The history of the Schlachtflieger
1939 to September 1943
As Poland showed the effectiveness of the close support role and England brought the downfall for the Stuka, the clear need for more Schlachtflieger was identified. Unfortunately for the ground attack branch Stukas and Me 110s proved to be still effective weapons in the East and only one Schlachtgeschwader, SchG 1 was formed.
Furthermore it was under the command of the General of the fighters. The post was first occupied by Werner Mölders. He had an eye for close airforce-army co-operation and would have been a support for the close support role. But he unfortunately died to early in an plane crash in 1941. He successor was the Adolf Galland. Mostly known for his exploit in the Battle of Britain, Galland flew He 51 in Spain and Hs 123 in Poland.
Consequently he would have had enough experience to value the existence of this branch, but he disliked the ground attack business and did everything to get his transfer to a fighter unit. The glamorous character of Galland did suit the high regarded and well press covered knight's business of fighter combat, but did not suit the 'dirty' and not high rewarded business of ground attack.
Up to 1943 the fortune of this branch was in this man's hands. He watched jealously over 'his' branch the fighter. As a consequence the ground attack units were not supplied in scale with the new Fw 190 and were largely neglected (see: The role of Galland).
SchG 1 continued to operate a mix of Hs 123, Hs 123 and Me 109 E.
SKG 10 (lit. fast bomber wing) was created as an reaction on the Allied landing at Dieppe as an anti-invasion unit. I. and II. Gruppe were created in France in December 1942/ January 1943. III. Gruppe was transformed from III ZG 2 and operated in Africa. IV. Gruppe did not see it's light up to April 1943 when it was created from the two former fighter-bomber squadron 10. JG 26 and 10. JG 54.
In the end only the two first Gruppen were 'new' and did not represent a significant back up to the ground attack branch, as I. SKG 10 was used for hit and run attacks against the English coast and II. to IV. SKG 10 became what they were designed for - fighting an Allied invasion. This took not place as expected in France but in North Africa and in Sicily.
The second new unit was SchG 2, which consisted of two Gruppen and the Stab came into being in late 1942. It operated Me 109 and Hs 129 in the Mediterranean. In Mai 1943 it re-equipped with Fw 190.
Despite it, the 'Schlächter' were largely neglected. A situation that only changed with the creation of the post of the 'General der Schlachtflieger' on the 1st September 1943. From now on the Schlachtflieger were independent.
The role of Galland