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Kampfgeschwader 55, QTVR file, 540Kb, 320x200.

Kampfgeschwader 55
Kampfgeschwader 55 is one of the bomber groups formed in the second half of the 1930s as the Luftwaffe continues to expand its tactical bombing capability. When German forces invade Poland on September 1, 1939, thereby precipitating World War 2, KG55 is not among the units earmarked for this fast moving campaign, as it is part of Luftflotte 3 based in the south-western part of Germany, where the Stab/KG55 and II/KG55 are located at Giessen with nine and 31 Heinkel He 111 bombers respectively, and the II/KG55 at Lengendiebach with 33 Heinkel He 111s. KG55 again fails to see combat in the Scandinavian operation that starts in April 1940, but finally receives its baptism in the campaign that begins in May 1940 against the Low Countries and France. The group starts the campaign with a strength of 110 He 111 bombers in three Gruppen. It plays a worthwhile, if undistinguished, part in the campaign within Luftflotte 3 under the command of General JŸrgen Stumpff. This is to support Generalfeldmarschall Gerd von Rundstedt's Army Group 'A' tasked with the main offensive drive into the north-eastern front to split the Allied armies into two groups, which can then be destroyed in detail. After France's capitulation on June 25, the Luftwaffe prepares to launch its full weight against the UK, and within this concept Oberst Alois Stöckl's KG55 is based with its I Gruppe at Dreux, II Gruppe at Chartres and III Gruppe at Villacoublay under command of Luftflotte 3's V Fliegerkorps. The He 111 proves generally inadequate in daylight raids, and the He 111 force is therefore used relatively less than the Dornier Do 17 and Junkers Ju 88 forces from the time of its early reverses, until the time of the nocturnal Blitz against London in the aftermath of the Battle of Britain. KG55 participates in the infamous raid of November 14/15 that razes the center of Coventry, and continues to participate in the Blitz up to May 1942. By the end of this month, Luftflotte 2 and the IV and V Fliegerkorps of Luftflotte 3 have been withdrawn for rest and rehabilitation before being relocated to Poland for use in Germany's ill-fated assault on the USSR.

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