibraltar, Leningrad or Scapa Flow in Scotland, but the invasion of Normandy diverted effort to anti-invasion operations. On the night of 24 June 1944, Mistels of Kampfgeschwader 101 were dispatched against targets in the English Channel.
Although one of the Ju 88s had to be jettisoned prematurely, the remaining four pilots had successful launches and sank several block ships. The feasibility of the Scapa Flow attack remained, and in August 1944 Mistel forces were concentrated at Grove in Schleswig-Holstein. On 11 November 1944 RAF Lancasters attacked the German battleship Tirpitz and caused her to capsize. With Tirpitz out of commission there was no requirement for capital ships to be held in the Atlantic theatre, and soon those with the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow were on their way to the Pacific war, leaving the Mistels no worthwhile targets in Scapa Flow.
All Mistels were placed under the command of KG 200 and Oberst (Colonel) Joachim Helbig. By late 1944 emphasis was placed on an all-out attack on Soviet armaments and power plants but by March 1945 the bases had been overrun by the Soviet advance. KG 200 was ordered to concentrate Mistel operations against the bridges over the Oder and Neisse rivers. On 27 April 7 Mistel aircraft under Leutnant Dittmann of II./KG 200, escorted by Fw 190s, were launched against crossings at Küstrin, but only two Mistels got to the target to launch, results were inconclusive and the bridges remained intact. By April all available Mistel composite airframes had been expended and aircrew dispersed to nearby fighter units.
Country: Nazi Germany
Type: Special operations
Role Reconnaissance, test flights, special missions
Size Air Force Wing
Commanders: Werner Baumbach
Insignia/ Identification symbol: Geschwaderkennung of A3
Bombers:Dornier Do 335, Arado Ar 232, Heinkel He 111, Heinkel He 177, Junkers Ju 290, Junkers Ju 390, Junkers Ju 188, Heinkel He 115, Dornier Do 24, Dornier Do 18, Arado Ar 196, Siebel Si 204, Arado Ar 240
Captured aircraft: B-17, B-24, SM.75, LeO H-246, Short Stirling, de Havilland Mosquito, Bristol Beaufighter
Fighter: Captured: Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Polikarpov I-16, Supermarine Spitfire
Transport Arado Ar 232, Blohm & Voss BV 222, Messerschmitt Me 323, Junkers Ju 252, Junkers Ju 352 Herkules, Gotha Go 244
Suicide and near-suicide missions
In the last months of the war, a small number of high-ranking German officers pressed for a suicide fighter program as a last-ditch effort to stop Allied bombing runs over the Reich. This program, known as Selbstopfer ("self sacrifice"), was intended to use the Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg, a manned version of the V1 pulsejet cruise missile, to attack enemy bombers and ground targets. Several test flights were carried out by Leonidas Squadron KG 200, and mass production of the converted pulsejet-propelled missiles had begun, but the program was stopped due to intervention from Baumbach who felt that these missions would be a waste of valuable pilots.
As part of the Aktion 24 operations, Dornier Do 24 flying boats were modified and loaded with explosives, with the intention that they would be landed on the Vistula River and exploded against river bridges used by Soviet forces. Experienced pilots were to be used to fly the aircraft to a point upstream where it would be left to a "suicide pilot" to ensure a collision with the bridge and ignite the explosives. The assumption that Soviet forces would not react and the unlikelihood of the aircrew managing to return to German-held territory after delivery made the concept highly dubious. The modified aircraft were destroyed on the ground during air raids.
On a February 1945 741st BS mission against Vienna, "Before reaching the target, a 'phantom' B-24 joined our formation.…The P-51s (of the Tuskegee Airmen) came in and over the radio…the German phantom pilot said he was from the 55th Wing and got lost. But the 55th Wing wasn't flying that day and the plane had no tail markings. The fighter pilot squadron leader gave him some bursts from his guns and warned the phantom to turn back.
He added, 'You will be escorted.' The German pilot replied that he could make it alone. The P-51 pilot said: 'You are going to be escorted whether you want it or not. You're going to have two men on your tail all the way back and don't try to land in Yugoslavia.'…The phantom left with his escort and we heard nothing further from the event."
The B-17F Badger's Beauty V. captured by the Luftwaffe
The unit also carried out a variety of special missions, like operating radar-jamming aircraft, clandestine bombing missions and infiltrating American bomber formations with captured aircraft in an attempt to spread confusion. However, most of the information concerning these missions comes from a single POW and is doubted by several aviation history researchers. On 1 December 1943 a B-17 was sighted with the letters "D" above another identification letter "B". It also had a triangular C tail marking, that of the "Hells Angels" 303rd Bomb Group.
This was the identity of B-17F-111-BO 42-30604 Badger Beauty V, actually from the 350th Bomb Squadron of the "Bloody Hundredth" 100th BG, which used the "square-D" tail marking in service. This machine was captured but it was never repaired or used by the Luftwaffe. When re-captured the B-17 was stated as having been preserved in Boeing's museum, but is not known still to be in existence in the 21st century. On the same day, a lone B-24 joined a bomber formation from the 44th Bomb Group. It was reported to have been a machine carrying the markings of a 392nd Bomb Group aircraft. However this unit did not become operational until 9 December.
During one of those missions, on 27 June 1944, a B-17 of KG 200, with Luftwaffe Geschwaderkennung code A3+FB, landed in Manises airport (Valencia) and was interned by the Spanish government.
In July 1944 para-trained commandos of II./KG 200 carried out a parachute assault in July 1944 against French partisan forces on the Vercors plateau in the French Alps where hundreds of partisans had created a stronghold from which they were mounting operations against the German occupiers. These para-trained commandos of II./KG 200 remain a little-known arm of Germany's World War II parachute forces and were listed on II./KG 200's ORBAT (Order of Battle) as the 3rd Staffel. It is possible the paratroopers were actually Waffen SS paratroopers from the 500th SS Parachute Battalion assigned to Kampfgeschwader 200 for this particular mission.
KG 200 in the Middle East
Beginning in early 1944 (perhaps as early as November 1943) the short-lived Operations Dora and Bunny-Hop took place in the Gulf of Sirte, Libya with secret bases inland at Al Mukaram and Wadi Tamet, as well as at Shott al Jerid behind the Mareth Line.
These used a (long range) Messerschmitt Bf-108, two Heinkel He-111s, and a captured B-17 - given the fictional designation "Dornier Do 288" - which despite being badly damaged during a raid on Al Mukaram by a Sudan Defence Force detachment managed to return to Athens for repair. As well as local intelligence and meteorological work their aim was to ferry agents via French West Africa to Cairo, Freetown and Durban.
On the night of 27 November 1944, KG 200 pilots Braun and Pohl flew a Junkers Ju 290 transport from Vienna to a position just south of Mosul, Iraq, where they successfully air-dropped five Iraqi parachutists in bright moonlight. The Luftwaffe crew flew back to the island of Rhodes, still under German occupation. After dealing with engineering problems, they evacuated some thirty casualties from Rhodes, reaching Vienna two nights later.
Oberst Heinz Heigl, February 1944 – November 1944
Oberstleutnant Werner Baumbach, 15 November 1944 – 6 March 1945
Major Adolf von Hernier, 6 March 1945 – 25 April 1945 Gruppenkommandeure
I. Gruppe/KG 200: Major Adolf Koch, March 1944 –
II. Gruppe/KG 200: Hauptmann Horst Rudat, November 1944 – May 1945
III. Gruppe/KG 200: Major Helmut Viedebantt, January 1945 – 1 May 1945