Operation Froschlaich

frog spawn

This was a German sub-component of ‘Eisstoss’ concerned with air attacks on Vitse Admiral Vladimir F. Tributs’s Baltic Fleet in Kronshtadt, including mining of the extreme eastern end of the Gulf of Finland to deny the Baltic Fleet any access to the Baltic Sea proper (4/14 April 1942).

The primary objective of the whole undertaking was to ensure that the maritime supply lines needed by Generalfeldmarschall Georg von Küchler’s Heeresgruppe ‘Nord’ remained unhindered, and to maximise the security of German’s U-boat training areas in the Baltic Sea.

On 4 April General Helmuth Förster’s I Fliegerkorps of Generaloberst Alfred Keller’s Luftflotte I provided a force of 62 Junkers Ju 87 dive-bombers of the III Gruppe of Oberst Walter Hagen’s Sturzkampfgeschwader 1 and the I and II Gruppen of Oberstleutnant Paul-Werner Hozzel’s StG 2, together with 33 Junkers Ju 88 bombers of Major Herbert Loch’s Kampfgeschwader 1 to attack the Soviet naval vessels, 37 Heinkel He 111 bombers of Oberst Hans-Joachim Rath’s KG 4 to attack the defending anti-aircraft gun positions, and 59 Messerschmitt Bf 109 fighters of Oberstleutnant Hannes Trautloft’s Jagdgeschwader 54 to provide escort.

On the night of 5/6 April 31 He 111 bombers of the KG 4 again attacked the Soviet warships. The battleship Oktyabrskaya Revolutsiya was hit by four bombs, the cruiser Maksim Gorkiy was struck by seven medium-weight bombs, the incomplete cruiser Petropavlovsk (ex-German Lützow) and destroyer Silnyi each received one hit, and the destroyer Grozyashchiy, minelayer Marti and training ship Svir each took light bomb hits. Also damaged were the destroyers Stoikiy and Svirepyi, several submarines (including M-79, P-2 and P-3), and several lighter vessels.

On 6 April the guard ship Tukha was damaged by shell fire, and on 14 April aircraft strafed the destroyers Strogiy and Stroinyi, together with the gunboats Oka and Zeya, off the German positions before Kronshtadt.