The Battle of Switzerland

IWC‘s history includes a less familiar episode of the Second World War. In the 1930s IWC had a close link to aviation because both sons, Hans and Rudolf, of the Manufacture’s owner at the time, Ernst Jakob Homberger, were pilots. Rudolf was an officer in the Swiss Air Force, and saw action on many occasions in 1940 when the Luftwaffe bombers on their way to Allied targets systematically violated Swiss airspace. Switzerland had purchased 38 Messerschmitt Bf 109-E’s from Germany just before the war, and so Swiss Messerschmitts were fighting German Messerschmitts in a series of combats during that season collectively known as the Battle of Switzerland. In one of the last clashes, Rudolf, flying a Bf 109 E-3a (J-328) sustained extensive damage to his aircraft (34 bullet holes), and was himself severely wounded, hit three times during a dogfight with a Luftwaffe Me 110. He crash-landed near Biel and survived.

The actions of the Battle of Switzerland took place between 10 May and 17 June 1940, with 11 Luftwaffe aircraft shot down. Hitler was particularly annoyed that his aircraft were being downed by German-built equipment, made various threats regarding forms of retaliation, and on 20 June 1940, the Swiss Air Force received orders to stop shooting down German aircraft.


Photo details: Me109 G-6 D-FMBB 1 by Kogo – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

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