Group Ravela: what was the most secret Luftwaffe unit

History 29/12/19 Group Ravela: what was the most secret Luftwaffe unit

Reconnaissance aircraft in the Wehrmacht was an important matter. Enough to give you an example: for the attack on the Soviet Union was allocated 1324 bomber and attack aircraft, fighter aircraft and 973 730 scouts. Whereas in the Western border districts of the USSR was concentrated to 1 June 1941 4351 bombers and attack aircraft, fighters and 4876 716 scouts. The proportions speak for themselves.

the cost of creating a reconnaissance aircraft in Germany is quite justified, because the information on the war and also weapons. And winged scouts of the Luftwaffe supplied his command a lot of valuable information, including strategic importance. Search strategic information was engaged in distant reconnaissance aircraft. Among the far scouts this elite was a group of Revela whose official name is Aufklärungsgruppe des Oberbefehlshabers der Luftwaffe (Aufkl.Gr.Ob.d.L.), can be translated as “Reconnaissance groups of the main command of the air force.”

they extracted the most important data about the enemy, including potential. And started pilots Revela long before the rise of the Luftwaffe.

the Beginning of the path

the Activity of the group of Rovela was always covered with a dense veil of secrecy.

And although now it is presented in many publications: “Aircraft-ghosts of the Third Reich” by M. Zefirova, N. Bazhenova, “the all-Seeing eye of the Fuhrer. Long-range reconnaissance Luftwaffe on the Eastern front. 1941-1943” Degteva, D. and D. Zubov, “the Winged harbingers of war” by M. Timina, as well as in the works of foreign authors, many questions on the group Rovela still no answer. And, most likely, will never be.

still no understanding of why the pilot of the company “Hansa” (Hansa Luftbild) Theodore Rovel in the early 30-ies has been photographing the border areas of Poland, France and other countries. It is believed that he did it whether on its own initiative, or accidentally removed an important military objects.

Perhaps mere coincidence that the Executive Director of the company “Lufthansa” (which included “Ganza Luftbild”) was Erhard milch, the future field Marshal of the Luftwaffe.

In any case, in Germany there were someone to appreciate the initiatives of Rovala. Especially after the coming to power of the Nazis.

Under the leadership of Rovela was created special group, which used a variety of civilian aircraft, specially equipped for photography.

In the second half of the 30-ies of the group did a photoshoot of various objects on the territory of many European countries: Poland, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Czechoslovakia and the USSR. The scouts worked under the “roof” of the company “Lufthansa” using for filming flights ordinary civil airlines. Sometimes planes “accidentally” lost their way and flew over areas of interest. If there are civil trails was not, then the flights were carried out in the framework of the development of new possible routes. Lufthansa had one of the most extensive networks in the world, and this benefited the German intelligence service.

World war II

In preparation for the Second World war in early 1939, a group of Revela launched in a special intelligence group —Aufkl.Gr.Ob.d.L., in part three, later four squadrons. It is interesting that, although the group was subordinated to the command of the Luftwaffe, the primary “employer” was military intelligence — the Abwehr.

armed groups have been the most modern and perfect examples of the distant scouts. The aircraft was established the most perfect equipment of the company “Zeiss”, the latest navigation and radar systems.

Bet on altitude and speed. The far scouts acted alone, was deep in enemy territory at the maximum height, if enemy interceptors trying to get them, went to maximum speed.

In the course of the war was constantly fighting between designers from different countries: some have tried to create increasingly high-speed and high-altitude intelligence, others are more tall and armed interceptors.

during the Battle of Britain the pilots of the group of Rovela has another function — they started to throw in the rear of the scouts and spies.

On the Eastern front

the Exploration of the territory of the USSR pilots Roves were at the very beginning of its activities. Was already conducted survey of Kronstadt, the border areas of the black sea coast.

When it began the implementation of the plan “Barbarossa”, a group of Rovela took over Soviet territory seriously. During the first five months of 1941, German planes regularly penetrated Soviet territory, on average, three times a day. Often they simply did not show, but if she did, it was not knocked down, and tried to plant. This was an extremely difficult task, as most Soviet fighters could not climb to such a height and catch a German spy. Often attempt interception ended tragically for the Soviet pilots — the aircraft lost control, he fell into a spin, the pilots lost consciousness, was frostbitten face and hands.

Only once 15 April Soviet pilots managed to land high-altitude reconnaissance Ju.86P from the group of Rovela, flying at low altitude due to engine trouble.

German aircraft taking off from airfields in Poland, Romania, East Prussia, Norway, and was deep in Soviet territory on 1300 km as a result of the group’s work, the German command got the panoramic shots of the entire Soviet border area to a depth of 250-300 km, indicating military facilities and deployment of troops. The same was done shooting all the major industrial areas of naval bases, transportation hubs, down to the oil fields of Baku.

the Importance of such information, it is difficult to overestimate.

After the outbreak of war with the USSR, the group of Revela continued its work with renewed vigor. The Wehrmacht had a powerful donnersbachwald aircraft (which was notabout in the red army), which allowed to obtain information about the rendition of the troops in the rear, the construction of fortifications, etc. But this was in a normal group long-range reconnaissance.

the Pilots of Revela tasks of special importance, making long-haul flights. In 1942, the German scouts reached the Volga region, the Urals, the Caucasus. Many of these flights are not even recorded the Soviet air defense. The scouts went to the target at height of 10-11 thousand metres over the target was down, took pictures and left again up. If the Soviet fighters managed to climb and gain altitude, most often could go only to the RAM. That usually did the vast majority of Revela aircraft were shot down by a battering RAM.

By the end of 1942 the situation at the front and in the rear of the Wehrmacht began to change. The German command is not interesting was deep in the Soviet rear. And in Germany reached the apogee of the struggle between the Abwehr and the SD.

All this led to the fact that in January 1943, a special group was reformed in the 100-th long-range reconnaissance group (Aufkl.Gr.100). Which already had special status and did not differ from all other air groups. Thus ended the story of one of the most secret units of the aircraft of the Third Reich.

Cyril Shishkin

© Russian Seven

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