Operation Eisstoss

ice pick

'Eisstross' was a German air offensive by elements of Generaloberst Alfred Keller’s Luftflotte I against the ships and shore facilities of Vitse Admiral Vladimir F. Tributs’s Baltic Fleet at Kronshtadt and Leningrad at the eastern end of the Gulf of Finland (4/30 April 1942).

The formation entrusted with the task, designed to deny the Baltic Fleet the strength to operate effectively after the spring thaw had opened the Gulf of Finland to navigation once more, was General Helmuth Förster’s I Fliegerkorps. On 4 April a force of 62 Junkers Ju 87 single-engined dive-bombers of Hauptmann Peter Gasmann’s III/Stukageschwader 1 and Major Walter Ennecerus’s II/StG 2 together with 33 Junkers Ju 88 twin-engined bombers of Major Herbert Loch’s Kampfgeschwader 1 attacked the ships while 37 Heinkel He 111 twin-engined bombers of Major Hans-Joachim Rath’s KG 4 bombed the defensive anti-aircraft positions. Protection against Soviet air interception was the task of 59 Messerschmitt Bf 109 single-engined fighters of Oberstleutnant Hannes Trautloft’s Jagdgeschwader 54.

During the night of 4/5 April a force of 31 He 111 bombers of the KG 4 attack the Soviet warships once more. The battleship Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya took four hits, the cruiser Maksim Gorky received seven hits, the cruisers Kirov and Petropavlovsk and destroyer Silny each took one serious hit, and the destroyer Grozyashchy, minelayer Marti and training ship Svir each received less serious hits. Also damaged in the attacks were the destroyers Stoiky and Svirepy and the submarines M-79, P-2 and P-3. On 6 April the patrol ship Tucha was damaged by artillery fire from the German positions near Kronshtadt, which also damaged the destroyers Strogy and Stroiny, and the gunboats Oka and Zeya on 14 April.

The campaign was further prosecuted in 'Götz von Berlichingen' and 'Froschlaich'. In overall terms, the I Fliegerkorps flew 596 sorties against Leningrad during April, and during the same period Luftflotte I flew a total of 9,047 sorties in support of Generalfeldmarschall Georg von Küchler’s Heeresgruppe 'Nord'. The German losses were 29 aircraft.