Martin Drewes was born on October 20, 1918 in Lobmachtersen-bei-Braunschweig, a small village near Hannover (northwestern Germany). He was the son of a local pharmacist.
As the end of the 1930s, Martin Drewes volunteered for the officer's school of the German Army. At the end of the course he decided to transfer to the Luftwaffe. This new armed force was in need of potential fliegern (pilots), so his request was accepted and his training period began during 1939-40.
The most glamorous and sought-after branches of the Luftwaffe were the "Jagdwaffe" (fighters) and "Sturzkampfluzeug" (dive bombers) Geschwadern (squadrons). The Stuka course the fastest way to get into the already well developed fray.
Drewes was assigned to a Zerstörer Geschwader upon graduation, and transferred to ZG 76 "Haifish" (Shark) Wing, performing Kriegsmarine shipping patrols in the North Sea and participating in the Iraqi uprising action in the Middle East. The Zerstörer units were equipped with "destroyers"- heavy, twin engine fighters. At this time Martin had already achieved two "Abschüsse" (victories), one of them a Spitfire over the North Sea, and the other a unfortunate Gloster Gladiator during his stay in the desert (dealing with the 1941 Iraqi uprising).
At this time British night raids were increasing from a nuisance to a crescendo. The Nightfighter concept was promoted by a gifted Destroyer Arm officer, Wolfgang Falck. As the main weapon of the Zerstörer units was the recently superceded Bf-110C/D, the German High Command decided to create a Nightfighter arm by transferring most of the Zerstörer units into this new kind of warfare. Initially, ZG 76 was transformed into NJG 3, and Drewes saw himself introduced into this new combat situation.
Drewes night victories increased over time, and he was transferred to NJG 1 where he would stay until the end of the war. During 1944 he was appointed Kommandeur (Commander) of III./NJG 1 (third group of the first nightfighter wing). This is the period on which this article focuses.
The only accurate decal sheet for Drewes aircraft is the one, in 1/48th scale by ProModeler - although even this sheet is not of high quality. All the others have one or more major errors.
Besides, this aircraft's "Schräge Musik" (Jazz Music - oblique cannons mounted in the cockpit of the fighter to shoot at the British bombers vulnerable belly) was in the then standard side-by-side position, but just behind the pilot's seat, not in front of the "Bordschüetze"(Gunner), which was far more common at this period. This information was supplied in a fax sent by Erich Vorholt, Drewes armourer at that time, who is still living in Germany.
The nose carried the factory standard four 7.9mm MG, and not the more familiar 30mm cannon. Drewes told me that he did not like the cannon, and instructed his ground crew to exchange them for the machine guns, because the cannons blasted huge pieces of the bomber. These could seriously damage his fighter, as the shooting distance was never beyond a mere 35 meters!
Therefore, to create an accurate 1/48 scale replica of Drewes' aircraft it will be necessary to use the ProModeler kit with the following modifications:
As to have some interesting insight in another role of the Nachtjagdfliegern (nightfighting pilots), I was talking to Drewes, a true gentleman, at his home when he told me that indeed G9+WD was an ex-nightfighter transformed into a Tagzerstörer (Heavy Day Fighter) for intercepting American bomber formations of B-17 and B-24 crossing the Reich in 1943 - when escort fighters were rare sights over Germany - with its radar set removed for increased speed, and no belly 20mm twin cannons pack as well, for the same reason.
However, he had another aircraft for specific nightfighting, G9+MD, with no personal markings, complete with the radar set, etc., so he had two available aircraft, each for a specific role. Indeed, only pilots with less than 20 night victories would reinforce the day fighters struggle against the intruders of the Reich airspace, as the others were considered too valuable to be inevitably spent in dayfighting with the ever growing menace, at the time, of the allied escort fighters.
One night, after detecting an unsuspecting Lancaster in the bomber stream, into which he mixed up thanks to Erich Handke (his excellent Bordfunker, or radar-operator, Ritterkreuzträger, or Knight's Cross bearer, in German), he proceed to make the conventional Schräge Musik attack, right from below, spreading the these guns fire from the inboard left engine till the starboard one (a vital area, with fuel tanks half full, so with a lot of fuel vapours to cause a huge explosion if hit...), but in this case, the unaware bomber initiated a right turn, and the 2-3 second shot got itself concentrated on the BOMB BAY, STILL FULL OF ITS DEADLY CARGO!!! The bomber disintegrated, and took Drewes and its crew with it, through an incredible amount of debris, which dilacerated the Bf-110G-4 (G9+MD)...they all had to jump immediately for their lives from the plane's blazing hulk!!! One schrapnel hit the gunner's (Oberfeldwebel Petz) wristwatch, stopping it right at the moment of the explosion: 01:19hs...
After this incident,and the recuperation of he and his crew, Drewes then took old G9+WD back to its more appropriated affairs of nightfighting, and so the story goes...
Martin Drewes finished the war with a grand total of 52 victories, consisting of a Spitfire, a Gladiator, 7 day bombers (B-17 and B-24), and 43 British night bombers, most of them the latest Bomber Command weapon, Lancasters. He was one of a few to receive the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves in the German armed forces.
Captured by the British at the end of the war, he was interrogated by them and told by his interrogator that "those enormous German scores against the RAF were pure fantasy, lies indeed", but Drewes told him to search in the official RAF losses reports how many planes were missing...the answer cost him several months in a British prison camp, subjected to varying degrees of humiliation, until he was liberated and decided to take his chances and immigrate to another country, Brazil.
Arriving in Brazil, working first as a pilot and then as a businessman, Martin married a Brazilian woman, Dulce, and they had a son, Klaus, who lives and works in Brazil.
Martin Drewes is now on his eighties, but keeps his mind as sharp as ever, and it was a great living experience for me,a Brazilian Air Force officer,to talk to him and some of his friends, a Dresden attack survivor who as a boy was in the doomed city and now owns an iron industry, and also a former Fallschirmjäger which fought in the Russian, Mediterranean and Home fronts, but was born in Brazil.
I hope some contribution was made here to readers which do want to know a little bit else about the truth behind some WW II aviation myths, propagated through times, but not really verified up to now by historians.We need veterans to teach us and to validate our stories and they fortunately need us to perpetuate their fight and their courage
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Marcus V. T. Borges-Captain Brazilian Air Force
Text and Images Copyright © 2000 by Captain
Marcus V. T. Borges